Recently one of my clients back-slid on her healthy nutrition for an entire month. The affects showed up in an increase in body fat, and a decrease in her mood – partially from the negative change in her body, partially because of “food depression” (which I will discuss shortly). When I asked what prompted her choice to eat less healthy, she claimed that “eating healthy is hard, you have to plan and prep and it’s not cheap.”
While I agree completely with her assessment about the time commitment and cost, I do not agree with it being hard. “Hard” (or in this case difficult) is a perspective. For many, it’s hard to get up every morning and go to work; or to do Saturday chores of house cleaning and errand running. It can be hard to be full-time student (my niece is often up until 3:00 a.m. with all the homework a highschool junior has). The difference with all these examples is that they are typically mandatory. Jobs are a necessary part of life for adults; school is not a choice for those under the age of 18, etc. But nutrition and exercise, those are optional, right?!
Well that depends on your perspective. To my perspective, healthy eating and regular exercise is essential (even mandatory). So how do you change your perspective? The first thing is to have your motivation be more than just “I’d like to get in shape.” You have to really want to FEEL better and stronger and more youthful all the time. Second, you need a routine. Despite the obvious pun, I’m referring to a weekly or daily routine of menu planning, shopping, and food preparation. Just as you have a routine to your weekday morning of getting up and getting to work on time, you can have a routine to your nutrition. Once the routine is routine it’s difficultly decreases as it becomes the norm.
Lastly, do not be intimidated by the appearance of higher cost for healthy eating. Again, with proper menu planning, and shopping at the right store, the cost of eating clean doesn’t have to be more than eating processed junk that can stay fresh in your pantry for months. Fresh vegetables bought in bulk at CostCo can sliced up and frozen for later use in stir-fries or crock-pot dishes. Those same crock-pot creations can be made double sized, and then freeze half for consumption at a later week/month. A box of quinoa, though higher priced than a bag of white rice, has so many more health benefits packed into each small kernel, that a little goes a long way and ultimately it can last you just as long if used properly (as an ingredient IN your dish, not a huge carbohydrate addition on your plate).
Don’t forget to factor in your reduced sick time or doctors bills because you are healthier. I know many over-fat people/clients (remember I never say over-weight) who spends hundreds of dollars on prescription blood pressure medicine because their have too high a percentage of body fat. Those same clients, when they have embraced healthy nutrition and exercise, have been able to stop taking their prescription drugs.
As mentioned earlier, there is also the syndrome of food depression. Filling your system with nutrient-low foods combined with the preservatives added to them can cause blatant chemical depression. Just watch Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me to see the affect long-term consumption of fast food has on the body.
If you still feel eating healthy is hard, try this test. Eat clean and healthy for 1-2 weeks. Keep track of your money spent at the grocery store, and how much time you spend preparing the food. Then do the same but eat the cheaper-easier-faster options. Then compare your money and time spent vs. how you felt physically. If you found, like most people, that you had more energy, vitality, and possibly a reduction in chronic issues like headaches, swollen joints, digestive issues when you ate healthy – well then you might just conclude that even if harder or more expensive, it’s worth it. I’d rather feel fit and healthy than depressed and bloated any day!