Modern lifestyle can make it difficult to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Temptation and distraction await everywhere. 80% of Americans believe living a healthy lifestyle is a sacrifice. The US is a country of overabundance, aggressive, enticing marketing approaches aimed to influence consumers‘ behavior as well as time-strapped, hectic lifestyles. Sadly, this culture is one the rest of the world seems to follow.
While society as a whole might fall victim to it, YOU have a choice. Health is, to some extend, a personal matter. (Yes, it’s also a social, economic and family matter.) Nonetheless, a healthy lifestyle is one YOU decide, you choose, not because someone urges you to but because you want to, because it matters to you!
Yet, I agree: it’s not always easy. And while you might not be able to make 100% healthy choices, you can make the best healthy choices given your situation. It’s a starting point. It’s about starting. With time you will make progress.
80% of Americans view living a healthy lifestyle as sacrifice, 43% also state that modern lifestyle makes it difficult to be healthy.
If we sacrifice for the right reason, isn’t that a good thing? Why do I feel many Americans as well as many other people around the world view it as burden?
What is a sacrifice?
I like Cambridge’s definition better. While you choose to give up, for example, highly processed food (like those little spongy, sweet mini cakes) you do so in preference for something better, something healthier, something that supports you and your goal attainment.
It’s like trading your morning coffee with 2 sugar and cream for a black coffee with skim milk.
(Yes, I know, it’s an easy example.) If your goal is to reduce sugar and overall calories, it’s clearly a good choice. Initially, it might seem like a sacrifice, but one of short-lived nature. Yes, you love your sweet and creamy morning cup of Joe. It’s part of a ritual. Yet, after a while you learn to like your new coffee, too. Eventually, your taste buds will adjust. Your previous sweet and creamy coffee might now be too sweet and too creamy. Would you still say it’s a sacrifice? Probably not. (Of course, if you drink it in the morning while lingering over your favorite, sweet and creamy coffee, it might take a long while longer!) Btw, if you like a creamy coffee but want it healthy, give this „pimp your coffee“ recipe a try.
A more difficult example where sacrifice perhaps, indeed, plays a role relates to time & social outings.
Will you go out with friends for happy hour OR will you choose to work out instead?
Now, many of us might be torn. Some of us might want to go out, feel the need to go out (it’s been a stressful day, you want to blow of some stream, relax, enjoy a few drinks) . Other might feel the pressure to go out (society’s pressure is real). If you had planned on going to the gym, will you sacrifice your gym time (and health goal) over happy hour with friends or colleagues? Let’s be honest, we all want to belong, be part of the group but does that mean we should sacrifice what we really want – be healthy and fit, like workout? (If you don’t really want to work out, that’s a different story. But, perhaps there is something else you’d rather do: go for a walk, cook, relax with a book, spend time with…..)
Living a healthy lifestyle does not need to be a sacrifice
It’s a choice you and I make. Choosing something YOU WANT by foregoing something you don’t really want – is a GOOD sacrifice.
I wouldn’t even use the term sacrifice, as it has a negative connotation.
If you choose something you want over something you don’t really want (you might crave or be tempted for a few seconds but only because it’s presented to you or your attention is drawn to it) you choose YOU.
You don’t bargain. You don’t give up something you, too, want!
Firstly, you are happy to give away the things you don’t want. Or do you really want the pack of chips or cookies in your cupboard calling your name? Didn’t think so. So,
- buy them in the first place?
- put yourself in tempting situations?
- go out with friends to happy hour knowing you are tempted by the food or drinks?
- to socialize?
We know we can’t resist. Plus, by avoiding temptation, you don’t need to sacrifice anything, or do you?
Some might argue, of course: my friends are at happy hour while I’m at the gym. They are having fun while I’ll be sweating in agony. Really? It reminds me of something Mark Zuckerberg once said, choose JOMO over FOMO (joy of missing out over fear of missing out).
More importantly, you seem to forget WHY you made the choice you make, which brings me to the next point.
Secondly, by choose the healthy lifestyle you want, you choose YOU, your HEALTH, and what really matters to you. After all,
YOU live in your body, day in and day out.
Is that really a sacrifice? What are you sacrificing – ill health, low energy, feeling stressed, mood-swings, dissatisfaction with life and/or weight? Sacrificing that is a no-brainer!
So, why do we dwell on it? Because we think everyone is having a fabulous time without us, because the bakery good is sooo good and give us soo much pleasure? Please, you know this isn’t true! You perhaps have much more fun than they do and feel better by choosing healthier food options (healthy, too, = tasty!).
Lastly, we shouldn’t even spend time thinking about things we don’t really want nor are truly good for us. It’s a waste of time and energy.
Modern lifestyle makes it difficult to live healthy:
No, not really. Most of us, especially many Americans having taken part in that poll, live in overabundance. Food is everywhere, unhealthy as well as healthy! [Some people, however, aren’t as lucky. For them, yes, it can be difficult. Particularly if unhealthy food is present and cheaply available while healthier options are out of reach (but even here, healthy choices are an option! Habits and lack of skills & knowledge are the real problem).]
For the most part, with all kinds of food everywhere, making healthy choices is not difficult, if you:
- are 100% determined
- know what you want and WHY you want it
- have internalized your desire to make healthy choices
- have made a healthy lifestyle a solid part of your daily life
Will there be challenges, temptations and struggles? Of course! You should expect them but also keep in mind, a healthy lifestyle is a balanced lifestyle. Choose your battles but know that with time, it gets easier because people around you will align with your choices & preferences!
(Yes, even in your relationship. In the beginning, changes might be tough on everyone but time time your surroundings will align. Family & friends don’t need to sabotage your health goals.)
Reasons for choosing a healthy lifestyle
I don’t know about you but I have outgrown the area of working out for looks. For me, what really matters is how
- I feel
- much energy I have
- I enjoy my life, me and
- happy I am.
And honestly, living a healthy, balanced, active lifestyle makes me happy and allows me to feel better. Day in and day out. And that’s what really matters to me.
So, why do I CHOOSE a healthy lifestyle?
To feel better and be happy & content with myself, my life & environment!
Getting that is not a sacrifice, to the contrary, it’s something I’m happy to do. It’s my choice, my decision. One I stick with.
But, temptation is a real threat:
Temptation is all around us. Social outing with food here, wine tastings with lots of savory cheeses there. Happy hour or a night on the town with friends. Heavenly baked goodies from a co-worker at the office. Your as well as my strength to resist might be tested – actually, it most certainly will be tested.
It’s however not as difficult a test if we ask ourselves these questions:
- Do I really want the food/drinks? If so, why?
- Which emotions are triggered?
- Would I have wanted the food if it hadn’t been presented?
- Am I able to enjoy a small portion to „satisfy“ the craving?
- What’s the cost of consuming the food in terms of my health goals?
It’s also not as big of a test if I find a win-win with my co-workers (who constantly bring in food to the office), which brings me to another point.
I have a problem with co-workers bringing in junk food, unhealthy food or tempting sweet treats to the office.
Life is challenging enough; with coworkers‘ brought food they contribute – which doesn’t need to be the case!
More often than not they KNOW that people are either on a diet or are trying to make healthier choices. Sometimes I feel coworkers might not care or think about the effects of their actions on others. Some might try to impede colleagues‘ successes. Others might attempt to get rid of their own stash of unhealthy food by unloading it on to colleagues. Few might show their love by bringing in food.
More importantly however, many don’t really understand the emotions and internal battle a pack of cookies (or other sweets or salty things) in the kitchen causes for or triggers in some people.
Imagine, an addict (alcohol, cocaine, or any drug addict for that matter) has to pass the kitchen on his or her way to the copier (or restroom) multiple times per day. In the kitchen you (a coworker, in good will) brought in his/her favorite drugs of choice.
HOW long do you think s/he can resist?
Many colleagues experiences the same battle with sweets (or salty food).
While you might not intend harm, by bringing in such food you ultimately make it difficult to be healthy!
PLEASE STOP! I think, we as society would be much better off, less tempted, with an easier time to stick to our health and weight goals if office spaces would be food free – particularly with soooo many people „suffering in silence“.
Of course, I don’t want to only state facts or share my opinion. I want to offer some solutions, to empower you.
- be aware of your attitude and mindset and how you frame things
- don’t think in terms of sacrifice but rather in terms of gaining health
- be proud and committed to living a healthy lifestyle
- know WHY you want to live a healthy lifestyle
- surround yourself with like-minded people who support you
- make your challenges known, speak up, communicate and find a win-win solution for and with everyone
How should you deal with colleagues who constantly share tempting food? Find out in this article, Dealing with co-workers and their need to share food.
Thank you for reading. If you like what you read or have comments, don’t hesitate to react.
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