Why is being unhealthy normal?
I’ve been wrestling with a few things recently. Unfortunately, none of these things were (Insert name of hot wrestler here. I don’t know any, sorry), I actually Googled hot men wrestlers now as I’m that clueless. I thought it would be like typing in hot rugby players. It wasn’t. You know what came up? Oh, you do? Good. I’m not the only one who can’t unsee the search result “Hot men wrestling”. Don’t worry, I didn’t click it. If you did, likewise don’t worry, this whole post is about whether being normal is overrated. So if male wrestling is your niche, you do you.]
Anyway, I was wrestling with some ideas. Many of them have been focused around why making choices to keep you happy and healthy can feel like an uphill battle, especially choices around what I eat and drink. Before you read this, I am not saying I’m the holy grail of health and have the body and mind of a Goddess. I just try my best, most of the time, to make choices that will make me feel good and therefore make me a better human to be around. Although, the energy from all the fruit and veg does make me talk and type more, so whether that makes me more or less bearable may be a matter of perspective. Let me know.
The Norm: Bags, binging and bad haircuts.
Learning that I have the power to choose things that I want in my life or don’t was a pretty big revelation to me. That might sound silly but as a teenage girl, all I really cared about was not being too far outside the norm. Why do you think we all carried Jane Norman bags and wore our hair in those aggressively swiped side fringes. Because everyone was doing it. It’s the same with drinking. I started at 14 because everyone else was.
Don’t get me wrong, none of my friends would describe me back then as a sheep (although, I was from Wales so they did argue I had a strong connection with them). It’s not until you get a bit older that it becomes clear that fitting in isn’t the only choice criteria. There’s health, price, individual taste and so on. Whether you eat what everyone else does, whether you drink what everyone else does, whether you ultimately feel the way everyone else does, you have the power to choose, but it’s not easy. Whenever you go against the grain, you’re inadvertently questioning what everyone around you is doing.
Barely gettin’ by It’s all taking And no giving. They just use your mind And they never give you credit. Our long work days can make it pretty hard to cram in a good gym session or time to sit down and actually enjoy lunch instead of shovelling it with one hand firefighting emails with the other. Does your job involve much movement? How could you change it up if it doesn’t?
Going to business school pretty much shaped me for a lifetime of office working. I personally just can’t sit on my bum all day, even though all the padding should be helping me out there. I get miserable. Moving your body throughout the day releases endorphins that over time actually add YEARS to your life, but to find a job that offers the same isn’t all that common in 2018.
Food (My Favourite):
I think of you and lick my lips. You’ve got the taste I can’t resist. Pretty saucy stuff, ey? Sorry it’s not me going all 50 shades on you. It’s a song that sums up pop culture and the norm when it comes to food. Did you get it… A Pizza Hut, A Pizza Hut…. what about now? That’ll probably be stuck in your head all day. Sorry. Anyway, processed and takeaway foods are now normal.
Did you know that more food in shops and restaurants are processed than isn’t?! It’s generally pretty easy to find something fairly healthy to eat if you’re looking for it. If you’re not though, you’re far more likely to pick up something that’s not going to be great for your body. That’s because we live in an ‘obesogenic’ culture. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
So even on a purely practical level, in terms of the available choice, it’s easier to be unhealthy. This doesn’t even not account for social effects. How often have you eaten something super indulgent or over eaten because you were with friends? When we’re with other people, for some reason, it’s so much easier to eat crappy food. It’s normal to go to McDonalds. It’s normal to be overweight and have health conditions that are entirely lifestyle related: (70% of deaths are caused by the way we live) meaning they are preventable.
Making Healthy Normal
Over the last few years, I’ve come to several points when I’ve had to decide whether I was going to say yes to all the things I wanted like being healthy and present for friends and family or saying yes to all the things that are part of your average 20- something’s life. Finding this balance is difficult.
No-one wants to be a Billy-no-mates and, honestly, I’ve definitely been in enough situations where being a vegan or telling people I don’t drink has been awkward af to know that it’s certainly not the norm yet.
The good news? It can be easier. These are a few things that have massively helped me to make healthy feel normal and natural.
- Finding my tribe. To me, a tribe is a group of people who share the same values. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Finding the people that care about health and being the best version of themselves is paramount. It doesn’t matter if you’re into health, fitness, the environment, the Roman Empire, hot men wrestling; finding other people who just get you is so important. Join Meetups IRL (scary but fun), join Facebook groups.
- Building my tribe. As well as people who were already on my page, I’ve brought a few people along to my new tribes as I’ve joined them. For example, my mum is a fully-fledged badass member of my fitness tribe – as I am of hers. This is harder than finding people who are already there but so important. The easiest way to do it is just to show the benefits of living your new values both in real life and on social media and they’ll want some of the happiness.
- Making my own normal. Habit forming will help you feel less weird about not doing what everyone else is doing. I’ve replaced any old habits that don’t make me feel good with new ones. For example, I pay a monthly membership fee to WeBlog North which is £5.99 – about the same as a glass of wine. Doing this shows me the direct benefit of making that choice. People always ask me how I went vegan, but I literally just made it my norm and it’s that easy. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you build your own normal.
- Changing my decision process. Future Eliza is who I try to picture when I’m making decisions. If I ask myself, “what is the healthier choice I can make here that will fuel my body and mind?” Sometimes that is definitely to eat the doughnut and sometimes it’s to hold fire on clicking that xxx rated link (the one with the hot wrestlers).
- Making unhealthy part of my healthy and making it fucking worth it. I will never live a life without pizza or chocolate or great sex (I hope). Because I love them and they give me so much pleasure. Pleasure is such an important part of life and without it, I don’t want to be here at all. I don’t want to eat healthily to avoid the fear of having wobbly thighs or chubby cheeks. Spoiler alert: those bad boys will never go anywhere no matter how many juices I drink. I want to live healthily because that gives me energy, joy and yes, pleasure. You just have to incorporate the things you love into your life, whether that’s a walk in the park, a cheeky doughnut or a cool pint of cider. The more you enjoy them when you do have them, the less you’ll want them all the time. Ever had chocolate and craved it straight away after? Ever had the same in the bedroom? It probably means you weren’t fully present and allowing yourself to take pleasure in that moment. So let yourself enjoy it. Look at the object of your pleasure, feel it in your mouth and savour it with all of your senses. Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts on whether you think we’re living in a time that makes being healthy and happy difficult and how you get round it with a smile on your face!
P.S. Not sure how this post started about work and food and ended up relating to sex – I blame the wrestling Google search.