James Allen once said, “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”
I believe the same principle exists in the health and fitness of the body. A man is literally what he eats, his body being the complete sum of all he consumes.
There are numerous ways we can sabotage our health, but I want to share just three with you today.
1) Feeling Overwhelmed
Back in high school and college, I tried losing weight many times but always failed because I felt overwhelmed. I would spend money on diet programs, give it a go for a month or two, and then stop because I grew tired of the dramatic changes I was inflicting upon myself.
I’d quit because I tried to change too quickly. Instead of creating a slow steady change, I would go to the extreme and become overwhelmed because I couldn’t keep up with the many disciplines a healthy lifestyle requires. I thought that losing weight was a quick change that would last a lifetime, and somehow I just couldn’t meet the demands. After years of failure I have finally learned being healthy is a long term commitment. It’s a lifestyle that takes years to develop. A healthy body comes as we make small changes to our daily routine, changes we can manage and gain conversion to, changes that build upon one another.
2) Wheeling and Dealing
As human beings our inclination to justify behavior is embedded deep within us. Far too often we justify our current bad behavior because of good behavior we did in the past. We make deals with ourselves to ignore the guilt within. Deals like... “I’ve been really good today. So I totally can eat this dessert! I deserve it!” … Or “If I eat super healthy for the next week, then I can go crazy and eat whatever I want for my vacation coming up!” This kind of mentality is dangerous and (if we’re not careful) can corrupt worthy goals we are trying to accomplish.
Recently I saw a man in the checkout line buying a super healthy package of yogurt (awesome!), but then as he was waiting in line to check out he grabbed a candy bar.
Wait what? How does that make sense? Answer: It doesn’t.
If we avoid hypocrisy in our diet (as best as we can) our body will become healthy and fit at speeds we never thought possible!
3) Throwing Away Your Agency
There’s a common mind set I had for a good portion of my life. It was this… “I need someone to be accountable to. I need someone to motivate me.”
In some ways this can be a good thing. Being accountable to someone else has proven time and time again that men and women can change and become better. However, men and women use this mindset far too often as a crutch instead of the occasional helping hand. They give up their agency by giving the responsibility of their success to another person. They say to themselves, “If (so and so) goes for a run I will too” … “If (so and so) tells me no, I won’t get that dessert I really want” … “If (so and so) sticks with this diet I will too!”
It’s good to have someone walking the path with you, but it’s bad if your motivation for walking the path comes from other people. Permanent change comes as we choose to do good of our own free will, independent of any outside influence.
"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
"Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
"For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-28)
If you’re observant, you will see these mindsets everywhere in the world around you. And once you begin to recognize these mindsets, you will have greater power to say no and rid them from your life. The more you understand why something is harmful, the greater your mental defense becomes.
A lot has changed for me the last 5 years. I've dropped 90+ lbs. went from wearing 2XL shirts to medium and small. I gave up soda 4 years ago. I've made fruits, vegetables, and grains the primary part of my diet; and running has become a passion I never thought possible.
I didn't do anything special. Anyone can do what I did. The only thing I did different then most is... I didn't give up. I failed 1000s of times, but I kept on going! Success WILL come to each of us if we work long enough for it.
To quote Vince Lombardi, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Too often I think we feel like a failure because we are not perfect. But we shouldn't feel this way, because God never intended for us to be perfect in this life. He knew we would fail over and over and over again. That's why he provided a Savior for us. So instead of being sad that we've failed, let's practice using the atonement and try and be a little bit better today than we were yesterday. And before we know it we will have caught excellence!
I wish you all the best in your journey to health. It will take time, but that’s the way God intended it to be. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” (Alma 37:6)