Monday, September 3, 2012

Good for you is bad

If you're old enough to read this, then you're also old enough to know what foods are good for you and what foods are bad for you.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know oranges are better for you than funnel cakes. Water trumps beer. Chocolate shakes should be ordered only about once a year.

So why do we look with disgust at the foods that are good for us? Why do we struggle to get psyched up about exercise?

Well, remember when I wrote that post on perception? I believe it kind of goes back to that.

When I was a little tyke, I went to daycare with three rough-and-tumble boys -- Jason, Doug and Nathan.

Not only was I the only girl in the group -- which wasn't easy when your older sisters are teaching you to believe boys are icky -- but I was not coordinated in the athletic department. (Especially when you consider two of them would later be part of a state championship football team.)

We'd have foot races. I'd lose.

We'd play catch. I'd get knocked in the nose.

We'd play tag. I'd be it forever because I couldn't catch anyone.

My athletic "prowess" (or, rather, lack thereof) continued throughout elementary, junior high and high school. People laughed at my lack of coordination, at my fear of getting walloped by a dodge ball, at my ridiculous attempts to shoot a basketball. That does nothing for your self-esteem. Believe me.

It grew to the point where I associated exercise with feeling bad. Who can psych themselves up to feel bad?

We choose unhealthy foods for very similar reasons.

From very young ages, we are programmed by friends, family and entities that influence us to think "vegetables are icky, but candy, french fries, pizza and soda are good."

And, yes, they do taste good. But they don't make us feel well. Not if we're really in-tuned to what our bodies are saying.

So, how do we get out of the "Good for Us Is Bad" mindset?

1. Replace the negative talk and negative thoughts with positive. It might feel like you're lying to yourself -- chances are, you probably are -- when you start forcing out the negative with the positive. Oddly enough, if we lie to ourselves long enough about certain things, we eventually start believing it. (Funny how that works.)

2. Really, really listen to what your body is telling you. I can tell when I fall off the food/exercise wagon. When I put my head on my pillow each night, I can tell if I'm in feel-good mode by paying attention to how long it takes me to relax, by the pace and pressure of my heartbeat, by the ease with which I take air into my lungs. I've fallen off the wagon enough times to familiarize myself to those tiny variations in my body's workings.

You will too. I promise. You just need to sit back and listen.

On Thursday: Talking ourselves into making the right choices.

In the meantime, were you athletic as a youngster? How do you feel about exercise now? Do you think your experiences from youth have any bearing on how you feel about exercise and eating healthy now? Email me. Tweet at me. Leave a comment below. Tell me what you think. I'd love to hear from you.

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