Last week I wrote an article about first changing your mind-set so you can then change your behavior – Stop The Nutrition Roller Coaster – to better develop permanent healthy nutrition habits and stop the “roller coaster” once and for all. This week, I want to get a little deeper into how to change your approach to fitness – with nutrition and exercise.
Specifically: How can you change your attitude about healthy nutrition and regular exercise so that it becomes part of your everyday life?
I believe your approach to exercise and nutrition all comes down to what you consider normal.
WHAT IS NORMAL?
According to Wikipedia, the definition of normal in reference to behavior is “conforming to an average.” In reference to a societal norm, normal means “expected patterns of behavior within the context of society.”
Did you catch that? Expected patterns of behavior within the context of society.
Man, are we in trouble.
This is what we are up against in today’s normal “context of society” (the majority of these figures comes from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention – the CDC):
• The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s.
• Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6-19) is classified as obese.
• More than 20,000 US youth younger than age 20 had type 2 diabetes in 2009 and more than 5,000 new cases of type 2 diabetes are estimated to be diagnosed for that age group each year.
• Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2013.
• Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting people of all ages, genders and backgrounds, and affecting about 610,000 people (1 out of every 4 deaths) in the US every year.
• Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing over 370 people annually. CHD is caused by plaque (deposits of cholesterol and other substances) buildup in the walls of the artery that supply blood to the heart.
• Every year, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, occurs when part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood flow, most likely due to the above mentioned CHD.
Guess what the CDC references as medical conditions and lifestyle choices that put people at a higher risk for heart disease?
• Poor diet
• Physical inactivity
• Excessive alcohol use
A frightening coincidence (maybe not) is the correlation between increased lifestyle-related deaths and diseases (poor food choices and inactivity) and the increased demand for convenience foods. An article published on Dec. 30, 2016 on www.fooddive.com revealed that the biggest driver of sales growth in food trends in 2016 was (drum roll) … convenience.
These two issues: a rise in preventable, lifestyle-related diseases affecting people at a younger and younger age, and an increase in consumer-driven convenience foods (if the people want it, the food manufacturers will make it!) is the reality that is our context of society, guys!
This is what we’re up against. This is why it is so hard to change the way you think about fitness, particularly nutrition.
Because it is not the norm.
I am admittedly not normal by today’s standards. How do I know this? Because what I consider normal everyday life seems odd or out of the ordinary to many other people. And what many other people consider normal seems odd or out of the ordinary to me. I’m ok with that because of what I see happening with people’s health as summarized above – and the above statistics are just the tip of the iceberg.
All of this came to the forefront of my mind last week after I posted a video on Instagram of my 9-year-old son Gryphon exercising at our neighborhood playground. He did some biceps curls with 5 pound dumbbells, assisted pull-ups on the monkey bars and a few other exercises.
Someone commented on my post: “Not too young?” I politely responded: “No, not too young to learn how to exercise and incorporate fitness into his life.”
VIDEO GAMES + FRENCH FRIES vs EXERCISE + OUTDOOR ACTIVITY
I started thinking about all of the things kids do in today’s societal norms: playing video games for hours, eating unhealthy foods etc. How is it we live in a world where exercising and playing on monkey bars comes into question and could possibly be thought of as not age appropriate?
This is just one of many things I have bene questioned about but I consider completely normal. Here are a few other things that I consider normal but are probably not part of today’s societal norms:
• About once a week, I run either one or two miles to and from Gryphon’s school to have lunch with him (if I go the back way, it’s two miles, if I go the front way, it’s one mile).
This seems strange to the school office ladies, the janitors and the school principal, who have all made comments about how unusual (but very cool) it is that I do that. It’s a two minute drive, and it seems silly to me to drive a car for two minutes when I could just run or walk.
• I run with my son at his Run Hard Club practice.
• I participate in my son’s Jump Rope For Heart Jump-A-Thon every year, jumping rope with all the crazy hyper kids in the gym.
• I don’t socialize or go out much at all in the way of partying or eating out or going on trips, etc. (once in a blue moon)
• I food journal in My Fitness Pal as part of my everyday life and I don’t even really think about it anymore, it’s just something I do.
There was a time when it was normal to walk or bike to school. It was normal to prepare your own meals (there was no other option). It was normal to do manual, physical labor from sun up to sun down (even young kids worked on farms, lifting, pulling, plowing, moving their bodies and using their muscles) every day!
Yes, we have many more civilized, modern conveniences now but we also have more unhealthy and unfit people walking around now than ever before, too.
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR NORMAL
As you can see from some of the things I do on a daily or weekly basis, I have changed my normal. I had to. I believe the human body was meant to eat in order to be nourished and meant to move in some way every day. But the world we live in today makes it so much harder because it is not the normal mind set anymore.
This means it may be a challenge for you to try to live a healthy, fit lifestyle. Especially if you have family, friends, a job, etc. that make it even harder for you to make good nutrition choices and make time for regular exercise. You will have to create your own new normal , and maybe make some choices and incorporate habits that go against what others might consider normal.
But if you look at the average, normal American with all the above statistics, are you ok with normal? Or do you want better for yourself? If so, you have to make better choices, incorporate better habits and say “I’m not normal! I’m not ordinary … I’m extraordinary!”
Tip Me Tuesday: Stop The Nutrition Roller Coaster
Tip Me Tuesday: Getting To Know You
Tip Me Tuesday: Weight Matters
Tip Me Tuesday: Do The Best With What You Have
Tip Me Tuesday: Push Through Barriers With Fitness Therapy
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.