Why You Had No Choice But to Be Unhealthy
We’ve all been there with our grand plan to finally get fit, healthy, eat well, and start taking care of ourselves. But, after a while, life swoops in and blows that plan to pieces. All of your wonderful intentions get pushed to the side by your many responsibilities.
You are not alone.
It is not your fault.
You’re busy from the moment you open your eyes to the moment your head hits the pillow at the end of the day, so how could you possibly add in time for taking care of your health?
You want to be healthy, and maybe you have some health concerns, but no matter how many times you try to change your lifestyle, it becomes too much and you fall back into your old unhealthy habits. You blame yourself and get frustrated, feeling that you lack the willpower to follow through.
However, you CAN achieve the healthy lifestyle that you so desperately want: It just takes some small steady changes, effective problem solving, and some self-discovery.
Keep reading and I’ll show you how.
You try to overhaul your lifestyle
I see it all the time.
You have so many responsibilities that you feel you are too busy to fit in time for self-care, exercise, or preparing healthy food at home.
But instead of thinking of how we can add all of the healthy lifestyle activities on top of everything else that we have to do, can I challenge you to take a step back and look at how you spend your time?
Do your daily activities align with how you want to live your life?
My client Christine is a very busy career woman who runs her own massage therapy business. When she is not at the clinic, she is teaching health and wellness classes at an alternative health clinic and working on the livestock farm that she and her husband manage. If that wasn’t enough, she is also taking her MBA through correspondence and is required to be on university campus one or two weekends a month.
No matter what she tried, Christine just couldn’t seem to consistently stick to her fitness routine because life “kept getting in the way.” In one of our first coaching sessions, I suggested that something in her life would have to be let go in order to make room for the healthy lifestyle that she wanted to live.
Christine was very resistant.
She just couldn’t imagine giving something up! Everything seemed too important to step back from.
I worked with Christine to help her identify her top life priorities. When we looked at how she spends her time on a daily basis, she was shocked to find out how much of her time went towards activities that worked against what she wanted for her life!
Within a few weeks, we gently changed her daily activities so that most of them were aligned with her highest priorities. Rather than a shocking and unsustainable lifestyle overhaul, Christine accomplished a gentle shift that supported her health and provided the balanced life that she always wanted.
This freedom is also available to you!
You blame yourself, rather than focusing on the actual problem.
In my nursing career, I’ve seen both sides of healthcare. On the one hand, we are reacting to what’s already happened to you – we are reacting to you being sick, or getting hurt. But on the proactive side, we are helping you create healthy lifestyle change and take responsibility for your health.
This puts a lot of pressure on you, though, because now your healthcare team expects you to live a lifestyle that helps prevent you from getting sick in the first place!
You get a list of things to do from your doctor, but eventually, your willpower crumbles and you just can’t seem to stick to the changes they ask for. You get frustrated, disheartened, and blame yourself.
But when we blame ourselves, we are stuck in this rut of trying to change our own behaviour rather than looking at what the actual problem is.
Nancy was in her mid-30s when she was diagnosed with diabetes. Her doctor gave her medications and a list of things she needed to change in order to support her health and lower her risks for complications.
When Nancy came to me, she had tried several times to follow what her doctor recommended, but hadn’t been able to stick with it, and lost motivation because she kept ‘failing’.
Instead of blaming herself, I challenged Nancy to look deeper and discover what the actual problem really was.
What was it about the diet her doctor recommended that wasn’t working for her?
What happened at work that caused her willpower to wane by the end of the day?
What was it about the environment she lived and worked in that influenced her eating habits?
“Oh my gosh, that last coaching call really opened my eyes to all of the ways my current lifestyle is working against me and making it hard for me to eat right! My willpower is shot because I work at a grocery store and see all kinds of rich, unhealthy food all day at my till! And I hate fish and so many of the recipes that my doctor has given me have fish in them! No wonder this has been impossible!”
Now we had something to work with!
Working with me, Nancy learned how to create an environment that triggered healthy habits.
After making these simple changes, Nancy has lost over 70 pounds and has lowered the dose of several of her medications. Her motivation has skyrocketed and she has inspired others at her work to make healthy lifestyle challenges also.
It is absolutely possible for you to learn how to create a lifestyle where it is easy to stick with your healthy routine – just like Nancy.
You’re stuck, unable to break free of old habits
It’s a very exciting time right now because there is a lot of research being done that looks at how to successfully change an unwanted habit into a healthy behaviour.
Creating healthy lifestyle change is becoming a science!
All habits follow the same pattern: something triggers your behaviour – a craving, you act on that craving, and then you feel good about it afterward …or at least that’s the way it is supposed to work.
Rashmi is a Registered Dietician who works in an intensive care unit at a hospital. It is a very stressful job, and she finds that on particularly challenging days she craves ‘comfort food’ to help soothe her difficult emotions.
When she and I met, Rashmi was feeling stuck.
“I know what I should be eating, but at the end of a tough day, I just really want something carb heavy, and loaded with cheese. I get home, and abandon my meal plan and go straight for the pasta. I feel better initially, but then I feel guilty afterward because I know that my alfredo didn’t actually solve my problems with my stress.”
We worked through the habit cycle and then made one small change to how Rashmi responded to these stressful days at work. By altering this one behaviour, Rashmi learned how to nurture herself, rather than nourish herself and break the cycle of emotional eating. This started a snowball effect, giving Rashmi the confidence and motivation to look at other unhealthy habits in her life, and continue to make these micro-adjustments to create the healthy lifestyle that she strives for.
Your healthy lifestyle is within your reach!
Stop blaming yourself, and make room for a healthy, active, balanced lifestyle.
Take a look at how your current lifestyle is making it difficult for you to stay healthy and see if you can figure out what the real problem is – because I promise that it isn’t you.
When we know where these challenges are coming from, and what our unhealthy habits are, we can then use evidence-based strategies to refine our lifestyle and achieve vitality.