A question I have not only asked but that I get asked by clients on almost a weekly basis. Why is living a “healthy” life or making healthy choices so hard?
As with everything in this space, that is a very broad question with a rather nuanced answer but here are three reasons that stand out to me being the biggest reasons why.
- It’s easier to be unhealthy. Sound like BS? Depends on the person but really, our life of quick accessibility and immediate gratification have made anything that takes even a small amount of effort an inconvenience. Health is a life-long journey. It ebbs and flows, and it requires constant tweaking. Discipline is necessary in order to maintain any progress that has been made, and if we’re being honest discipline isn’t sexy. It isn’t fun. Modern life has made it EASIER to be unhealthy.
- Being healthy/ making health a priority is EXPENSIVE. Take a look at any menu- what is the most expensive vs. the least? When you’re in the store, is organic produce and pasture raised meat more expensive then the normal produce and pre-packaged stuff? Then look at what comes out of the freezer, canned and boxed areas. That stuff is pennies on the dollar by comparison. How about medical care? I have MANY strong feelings as it pertains to our healthcare system (95% them are not fantastic) but follow the dollar signs. Even the way fitness is marketed- what does a Peloton cost? How about a boutique gym membership? All of the things that point to making healthier choices usually come with a price tag. Are there free options out there? Of course there are! But they aren’t nearly as sparkly.
- Change. Is. Hard. Period. The way we are hardwired (as humans) we don’t like change. It’s uncomfortable, it’s challenging, and in order to see results we have to put effort in for an extended period of time. That doesn’t not correlate with the current world we live in, but this isn’t a new phenomenon. Making New Years Resolutions has been a joke forever, and yet people set themselves up for the same failure every year. We’re going to start on Monday, or after we do this, or after that happens, and then we don’t do anything at all because #hard.
So am I here to defend the above reasons and tell you that your health is not your problem and that it should be made easier so you can make the changes you need to make.
If you think that you don’t know me very well.
I’ll say it again (I’ve been saying this for months) YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Nobody elses.
In rebuttal to the excuses commonly used above I will encourage you to consider instead-
- Instead of focusing on how hard it is, look for easy wins. You’ve heard this before but instead of taking the elevator (if you actually go anywhere these days) take the stairs. Or park in a further parking space instead of right up front. Go outside and take a walk if you have a break instead of scrolling social media for 10 minutes. Pack your lunch instead of eating out. Read a book instead of zoning out to Netflix. You don’t have to make huge choices all the time to see progress, the little things become the dial movers with consistent practice.
- Yes, health is expensive. But being SICK is more expensive. Buying better quality anything will cost you more up front. Better food, better supplements, better beauty products, yes it adds up. But if you want sticker shock- google how much a heart bypass surgery costs ($20,000-$30,000). Cancer treatment ($5000-$70,000 depending on treatment). Insulin for the rest of your life ($200-$500 per month depending on insurance coverage). Sure Medicare will cover some of it, but even the best insurance plans leave people broke from paying for treatments to illnesses that can often be prevented by taking care of your health. That doesn’t mean you have to overhaul everything about your shopping list and life all at once. You might go broke if you try to do it that way (especially right now). But when you run out of something, replace it with a healthy alternative (things like personal beauty care products, home cleaning products and laundry soap). Don’t buy things that you know trigger you to over-indulge. Invest your money in the dial movers one at a time. Something is almost always better then nothing.
- Instead of focusing on the Hard, focus on the Wins. As I mentioned before, we aren’t wired to like making big changes in our life. We get set in our ways, and once that happens See Ya Later Alligator. Instead of looking at how far you need to go, sit back and acknowledge how far you’ve already come. I’m a big fan of rewarding yourself for progress (the trick is finding a reward that isn’t going to set you back and trigger other negative habits or feelings) so find something that will bring you joy to reward your progress. Also, when you mess up or don’t perfectly execute something shake it off and keep going. The number of times I’ve seen people (and at times done this myself) throw in towel after one small mistake is enough to make me pull out the small amount of hair I have. As I said before, the small things add up to become the big things. Celebrate the victories no matter how small they seem and keep moving forward.
So let’s wrap this up… Why is “Healthy” hard? Because it benefits way more people for it to be hard, not easy.
It’s up to you grab the bull by the horns and decide for YOU what being healthy means and what YOU are willing to do to get there. Start small, be intentional & gradual, and celebrate the wins regardless of how unremarkable they may seem. “Healthy” is a challenge, but it only has to be as hard as you make it.
You’ve got this, I have the utmost faith in you!