There's so much health information out there these days. It can drive you crazy.
In regard to diet, you can start thinking things like:
- Is it organic?
- Is it non-GMO?
- Is it locally-sourced?
- Are there added hormones?
- Is it grass-fed?
- Should I be eating things that eat grass and have hormones?
- But if I became a vegetarian, would I get enough protein? What's all this hype about protein?
- I hear fish is healthy. Fish has protein. But what about mercury and other toxic waste contaminating the fish's water?
- Speaking of water, is tap water okay? Or is bottled water better? Do those bottles contain BPA? What about other chemicals in the plastic? Not to mention the environmental implications of water bottles...
In regard to exercise, you may start thinking things like:
- Should I focus on cardio or strength training?
- Maybe both? Should cardio come before strength, or strength before cardio? Should they be done on different days? Should I incorporate both at the same time?
- For strength training, how many reps should I do? Should I lift heavy with less reps, or lighter with more reps? How many sets should I do? How much time between sets? What about supersets? What's this I hear about muscle confusion?
- And what's all the fuss about "balance" and working on your "core"? Should I be doing yoga? Pilates? PiYo?
Wow, just writing all these topics/questions is enough to invoke anxiety and overwhelm. It's enough to make a girl want to throw in the towel, plop down on the couch, and open a bag of chips.
I'm all for being knowledgeable and making smart choices, but there's no need to over-complicate and add unnecessary guilt. If we're obsessing about everything we put into our body, or whether or not we're doing the "right" fitness plan, is this behavior really health-promoting?
Let's keep in mind the negative health consequences of stress, worry, and anxiety. Are we self-inflicting a stress response that could be counteracting some of the "superior wellness" benefit we're trying to achieve?
What I've decided is this: It's easy to get lost in the weeds and lose sight of the big picture. Before worrying about all the questions/concerns noted above, how about starting with:
- Am I consistently including vegetables in my diet?
- Am I consistently making time for physical activity?
- Am I consistently drinking at least 8 cups of water daily (assuming you don't have a health condition that limits fluid intake)?
Once you can honestly say that you are doing these things (I'm talking daily, for 2+ months), you can get as fancy as you want from there. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Start with the attitude of something is better than nothing. A lot of "somethings" can add up to very noticeable changes over time.
In regard to vegetables:
- Sometimes I pick fresh vegetables from my chemical-free (and weed-abundant... let me be honest) garden.
- Sometimes I visit our farmer's market. Sometimes I buy organic.
- Sometimes I buy whatever fresh variety happens to be on sale.
- Sometimes I opt for frozen.
- Sometimes I open up a can.
In regard to physical activity:
- Sometimes I am able to go for a nice run, eat a good breakfast, then do a strength workout.
- Sometimes I go for a shorter walk/jog with my 6-year-old and 4-year-old kids (on a route that conveniently ends at a playground, ensuring they are always eager to go!).
- Sometimes I follow a yoga video on YouTube.
- Sometimes I just take 5 minutes to do some push-ups and triceps dips before getting ready for a long day at work.
Personally, when I stopped trying to perfectly follow various diet and exercise programs, and instead focused on consistency over intensity, that's when I started to see results.
Remember back in elementary math class when we learned about the "less than" and "greater than" symbols? Turns out they're useful in this uncomplicated equation regarding healthy choices:
Nothing < Something < More.
This post was originally published on June 14, 2016.