Have you ever seen a TV commercial for a weight loss product that presents the whole “getting healthy” thing as being fun, sexy, and easy? Or a reality show in which contestants lose hundreds of pounds in the span of an 8 episode season? Let me burst your bubble. It‘s not that easy. The honest truth? It’s really hard work. It’s not so much fun at first. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, and there are lots of times that you’re going to want to throw in the towel. Which might help explain why over two-thirds of all Americans are overweight or obese. After all, if healthy were easy than everyone would be doing it.
My intention with this week’s column is not to depress you, but sometimes it’s important to hear the simple truth. And sometimes it’s helpful to understand that just because the going is tough in the beginning of something, doesn’t mean that that thing is not worth it in the end.
Let me ask you this: did anything you’ve ever worked hard for ever come easily? For example, did making the varsity team back in high school come easily, or did you have to work hard for it? Was it worth it? Did earning your college degree come easily or did you have to work hard? Worth it? Is raising your kids hard work? Is it worth it? (Ok, so you don‘t have to answer that one yet if the jury is still out.) But just because it’s hard work doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. In fact many of the best things in life are the things we have to work hard for. So will achieving your wellness goals be hard work? You betcha! Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say the following, “I want to get in shape, but it’s so hard!” Or, “I want to eat better, but it’s a lot of work!” Um, yes, it is hard work. What on earth possessed you to think it would be easy? Psychologists tell us that acquiring a bad habit can pretty much happen after one or two days. But unlearning a bad habit, or developing a good habit and getting it to stick? Takes, on average, 60+ days. We are creatures of habit, and to think that we can reverse years and years of unhealthy behavior at one moment in time is simply ludicrous. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it just means that it takes a lot of hard, consistent work to get there.
I’m not sure when we all started to think that getting healthy should always be fun and user-friendly, because that‘s simply not the case. As someone who used-to-be-obese, I can’t tell you that this journey is easy. But I can absolutely tell you that it can be done. And that it’s well worth it. I’m also happy to report that actually being healthy is fun and, yes it’s still work, but it’s much more enjoyable work, because getting healthy involves discovering what you’re capable of, and that’s something that all of us need more of in our lives.
Ben Murphy, founder of The Father Life, is an Adventure Athlete, Writer, and Wellness Advocate who used to be obese. You can ask him your questions at www.BenMurphyOnline.com. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and three daughters.