The Dark Side of Healthy LivingAugust 12th, 2009
Have you ever been frustrated or overwhelmed by the demands of living a healthy lifestyle? Did it lead you to think that the effort might not be worthwhile?
Following a healthy lifestyle can be hard work, especially in the beginning when significant changes are often the most necessary. If this weren’t the case, obesity and poor health wouldn’t be nearly as prevalent as they are. Although there are a variety of reasons why people choose to risk their health with unhealthy habits, some of these reasons are more common than others and I thought it would be interesting to take a deeper look at what is holding many people back from a much better quality of life.
Change is Difficult and Overwhelming
The convenience of modern life makes it very easy for people to be sedentary, take on too much stress, deprive themselves of sleep, and eat a lot of unhealthy food. As such, most people have fallen into a routine that deviates greatly from a healthy lifestyle, and as a result, they’re often overwhelmed by the prospect of significant changes such as eliminating their favorite foods, reducing their activities, and going to bed a few hours earlier. Unfortunately, many people would rather maintain the comfort of their unhealthy routine, even at the cost of compromising their lives in the long run.
There’s a Learning Curve
The willingness to change isn’t worth much without the knowledge required to make it happen. Unfortunately, there’s so much misleading and contradictory information circulating about healthy lifestyle habits that it can take a lot of persistence and critical thinking to recognize what’s sensible. Of the people who are committed enough to even try getting past this issue, a number of them will lose their patience and return to their old habits.
You Can’t Live on Indulgence
To some, eating unhealthy food, staying up late, or repeating any other unhealthy habit with little or no restriction is their idea of living life to the fullest. Although this type of thinking is seriously flawed, there’s no doubt that it can be quite difficult to avoid the unhealthy foods and activities that many of us have become so accustomed to.
Many of today’s popular processed foods are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates which can be highly addictive and very difficult to avoid. Similarly, people who overexercise can become addicted to the endorphin rush, and people who deprive themselves of sleep in exchange for more time mistakenly think that they’re increasing their productivity. Unfortunately, these people don’t truly understand the benefits of optimal health and shortchange themselves by thinking the sacrifice isn’t worthwhile.
Healthy Food is More Expensive and Harder to Find
The higher price of organic food and especially pasture raised meat is one of the most common objections that people have when considering a switch to a healthier diet, and it certainly doesn’t help that such food can be difficult to find. Despite the fact that there are ways to reduce the cost of healthy food, some people are unwilling to make the commitment.
You Can’t Eat Out as Much
Restaurants that serve truly healthy food are a rare find and can be quite expensive. Even if you have a few in your area, restaurant meals tend to contain a wide variety of ingredients, some of which may not agree with you. As such, an important part of a healthy diet is preparing most of your meals yourself so that you have control of the ingredients. However, eating out can be an extremely difficult activity to limit if you’ve become dependent on it as a leisure activity or as a convenient source of meals.
Other People May Think You’re Obsessive
As previously mentioned, the average modern lifestyle is a far way off from being healthy, and as a result, you really have to go out of your way to follow healthy habits. This is likely to draw attention, and when it does, people who don’t understand the purpose of your efforts are likely to think that you’re obsessive. For example, you may be ridiculed for not wanting to have a beer, going out of your way to avoid sugar, or like me, eating meat for breakfast. As such, some people may have a difficult time with this and choose to not bother with the healthy habits that bring on the unwanted attention.
Healthy Habits Require More Time
Despite the many conveniences of modern life, many of us are busier than ever and are barely able to keep up. As a result, few people are willing to adjust their priorities and make available the additional time required to prepare healthy meals, exercise, or educate themselves on healthy habits. Although there are ways to reduce the time requirements of a healthy lifestyle, such as cooking in bulk and high intensity interval training, it still requires more time and commitment than the microwaveable dinners and sedentary lifestyles that most people have become accustomed to.
Awareness Exposes Depressing Realities
As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. Realizing the full extent of the life altering shortcomings of modern medicine and industrialized farming in combination with the corruption and influence of the drug and processed food industries can be quite depressing. For example, perhaps you’ve spent many years living a life compromised by the limitations of disease, the side effects of medication, and the frustration of being bounced around from specialist to specialist. Discovering that you’ve been badly misled and that all of this could have been avoided with a healthier lifestyle will likely inspire some painful emotions. For some, these emotions may be too strong to tolerate and lead to denial and a continuation of unhealthy habits.
Family Members are Often Resistant
I personally have a very difficult time watching people make bad decisions in regard to their health. For many people, including myself, this concern is much more intense in regard to family members. This is particularly true among parents who naturally want the best for their children. For whatever reason, it always seems easier to dismiss the advice of a family member. In regard to a matter as serious as health, this can often lead to anger, frustration, and resentment. As such, some people will choose the comfort of conforming with their family over the conflict that might result from trying to set a healthy example.
Traveling Can Be Quite a Challenge
Although it’s certainly possible to continue following a healthy lifestyle while away from home, it requires additional planning that some people would rather not bother with. Unless you have a place to stay with at least a refrigerator, you’ll be left at the mercy of restaurants, and as mentioned earlier, this will make it much more difficult to maintain a healthy diet. As such, people who travel frequently are far less likely to deal with the hassle of bringing food with them or searching for healthy alternatives.
Is it Really That Bad?
I just described the most inconvenient and undesirable aspects of living a healthy lifestyle that I could think of. It’s estimated that 2 out of every 3 Americans have or will develop cancer or heart disease. Both of these diseases, which are the two leading causes of death in America, are highly correlated with lifestyle. In comparison, is the extra effort and discipline required by a healthy lifestyle really that bad? You can start working on implementing healthier habits right now by signing up for my free course, 7 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Happier, and Healthier You!
This article is part of Real Food Wednesdays.