Pop quiz. Sorry to hit you with a quiz so early on a Monday morning, but this is important for a healthy lifestyle. #sorrynotsorry Are you with me?
Healthy Living Quiz Part 1:
Answer the following questions to the best of your knowledge:
Which is more beneficial for optimal health?
More water or more soda?
Highly processed foods or minimally processed foods from nature?
Eat your food slowly with intention or eat as fast as possible?
Four hours of sleep or eight hours of sleep per night?
Grilled chicken or fried chicken?
Eating until satisfied or eating until over full?
Performing mobility exercises or not doing them?
Sitting more or moving more?
Thirty minutes of exercise most days or no exercise most days?
Doing resistance training exercises a couple of times each week or not doing resistance training at all?
Wow. You nailed it. 100% The point I am making is that most people know how to be healthy, even the people with the least amount of nutrition and exercise knowledge most likely know the basics of healthy living.
The difference is between knowing and doing. As trainers, we may be the most guilty. Just because we know more of the science doesn’t always mean we do more in our lives. Ask me how consistent I am with my mobility exercises, and you’ll see, I’m not perfect either.
The fact is if you make the positive choices on the ten questions above most of the time consistently then you’d be healthier than most of the population. I doubt there would be a little debate on the correct answers above (although I am willing to acknowledge there are outliers).
Not to say there’s no room for treats and indulgences in a healthy diet, it’s just that what you do chronically is more important and impactful than what you occasionally do.
I’ve proved my point: You already know, but the real question is what do you do? Are you applying what you know to improve your health and ultimately, your life?
Healthy Living Quiz Part 2
Answer the following ten questions to the best of your ability:
Which is more beneficial for optimal health?
A high-fat diet or a high carbohydrates diet?
Eating every three hours and eating three times a day?
To eat dairy or not eat dairy?
To eat gluten or not eat gluten?
To avoid foods with GMOs or embrace the technology?
To eat in an eight-hour window or a fourteen-hour window?
Running at high intensity or running at steady state?
Low reps or high reps?
Long rest periods between sets or short rest periods between sets?
To take supplements or not to take supplements?
This quiz is a little tricker. There are not clearly defined answers. You can easily search the internet and find long articles, scientific studies, medical professionals and writers with compelling arguments for both sides. Experts on both sides adamantly claim they are correct, but the answer to the above questions largely depend on you.
What works best for you?
How does your body respond?
What are your goals?
What are your preferences?
What is important to you?
What works best with your current lifestyle?
What is the most sustainable?
If you don’t have quiz part one mastered, you’ll see fantastic results by just being consistent with the basics. You don’t need to spend the mental energy on quiz part two——yet. Once you gain mastery of the basics, then it’s appropriate to fine tune with the exploring your options to the answers of quiz part two. (The exception is if you have food allergies or direction/supervision from a medical professional to pursue quiz two options.)
Change is hard. There’s no denying it. If your habit is a fast food drive through for breakfast, then a fruit smoothie or a wholesome breakfast at home can feel overwhelming, even impossible. Your mind might be already coming up with resistance. "Yeah, but I can’t do that because….”
HOW TO BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN KNOWING AND DOING
If you’re currently not mastering any of the healthy choices in quiz part one, then don’t attempt to start them all tomorrow. It doesn’t work like that for most people. Too much change too soon will be too hard for most people.
You may start fired up to pursue your new goals, but between three days and three weeks in the reality of change can begin to feel overwhelming and most humans (not just you) will revert to what feels comfortable. Start with the first one. If it’s too much change, start with one meal a day or one day a week. It’s ok to start small and build over time. If you want to do more, then great, but be prepared with bare minimum daily requirements.
You may want to exercise for an hour six days a week, and that’s a great goal (yet aggressive if you’re not currently working out at all), but set a 15-minute daily requirement. That means if you want to work out for an hour, but if you’re short on time, energy or motivation then do at least 15 minutes without fail. Hold yourself accountable to small actions taken daily, not a massive change.
If you want to make healthier food choices, start with breakfast. Do the best you can with all your meals, but commit to at least consuming a healthier breakfast each day. Once you mastered breakfast, move on to lunch, and so on. Start small then connect the dots.
I write a lot about healthy habits because habits are actions you take on autopilot, you don’t have to think about them. What you do on autopilot is easy; it doesn’t require willpower or motivation.
If you work on starting small and setting bare minimum goals, you’ll begin to develop healthy habits over time. It doesn’t happen all at once but once it does, making healthier choices with diet and exercise becomes part of your daily life — effortless. You don’t want to miss your workout; you turn down the cake because you honestly don’t want it, not because you can’t have it.
FOCUS ON PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION
Accept the fact up front you will never be perfect, no matter how committed you are today. You will mess up, and you'll miss a day, you'll do something that you told yourself you wouldn’t do. You’ll have a bad day or a bad weekend. Congratulations, you’re human!
Do you the best you can, make the best choices reasonably available to you most of the time. You won’t always have access to steamed vegetables, organic fruit, and highest quality meat. Sometimes a fast food salad is the best choice under certain circumstances. Ordering a salad instead of french fries is healthy progress for a lot of people.
Healthy living isn’t all or nothing. Focus on making the best choice possible, not perfect decisions all the time and you’ll be successful!
Let me know how you’re bridging the gap!
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