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Ideal vs. Real: Turning Lifestyle Ideas into Action

By Martha Michael

Walk the Walk to Health

You’ve probably said to yourself at some point, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” It may reflect your feelings of regret for a lack of follow-through or it may mean you’ve changed your opinion about a decision you made.

There are a lot of choices in maintaining your health; some you’re successful at carrying out, while others are more challenging. When you develop a wellness plan, it helps to make it realistic enough to be plausible. You’ll have better results when you include healthy choices that stand the test of time.

Everybody’s Doing It

Some health fads result in a huge bailout by participants because they just don’t work -- or at least, not long-term. For instance, if you go on an extreme diet you may get extreme results -- such as rapid weight loss -- but adopting a liquids-only diet or shifting into ketosis are not long-term, sustainable ideas.

Research by the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine shows that yo-yo dieting can lead to diabetes and other illnesses. A report by the National Institutes of Health says that individuals who experience weight cycling have a reduced systemic glucose tolerance and impaired insulin sensitivity. There are other problems with fluctuations in weight as well, including metabolic and cardiovascular conditions.

The health community sometimes embraces a practice that’s supported by the public, but eventually called out by experts. The Huffington Post has an article about absurd wellness trends that skewers many ideas propagated through social media.

If you spend your hard-earned dollars on therapy with cows or “tea-toxes,” you’ll probably find the results don’t meet your expectations. Goat yoga is still somewhat popular, but there are problems with a logic that combines cute, stimulating animals with a practice that centers on minimizing distractions. And there’s nothing to support the idea that cow cuddling can make you calm.

As for the detoxification teas, you aren’t actually getting more nutrients -- just more water consumption, says Jeffrey Davis, a certified personal trainer and owner of NextLevel Strength and Conditioning.

Also trending is a rise in plastic surgery, in part because of constant photo sharing online, which causes people to focus on body image.

“I have absolutely seen an increase in patients getting procedures that are motivated by social media,” said Dr. Norman M. Rowe, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. “While this has happened in the past thanks to Photoshop, what’s changed is the sheer number of times that we look at our faces in photographs these days.”

I’m Just Not Feelin’ It

There are many healthy lifestyle choices that have positive results and put you on the path to a better quality of life. But if you’re on your third diet in as many months, chances are you have a problem with follow-through.

When you scroll through your cousin’s photos of Alaska, it doesn’t change the thermostat in your own house. The same is true when it comes to your plans for wellness. Just dreaming about a change in lifestyle doesn’t add up to any benefits to your health.

When you decide to join the gym, you have to actually use your membership to see any results. And when you know you’re overdue to see the chiropractor, you need to get off the couch, go to the clinic and follow through.

We have an internal switch that turns a decision into action, says the Decision Education Foundation. When it’s flipped on, we make a lot of effort to bring it to fruition, and to overcome obstacles to our ability to shift into a state of commitment, it may require:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Effort
  • Help from others

Everyone’s had the experience in which the ideal doesn’t match up to what’s real. You can’t expect to put everything in gear at once, but it may help to take a look at the breakdown between intention and execution.

If you’re going to see lasting changes in your health, your mind can be made up, but you also need your practice to match your speech. A healthy habit doesn’t live up to its name unless you repeat it, and “I think, therefore I am” doesn’t apply to wellness routines.

You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.

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