How Do You Know If You Haven't Tried?
Healthy Lifestyles Often = Misery (Or Do They?)
It’s easy to assume that a healthy lifestyle sucks the joy out life. We might picture ourselves crunching through boring salads or enduring endless workouts. Sure, we may drop some weight but we’d “enjoy” this benefit from the sidelines as everyone else lived it up. What’s the point in working hard to be healthy if life’s a drag? And if you may get ill or die early anyway, is it worth it?
What do you think? How might your happiness change if you upped your healthy habits and/or eliminated some unhealthy ones? Would you feel deprived as your days of bland meals, tedious workouts and no fun blurred together? Could you even see yourself as one of those healthy people? Can you keep a perpetual stash of raw nuts or the right energy bars and eat them? Will you actually cover ~5 miles on foot every day? (Bonus points for completion before sun up + telling everyone you know.) And what if you ended up liking a healthy lifestlye? Would you be out preaching to the world about it as your social life circled the drain?
Unhealthy Actions Often = Fun, Escape, and Freedom
But can a healthy lifestyle really be that bad or do we just assume it is? Modern culture often glamorizes unhealthy behaviors and mocks healthy ones. Its influence is real and we totally play along. Many of us firmly believe we deserve a treat, a prize, a break, or an escape from the grind. And not just once in a while. It’s often daily or even more. Our small decisions to eat, drink, sit, or smoke add up. They can become habits we depend upon as they diminish our motivation to do the healthy things. Then, if we consider giving up these comforts, we may get a glimpse of our dependence on them. This is uncomfortable so we quickly say we can change at any time. Now’s no good but down the road will be better. Yeah, right.
Fun and Escape Often = An Unhealthy Habit (Goodbye Freedom!)
Maybe you can relate. It’s certainly close to how I felt during my 3 year journey to give up alcohol. I had spent over a decade drinking a few beers most nights of the week. I put away many beers before that period too. I’ve always eaten healthy and worked out, so I felt like I could get away with it. Drinking helped me forget the worries or celebrate the wins of the day. It made me relatable and fun, right? Right?
Then it was no longer fun. And I knew I couldn’t outrun the effects. But I still couldn’t fathom the idea that even a week without drinking could be anything but a sad, snoozefest. I was 100% convinced that people who didn’t drink just sat around killing time wishing they could drink. While part of me was baffled by people who wouldn’t give up their “freedom” to eat what they wanted even when their health was at risk, the other part of me was doing the exact same thing with drinking.
Experiment & Seek Support to Break the Cycle
When I finally faced this truth, I decided to experiment with quitting. I committed myself to zero judgment or expectations of the process or the future. I started stringing “no drinking days” together here and there. Then a week and a month. I even made it to two months! It was an effort to say the least. Deep-seated habits with substances, behaviors, food, or whatever take time, focus, and external guidance and support to untangle, reign in and/or eliminate. Through several starts, stops, and attempts at moderation, I realized that elimination of alcohol worked bet for me. I mean I can’t even keep sweets in the house or go near a buffet, so what did I expect?
You Can Be Healthier on Your Terms at Your Pace
There’s no way for me to describe how much better life can be on the other side of any habit, addiction or behavior that is not serving you. You have to want the change badly enough to follow through and then see for yourself. If you do want to make a change, start by giving yourself credit for everything you’ve already accomplished. You are awesome. Believe it. Be confident and curios as you conduct your own experiment. Accept that change is tough and uncomfortable, even surreal. Wait…definitely surreal, so just go along for the ride. Over time you’ll adapt. It’s amazing! Work up to 30 days, then 60. Get to 90 days for a true experience. And remember it took me 3 years to tally up those 3 months that led to my new life. I wouldn’t change a thing about the experience.