So you're thinking about getting healthier. Maybe you want to feel more confident, or better about yourself. That might mean improving your emotional health, losing weight, improving your hair or skin health, or having more energy. Or it may be about lowering your health care costs or improving existing conditions. Whatever your reasons are, it can seem overwhelming and daunting. You begin imagining all the changes you'll have to make.
Or worse you start comparing yourself and your starting point, to some super healthy person years into their journey. It becomes discouraging and scary, and sometimes it stops before it even starts. I know because I have been there! I didn't begin upon the path to wellness because I was already feeling hunky dory 24/7. I am seven years into mindfully living as well as I can, and we're going to discuss five things about getting healthy that I learned to be big fat myths.
1. Getting Healthy Means Removing All Your Old "Bad" Habits.
First, we need to change our mindset. Let's not think about the things our life will have less of, but instead the things we'll add more of into our lives. This one is huge, guys! Let me tell you why. Adding three more glasses of water day sounds a lot more doable than telling yourself you have to cut out all your soda.
There are only so many beverages you will drink in a day, and your stomach can only hold so much liquid. By adding the three additional glasses of water, there is already less soda in the equation. You are already winning. If you focus on continuing to add more whole, real, foods into your life then gradually the bad, fake, foods will become less and less present throughout the day.
2. Getting Healthy Means Expensive.
What do you think of when you think of getting healthy? You think of vitamins, gym memberships, expensive organic food, buying workout gear or fancy equipment and gadgets. Cha-ching-cha-ching-cha-ching. Surely, it can become expensive, just as anything can. However, it's not a requirement. You know what's expensive? Being sick and fat. Insurance premiums for existing conditions and co-payments for prescription drugs. Those things are expensive. Very, incredibly expensive.
If you choose to join a gym shop around, there are many different models with different prices. Look into your local YMCA; they offer scholarships for family memberships based on income. Keep an open mind, though; you can get physically fit for free! Walking the dog, bike riding with the family, going for a hike, or swimming laps at the community pool are all fun ways to keep fit for free. It's true that Organic Foods carrying the USDA Organic Seal are more expensive that conventional foods, but you don't have to shop the seal to eat clean.
There are strategic ways you can shop for clean foods. Did you know that Walmart is one of the top retailers selling the most organic foods now? Supplements do seem like a luxury item at times, but I assure you that with the right small selection of supplements you'll find the overall cost to be minimal - especially once you start to see those health care (AKA Sick Care) costs reduced as your overall health increases. If you are in a place of business seeking health-related services ask if they offer subsidized prices or discounts. For example, I offer my services on a sliding scale, depending on income.
3. Getting healthy means going on a diet.
The ultimate four letter word: diet. Living a healthy life does not say that you have to go vegan, paleo, vegetarian, pescatarian, low carb, or macrobiotic. It just means you need to eat real, unprocessed foods and be able to stick to it for the most part. If you feel passionate about any of the diets above then fantastic! There is nothing wrong with that, however going on a fancy, trendy, diet is not synonymous to living a healthy lifestyle.
In fact, unless there is an underlying passion, or health condition (such as Celiac, Lyme, or other diet sensitive diseases) it's probably more realistic to stick to a balanced diet of clean, unprocessed food. I always go back to this; there are people worldwide who thrive healthfully on many different diets. In some cases, populations evolve in ways that their bodies are fueled healthfully on specific foods, but for the most part, diets vary worldwide- some very carb heavy, some plant based, and some animal product heavy. Let's not over complicate it. Again, we want to start by adding more clean, unprocessed whole foods (probably vegetables) into your daily meals.
4. Getting healthy means you have to be perfect.
You decide you're going to do it. You are going to commit to adding more healthy habits, and foods into your life, and begin down the road toward overall wellness and never look back. While that's admirable, it's not realistic. We live in world full of food and drink abundance that is aggressively marketed to us. Folks, fast foods are designed to get us addicted and come back for more. It's big business with big money being made at our expense.
If you hold yourself to perfection, you will let yourself down. Be kind with yourself, and aim for balance. In our home, we shoot for 80/20. 80% of what we eat is as clean and unprocessed as possible, and the other 20% is us just enjoying life. What's it all for if you can't kick back and relax?! You'll notice that once your body is used to that 80% of healthy living, you won't want to have more than 20% of the other stuff - whether it's inactivity or fake foods.
For our family, our 20% is typically the weekend, and by Sunday night we are often itching to get some whole food in us. The kids will notice, too! True story, my four year old will tell me she doesn't want any more "Red Light Foods" (Attend a Workshop to Learn All About This!) because she feels yucky.
5. Getting healthy means logging serious gym hours.
This a huge misconception! Being physically fit does not need to mean hours upon hours of hours at the gym, or in a Zumba class. If you enjoy those activities, then, of course, enjoy them, but if you don't, it's ok. We do need to move our bodies and commit to adding more movement, or exercise, into our lives but we often over complicate this aspect of wellness, also. We mentioned above in #1 some free ways you can get fit, and I encourage you to read my blog 5 Ways to Realistically Add More Movement Into Your Family's Life for other ideas. Dr. Mark Hymand has a well-known quote that states "You can't exercise your way out of a bad diet." Remember that, and it's possible to over-exercise.
If you are thinking about adding more healthy habits in your life, you have made the first step. Don't sabotage yourself with excuses and negative self-talk. It's possible, and it can even be enjoyable to live well. Know that you don't have to do it alone. Come on down to Babies'R'Us in Waterford Lakes this Saturday at 10 AM and take part in the Get Health, Fast Family Health Workshop to kick-start your family's journey toward a healthier and happier life.