In this age of constant communications, we are inundated with the expectations of others. We are bombarded with images of how we should look, descriptions of how we should feel … in short we are the target of many with ulterior motives. Sometimes the motives are pure, more often it is to manipulate us for financial gain or personal power. This happens right from the moment we open our eyes to the world, and often it is those closest to us that are doing it, sometimes without being aware that they are. The ultimate result of this constant bombardment is we develop many unrealistic, and in many cases truly unhealthy, expectations of ourselves. And when we can’t reach such unreachable goals, we develop problems with self-worth, and/or create unhealthy habits that ultimately will only hurt us.
So the first step to creating healthy habits may actually be to recognize what our goals truly are. We need to separate fact from fiction, and realize what we are and are not capable of achieving. Here’s a few tips that have worked for me.
- THE SPECIFIC DIET IS KEY – Diets may work for a while, but the ONLY way to control weight is commitment to a healthy lifestyle. We constantly see images of how this person or that lost mega weight on THIS or THAT diet. But the reality is it is NOT the diet that did the trick, but the commitment to losing the weight that did. The diet is just the tool that helped reach the goal.
- COUNTING CALORIES IS IMPORTANT – This too is a bit of a myth. A calorie is basically a unit of heat, and when we are told the caloric content of something, it is an indication of how much heat will break that something down to its component parts. Unless it is manufactured (and manufactured food is already a scary enough thought), the caloric count is at best an estimate. Similarly, every body is different, thus will burn calories at different rates determined by many different factors, not the least the level of activity. So saying a specific caloric intake is correct for all is totally unrealistic. One needs to determine it for each individual. similarly, the amount of calories expended in activity is also at best an estimate. So the simple rule is this … to gain weight caloric intake must be greater than calories burned off, to maintain weight they must be the same, and to LOSE weight the intake must be less than what is burned off. Instead of focusing on a number, just adjust our level of activity to the amount of food we take in according to our goals.
- SCALES ARE HELPFUL – Ignore the scale! The simple fact is muscle weighs more than fat. If we are actually losing fat but gaining muscle, we might INCREASE our weight. So the best bet is to ignore the scale altogether and find other methods to track progress
- THERE IS AN IDEAL BODY – This is the ultimate lie. Male or female, there is no perfect configuration. We need to find the body that fits US, and not try to obtain one that is totally unrealistic because someone else tells us it is the ideal. Advertising is all about manipulation, and rarely about truth. But we are also often mislead by those intending to motivate and help. The truth is not everyone will get the same results even if they practice the exact same habits. To expect that is to assume we are all exactly the same. And that is clearly not the case.
This list could go on, but the basic message here is we need to stop letting the rest of the world determine who we should be, and determine for ourselves what OUR ideal is. If it is not obvious at first, then maybe we need to set smaller goals until the ideal US is revealed to US. Be the best ME, instead of trying to be the best THEM. That is the only truly achievable goal.