Today’s culture is constantly and completely aware of health and fitness. It seems like the media and advertising industry are constantly pushing us to be more and more concerned about our health and appearance and improve it. We are assaulted by ads for strange new fad diets, home fitness equipment, sketchy weight-loss gadgets, etc. All of this marketing preys on a person’s desire for a quick fix. We have been conditioned to want immediate results – causing us to push ourselves to dangerous borderlines of behavior: intense 90-minute workouts, week-long juice fasts, and more. We have been taught, by advertisers with vested interests, that only drastic and fast actions will bring results.
This approach, however, ignores the concept of “balance” which dictates the way the world around us works and brings harmony and health to many living things. A person can indeed improve their health and mindset without extremism, pain and suffering. The key to obtaining balance and improving the state of your health is taking small, incremental steps, over time, toward your goal. This is the opposite of what we are being sold on late-night infomercials.
A “nutrition and fitness” or “mind and body” plan should be designed to slowly address the various components of your lifestyle: healthy foods, exercise, sleeping habits, healthy relationships – without putting our body in states of shock or stress. This approach should be applied to our efforts in all the categories of self-betterment.
Approaching the quality of our lives in this way begins an actual transition to increased health and happiness (and all the associated benefits — healthy weight, clear skin, increased energy, decreased inflammation, but also increased self-esteem and confidence) and immediately shows us what diets and workout plans cannot: what it feels like to be a person who treats himself or herself well and deserves to be treated well.
The solutions we believe that quick-fixes will bring us – immediate self-esteem and satisfaction, better feelings about ourselves, etc. – actually come with the process of changing our lives in small ways, slowly – an evolution. The long term pursuit with proven results will produce not only visible results but will teach us the lesson of balanced living. Irresponsible dieting and unsustainable workouts will not stand the test of time, and we may find our bodies worse off than when we started.
We need only look to the world around us to realize that all change happens in small steps, including the growth of a baby. Our modern, industrialized, capitalist, globalized speed expectations are disconnected from how things happen in nature. There are no diets in nature. Then again, there are no processed foods, sugar substitutes or stationary creatures in nature!
The following are three tips you can use at the start of your responsible lifestyle change:
1. Take it easy at the gym. Your body will benefit more from a slow but sure approach. Do not be obsessed with how long you workout or how heavy the weights are that you can lift. Keep your workouts enjoyable and focus on building the discipline to keep coming a few times a week. A ridiculous workout once a month will change almost nothing about your body.
2. Forget diets which make big promises. Just start changing the way you eat. You can start with one small step: eliminating one detrimental item from your menu (sugary desserts, complex carb-heavy breads, soda) or substituting one meal a day with something more healthy: a juice shake, vegetable or fruit.
3. Set aside quality time for yourself, in which you make a concerted effort to relax, listen to music, practice focused breathing or anything else which brings you pleasure and peace. We live in hectic times with hectic schedules and often do not give our minds and bodies time to let off steam. Work on making this a part of your daily routine.