Monday, September 10, 2012

We Know the Problem, So Why Don't We Do Anything?

So What's Our Problem?

If such terrible, physical maladies are, for the most part, preventable, why aren't we doing anything about it? The problem is instant versus delayed gratification. There is a saying that goes like this: hard work pays off in the future, but procrastination pays off now! When it comes to our health, it appears many of us hold fast to this motto. Eating large amounts of bad-for-you food and inactivity is enjoyable.  If it weren't, the national trends would be headed the other way. And the pleasure that comes from these things is immediate, just like we want it. 

Eating healthy and exercise don't appear to have an immediate pay off. In fact, they feel like self-denial. Exercise brings the sweat and an expense of energy, and that huge hamburger or extra piece of chocolate pie sure seem more satisfying than that diety food. Plus being in good, physical condition may pay off in the future. It reduces the risks of disease, but it doesn't elimate them. We're all going to die anyway, right? 

Let's think about this logically for a moment. You are going to die. There is no doubt about it. But imagine you are presented with these two options: 1. You choose a lifestyle that will provide you with some immediate gratifications, but your overall quality of life will be lowered, you will eventually not be able to do all the other activities you enjoy, your risk for a slow, decaying death is increased, and you die early OR 2. You maintain a high quality of life until death, able to enjoy many different activities without serious health complications, all the while feeling your best. Seriously, which would you choose?

My lack of desire and inability to do things I enjoyed coupled with the real possibility of grave physical problems woke me up. I had tried to lose weight many times before. You may be familiar with that ten pounds that you lose only to have it move back in within a month. Yeah, I've been there, done that. But this time, I wanted that ten pounds and about ten of his buddies to move out for good. I didn't make up any excuses, and I urge you not to either. Most of your reasons to not do anything are not reasons, they are excuses. Call them as they are. Honesty with yourself and your situation are crucial on this journey.

So, How'd You Do It?

Every time I see someone who has not seen me in a while, and they notice the weight loss, the question is always the same: how'd you do it?  My daughter jokingly suggested I answer with the Shake Weight. 

I think the question is, in some ways, the wrong question. Normally a person is asking me how I lost weight. I cannot approach my life changes simply from the one avenue of just losing weight. Granted that is how I started, but that is not where I am today. I have not just lost weight. I've decreased my risk for disease, increased my physical capacity and endurance, increased my energy and quality of life, and I've enhanced all other life activities. 

Why do I make this distinction? Because simply losing weight as a goal is short-sighted. Sure, the number on the scale is the main figure I use to gauge the overall progress in these areas. But if I make just weight loss the goal, I will feel that my job is done once I get to where I want to be. I've seen it happen many, many times. A person goes on some sort of diet in order to lose weight. They are met with a measure of success, and, once they feel satisfied with how much they've lost, they go back to normal, only to gain it all back. They met their goal, so why keep going?

The problem is that weight maintenance, a decreased risk for disease, increased energy, and increased quality of life don't just happen for the rest of your life. They must be pursued. If you are like me, however, you will want to pursue these things because you've come to realize the quality of these benefits.

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