Do you get bombarded with messages from the internet, health professionals, family, friends etc telling you, you need to improve your health, lose weight, etc?
Do you start with good intentions, but find yourself struggling to make healthy choices?
Maybe you’ve got too much going on, and just can’t be bothered to meal plan or sort out an exercise routine.
So many people come to my office, saying someone has told them they need to get healthy or maybe they just feel societal pressures. But, when it comes to making a change, it doesn’t happen and so you’re feeling the pressure, you’re feeling guilty for not doing it and each day is an on again off again struggle.
Well, maybe it’s not a priority.
Now, listen. I don’t mean that in a negative or condescending way. It may just be that at the moment, your family, finances, getting through the day, rest, creative projects, work, or studying might be more of a priority than changing your diet or moving your body more and guess what.
Sure, as a Nutrition coach I’d love health to be your top priority, but if it isn’t that’s ok too. Putting pressure on yourself is never healthy and sometimes a diet overhaul might be in the too hard basket. Again, totally ok.
Take myself for example. This may surprise you (or maybe not) but when I was a teenager and well into my twenties. I smoked cigarettes, I drank – a lot, and I ate 3 bagels a day and all the junk food in between, yes!
At that time, health was not a priority for me. I felt fine, I was having fun. Being social, having fun and adventure were my priorities. That’s just the way it was.
Today, things are different. I don’t like the feeling of hangovers, being social kinda stresses me out and health, it’s near the top of my list and so no matter how busy I am, no matter how much I travel and am on the go, I find a way to make it work because it’s it's genuinely important to me.
That being said, health may be in my top 3 but it’s not #1. My family is always first and if my husband was in the hospital, I would prioritise being with him and taking care of him over rushing home to meal prep for the week. Just like many of you have others to take care of and maybe raising your children and taking care of them is all the energy you have at the moment. And that’s ok.
When we strive to be healthy because we feel we ‘should’ or because others tell us to, but it’s not actually a priority for us, it’s HARD! That was like telling me I should quit smoking when I obviously didn’t want to at the time. I tried, I just couldn’t do it. But once health because a priority for me, smoking became less so and… it was easy to quit.
Our priorities can change too, as they did for me. For some, a health crisis such as a heart attack or cancer or high cholesterol might suddenly shift things and put bump things up the priority ladder.
For now, I encourage you to take a moment, stop reading, get a piece of paper, and make a list of the following:
1. Your values: A value is defined as a strongly held belief about what is valuable or acceptable for you. Check this list out and try to keep yours under 5 for now.
2. Your priorities. What is important to you? It could be health, wealth, family, career, creativity, connection with others, rest. Try to put these in order of from top to least. Again, choose 5.
What did you notice? If your health is not a priority at the moment that’s ok! It’s your choice, we all have different values. It may simply show you why things are hard at the moment. You know what to do, you have the resources to do it, but it just doesn't happen.
I am not going to judge you if you have not chosen health as a priority. I just want you to be clear and accept that maybe now is not the time. Maybe you can let go of the 'shoulds' and 'shouldn'ts' around health for now. Maybe you should just – let it go and live your values and what’s important to you to the best of your ability.
Or, maybe health is still important to you but it’s lagging on the list. In this case, I simply do what you can with what you have, where you are. Is there is something that you can do right here right now while living your value that's easy to do and not going to take away from the others? Small steps are sometimes the biggest ones overall. Maybe you can drink more water. Maybe you can eat an extra veggie per day, maybe you can enjoy time with your family while being active.
So, if health isn’t a priority. That’s ok. When it becomes one, do what you can with what you’ve got. Live your values, enjoy your family and take each day one step at a time. Do so without guilt, shame or self-loathing. We’re all doing the best we can.