Being healthy: what does this actually mean? This is a really prominent thing that we’ve been talking about in the last couple of years. The extreme end of this situation is orthorexia, an eating disorder with an obsession over being healthy, but more generally, people are given too many restrictions. We see it time and again, when a coach tells a client that they’re not allowed certain things in their diet. You’re only human, and at some point there will be a lapse. People can freefall and eat everything. They can feel guilty, maybe feel reluctant to get back on the wagon, and so lead to failure, but when it comes to nutrition, we tend to be more realistic. We follow the 80/20 method; 80% of the time, we’re good with our diets, and 20% of the time is typically classed as ‘not healthy’. This keeps you sane, and as long as you’re accountable for it you can stick to whatever your calories need to be. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy things as well. We’ve got to stop comparing ourselves to elite athletes and bodybuilders because we don’t have the same goals. We’re not trying to get to 5% body fat. People need to understand that we can have the best of both worlds.
Sure, as PTs we probably train a little more than the average person because our job allows us too, but we only eat good stuff a little more than others do. It has to be a balancing act. You can’t negate your happiness and personal life.
Another one we hear a lot about is the juice diet. They’re not sustainable. They don’t teach you healthy habits and they don’t teach you how to be sustainable. Sure, you’ll lose weight if you just drink these for 30 days because you’re eating less calories, but you’re not just going to drink fluids for the rest of your life, so what happens when you stop? You haven’t learned anything that you can cross over into your life, nothing habitual that’s going to keep you healthy and happy in the long term. The word ‘diet’ says short-term effort, short-term result, so try and build your life around you, and know that that is extremely different for different people.
There isn’t a one-type-fits-all approach. For some people, tracking calories and being obsessive with apps and things creates a bad relationship with food, and that’s something we’re trying to avoid, because these bad relationships usually manifest into something larger.
My last point on this would be that not everything you see on social media is healthy. Some people just don’t have a clue, and what they see as good will, to most others and to science, not be healthy for you. People might promote something but there’s no small print to say ‘you’re not taking what I’m taking, it’s not the same for all people, you don’t have the time in the day that I have, trying to hold yourself to this plan is unrealistic’. And then it plays on people’s insecurities. They might look like the happiest person in the world and be aesthetically pleasing, but it doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Appearance, much like money, really doesn’t have that much effect on your happiness. That’s what a lot of people don’t understand. You are essentially the sum of all your parts, and happiness is bound in the way you choose to live your life and the relationships you choose to have and who you spend time with.
What we consume and put out on social media is very important. For example, yesterday I was telling my sister that, while working out in a commercial gym, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t go online to say commercial gyms are crap because for many that’s what they like. So, we all really need to think twice before putting stuff online.