I’ve been doing this a while–nutrition, health coaching, teaching my small steps approach. With each passing year, I realize how crucial my philosophy background is in my approach. At the time I graduated from college with a BA in philosophy, I had no plans whatsoever to pursue a career in nutrition and health. I had loved studying philosophy, but my immediate post-college goal was being an indie rock musician. Years later, when I eventually returned to school to become certified in nutrition, philosophy seemed like a completely unrelated subject. I figured the two were completely separate and unrelated, with zero overlap.
I was completely wrong.
I realized very quickly that unless I talk about the big picture subjects, unless I help clients place their moves in food and fitness into a broader context, unless I help them gain some perspective on what they’re actually trying to achieve, chances of any long-term success would be slim at best.
I think there are questions that those of us trying to improve our health and happiness are not asking…Here are a few:
- What are our actual goals (hint: ain’t weight loss, faster pace, or six pack abs)?
- I’ve never worked with a single person whose true end game is weight loss or six pack abs. At best, these are stops along the way to feeling better and being happier. When we make them ends in and of themselves we’ll more likely get caught up in whatever scheme we think will get us to them faster—problem is we will be ill-equipped to maintain them once we do (hence yo-yo dieting).
- So what if healthy food doesn’t taste as good as junk food?
- Here’s the deal: of course it doesn’t. Junk food is engineered to light our heads on fire. Make the conversation only about taste and you’ll feel like you’re missing something every time you eat healthy food. On the other hand, consider that healthy food need only taste good enough. Why? Because the pleasure of eating healthy food lasts much longer than the relatively short amount of time it takes you to eat it.
- So what if it’s harder to eat well and exercise?
- What a great question to ask. Why? Because it is harder. It takes more energy, it takes more attention. Let’s admit that it’s hard work to be healthy in a world that sells Twinkies and Big Macs on the cheap. Why? So we can avoid quick fixes and other false promises. So we can say “yep, it’s hard work, and totally worth it.”
Keep these big picture questions in your back pocket and take them out once in a while–especially during those inevitable periods when we feel like we’re ‘falling off the wagon.’
In asking these questions we remember the struggle inherent in carving out a meaningful, happy, and healthy life, and maybe, just maybe, take it a little easier on ourselves along the way.