VALUES CORRUPTED: WHY IT'S SO HARD TO ACHIEVE GOOD HEALTH
We say we value our health and I truly believe people WANT to value their health. What I have learned about human behavior is that bad habits are hard to break. Why we do what we do is extremely complex and we are creatures of habit, so we eventually see these habits as life-sustaining, because they are. They are sustaining the life we have created whether it’s healthy or not.
One of the most common concerns I hear when someone is thinking about making a dietary or lifestyle change is, “I can’t afford it.” Okay, fair enough, but consider this: why do we drop five bucks on a Starbucks coffee like it’s nothing, but scoff at the thought of paying five dollars for a dozen organic pasture raised eggs? The truth is, you can’t NOT afford it. The food we eat is directly related to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. If we don’t feed ourselves well we will be paying far more in medical costs down the road than it costs to splurge for the organic variety. Most people are surprised to find they save money by preparing their own high quality food. It comes down solely to what we value, or what we are told to value and don’t question. WE FIND THE MONEY FOR THE THINGS WE FEEL WE NEED THE MOST and for many people those things include cars, heath care (not prevention), entertainment, technology, clothing, and expensive coffee drinks. Organic pasture raised eggs rarely make the list. We also don’t see highly influential commercials with celebrities pushing these values. We see commercials for Coke, McDonald’s, and Dunkin Donuts.
When something catches on or is constantly being pumped into our brains, most of us stop questioning it and go with the flow, even if we know it’s not good for us. We surrender to our environment. If everyone’s doing it, it must be good, right? No!! If I value the ethical treatment of animals and want to eat eggs only if they are raised without chemicals and cruelty, I will find a way to come up with the extra dollar it takes to buy them. I encourage you to question the decisions you make, even the little ones. Think about what the value is behind those decisions. Then you can make a choice whether you want to continue with that action. I’ve got to hand it to Starbucks, though. They’ve managed to find a way through their hook-line-and-sinker marketing and advertising to make people believe their product has that much value.
What we surround ourselves with is what and who we will become. If improving your health tops your resolution list this year, I’ve got a few inside tips on how to dodge the usual resolution-busting obstacles that typically come up.
#1: DIG DEEP INTO WHAT YOUR VALUES REALLY ARE: How much do you want to lose weight, eat healthier, or get into shape? I think it’s safe to say we all want these things, but how badly do you really want them? Be completely honest with yourself. There is no wrong answer. What do you want more, a healthy body or your morning coffee drink with 60 grams of sugar and loads of caffeine with a donut on the side? If you haven’t been able to kick this habit, the answer is you want the coffee and donut more, and that’s okay. It’s doing something for you. Maybe it’s stress relief from the sugar (because sugar acts just like any other addictive drug), an energy boost because you’re not getting the proper nutrients, or comfort because you aren’t getting it elsewhere. There are very good reasons we are drawn to junk food and it does provide us with what we are seeking…temporarily. However, I don’t think anyone likes the sugar low that occurs after the spike in blood sugar, or the constant hunger from lacking nutrients, or the tooth decay it will eventually cause, or the mood swings that result from unstable blood sugar levels, or diabetes which you will eventually get, or heart disease which is the number one killer in America, or the chronic fatigue from adrenal insufficiency, or thyroid dysfunction, or cancer, all of which are direct consequences from eating junk. Okay, back to your values. This part is really important. Make a list and number them from highest to lowest priority. It may surprise you what is really at the top.
#2: HANG AROUND THE HEALTHIEST PERSON YOU CAN STAND: We all have that friend or family member who undoubtedly gets singled out for being irritatingly health conscious. This person is the one who brings food to gatherings that others look at in judgement and disgust (even though they haven’t tried it) and this is the person who still wants to do their workout on holidays. Try to put your irritation aside and become curious about what this person is doing that works. Anyone can make healthy changes, it’s just how we go about it that will determine success or failure. The difference between this person and the person who is not successful is that this person has made decisions and changes to their lifestyle that prioritize their well-being. This person is getting more out of good health than what the bad habits can do for them. If you are chronically stressed and can’t function without your coffee and donuts, you can’t just replace your food. You must first get to the source of the imbalance which is usually work, relationships, money, poor time management, kids, or any other source of stress. Maybe you will have to make a job or career change or end a toxic relationship. As humans, we can only take so much, so willpower will never work if you don’t get rid of the trigger. So find this irritating health nut and see if you can learn a thing or two about what they have done to find balance and ask them about what their challenges were and still are. They may end up becoming your best friend!
#3: SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE: We are American. We like to do things at a fast pace and we want results yesterday. Perhaps the most difficult challenge for most people is to allow healing to unfold at nature’s pace, not theirs. Anytime you change your body it is a process of healing and you can’t rush it. If you do, it will not last and you will be right back where you started. Most of us have forgotten how to listen to our bodies. We are all born with this capacity and if you’ve ever been around babies, they don’t have any second thoughts about giving in to what their body wants. If you constantly crave sugar, caffeine, high fat foods, drugs, or alcohol, your body is trying to tell you it needs something. This something is not any of the above. Those things will just allow you to keep living an unhealthy life without addressing the source of imbalance. Addressing your imbalances may require more resources than you anticipated, but it is so worth the investment. You are making changes that will last the rest of your life and that is invaluable.
Investment is not just about money and not just about what you are going to get right now. It’s hard to see the value in something that may or may not come down the road, however, the simplest things we can do to take care of ourselves are put good food in our body and move them on a regular basis. There aren’t any adverse affects to doing either one of these. Our food becomes our cells and our bodies rebuild themselves about every three years, so yes, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. You are also what the food you eat has eaten so if you eat animal products, choose organic, grass-fed, pasture raised, GMO-free, and cruelty-free whenever possible. Your grocery bill will go up a bit, but your doctor bill will go down and you will most likely avoid costly health care in the future. It’s all about tradeoffs and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pay a bit more to prevent an illness than dump all my savings into trying to treat it.
If you would like to talk more about improving your diet or lifestyle, we offer FREE consultations for Nutrition Coaching and Counseling. We’d love to get you started on your journey to whole body health. Remember:
“Problems are not stop signs. They are guidelines.” -Robert Schuller
Shawn Clavelle holds a bachelor's degree in nursing and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Yoga Instructor. Drawing from her clinical nursing experience and own personal journey, Shawn has a passion for identifying the obstacles to good health and guiding others in their own journey. She has created a yoga and nutrition program which is accessible and sustainable for those wanting to make changes that last. Shawn believes that what you put in your body and how you move it are crucial to living the most fulfilling life possible.