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By Bruce Burke

Last Updated: 2/26/23

Successfully meeting our health/fitness objectives requires changing our perspectives, thus creating a “new normal.” Last week, we shared two of One on One’s Core Beliefs:“You must care for yourself before you can care for others” and “We always have choices.” This week we will share two more, “Gratitude vs. Deprivation” as well as “Acceptance.” These are powerful concepts that can help change our perspectives, leading to long-term health and happiness.

Change your mindset from one of deprivation to one of gratitude.

People often start a wellness program thinking they must deprive themselves of the foods they enjoy.  Likewise, many people dread the idea of exercising regularly. To be successful, these negative mindsets must be switched to ones of gratitude.  After all, it isn’t a stretch to say that we are lucky to be healthy enough to exercise and to have all the food we will ever need to stay satisfied. Unfortunately, we often take these things for granted. Most of us have always been healthy enough to exercise, and having all the food we could possibly want seems like a God-given right! However, if you were to ask anyone a generation or two older than you, they would tell you how flawed this perspective is.

The question then becomes: should we feel deprived when we limit ourselves to one cookie, or rather should we feel fortunate to have had one at all? While this rudimentary example illustrates our flawed perspectives, it doesn’t even begin to address the real benefits of eating right, such as good health and increased self-esteem.  A mindset of gratitude helps with self-control and allows us to be less obsessed with the destructive habits many of us have become accustomed to. We must create a “new normal.”

Practice acceptance.

Accepting life on life’s terms is an important key to happiness.  After all, there is only so much we have control over. Not practicing acceptance or killing ourselves trying to control things that aren’t ours to control leads to frustration, stress and unhappiness. Too often, these negative emotions contribute to unhealthy lifestyle habits. If we are unhappy, we ultimately have two choices: we must either change our habits or accept the reality of the decisions we have made. This is critical when it comes to developing healthy habits and long-term peace of mind.

Unfortunately, there is another choice…one we see far too frequently. We call it “twisting in no-man’s land,” and it inevitably leads to discontent. This is when we convince ourselves that we “should” be doing something differently, but simply will not make choices that are consistent with being successful. For example, why make ourselves miserable by saying we “should” start eating better or “should” start working out more, knowing full well we have no serious intent to do so? These “shoulds” often lead to guilt and low self-esteem. If we aren’t making the choice to do these things, why not just accept that this is, at least for now, our reality? Although we may be better off making different choices, life is too short. Why create angst if we simply are not willing to change our behaviors?

Remember, the endgame is to be healthy and happy. We must start by making a decision to care for our health and well-being first before we care for that of others, then make daily “in the moment” decisions that are consistent with our decision to do so. We must remember that every decision we make is a choice and be grateful for all the freedoms and opportunities we have been given. If we choose to put our health and fitness on the backburner, we must (at least temporarily) accept this decision in order to prevent ourselves from “twisting in no-man’s land.” Enjoy each day as it comes, recognizing that you are free to make a different choice and follow a different path at any time.