About a month ago, I wrote about how it was hard to be healthy. It takes a lot of willpower, motivation, and just plain old work sometimes to be healthier. This post is about the being unhealthy and how it can be just as hard to be unhealthy as it is to be healthy. Stick with me on this one, I promise it will be alright in the end!
The first thought that might cross your mind when you read that unhealthy is hard is, “Yeah, right”. When you glance at the surface of being unhealthy, it looks pretty easy. You eat whatever you want without caring about the effect it will have on your body. You don’t exercise and spend your free time sitting on the couch or computer. You don’t have to sit there and plan our meals and do prep work so you can eat well the whole week. In fact, it seems really nice and carefree to be unhealthy. But like I said, that is just the surface. When you really look at an unhealthy life, you see the challenges and the struggles.
For me, one of the hardest things about being unhealthy was my confidence and self image. I had zero confidence and my self image was fairly low. My goal in life was to blend in and in a large crowd, I was good at that. Sure, with my friends and family I was outgoing and personable, but put me in a room with a bunch of people I don’t know and I tend to blend right into the woodwork. I knew that I was overweight and didn’t look good and wasn’t eating healthy. Because of that, I also thought that everyone else thought the exact same thing about me. I figured that they took one look at me and knew how unhealthy I was and judged me as a lazy person. I realize now that probably wasn’t true, but at the time that is how I felt. Due to my natural inclination to fade into the background of most situations, it was really hard for me to finally break out of my shell and take steps to be healthier. Working out in front of other people terrified me because of course they were all watching me sweat and struggle. Making healthier food choices was worrisome because they might take notice that I was eating better and then start talking to me about it and I would have no idea what to say. These may sound like silly struggles to you, but for some of us this is really difficult. It seems easier to just stay in our shell and live with being unhealthy than try to take on the monumental task of taking steps to be healthier.
Which leads to another challenge of being unhealthy, the whole aspect of, well, being unhealthy. It is hard to deal with all the consequences of unhealthy choices. There are the medical consequences, things like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and a myriad of other ailments. There are the physical consequences, such as not fitting into clothes, aching joints, and weak muscles. There are the mental consequences, being made fun of or put down because of your weight, not feeling or looking like you want to, and being judged by others around you. Those are a lot of struggles for one person to take on and some people have been doing it for years. That is a lot of stress.
Why don’t they just change? If you’re unhealthy, just do something about it. Sure, it might be hard to live with all of those challenges, but it’s within their power to turn their lives around. To a degree, yes. Many of us do have the capacity to “fix” all these problems ourselves and start being healthier. But it takes a lot to get to that point. No amount of other people telling you to get healthy can actually make you get healthy until you reach the point where YOU yourself want to get healthy. The other side is that sometimes when you’re on the outside looking in, you can be made to feel like you don’t belong. How many times have you seen someone who is clearly struggling at the gym? You’re running along at your solid pace and the person next to you is sweating to maintain a brisk walk. You’re flying through your reps while the guy on the next machine can barely do one. I’m not saying that healthy people shouldn’t work out in public, but they need to remember that they started at the bottom too. Don’t forget what it was like your first time working out and show a little compassion to others who are just starting.
The same goes for eating. You didn’t just instantly start eating kale salads with homemade dressing one day, you built yourself up to that point. Slowly making changes and evolving the way you eat. Don’t judge the person eating a huge cheeseburger with the tiny side salad. That might be the first time they decided to get a salad instead of fries and that is a big deal to them.
Life is hard, whether you live it in a healthy or unhealthy way. There are challenges that each lifestyle has to face and neither one should feel diminished because of those challenges. It takes courage to stand up and decide to change your habits and start being healthier. It takes strength and motivation to keep going on a better path when there are temptations all along the way. I want you to realize that each choice you make, good or bad, is unique in it’s own way. It will present it’s own set of struggles, but you can meet those struggles head on. If you are still on the unhealthy side of the tracks, believe in your potential and don’t be afraid to take that first step. For those of you on the other side of the tracks, you’ve come so far and you can keep going. It may be tough, but you are tougher.