One of the the things that I love most about the rapid growth of the Paleo community, is the number of remarkable bloggers who are generating amazing content and challenging people to think about the why, what, and how of Paleo living.
In addition to the crazily talented recipe developers emerging onto the scene, there are those who are sharing on topics near and dear to my heart – like self-love, body acceptance at any size, and finding strength through strength training.
Noelle from Coconuts & Kettlebells is one of these bloggers who I am keeping a close eye on. Not only is she writing great conversational pieces (like ‘Why I Don’t Want Six-Pack Abs‘ and ‘8 Mistakes I Made When Trying to Change my Body‘), but also sharing easy to make recipes and easy to follow workouts. Oh, and she kind of has this killer podcast with Stefani Ruper, Paleo for Women, that also features a ton of awesome!
We couldn’t schedule Noelle for a guest post fast enough, and love that she came up with a post all about the traps that folks fall into when overhauling their health – a great ready for all. Enjoy this great post, and be sure to follow Noelle for even more amazing content.
Not a fan of making mistakes? While this may come as a surprise to you, you’re not alone.
Because mistakes aren’t particularly enjoyable or efficient, most people would rather completely avoid making them – especially when it comes to pursuing health.
But are mistakes really a bad thing?
After successfully making just about every mistake you could possibly make when pursing health, I have come to the conclusion that the answer is most definitely no.
Even though my past mistakes cost me quite a bit of time and personal struggle, experience has been my greatest teacher – and the health and happiness I have now is the result of knowing what isn’t right for my body.
Looking back, what limited my growth was fear. Instead of being open to making adjustments, I was scared to let go of certain beliefs and ignored my intuition, which inhibited my ability to achieve the health I desired.
Now, as a practitioner in the field of nutrition and fitness, I’ve found the inability to recognize and let go of behaviors that may be doing more harm than good is why many people aren’t where they desire to be in life.
And so, below – you’ll find three common mistakes people make when pursuing health, along with ideas for what to do instead. No, these aren’t mind-blowing secrets you’ve never heard of before, they’re simple behaviors that often end up controlling people’s lives – and personally, I think it’s time to put a cork in it.
3 Common Mistakes People Make When Pursuing Health
1. Being fixated on the numbers
Instead of assessing markers such as overall energy, inflammation status, sleep quality, or mental and emotional stability, many people allow physical measurements like pant size or the number on the scale to control how they feel about their body, health, success, and self-worth.
Being fixated on these numbers diverts attention away from functional improvements, and gives the power to something that doesn’t reflect internal health. When numbers hold the power, small fluctuations can result in unnecessary stress and anxiety, and food and fitness often become tools for manipulating the numbers instead of nourishing the body.
While using numbers to establish a starting point can be valuable, regular evaluation of physical size or dimension is grossly inadequate for assessing overall health. Furthermore, because we are all incredibly individual people, being focused on how our physical characteristics rank in comparison to others is harmful and can lead to a whole lot of self-hatred.
Alternative solution: To better assess health, make a list of health markers that are important to you to evaluate progress and success. This list could include biomarkers you can check with your doctors, such as hormonal levels or C-reactive protein, or psychological factors such as happiness, motivation or self-love. When making personal evaluations, recognize that health comes in a vast array of shapes and sizes, and is a dynamic condition that relies on physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being.
2. Turning fitness into a form of punishment
Because physical activity can do wonderful things for the human body, many people choose to engage with fitness when pursuing health. Unfortunately, instead of seeing fitness as an opportunity to enjoy movement and improve the functioning of the body, people often end up using it as a way to cancel out bad choices, or temporarily relieve feelings of inadequacy.
This type of behavior is rooted in the belief that there are rules that exist around food and fitness, and everything we do is either inherently good or bad. When choices are made that are perceived as being bad or wrong, positive inputs, like fitness, become tools that are used to manage failure or guilt.
When fitness becomes an avenue for balancing an imaginary scorecard, the ability to understand what kind of movement the body needs is lost. Furthermore, activities that are enjoyable are typically ignored, and more exhausting movements are prioritized. This exposes the body to unnecessary stress, and can lead to overtraining, injury, hormonal imbalances, and a non-existent social life.
Alternative solution: When pursuing fitness, choose activities you genuinely enjoy doing. Focus on creating a plan that is centered on doing what is best for your health, both emotionally and physically, and give yourself the flexibly to change the plan based on how you’re feeling. Experiment with different types of activities to find what works best for you, and try new things to keep your body and mind engaged. Avoid labeling behaviors with adjectives such as “bad” or “good,” which gives the power and control to those behaviors, and will likely lead to overindulgences in the bad, and punishing behaviors with the good.
3. Assuming one specific way of eating will work for everyone (or forever)
Improving dietary habits is quite possibly the most effective way to increase overall health. To implement change, many people choose to follow a specific diet or protocol created by another person or company, which often leads to noticeable improvements.
Unfortunately, after finding success on a specific program, people are quick to assume the protocol they have adopted is the only way to achieve health – both for themselves, and others. As a result, there is a general resistance to making any dietary adjustments, even if the protocol stops being effective.
Being set on one specific way of eating ignores the fact that the human body is incredibly complex, and the dietary needs of the body can change depending on activity level, hormonal status, stress load, and gut health – to name a few. It also fails to recognize that we all have our own bioindividuality that is the result of our gender, genetics, upbringing, and background, and what works for one person may not provide health to another.
Alternative solution: When making dietary changes, be flexible with the foods you consume, and pay attention to the needs of your body. If things change, be open to experimenting with macronutrient ratios, overall calorie intake, or the composition of your diet based on the feedback your body is giving you. While certain universal guidelines, like prioritizing real foods, will always be effective, recognize that health can be achieved in a variety of different ways and with a variety of different foods depending on the individual.
What mistakes do you find most people make when pursuing health?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://paleoparents.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/7.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Noelle Tarr is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, writer, podcaster, and passionate force behind everything you’ll find at coconutsandkettlebells.com. After switching to a paleo lifestyle in 2009, Noelle experienced significant improvements in health and performance, and was able to get to the root of body image issues she had experienced for years. Now, she provides content daily about the power of real food, fitness, and self-love on her site and through social media. Noelle is currently stationed on the East Coast with her husband, a US Marine, and her very energetic and almost paleo boxer pup. Connect with Noelle: Facebook | Instagram | Podcast | Twitter | Pinterest[/author_info] [/author]