Not so long ago, I lived a sedentary life. I was overweight and ate a lot of takeaways – my favourite was topped chips, picked up on the way home from yet another long day at work. I didn’t do much else except sit in the car and sit at the computer, both at work and at home.
While I told myself I was happy, I was really living a half-life and I wasn’t healthy. At the time, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else because I was always so tired. This was partly due to lack of sleep, but most of it came down to my eating habits.
In short, junk food makes me want to go to sleep. The words “food coma” really apply to me! Now everyone’s different, but most people I talk to seem to share this experience with certain foods. Processed, greasy foods or heavy carbs have this effect on most of us.
If you were wondering what health has got to do with passion, here’s your answer. It’s hard enough to carve out time for what we love to do as it is, even without feeling exhausted all the time. The least we can do to set ourselves up for success, is to keep our bodies in the best shape possible and our energy levels high.
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The downward spiral
The problem with an unhealthy lifestyle is that it can re-inforce itself. We eat unhealthy, processed foods, as a result we’re always exhausted, and so we don’t have the energy to work out. During my sedentary years, I did sometimes join a pilates class or similar, but I never stuck it out for more than a week or two. It was simply too hard and painful, as well as embarrassing.
It’s hard to break the cycle, and sadly, many people need a health scare to shake them out of their lethargy. I, too, was devloping issues with my health, but thankfully they didn’t get as serious as they could have before I turned things around.
The problem with all this is that it seems as though we need a negative impulse in order to start pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps. But there is a better way to be healthy.
The list of excuses
The major obstacle between you and health is the list of excuses you may have compiled over the years. You’ve never been athletic, TV is so much more fun, you’re too stressed, your family doesn’t leave you any time. If you’re willing to bear with me, I’ll show you a way around all these.
It’s actually very simple, so simple that most people dismiss it as being silly. The remedy is just one sentence: “You can do anything for 15 minutes.” Yes, I know you can think of a million reasons why this is nonsense, but I assure you, it’s true.
You can test it with anything you’re reluctant to do, even household chores. Set an alarm clock for 15 minutes and literally drop everything once you get there. The dishes might not be all done, but you’ll have more clean dishes than before! The same goes for your workout. Start with 15 minutes. Within weeks, you’ll actually want to do more, and that’s fine. Just don’t expect or push towards doing more and wait for the impulse to appear. Be patient – it will appear for sure.
Get healthy by doing what you love
I recommend doing what lights you up in all other areas, so why would health be any different? You don’t have to go for a run, or do yoga, if you don’t want to. Find something that really interests you. It might be trampoline jumping or figure skating. Try a swing-dance class or perhaps rowing. If you’re weird like me, take up historical swordfighting! Just as long as it’s something which genuinely catches your fancy, you’re good.
The same goes for food, by the way. Find healthy foods you love – and I guarantee you, they exist. Be adventurous. Scour the internet for new recipes. Try everything and stick with what you like.
The trick is to indulge yourself not in unhealthy coping mechanisms, but in something which brings you joy. Health and wellbeing will follow naturally. The beauty of physical fitness is that the more you do, the more energy you end up having – and that can be used for your other passions! You’ll be surprised what you can achieve when you look after your body.
So, instead of punishing yourself with an unrealistic New Year’s resolution to be “healthy”, how about you promise yourself to find joy in your body and your health? You’re much more likely to stick with this one.