Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Truth? Healthy Living Requires Effort.

(I want to preface this post by explicitly stating it isn't about weight. Healthy living isn't determined by your weight and this post applies to everyone regardless of their weight - being skinny is no more automatically synonymous with living a healthy life than being fat is with living an unhealthy one)

I need to expand a bit on my last few posts.

The unfair truth is that living a healthy life requires effort. It requires making time to include regular exercise. It requires making time to cook real food. For most, those two things will require reorganizing schedules, taking long hard looks at after school and work obligations, and for many it will require developing new skill sets involving both fitness and cooking.

It wasn't always this way.

Once upon a time many jobs were physically demanding. Once upon a time eating out and processed meals simply weren't an option. Once upon a time calories weren't cheap. Once upon a time we had more time.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting life was idyllic 60 years ago. Human nature being what it is I'm sure many still didn't prioritize exercise, and that many more, while cooking, certainly weren't cooking healthful meals.

That said, if someone wanted to improve their health 60 years ago, cooking wouldn't be a foreign concept, and their after work and weekend time for things like fitness would likely not have been taken up with after school chauffeuring or the electronic tethers to which we've all grown accustomed and dependent.

What you need to do to improve your health may not be in and of itself complicated, but finding the time and skill to do so in this current environment undoubtedly is.

But it's only a hardship if you make it one. Attitude's crucial to winning a healthy living fight. Exercise isn't about day to day suffering, it's about living a longer, better, more functionally independent, literally less painful life. Cooking's not about being a time consuming chore, it's about improving the health of your family and perhaps becoming less reliant on medications.

And one thing's for certain. It does require effort, and if anyone (including yourself) ever tells you differently they're either ignorant or they're liars.

Like anything valuable in life - education, marriage, parenthood, work - you get out what you put in, there are no shortcuts.

So what do you need to do? First I'd recommend you ignore the minutia and remember that there's no perfect diet (for health or for weight management) and no one way to go - and please ignore whatever the latest study they're trumpeting in the news. And then?
  • Cook more frequently from whole ingredients (eating out less frequently and eating fewer processed meals).
  • Move more and intentionally include as much exercise as you can enjoy into your life (your toothbrush level of exercise).
  • Live the life you want your children to live and include them in all of your health living endeavors (teaching them the joy and value of cooking and exercise)
  • Be a quitter if you need to.
  • Never ever forget that the best you can do varies day by day and that your personal best is always great.

Is it fair?


Is it easy?

Definitely not at the beginning, and certainly not always after that.

Is it doable?


It's about priorities and choices. That doesn't mean you're a bad person or parent if you don't choose to live with a healthy lifestyle - we're all entitled to choose the way in which we live our lives - but if your desire is a healthy lifestyle and you simply think it isn't doable then I think you're shortchanging yourself.

Health is incredibly valuable.  It requires effort.  There's just no way around that.