Many nutritionists and health educators, more often than not, encounter individuals who struggle with maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle. Most people do very well following a recommended diet protocol once they’ve committed to take the plunge. Problems seem to arise when the excitement runs out, weight-loss plateaus and confusion sets in about how to move forward with a diet that has left us hungry, bored and feeling restricted. Take the New Year’s resolution, for example. On January 1st, how many times do we make a pact to never drink another iced salted caramel mocha, but two months later inevitably find ourselves back at the coffee shop? Or, we enthusiastically head straight to the gym on New Year’s Day, only to be labelled a “resolutioner” by the diehard gymmies, as they take bets on whether you’ll make it to February. It’s apparent that we haven’t quite cracked the code as to why we continually fall back into old habits and behaviors. Some studies suggest focusing more on the prevention of obesity in the first place, given the lack of success at long-term weight reduction. Perhaps endlessly searching for the “next best diet plan” has taken our focus off the real issue.
I think we can all agree that when life is going well and positive things are happening, we make better decisions by default, especially with regard to our diets and how we treat our bodies. It’s almost as if we’re excited to eat well and have endless energy to stay the course. However, when life is routine and monotonous, or maybe even takes a turn for the worse, we use every excuse in the book to justify our backwards tumble into old habits and behaviors. It seems that we continually make progress toward losing weight and conquering addictions, only to end up back where we started. So what is the missing link?
Statistics show that only one-third of Americans are very happy. Interestingly, two-thirds of adult Americans are overweight or obese. Might there be a connection between truly living a fulfilling life and the ability to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle? The answer to that question may be fairly obvious. However, equally as obvious, yet more elusive and difficult to attain, is real and long lasting fulfillment in every area of our lives. When we get lost in the day-to-day, we stop growing. When we stop growing, we lack the motivation to even ask for more out of our lives. Ten years pass by and we’re still struggling with our finances, careers, relationships, health and families.
To gain perspective, pretend that one day you woke up with a horrible stomach virus, but, also that same morning, you had an appointment to sign a million-dollar business contract. Would your extreme nausea (among other things) even remotely stand as a barrier between you and signing that contract? Better yet, when a firefighter rushes into a burning building to save a child, is he thinking about his messy divorce or impending cancer diagnosis? Of course not! What is it that the future millionaire and firefighter both possess in these particular cases? How are they able to push through negative personal circumstances to accomplish the task at hand? Although both situations are a bit different in that one is earning a large sum of money and the other is saving a life, the answer to the question is still the same – they have purpose. They both have a personal mission that drives them to overcome their current physical limitations. A certain drive exists that provides the energy to move forward no matter the circumstances. On the contrary, when we live our lives in a day-to-day, robotic routine, we have no energy or desire to push through challenges. We tend to concentrate more on our own limitations and have a real lack of desire for all that life truly has to offer. When we operate from a “just need to get through the day” mentality, how can we possibly feel inspired to maintain a healthy weight and happy outlook on life? When we’re happy and motivated, we make better decisions by default.
The endless pursuit for health and happiness will, no doubt, take a frustrating turn when we go from diet plan to diet plan without taking an assessment of our real desire. Do you wake up every day eager to begin a new creative process that will make a difference in the world, or do you do whatever needs to be done to get yourself to Friday? Each one of us possesses an individual master plan that can positively affect the lives of others in some way. The secret is to awaken a desire for that true purpose, that personal master plan, and link to it on a daily basis. Does your current job link to your master plan? Does your relationship? Your friends? That cookie? That cup of coffee? Asking these questions can provide a fantastic reference point and a great place to start. No energy is greater than being on a path that inspires you to wake up early in the morning. Inspiration will serve as a solid foundation and a motivation reservoir that provides the strength to withstand dieting ups and downs and the ability to live the exciting, purposeful life you were meant to live.