There’s a lot of pressure on people today to become fitter and healthier versions of themselves. But what if you’re happy as you are? What can you do to make sure you stay feeling just fine or so-so?
After all, you’re an adult and no one’s going to tell you what you can and can’t eat. In fact, you know that you should eat more vegetables as fibre is important for this and that, and that too much processed food is bad for your health, blah, blah, but who has the time to prepare a proper meal?
You didn’t get to where you are today by eating nutrient-dense food, so it makes perfect sense to continue eating what you fancy, when you fancy it. In any event, you may already be making choices based on how healthy the packaging implies it is:
- Diet soft drinks. Fewer calories from sugar is a win. Just because scientists have shown people who drink diet drinks eat more calories in a day than those who don’t, doesn’t mean that’s the case for you.
- Fruit juice and smoothies. It’s all-natural sugar and that’s what matters. The fact that our bodies can’t tell the difference between sugar from oranges and sugar from, well, sugar cane, doesn’t negate the fact that you’re getting your 5 a day.
- Low fat food items. Fat is evil and therefore the sugar, salt and chemicals added to most low-fat food to make them tasty is a price worth paying.
- Vegan processed food. It goes without saying that anything which is kind to both the environment and animals must be good for our bodies, even if it is heavily processed. And any nutrients which we can only get (or that are more readily absorbed) from animal sources probably aren’t that important.
And remember, if one’s good, more must be better. Don’t worry about paying attention to your hunger levels or giving your body time and space to digest food properly.
We’re always told that rest is important for our health and in any event, life is too short to spend it exercising regularly. Does this sound like your typical day:
- Wake up with the alarm. Snooze as long as possible before getting up. Being groggy is just how you are; it will clear later.
- Grab some breakfast and head to work. Running late, so the commute is a bit stressful.
- Most of your “active” time at work is to and from the coffee machine or café. You can’t function at your best without caffeine.
- You’re late leaving work as you had to get stuff done and you work best under pressure.
- You get home hungry having skipped lunch, so eating is a priority. Whilst the microwave is doing its thing, you catch up on social media and Love Island, before settling down on the sofa with a glass of wine. And why not, you deserve it for the day you’ve had. Just like yesterday. And tomorrow.
- Before you know it, it’s time for bed and that’s just not the right time to exercise.
There’ll be plenty of time at the weekend to catch up on exercise. Right? For now, resting is what’s needed.
Are you another of those annoying people who can bring their ‘A-game’ to everything they do on just five hours of sleep a night? Only a fraction of 1% of the population works at their best with fewer than seven hours of sleep and it seem that we’ve met most of them!
Being able to function as well as you do on little sleep should get you an award. Everyone else faces a future of:
- Being grumpy and bad tempered
- Continuous fatigue
- Poor stress management
- Impaired decision making and concentration
- Increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes
- Poor sports performance
- Greater risk of accidents
- More colds and flu due to weakened immune system
- Depression and anxiety
- Lower libido and fertility
And here’s the kicker, when people are sleep deprived, it’s harder for them to recognise that they’re sleep deprived. You’re so lucky not to suffer with the rest of us.
So, keep watching the TV in the late evening, sending emails on your laptop, then avoiding FOMO by keeping up to date on social media on your phone when in bed as clearly the stimulation is not affecting your quality and quantity of sleep.
In any event, the alcohol helps you get off to sleep and no doubt your liver is so effective at processing it whilst you sleep that you’re as bright as button in the morning. Then of course you can always catch up on sleep at the weekend, even if it eats into your exercise time.
The great thing about stress is that it makes things happen. It doesn’t matter how few hours you slept last night, when you last exercised or how much junk food you ate today, you can rely on a good ‘ole shot of adrenaline to get you over the finish line.
Sure, you’ve put on a few pounds around your middle and your memory isn’t what it used to be, but that’s just a factor of getting older, isn’t it? And a little bit of brain fog is nothing which can’t be cured with caffeine.
If your friends, family and colleagues tell you to cheer up and not be so grumpy, you know it’s time to get to the gym and beast yourself with your hardest workout or do some HIIT. You can tackle the world (with a smile) after that – it must be that the stress of exercise cancels out the stress of 21st century life. Win-win!
So, carry on driving forward at full speed, keep downtime to a minimum and reap those rewards before you burnout. You’ll have a holiday at some point and that’s when you can slow down. Hopefully this year you won’t get your usual holiday cold or bug – funny how that always happens when your stress levels drop.
No one knows more about how you’re feeling than you. Sure, you get aches and pains, but nothing that some anti-inflammatory pills from Phil, your favourite pharmacist, can’t cure. In fact, when you’re really busy and stress is dragging you through the day, those aches and pains disappear.
Thanks to the clever people at Rennie, you’re able to stop your indigestion from slowing you down. Speaking of slowing down, eating and drinking what you do means you only have to go for a number two every few days. Though there was that “incident” when things went the other way…
For tiredness, caffeine works, although you need more these days as it seems to have less effect. The same goes for winding down at the end of the day – one glass of wine doesn’t cut it anymore.
Still, if you continue listening to your body and self-medicate with anti-inflammatories, antacids, laxatives, antidiarrhoeals, caffeine and alcohol, you can stay just as healthy as you are today. After all, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
The internet is a wonderful thing. Before it came along, if we wanted to find something out, we’d have to go to the library and flick through a bunch of encyclopaedias only to read a short paragraph which didn’t really answer the question. Or we’d have to speak to an expert.
Not these days. Within a few seconds, we can find the exact piece of advice we’re looking for online which supports our existing view. Yes, there’s a lot of “noise” out there, but once you filter out the dissenting voices, you’re happy you’re on the right track.
Because you’re looking to stay so-so, there’s no value in paying for advice when you have what you need at your fingertips. It’s not rocket science and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Staying the same is often the easiest thing we can do. We can keep doing what we’re doing and minimise the effort needed to survive from day to day.
My question to you is “how is that working for you?”. How would it feel if rather than planning to survive, you planned to thrive?
If you changed one thing to become a little bit healthier or fitter, what would it be? It doesn’t need to be a big thing like committing to go to the gym four times a week. It could be going to bed 30 minutes earlier, eating your fruit rather than drinking it or going for a 10 minute walk before lunch.
In fact, the smaller the change, the more likely it is to stick – we’re looking for progress, not perfection. And once you have that change under your belt, you can add another change. Before you know it, you’ll be more focussed on your health and fitness, with more energy, fewer over the counter medications and in better control of your mental health.
Do yourself a favour and make your health and fitness a priority, not a luxury.
Your bonus step is to do something different today that makes a difference to your health and fitness. The effort required will be less than the effort required next week, next month, in a few years, or when you retire.
Are you ready to thrive?