I’ve been asking myself the same question lately. Why is it that although many of us have the tools and resources to take control of our health (and life) we choose not to?
Recently, while working on our Operation Beach Bod challenge at the gym, listening to clients while training, as well as a little eavesdropping in the change room, I have been hearing the same sentiment a lot: “I know what I need to do, it is just a matter of making the change and getting it done.” If I had $1 for how many times I have heard that, and said it myself, I might just be sitting on a tropical beach somewhere drinking a mojito (no sugar or course)!
So, here is the part where I tell you what I have been doing.
Last week I changed my diet. I don’t mean diet in the sense that I am on a diet, rather I use that word to describe my everyday eating. Typically I believe in an “everything in moderation” diet, but recently that was no longer working for me. So for the last week, I have taken my regular, healthy(ish), gluten free diet one step further and have been extremely strict with my eating. I have eliminated a lot of items that typically make up my diet. Although challenging, I will continue with this for the next 3 weeks leading up to Canada Day and my week long trip to Kamloops. As a result of the first week of my “diet enhancement” I have lost 6 lbs, 2% body fat, and am no longer experiencing the stomach pain that I had grown to accept as inevitable. When a change happens this quickly and easily, it tells me something that I was regularly doing does not agree with my body.
Doing this is a challenge for me. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that the first thing I did when I made this commitment was try to figure out what desert I could eat that would fit within my temporary dietary requirements (hint: not much). Despite the challenges, I have stuck to my guns and am really enjoying the results.
So how did I “man up” and make the decision to use my willpower to follow through on this commitment? Well, I have recently found out that I have an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (this is quite common actually!). Having an autoimmune disorder freaked me out at first! I mean, if you think about it, my body is attacking itself because it doesn’t recognize “self” as “self.”. But as I processed the experience, my motivation to become healthier developed. I also began to realize that I had not been listening to my body and mind! Looking back on the last 3 years, I realize I had been experiencing symptoms of Hashimoto’s for a long time and but had attributed them to life, or being “just the way it is”.
Interestingly enough, according to the Health Belief Model (a psychological model that explains and helps predict health-related behaviours), it often takes a diagnosis, or actually getting sick, for most people to make the changes in their life necessary to promote and support health. It is unfortunate that the majority of us make reactive decisions rather than proactive decisions when it comes to our health (apparently myself included!), but it is reality.
I don’t plan on eating this strict for the rest of my life, but as I mentioned before, the “everything in moderation” thing stopped working. And now that I look back 1 week ago, my actual level of moderation may not have been so moderate after all. I can honestly say that I have been meaning to do this for years (and by this I mean change up my diet and improve my health), and I guess I hadn’t because my discomfort wasn’t great enough to make me react…until now!
If you are reading this and want to create change in your health/life (lose that extra stubborn fat before summer, feel better about your body, fight illness, increase your energy) but aren’t using the tools available to you, then I ask you to hear this: you are not alone! You might be just like most of the population, waiting subconsciously for a negative catalyst to change your health habits. Instead of being reactionary, you can challenge yourself by being proactive and choosing to take control of your health, now. Consider this your sign for change!