I think it’s a safe to assume that most people want to be healthy, right? I mean, nobody dreams of living a life full of illness, disease, lethargy, or the like. And yet, I’m always amazed by how hard it can be to get people to switch habits and make a commitment toward healthier living. Take for example my (awesome) Dad. Trying to get him to rethink his approach to food is a struggle to say the least. Why?
Because he, like so many, believe that living a healthy lifestyle isn’t very enjoyable.
Ironic, don’t you think?
But it’s true! People see us health “nuts” as just that: Nuts. Check out those crazy real foodies who don’t enjoy the “pleasures” of junk food. (Um, have you tried my Creme Brulee?) They think we’re wacko for wanting to move our bodies on a regular basis. In their minds we’re clearly suffering through pain, restrictions, and having to summon all the discipline in the world just to be healthy.
Why do they think this? Well, because it’s the message so many people (even people passionate about healthy living) send out to the world:
Sheesh… no wonder my dad justifies his eating habits by saying, “I may die younger, but I’ll die happier.”
Listen up, folks: We need to change the message of healthy living.
Why? Because it’s a lie. Healthy living is NOT about suffering. It’s not about unnecessary restrictive diets. It’s not about ignoring your body’s signals, or eating cardboard to lose weight, or never enjoying your food, or beating yourself up at the gym…. At least it shouldn’t be.
Healthy living is a fundamental right. We all want it. So why is healthy living viewed as some sort of punishment?
Guess what: You can be healthy AND happy.
Some of you are nodding your head and whispering “duh” right about now. But others will be reading this who won’t accept it. “No way. I’ve put way too much work, sacrifice, sweat, and tears… I enjoy the feeling of punishing myself to reach my goals.” There are a lot of masochistic “healthy” people out there.
But have you ever spent so much energy, time, money, and mental drive trying to have the perfect diet, the perfect workout routine, the perfect body, the perfect amount of discipline only to see your neighbor chowing down on processed cookies and notice that they seem happier than you?
Of course, to make ourselves feel better we reaffirm our “health is torture” mantra by judging others. We call them “lazy.”We prescribe future diseases to them. At best we call them lucky, as if their happiness came as a result of “good genes”… Meanwhile, we slap ourselves on the back, continue to promote our hard work as a miserable sacrifice to continue our journey toward perfected health.
Don’t get me wrong: I am a HUGE advocate of hard work.
In our day and age it can be really hard to start that new exercise program, to toss out that toxic food, and to make real changes. I sincerely believe that it can be hard work taking care of yourself.
I have nothing against hard work. I have nothing against wanting to look your best, feel accomplished, or work toward specific health and fitness goals. Seriously, I applaud hard work. I enjoy reading about other’s success stories of overcoming illness, losing unhealthy weight, or finding more joy through sheer determination.
Here’s the point:
Our idea of hard work is so often slathered in guilt, fear, judgement, or unsafe practices.
Hard work does not mean you have to feel guilty about eating out occasionally, even if the food served isn’t “perfect.” Hard work does not mean you have to hate the way you look because it doesn’t fit society’s ideals. Hard work does not mean punishing, rejecting, ignoring, or harming your own body….
I mean, that’s kind of the opposite of healthy living.
You guys, we need to do a better job of encouraging, motivating, and helping others find the joy and happiness that comes from healthy living.
I enjoy working out… even when it’s hard, even when I’m sore the next day… because it makes me feel energized. It’s a way to socialize and connect with others. It reminds me of the amazing gift my body is.
I workout because it makes me happy… but it only makes me happy if I respect my body, my limitations, my strengths and weaknesses. I don’t silence pain, but listen and respond to it.
I enjoy eating real food. I am happy to spend time or money (or both) creating nourishing dishes in the kitchen because it brings more happiness into my life. Real food gives me energy. It keeps me from feeling too sluggish. It rejuvenates and rebuilds. It’s a pleasure to eat. And I do the best I can to make sure my diet keeps me happy, not crazy. Eating should not induce fear, worry, and stress.
Time for a change: Let’s be messengers of happy!
I’ve been putting together something fun, and something big. I’ll give you the details tomorrow, but let’s just say that I NEED YOUR HELP. I need people, no matter where you are on your journey to healthy living, to be ambassadors of the message that you can be healthy AND happy!
Will you help me?
Will you start sharing the joy that comes from eating well, living naturally, and fitting in fitness? I don’t need you to sugar coat anything… sure healthy living can be hard, but ultimately it’s about finding joy, vitality, and happiness.
To sweeten the pot and get as many people on board I’m also offering PRIZES (worth over $700!). But the real prize is getting more people on board and thanking their bodies. We can do this!
We need to do this.