There are a number of reasons why people decide to change their exercise and eating habits. The most common one is usually the “pain-driven” motivation they get from feeling “out of shape” and finding it difficult or even embarrassing to fit into their favourite clothes.
That motivator is the other side of the coin to the more positive “pleasure-driven” push they get from imagining how good they’ll look and feel in new, smaller clothes at an upcoming occasion like a wedding, christening or party.
These 2 motivators will always be powerful because they’re just slight variations on the truism that “Everybody wants to look good naked!”
Athletic achievement can also be a great motivator. Improved diet and nutrition are a must for someone who wishes to take part in their first 10k run, long-distance charity cycle or who simply wants to improve the performance and enjoyment of their current sport.
However, in my opinion, there’s a much bigger reason that I believe that everyone should eat as healthily as possible and combine it with regular exercise: improved energy levels.
At this point almost everybody must be aware that lack of exercise combined with a poor quality diet and excess calories increases the risk factor of developing all major diseases.
However, not everybody who eats too much junk food develops type 2 diabetes or heart disease in much the same way that not everybody who smokes develops lung cancer. It just means that these people are at greater risk of developing them.
But just because you’re lucky enough not to have any major disease does not mean that you’re healthy. In fact the World Health Organization’s definition of Health will do the job until we come up with something better: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
I am what is generally considered “healthy” because, thankfully, I don’t have any major illnesses or injuries. However, for a few months towards the end of last year I found that my energy was way below the level that I wanted and needed it to be.
The result of this reduced capacity was that I found it more difficult to get out of bed in the morning, had less energy and enthusiasm for work and my own training was starting to fall behind. Such was my lack of interest in training that there were days when I would have rather eaten a barbell than lifted it!
The symptoms I was experiencing were very similar to what I’ve seen on a regular basis with clients over the years. When people are drained of energy they find it very difficult to make healthy food choices or to do any sort of meaningful exercise. This lack of energy seems to suck the joy out of life to the point that almost everything seems more effort than it’s worth.
This situation is common and although it’s not considered to be a major disease, it’s certainly a long way from being healthy.
So how does it get to this stage?
Recently I attended a Functional Nutrition Seminar run by the Irish Strength Institute. One of the many interesting ideas I took from the course was to consider Health as a bank account. Like most bank accounts you can either make lodgements or withdrawals.
In this particular type of account, health is only improved when lodgements are made in the form of Macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat), Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), Water, Sleep and Air.
The above are the basic requirements for good health and abundant energy, and they need to be of the best quality available.
The problems arise because Life tends to force us to continually make withdrawals from our Health Account. Increased stress levels, poor food choices, reduced amounts of quality sleep, and insufficient quantities of clean water and air will inevitably lead to reduced vitality and lower energy levels.
The good news is that the amount and quality of lodgements and withdrawals is totally within our own control. By recognizing this fact and then more importantly, doing something about it, we can bring our health and energy levels to the point that allows us to have a more fulfilling and enjoyable life.
I decided I needed to sort myself out. Next week I’ll tell you what worked for me and how it can work for you!