Yes, she has unfair advantages. Here’s what you can do to get the same edge.
Have you ever wanted to lose weight or get fit? If yes, you probably follow one or more online fitness personalities for inspiration. These folks are notorious for posting workout, weight loss, or recipe tips on social media that make “living healthy” seem about as hard as falling off a rock.
Back in the day, my health-based commitments had the lifespan of a fruit fly. If you struggle like I did – to lose weight or keep commitments to yourself and your body – eventually your fitness guru’s posts serve as little more than an irritating reminder of all the healthy choices you’re not making as you slide yet again into the familiar funk of self-neglect.
You glare at her face on the screen. Her well-rested smile beams back, effortlessly.
‘What can I do?’ you wonder, searching her face for any sign of age.
The voices of every upbeat skinny chick you’ve ever known swirl together in a cacophony of saccharine optimism, concentrating in the glimmer of her eyes.
“Eat better and exercise more!” she seems to say, radiating health and ease. “And don’t forget to smile!”
From a mathematical perspective it may be that simple, but it’s not that easy. You’ve got Lord-of-the-Rings-level forces keeping you from making healthier choices consistently: shame about the past, overwhelm about the present, and anxiety about the future. When your emotional shit hits the fan, not only can’t you make healthier choices – you don’t even want to think about it.
What’s clear is that your online fitness pro probably doesn’t struggle like you struggle. Let’s explore why, and what you can do to create the same edge for yourself when it comes to making healthier choices.
1. She’s not focused on changing.
It’s easier to maintain a body you’re proud of than it is to change a body you’re sick of. While you may sometimes whittle away weeks pondering which calorie-restrictive diet might, over the course of a few weeks or months, FINALLY help you lose 20, 50, or 200 pounds, the Healthy Eating Blogger you follow on Facebook is focused on eating the healthiest thing she can prepare and enjoy – TONIGHT.
Get the edge: Forget dieting. Any weight you lose on an intensely calorie-restrictive diet will come back after you quit the diet anyway. Instead, practice eating the way you’ll need to eat to maintain the body you want for life. Not sure what that would entail? Find a strong, healthy person who’s about the same age, sex, height, race, and shape, and who weighs what you’d be more comfortable weighing. Ask her about how and what she eats, and use that as a launching-off point for your own maintenance menu.
The upshot: Settling into a lifelong habit of healthy eating may not get you to your goals as quickly as starving yourself would, but what you lose on expediency you make up for in health, sanity, and longevity. (#win)
2. She got a healthy head start.
Building a good house is easier if the foundation is strong – and easier still if someone else builds that strong foundation for you. Same goes for a healthy lifestyle. That Bikini Model / Personal Trainer you follow on YouTube? Odds are one or both of her parents were nearer the healthy, sane end of the abusive-whiskey-swilling-pill-popping-shame-spewing spectrum than, say, your parents were. Her healthier parents probably gave her early-life experiences that gave her a strong, healthy foundation on which to build.
You ABSOLUTELY can get and stay healthy, but if you’ve got a long way to go, getting there can feel like starting a business with zero capital (versus, oh, I don’t know, getting a multi-million-dollar loan from your daddy to “start” a business that he already started for you).
Get the edge: Didn’t get much support when you were young? Join the club. Get it now, and get more than you think you need. Feeling not entirely right in the head? Commit to one year of weekly visits with a good shrink. Feeling alone? Join a high-quality tribe that interacts every day and that’s built on the pleasure each member gets out of making healthy choices consistently. (I couldn’t a group like that, so I created one. It’s called The Klatch, and it’s the bomb.) Find and commit to healthy support, and those supports can provide the foundation for a healthier life and the deep pleasure that good health brings.
The upshot: Because your early life was more poop than privilege, because you have to work at good health, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the pleasures of living well. Take it from me – nothing beats the satisfaction of living well after you’ve spent decades neglecting yourself and your body.
3. Her news feed looks more like PubMed than Pinterest.
The brain thinks about what it sees. While your news feed is dripping with food porn, that Online Wellness Coach’s news feed looks more like The Journal of Exercise Science. While your brain is dedicating more and more memory to molten cakes that shoot sugary streams of goo into the air, her brain is strengthening its affinity for fun activities, solid self-care practices, and strong bodies.
Get the edge: Unfollow accounts that feature mouth-watering images of hyperpalatable foods (or, any foods, for that matter). Instead, follow people who post about stress-reduction techniques, self-care, and sustainable behavior change.
The upshot: Once the food porn is gone, you’ll feel progressively more satisfied with eating simple, whole, healthy food. As your brain and taste buds adjust, your cravings will go down (and maybe your weight, too).
4. She catches her balance.
No one eats, drinks, sleeps, and exercises exactly as planned every day without a hitch. Everyone’s routine gets shaky sometimes – even that Fresh-Faced Powerlifter whose Girl Power blog you follow – but her unsteady spells are brief. Even after an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink, partner-swapping Vegas weekend, she can get back on the beam pretty quickly. Why? Practice.
Get the edge: There’s only one way to get good at getting back on track quickly – practicing getting back on track. Accept that life, stress, and the unexpected will knock you off course. When it does, practice forgiving yourself, and returning to your commitments. Rinse, and repeat.
The upshot: Living a healthy life gets a lot easier and a helluva lot more fun when you realize that the goal isn’t perfection, but catching you balance when you slip, and carrying on.
5. She learns by teaching.
Maintaining her social media persona – part teacher, part motivator, part inspirational meme-tosser – helps your Healthy Habits Coach stay focused on her health because she has to think hard about her own journey to create the posts you love re-posting. Every time she she posts an image urging you to ‘Let shit go’ and ‘Just do it’ is ten minutes (or two hours) she spent wrestling with some free (read: pain in the ass) graphic design app, practicing ‘letting shit go,’ and ‘just doing it.’
Get the edge: Learn why you hold grudges against yourself, and what keeps you from taking caring action like eating better or exercising consistently, and what you can do about it (HERE), and then share what you learn with other women. Supporting women who struggle like you do will help you internalize what you learn and make it a part of who you are. Knowledge is power, you know. I read it in a meme.
The upshot: Once you know exactly why keeping health-related commitments feels hard you will have an advantage that you’ve never have before. Advantages make things easier (see rich ‘daddy’ reference in #3).
Bonus upshot: Once you know why keeping health-related commitments is so hard and exactly what to do to make it easier you’ll be the most compelling person at cocktail parties.
6. Her relationships support health.
We tend to do what our peeps do. We drink more around heavy drinkers, but we also relax more around folks who handle stress well. Your Healthy Eating Coach’s own social network is crawling with personal trainers, body workers, and yogis. When she feels pulled toward self-sabotage, her peeps remind her to stay on course just by being themselves.
Get the edge: Spend time with people who’re choosing to do great things – with their bodies, with their minds, with their creativity and their time. Surrounded yourself with folks who inspire you and who treat themselves with the same care you want to bring to your own life and choices.
The upshot: Not only will you get better at this whole self-care thing, you’ll expand your circle, too.
7. She is a he.
Men have it easier when it comes to weight and wellness – period. (Well, no period. Ha!). The devilishly handsome Weight Loss Doc that you follow on Facebook can probably lose weight, keep it off, get fast, get cut, and generally get and stay hot AF with way less effort and in way less time than it would take you. Men’s physical and metabolic advantages over women are complex, but much of them have to do with having more muscle. Not only does muscle burn more energy than fat, but the very act of building muscle creates a sense of empowerment and confidence that makes folks who lift hot AF. Oh, and power and self-confidence help us show up for ourselves and our health, even when it’s hard. That’s good, too.
Get the edge: Strength train. It doesn’t matter how. Just be safe and try to do something every day.
The upshot: The benefits of strength training include increases in sex appeal, stamina, and rhythm. There are others, too, but who cares. Ha!
8. She likes what she sees in the mirror.
Working out is a helluva lot more fun when you feel good about how you look. So is leaving the house, shopping, sitting in waiting rooms, commuting to work, doing the laundry….you get the point. The Body-Positive Yogi you follow on Instagram likes what she sees in the mirror, and that helps her show up consistently – often enthusiastically – for herself and her health, whatever she does.
Get the edge: Invest money in workout clothes you love and love to wear. Take a shower BEFORE you go to the gym. Slap on some lipstick if that helps you feel good. Do what you can do to feel as good as you can feel no matter how close – or far – you feel you are from your goals.
The upshot: Once you start showing up for yourself and your life like a hot shit, you’ll start to feel like a hot shit. The hotness will feed off itself until you radiate hotness like the hot shit that God intended you to be.
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