Why is it that so many people are still unsuccessful in their diet/health/fitness plans? It certainly cannot be a lack of good information on those subjects – I’ll bet that any overweight person has read armloads of good books on the matter. And frankly, most people can pretty much recite all of the good guidelines for keeping fit and trim. “Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, watch the processed carbs and the saturated fat, get plenty of exercise…etc., etc., ad infinitum…..” This is not to say that there aren’t breakthrough supplements and protocols that can make a significant difference (and I try to stay on top of them), but the reality is that we already have more than enough information to make the lions share of the difference and dramatically change our outlook.
So what is the root of the problem? And how can we carve out a solution from it? It’s really a psychological dillema, matters of perception and motivation, etc. and that is why I frequently gravitate to those issues in my posts. Here are a few observations that might shed some light.
Let me start by saying that most people are not lazy. When they detect a clear need for action they react accordingly. However, and it’s a big however, the natural trend for “inertia” – conservation of energy or whatever you want to call it, creates a slew of subtle tricks to maintain it’s status. Self deception and other misconceptions to stay in that proverbial “comfort zone”. The biggest and most painful hurdle is to first recognize and admit that this tendency exists in us. That is how you put yourself on your own side. It’s the first step in taking control of your actions.
But you can’t stop there. Here is a small list of destructive misconceptions that we often cling to at our own expense:
- “If you change this one thing you can eat whatever you want!” The authors of this one are appealing to that desire for something for nothing and the actual avoidance of any real change at all. Notice how you’ll always find the term “miracle” snuck in somewhere in these plans. Again there are some revolutionary new developments, but you have to develop that discerning eye and be able to spot the hucksters. Remind yourself that no macronutrient is inherently bad (carbs/protein/fats). In fact even sugar and saturated fats are required in certain “doses”. (cell membranes need sat fat to an extent, sugar is a fast source of glucose)
- “Everything that’s good for you tastes bad, everything bad tastes good.” The reality is it’s the other way around. Nature instilled a craving for healthy foods, but she also gave us a drive to avoid starvation – hence the fat and sugar cravings. Modern society has warped all other normal drives in its quest for quantity over quality so thats all that we opt for. In other words we conditioned the enjoyment of these foods just as a smoker has developed a taste for such a foul imbibe. I have posted various tactics for dealing with this here in my diet catagory. The bottom line is this: You can recapture that natural appreciation and enjoyment for healthy foods, but you need that 3-4 week indoctrination period. I say it’s well worth the effort!
- Here is my favorite: “Go ahead and kill yourself with your strict diet and exercise programs – I’m going to take it easy and enjoy life!” This is a very transparent one, the proponent implies that it takes continuous hard work to live a healthy lifestyle. This goes contrary to #2 above, and also avoids the reality that exercise pays the highest dividends for labor exerted for most people. You don’t need “hours and hours” in the gym, usually 30 minutes a day done right will get you to your goals, and you can avoid this syndrome. Those who enjoy a healthy lifestyle can see right through this baby.
- As a Life Extensionist I cannot end without including this one. We tend to think and we are way too quick to accept that the negative effects of aging are inevitable and thus we have no control over them. Again this is a self destructive ruse. The reality is that yes we do show marginal and gradual diminishing of our abilities and faculties with aging, but the level that we see, and the pain and anguish that we calmly accept is way beyond what nature intended. The rate and intensity is way out of whack. You can see this dramatically displayed in the physical appearance of healthful individuals vs those who aren’t so much. I always like to stress that in those who have not followed a healthy lifestyle the potential for change and improvement is much higher, so they have more to look forward to. I’m jealous of them!
Reality and honesty are indespensible in living as nature intended. Ultimately that’s the way you’re going to be happiest, so why not get on board!?