Another year has gone by and once again we have the opportunity to embrace a fresh season of life. Every year as January 1st approaches many Americans begin to ponder what it will take to achieve new goals whether it be ideal weight or a level of health; there’s generally a feeling of obligation to commit to the requisite New Year’s resolution. For many we’re familiar with that initial burst of determination and zeal but all too quickly the dream fizzles just as fast as it began.
The business world accounts for our predictable behavior as millions of people will commit to exercising and specialized diets in January. Gyms are ready for their “Black Friday” and they can anticipate how many will actually stick with it. According to the Fitness Industry Association 12 percent of all gym members sign up in January, but after 6 months the vast majority have quit or stopped attending (source: http://www.realbuzz.com/articles/10-shocking-gym-statistics/).
In 2012, Americans spent an estimated $65 billion trying to lose weight, increased from $60.9 billion in 2010, $60.4 billion in 2009, and $58.6 billion in 2008.
Breakdown of money spent in 2010:
An estimated 108 million American adults were dieting in 2012, and nearly all dieters (90-95%) regain the weight they lost within one to five years (source: http://www.fitnessforweightloss.com/diet-and-weight-loss-statistics/).
Americans are obviously committed to the idea of physical change but remain ill informed as to how to make it real and permanent. I’ve been exercising at gyms for over 22 years and there’s one thing they all share in common– they’re loaded with people that come and go while getting very little results. Regretfully whether it’s losing weight, burning fat, or adding muscle, the average person who joins a gym gets either temporal results or little to nothing at all. This discouraging truth eventually leads to a culture of frustration as people feel their state of health is a tireless battle.
This isn’t an article on the “5 things you need to lose weight.” It’s a discussion about understanding why we fail to change and how to shift our thinking, and it begins with asking the right questions. Our primary focus has to shift from, “How do I quickly get what I want”, versus “How and why did I actually get here?” We spend millions of dollars on products and diets we believe will help us lose weight and have more energy while not asking the most important key questions: “How did this happen?” and “What will it take to restore my health?”
The answers to those questions aren’t as obvious as you may think, and I want to challenge us this new year to examine ourselves with a fresh and intense honesty, while asking God for clarity. In searching for the answer to these questions we will need to start by asking a couple more:
1. In terms of how I eat and manage my health, do I need to grow up?
Sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? We’re not children anymore– we have jobs, kids, pay our bills and live like adults so why would we need to grow up? The reality though is that while most of us are forced to grow up in order to make a living, we fail to recognize the abundant need to mature in every corner of our life. There’s a multitude to discuss on this subject that we’ll save for later, but for today we’re focusing on specifically our health.
We all grow based on what we prioritize the most. For many, financial health is the greatest emphasis, so we commit ourselves to discovering whatever it takes to accumulate the greatest sum of money possible. Hopefully during that process we learn the principles behind money, how it is earned and managed, and how business works. You would agree this certainly isn’t an inevitability and nor is it something all people will embrace. Well the same is true with regard to our health.
If we want to change our health it’s time to recognize and relinquish our childhood attachment to what we put in our bodies. When we were children, food was used as medication. If you cried, something sweet was usually given to you. When the family was dysfunctional, food was a source of escape, pleasure, and happiness. Most importantly we had control over it so we could literally consume away our anxiety, intimacy needs, and emotional pain through eating. Children who were spoiled with food become adults who relive the experience every day; to do otherwise feels like a tremendous loss.
Our life requires that we take a step back and ask ourselves how consciously or subconsciously bound we are to food as a key source of stability or comfort. We won’t change what we put in our bodies until we know why we do it, so a revelation is needed! Once we understand why we make the choices we do, we can exercise our God given will to choose differently. I encourage you to take a prayerful look at how you developed your affinities towards food. Was it emotional or were you just never given boundaries for what you were allowed to eat?
Whatever the answer a shift must take place where internally we view our food as a vital source of life and health. Nutrient dense food is something our body requires to maintain literally every function. If we’re neglecting this need we’re either already experiencing poor health as a result or we’re well on our way. Unfortunately most people require some sort of health event or crisis to awaken this reality.
The biggest misconception about switching from “living to eat” versus “eating to live” is that it is a joyless life of munching on celery and carrot sticks. Eating properly does not mean food cannot be enjoyed! Nothing could be further from the truth but you have to give your taste buds time to adapt. Spending a lifetime indulging on sugar, fried food, and white starches takes time to unravel and we have to allow our body a rehab period to connect with its true needs. If you’ll commit to this process I guarantee you will not only notice your health transforming, but you will start craving healthy foods like you’ve never imagined..….be patient.
This is true of exercise as well because for many it’s boring and painful. How can we stick with our resolution to lose weight and have more energy when exercise is merely a time drag that we don’t have the energy for? Well if we’re open to it the truth is we don’t have time to not exercise. Yes, one of the biggest drains on our ability to have energy and sleep well is a lack of daily exercise. Today Fortune 500 companies know employees who exercise and take naps are more productive and happier, and as a result, provide nap stations and on-location gyms.
We’re progressing from a culture that wears burnout as a badge of honor and validation to a more dynamic one that embraces holistic living. Whether you’re a young professional or a veteran of life, it’s never too late to abandon a broken process and remove yourself from the statistics. This leads me to the second question:
2. How do I truly see myself?
When I attended Naturopathic School, surprisingly I had a professor who was a cigarette smoker. One day I noticed he had quit. I had gotten to know him over time so I felt comfortable asking him how he did it. His answer from 12 years ago still resonates with me today. He looked at me and said, “It was real simple. I became a non-smoker.” What I had expected to hear was a story about newfangled withdrawal treatments, suffering, and will power, but he explained to me that once he categorically saw himself as a non-smoker (emphasizing that word) it changed his behavior.
Sounds too ridiculously simple to be true, doesn’t it? It was in that moment though that I began to learn the tremendous power of self-imagery and its control over how we treat ourselves. Whether we realize it or not we set an expectation for all decisions based on how we see ourselves. Most people approach health change with an internal belief that they are a broken vessel trying to do things unbroken people do. The truth is before we tackle our diet, exercise, or even emotional health we need an image check before we can truly change.
It starts with exercising our God given ability to choose. Most of us lack that ability and feel powerless to overcome because it’s just been our way of life; we feel like “this is just me.” The good news is once we go through an honest self-examination and recognize that we’ve always seen a healthy lifestyle as running uphill or against the grain, we can make an authentic decision to become someone different. This works in every area of our life, but frankly we can’t continue with one foot in and one out. If we want to see this New Year be like no other, it’s time we got off the fence, jump in, and say, “This – is – me.” Until then, when it comes to healthy habits, we’ll always just be like the guy visiting a foreign country waiting to come home; you’ve got to become an entirely new citizen!
Make your decision prayerfully and begin to voice it as an affirmation. Our mind literally needs new programming and what the mouth speaks, our hearts can believe. It will take at least 30 days for the sense of real momentum and we’ll need to resist the stubborn old man/woman thoughts that’ll creep back. Just be prepared to replace the old thoughts with clear and succinct new ones like, “I could choose to do that, but it just wouldn’t be authentically me,” or “I’m grateful to be alive and healthy today and I look forward to making healthy choices.” It sounds hokey, but you’re literally reprogramming your brain to see yourself who you really are made to be. You’re actually exercising your “chooser muscle,” and as it gets stronger you’ll find it can be applied to any area of life where growth, maturity, and change are needed.
These two questions lie at the heart of so many lives on the brink of massive change. The world moves when we stop living as a broken vessel trying to live as an unbroken one. We have to grow into the new authentic version of ourselves by accepting that’s who we’re actually made to be. When we own up to all the stubborn thoughts and beliefs we feel entitled to from our childhood, we shed a layer of immaturity that spills right over into the rest of our lives. This new year my prayer for us all within the Progressive family is a greater awareness of who we’re made to be, an unrelenting desire to get there, and the humility to let go of all things God wants us to. A new you is right around the corner in 2015.
If you are struggling with weight loss, and want to make a holistic change in order to better yourself and change your life, please contact us here and ask us about our weight loss options.