The 8 habits of unhealthy people
Poor health is often related to bad dietary decisions, so how do you go about making lifestyle changes?
I'm tired of obesity. I'm tired of the whinging and excuses. I'm tired of hearing about hospitals full of self-inflicted illnesses.
And it isn't only the overweight that get me ranting and raving. I'm also tired of hearing about skinny model wannabe's surviving on ciggies, energy drinks, and vodka-soda-fresh limes.
It is the dumb choices of unhealthy people that make me angry, and here are the eight that annoy me the most:
1. You say: "I'll have a Diet Cola with that" as you order your lunch at the drive thru, thinking that gets you off the hook in the calorie stakes.
The addiction to junk food is one thing – but if you think adding diet cola will make a difference you're kidding yourself.
Your diet drink lacks the very same nutritional value as your fully leaded drink did. All fizzy drinks are either loaded with sugar or some sort of chemically-altered sweetener.
Solution: Remember water? Get up to 2 litres of it into your gut each day (depending on the weather and your physical activity levels).
2. You say things like: "But I hate broccoli". Guess what? So do I. But I eat broccoli and other fresh veggies because they contain nutrients my body needs.
Solution: Any $10 healthy cookbook can show you how to get creative with your veggies and salads so your tastebuds and body feel the difference. Over the next month, try to introduce three new vegetables into your kitchen each week. Who knows? You might even like them, and you know your body will.
3. You turn into a robot. You've got your new tablet, computer, video games, and smartphone strapped to your belt like some kind of techno-sheriff. You're obsessed with stuff, but you've let your body and your health go. But when push comes to shove, the gadgets are just stuff. Real value lies within a healthy body.
Solution: Turn off the TV, internet, and video games for one week and you will find you are left with time you never knew you had to exercise and lead a far more productive lifestyle.
4. You have an energy drink for breakfast. How many people do you see walking around with a jumbo can of fizz thinking they are providing 'energy' for their morning? These drinks are loaded with strange chemicals, sugar, and caffeine.
Solution: Put down the drinks and exercise in the morning. Your blood flows, you jump start your metabolism, and your brain activity increases. There's no need for a fizzy drink; just exercise - and even if it's a brisk walk to work, your energy will increase throughout the day.
5. You dial 1800-Fitness. You think you've tried it all because you've ordered it from some infomercial. The low carb diets with shakes for meals. The Ab Dominators. The Shake Weight. The Detox Plans. And yet your body stays the same.
Solution: Have you ever committed to six months of healthy eating and quality exercise? Make a plan, then follow a plan. Join a boot camp. Train with a mate. Enrol in group fitness at your local gym. Buy healthy cookbooks. Cook, exercise, hike, walk, and embrace a genuinely healthy lifestyle.
6. You let machines do all the work. The escalator is moving but you are not. You jump on the bus or in a taxi when you could walk. You drive to the store when you could jog or ride a bike.
Solution: Start walking on the escalator, or better still - take the stairs; how about that. Whether you jog, ride, walk, or even skateboard, ditch the machines and get your body moving.
7. You take ciggie breaks throughout the day. If a cigarette takes eight minutes to smoke, and it takes you two minutes to get downstairs and two minutes to get back to your desk, then you are spending an hour for every five ciggies you smoke each day. That's a big waste of time that you might have spent doing something productive.
Solution: Join a quit smoking program, or go the bookstore and pick up a book on kicking this evil habit. A healthy employee is a more productive employee.
8. You comfort exercise at the gym. Bad food and low energy turns into a 30 minute stroll on the treadmill or cross trainer while you mime old Hanson videos on the screen. You think 'something is better than nothing, right?' Well, not when it distances yourself from your goal.
Solution: Mentally prepare yourself to exercise with a purpose. Utilise interval training during cardio sessions, try CrossFit or circuit training, and implement a weights program into your weekly routine. Intensity guarantees results.
Some of these are tough solutions that will require big commitments, but I really do want Australians to change for the better.
So what is holding you back? Chad Timmermans, a sport and exercise physiologist and psychologist, believes that lifestyle changes are as simple as making the first move.
Chad's job is to counsel professional teams and ordinary folk who want to perform better, so are his words of wisdom:
"A lot of people feel they need confidence or positive emotions to change their lifestyle. That isn't true. You can do something well when you lack the confidence and self-belief. All you have to do is focus on the task and actions. Focus on exercise. Focus on shopping for healthy foods. Focus on lifestyle change. Eventually that will lead to the self-belief, and then self-esteems rises.
"Confidence is one of the most mistaken areas of behaviour because it's not something you can work on. You can't increase it. It's an emotion that comes as a result of having done something well repeatedly over time. Focus on tasks and actions, and you can create a healthy lifestyle."
I'm with Chad. I know it is possible to make lifestyle changes, because I've done it myself. How did I do it? I wrote down three bad habits that I needed to change. Then I wrote down three healthy habits I needed to commit to. And I stuck that piece of paper on my bathroom mirror and committed to turning my lifestyle around day by day.
It's simple, and it works.