When it comes down to it, living a healthier life is easy, right? Eat more vegetables and less candy, move more and have fewer Netflix marathons…and yet, weeks can go by during which we fail to eat one single vegetable or take even a 10-minute walk. Why??
Here are the four most common reasons, in no particular order, that I encounter as both a personal trainer and a human being for why it’s so hard to live a healthier life.
Too Much at Once
Whether you’re doing too much at once or expecting too much at once, “too much at once” is a huge dream killer.
If dumping your whole way of eating and adopting a brand new one overnight was the fastest and most lasting route to change, I would recommend it!
If working out 8 hours a day was what was best for you, I’d find a way to help you quit your 9-5!
And if results showed up immediately, we’d all stop following fitness Instagram accounts and just look in our own mirrors instead.
UNFORTUNATELY, tiny change is lasting change. Tiny change lets you identify what you can live with and what you can’t, what you enjoy and what you just can’t stand, and what works for you and what doesn’t. Tiny progress is the only progress we make – we get stronger and slimmer and faster bit by bit, and only very rarely in big, sudden increments. We’re all stuck living our lives one day at a time together, so embrace it! Go for that 10 minute walk or make it to that one Zumba class or bootcamp, and eat that one healthier snack.
Fear of Missing Out
Can’t skip your fourth drink at this office happy hour? Want to make it to Zumba class but there’s this thing you might get invited to that might overlap with the time? Meaning to eat vegetables with your lunch but someone left stale coffee cake in the office breakroom again?
Are you afraid of missing out on those things?
You know they will be there in the future…
FOMO is really another term for “conflicting priorities”. Change in lifestyle is usually a reflection of a change in priorities, so it makes sense that we all run into this – we want to save money but those jeans were SO NICE, or we want to be a better friend but the couch was SO COMFORTABLE that we just didn’t make it out.
Are you hitting snooze instead of making it to your yoga class (or to a 15 minute yoga video from YouTube)? Are you sitting at home in a funk instead of going to get what you need from the grocery store? Make yourself a small, private reminder of the change you’re trying to make – maybe a post-it note by your bed or a phone background – to help you remember your goals!
Wanting Others to Do it With Us
My clients might be surprised by how often I talk them out of looking for walking buddies at work or working out regularly with their significant others. While support is important, company is unreliable!
No one else, not even your trainer, will ever want you to reach your goals as badly as you want to reach them. If your buddy throws in the towel and has a pizza night instead of a loop around Memorial Park, or if your spouse decides to train for a marathon when all you wanted was a weekly sunset stroll, what are you going to do? Or, if no one is around who shares your new interest in a healthier lifestyle, to whom will you turn?
When you have company that works for you, take it of course! But don’t let your lack of company mean that you don’t walk/grocery shop/lift weights/jog to Austin and back/make a green smoothie. You don’t need another person to hold you accountable (whoa! I know.) – it’s okay just to admit you’re nervous that you will bail on your goals, or that you’re human and you would like to be able to chat with someone about your fun squirrel spotting/weird avocado creation/pull-up blisters. At the end of the day, your road is yours to travel. I know we spend a lot of time inventing shields to buffer us from that fact, but it’s life for each of us, even on your fitness journey.
Creating Someone Else’s Vision
Rewinding to those fitness Instagram accounts I mentioned…are you reaching for their version of fitness, or do you have your own vision of what progress will look like for you? I once read a tip that recommended photoshopping your own face onto a model or celebrity’s bikini photo for motivation, and there’s a time when I might have thought that made a lot of sense! However, now I know that there’s a much better, more exciting way to set goals, and it starts with getting in touch with what you think progress, or fitness, or health, or whatever you’re reaching for looks like.
You might change your mind along the way, but at least you’ll change it to a new version of your vision.
If you’re not reaching for what really matters to you, if you’re reaching instead for what a media outlet or really anyone else told you was success, you will probably stall out along the way. (If your doctor gives you some targets to reach for, that’s a different story!) You will take your unique and exciting journey, and you will change and grow and succeed in anticipated and surprising ways, but you will still be you at the end – improved, but still you.
Do you keep running into a roadblock that I didn’t list? Leave a comment so we can help you hurdle over it! You can make the changes that you want, as long as you keep reaching for your vision! (And if depression and anxiety are holding you back, I already wrote about ways to keep going!)