WTF is this “Lifestyle Change” BS
Ah, yes. Another one of those monolithic words that couch so much fear, change, strife, and general baggage that means a change so big you have no idea how to get from point A to point B. You hear it so often and it’s repeated by every healthcare professional so frequently it even ends up losing it’s meaning. Like saying the word “bangs” over and over. Can you believe that word? Was “forehair” not good enough? “Bangs” was the good option? What does bangs even mean. Bangs. I’ve said it too much now. Bangs. Bangs bangs bangs. Now the word sounds weird.
Lifestyle change. It’s really too much to hand in one go. Because at one point in my life, taking a shower was enough activity to at least say the whole day wasn’t a waste, and now I can almost feel like I’m aging faster if I sit still for too many hours. Fourth hour of sitting and I swear my legs have half atrophied.
Well, it’s not like one day I wrote on a big poster board: LIFESTYLE CHANGE and listed out the steps to the end goal. What does the end goal mean to begin with? If you don’t know what that is how can you possibly plan for it? And no one ever tells you.
And the reason for that is that it’s the same way we define certain things like pornography as opposed to art: we can’t define it for sure, but we know it when we see it. A healthy lifestyle. There’s so many. There's as many people as there are on the planet. Well, unfortunately the answer is super “afterschool special” levels of pithy: the answer is in you. Or you have to find out for yourself. “I went looking for gold in El Dorado, but I found the real treasure is friendship!” Bah.
Luckily there’s another way to answer this. And like has been mentioned in previous entries, it’s something usually applied in small, easily to adapt to increments. It basically goes like this: lifestyles along the entire spectrum of “live long and prosper” to “dead at 39 of massive heart attack” can be seen as a big collection of characteristics or attributes, with life consisting of all virtuous attributes (nutritive eating, good exercise habits) on the prosper end and life consisting of destructive attributes (binge eating, sedentary activity levels) at the heart attack end. And it’s not like we can just take all the “good” attributes and stuff them in the same box that we have our current lifestyle. That box can only carry a limited amount of attributes and some are mutually exclusive! So here’s the deal: even if you don’t know which good things you want in your life, you should at least have SOME idea of one or two bad things you can do without. So take one of those out like, say, sleeping in until noon. Of course, you can’t just replace it with something just as bad like “I’m not going to sleep in until noon by staying up until 4a anyway, then waking up at 8 and stuffing my brain full of stimulants.” Don’t shortchange yourself like that.
So you’ve removed something bad from your current lifestyle and replaced it with something good. The good news from this is that usually this naturally leads other good decisions. One thing that you end up learning is that the many aspects of being healthy don’t exist in a silo; they often related to each other and fit together like a big puzzle, so the effort to accomplish several isn’t too much more difficult than just forcing one. So waking up at a “respectable” time? Well that means you have to go to sleep at a respectable time. That keeps you from that other bad lifestyle habit of late night snacking. And, man, it’s really hard to fall asleep at the right time unless you kick that 4pm energy drink habit. And since you kicked that energy drink habit, you’re down 200 calories a day. And because you didn’t consume that big lump of simple sugar, you don’t have a craving to eat a huge dinner.
So it can certainly snowball. I may have laid it out like some kind of montage; like will take at most a month to complete. But that is, unfortunately, not how it worked for me. I was stuck on that “get to sleep on time” part for a while. And I had to use a lot of that aforementioned-in-a-previous-post discipline to keep forcing myself to get to bed without making other changes that would have made it easier, like the snack or energy drink habits. But once I did make those other changes? Getting to bed on time became a natural part of how my day flowed. It’s now an aspect I no longer have to expend mental energy on. One could even say I made a lifestyle change to wake up before noon and now I’m running Whatever-K races or hiking the hinterlands when I’m not cycling (ok, yes, and constantly falling and crashing but you gotta take the bad with the good) as a result.
So! When you hear someone tell you something about making a lifestyle change and you feel like it’s a meaningless gesture because it’s impossible to couch such a grand undertaking in an overly-simplified pithy term, I hope you now start to think that making that lifestyle change might just mean taking the bad bits of your current lifestyle out and making sure other bad bits don’t take their place as you do. Make it simple. Manageable. The rest will follow. And one day you’re going to look back and be surprised at how high you’ve climbed all on your own.
Bangs are now forehair.