Is "Healthy Living" Eating Up Your Time, and Ultimately Your Health, Too?
Over the last couple decades, we have been morphing into a society increasingly disconnected from our own bodies and minds. We are increasingly relying on external factors to tell us what to do, how to feel, what personal goals we must achieve. This is certainly true of how we approach health. Often with tech as our overseer, we count steps, calories, macronutrients, minutes of exercise, our heart-rate… the list goes on. “Did I get the perfect ratio of protein and carbs this week”? “Did I eat too much refined sugar”?? “How did I take less steps today than yesterday”??? We think of food in complex terms of calories, vitamin and antioxidant content. We worry about proper portion sizes. We constantly read about which foods are “good” and which foods or food components are are “bad”.
This is taking up valuable time from our lives!
With this new ability to monitor everything and anything, we are tracking things we just never felt the need to track before, or at least not to the same degree. All day, everyday, there seems to be an increasingly long list of check boxes. Trying to juggle all these “To Dos” leaves us overwhelmed, exhausted, and sometimes even resentful. Speaking for myself, I often long for simpler days when discussions about antioxidants was not considered interesting dinner talk. At this point you might be thinking “ok, true, but at least we are healthier now, right”? Recent stats would tell us otherwise: life expectancy has declined in the US, mental health is at a crisis point, heart disease is causing 1 in 4 deaths, and type 2 diabetes is on the rise. THIS ISN’T WORKING! And all this pressure to live perfectly can actually be causing you more harm. Stress is linked to six leading causes of death ( https://www.slma.cc/the-science-of-stress/ ), and just the act of dieting itself has been shown to raise levels of the stress hormone, cortisol (for my fellow science junkies, check out this study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2895000/).
Is it me, or are the days getting shorter??
One thing all this extra counting and monitoring is indisputably good at is eating up your time. We are busier and more preoccupied than ever. Time spent logging and reviewing is time away from being present in the moment, and from focusing our already limited free time on the things that actually bring us joy. All the hours spent stressing over planning and preparing the most healthy meals, searching the internet for recipes that might trick your kid into eating vegetables (which, if we are being honest, are generally recipes my kids wouldn’t touch if they were starving), second guessing your go-to, on-the-run meals or snacks because they are basically poison according to your favorite social media “health expert” (I put that in quotations because most of these “experts” deserve quotations!). Time spent at the gym counting the minutes until you can finally get off that treadmill, forcing yourself to just “man up” and ignoring thoughts like “I’m not enjoying this”! Take a moment and think about if you have ever spent time during a fun event stressing about what you would or did eat. Sounding familiar?
So then what?!
Ok… so maybe all this is really time consuming, and maybe adds some stress, but you have to do it to stay healthy! There is no other way! Ask yourself this – have these things actually had a real and long term positive impact on your health in a measurable way? For most of us, the answer is no. So is there a way to reclaim all that time spent thinking about food and exercise that might also improve your health? YES!!! We are ALL born with our own internal monitoring system. Intuitive Eating provides us with the roadmap to rediscovering this built-in voice, and it’s never too late to become reacquainted! It is a way of approaching eating that was designed by two dietitians years ago who were tired of seeing people try all the usual diet methods to become healthy, and failing time and time again. Since then, peer-reviewed research has confirmed that this approach actually works (for additional info visit this link https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/eating-mindfully/201406/the-evidence-intuitive-eating ). You may be asking, if it’s so great, then why haven’t I heard of this before? The answer is pretty simple. There is no profit motive for those invested in the multi-billion dollar Wellness Industry! There are no drinks to sell, pills to sell, there are no apps required, no gym memberships required. It is a way to approach health that comes from within, and respects and trusts your own intuition to DECIDE WHAT YOUR BODY NEEDS. Free yourself of all the diet noise, the measuring, the counting, the monitoring. Take back your time, take back your life!