Fat, Sick, and Unhappy?
Fat, Sick, and Unhappy
Or is that the wrong order?
Maybe it’s more like unhappy, sick, and fat.
Let me ask you a couple of questions:
When you feel low or depressed, are you more likely to choose broccoli or a burger?
Are you more likely to exercise when you’re having a great day or when the proverbial shit of your life is hitting the fan?
I’m going to propose a radical concept:
the reason you’re fat and sick is because you’re unhappy.
You’re unhappy with your body. You’re unhappy with your current job. You’re unhappy with your spouse. You’re unhappy with some aspect of your house or your personal possessions. You’re unhappy with the here and now.
You often make “when-then” statements like:
- “When I have a bigger kitchen, then I’ll cook more healthy meals at home.”
- “When I find my dream job, then I’ll be happy and less stressed.”
- “When I lose weight, then I’ll go on a beach vacation.”
- "When I get thin, then my relationship with my significant other will be better/more intimate."
I’m proposing that we have it all backwards!
Our unhappiness with our current situation is THE THING that keeps us in our current situation.
Unhappiness stymies our ability for personal growth and deadlocks us into our old habits and patterns.
I’ve been thinking really hard about how to help my sickest and most difficult clients. They KNOW eating fast food every day is bad for them. They KNOW they should exercise. They KNOW the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods.
THEY ALREADY KNOW WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING. They’re not stupid!
So why are they not doing it? Why do they continue to eat junk and skip workouts?
When you're happy, life seems easier and making good choices comes more naturally.
When you’re happy and having a great day, everything seems possible, right? You’re more likely to get outside for a walk. You’re more likely to make better food choices. You’re nicer to your spouse. You drive to work with your windows down and Pharrell’s Happy blaring from the speakers.
Happy and positive people go into job interviews with confidence and have a higher likelihood of landing that dream job. Happy and positive people get involved, go out with friends, and go on vacations because they know they deserve to have fun. Happy and positive people eat better food and exercise more because they know it makes them feel less happy when they don't.
Do you see: It starts with being happy!
And it may be cliche, but it's true and it's worth saying here:
The perfect body, car, house, or job won’t make you happy.
So what good is having the perfect body, job, house, or car if you're not happy?
I am arguing that you must first be happy, and only then will you achieve the life of your dreams.
Only YOU can make you happy. Only YOU can decide to be happy. You have everything you need to be happy right NOW. And you DESERVE to be happy.
Good News/Bad News
Bad News: Humans seem to be biologically wired for negativity. We’re wired to want more, think of the worst possible outcomes, and think of the future instead of living in the present moment.
This doesn’t make us abnormal or bad. Our negativity likely served us well as a species. If you’ve ever been tent camping in bear country, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You wake up in the middle of the night and hear a rustling sound outside your tent. Your mind starts racing, every hair on the back of your neck stands on end, and you can feel the adrenaline flooding your system. You’re sure it’s a bear about to shred your tent and drag you off…and you’re ready to fight or flee. You unzip your tent, shine your flashlight out and find a mole digging around in some leaves. True story.
We often expect and prepare for the worst. In modern life, this can lead to missed opportunities. Going back to the job interview example, an unhappy person expecting the worst is likely going to have low confidence during the interview, and the interviewer is going to pick up on that vibe a mile away. Our unhappiness and negative expectations can set us up for failure. It's that whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing.
Good News: With a bit of awareness, persistence, and consistent practice, you CAN rewire your brain and thought patterns to be more happy and positive!
It takes a little bit of time, but I can promise you this: if you choose three of the following nine tips and practice them every day for two weeks, you’ll be happier.
And it might just be the catalyst for you to change your life and become the person you want to be.
Tip #1: Spend 15 minutes outside…buck naked.
Just kidding…sort of. (I had to regain your attention somehow!) But unless you live in the sticks, don't do it. Your neighbors and the police may frown on this, which will definitely NOT increase your happiness.
BUTT, (tee-hee) there’s really something to this: a shocking number of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Most people know vitamin D is the “happy” vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency can cause depression, weight gain, fatigue, and brittle bones. The best and most natural source of vitamin D is sun exposure, but even during the summer you’re probably not getting enough unless you spend at least 15 minutes in the sun, without sunscreen, buck naked, and don’t take a shower until the next day. (Yes, little known factoid: you will wash the vitamin D off of your skin if you take a shower after sun exposure! You need 12 to 24 hours to absorb it.)
Simple solution: Supplementation.
Even those of you with the “perfect” plant-based diet are likely lacking in certain nutrients for various reasons. My diet is pretty squeaky clean, but I still take a vitamin D supplement every day. I also take a high-quality multivitamin and fish oil – both important for brain health.
Nutrition – or lack thereof – affects brain chemistry. Drink plenty of water, add more nutrient-dense foods to your diet, and supplement smartly to plug the nutritional holes that can cause faulty brain chemistry and depression.
Tip #2: Move your body. Preferably outdoors. See tip #1 (tee-hee).
Studies indicate that exercise is just as effective as antidepressants at alleviating mild to moderate depression. Exercise also has other beneficial side effects, whereas drugs often have unwanted side effects. People who exercise outside are even happier and studies show they have higher self-esteem!
I know, I know! The last thing you probably want to do when you feel unhappy or depressed is exercise, but it’s likely exactly what you need! Exercise gets blood flowing to your brain and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
The next time you’re having a bad day or feeling angry or sad, go for a brisk 10 minute walk outside. Aim to spend 20 to 30 minutes per day doing some form of exercise. You’ll feel better, be healthier, be happier, have more confidence…and you’ll look better because of it.
Tips #3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9: Adopt practices to deal with your negative thoughts.
This is probably the toughest for people to understand and incorporate, but might be the most important. We humans have between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day and over half of those thoughts tend to be negative. Yikes!
My remaining tips are all daily practices that can help you deal with negative thought patterns. Adopt at least one of them and practice consistently over the next 14 days.
- Write a list of five or more positive affirmations and read them every morning and evening for two weeks. Bonus points if you do this while looking in a mirror. It’s awkward at first, but practiced consistently, it really does help! A couple of my favorite affirmations: “I choose to eat healthy foods because I love my body”, and “I am a strong, healthy, and beautiful woman and mother”.
- Every morning, take five minutes to write down at least three things for which you are grateful. It’s really easy to get mired and bogged down with thoughts of what we don’t or can’t have, and we rarely take time to think of the things we DO have. Thousands of happy and successful people cite a daily gratitude practice as essential to their achievements.
- Complement a total stranger every day for the next two weeks. Have you ever had someone you don’t know come up to you and say “I LOVE your hair!” or “That dress looks really great on you!”? It makes your day! Guess what? It made the other person feel good too. Giving feels good. Give someone else a genuine and unexpected complement. It will make their day, and just knowing that will make you feel great too.
- Set limits on social media. Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook feed and felt worse about your life because everyone else’s is so perfect? Me too. I see the glossy photos of other fitness professionals who are clearly fitter, prettier, and more successful than me…and it makes me want to give up. Secret: people only tend to post only the good stuff about their lives on social media. Keep that in mind and try spending less time in general on social media. Try this: for the next two weeks turn off social media notifications that go to your phone and commit to checking your feed on a computer only, twice per day. Limit the two computer sessions to 30 minutes each. Difficult, yes. High probability this could change your life, absolutely.
- Spend five minutes by yourself, without distractions, in complete silence, and focused only on your breathing. Isn’t that called meditation? Yes. But that intimidates people, so let’s just call it a “time out”. Do this every day for the next two weeks...totally life-changing!
- Give what you want to receive in return. In other words: create a positive connection with a loved one. Call your mom, dad, or grandmother just to say hello and let them know you were thinking of them. Hug your kids and tell them how much you love them. Ask your significant other how his/her day was when they get home instead of going on a rant about the dishes not having gotten done or arguing about who is taking the kids to soccer practice. Humans are social animals. We have a biological need to connect with our “tribe”. Make an effort to connect to a loved one in a positive way every day for the next two weeks and your life will be exponentially better!
Thanks for reading!