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The Social Challenges of your Lifestyle Improvements

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Be prepared for how society and your environment is set-up to make the positive changes you want to make that in your life that much harder.  I tell you this not to complain, but so when you start down a path to better yourself, your body, and your healthy, you will be prepared for not only your personal mental battles, but the social pressures that make these types of lifestyle changes much harder.

“You have more control over your body than you think- you can control, manage, or completely avoid 60-70% of known chronic conditions with physical fitness, healthy nutrition, and mental balance.” – Samir Becic

According to the CDC, around 35% of Americans are obese, only one in five adults met federal guidelines for both aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening exercise, and one in three was completely inactive when it came to any leisure-time aerobic activity.

With these statistics in mind, it is not surprising that our social environment is not the perfect support group for a healthy lifestyle.  You should not compare yourself to the average, because with statistics like these the average is pretty bad.  If you are average in a school that has only a 20% success rate, you have failed.  So, it is also not hard to see that normal or average does not mean healthy and “better” does not mean “good,” so we should we should not be satisfied with average or normal.  We have a lot of new information and research now and know what is causing most our body and health issues, most of which can be avoided by good habits.   Another thing to keep in mind that it takes a long time for public opinion and common knowledge to shift.  What we know now to be true may take 10-20 years to be accepted by the general public and that is too long for you to wait.

Most of the huge, positive changes I have made in my life have not been met with open arms from the people around me.  Most of the changes I have implemented in my life have made me the outlier, or simply weird.  I do not do things simply to be different; I do things to be healthy and don’t care if that makes me different. None of these people that have made my journey harder even noticed or thought that they were making my struggle more difficult, but, none the less, most of my social experiences during my big life changes continue to put even more pressure on me to revert back to my old ways which are societies norms.

First of all, I like to pride myself on the fact that if you do not ask me about my diet, WODs, standing vs sitting, my minimalist shoes, etc., you will have no clue how opinionated I am about these subjects.  Most people who I meet won’t ever know I do CrossFit, much less own two CrossFit Affiliates, run an online work-out website, give nutrition seminars, and mobility lectures unless it comes up naturally in the conversation, which it rarely does.  I try and only get into these discussions with people who clearly want to have them and are willing to have a dialogue, and I try and let as many of the other comments just slide by.

When people first found out that I was going to go on the Paleo diet, zero people congratulated me.  Nobody said anything like, “That’s great you are trying to be healthier.”  Instead, they acted like I was weird and asked a bunch of skeptical questions with only the intention to make themselves feel better about how they eat.  With comment after comment, they acted like my ordering of a burger with no bun was somehow affecting their dining experience in a negative way.  I spent the first 8 months of being on the diet, defending and explaining myself anytime I ate with others.  In the background and what they didn’t see is how great I felt every day.  I stopped getting sick.  I performed better in the gym.  My body composition changed immediately and I actually started looking like I worked out.  I did not want to have these conversations about my diet; I just wanted to eat healthier.  I love sharing my knowledge of nutrition with people, but only with people who are actually interested in discussing the subject.  I do not enjoy the civil arguments that can happen at restaurants simply ordering a certain way.  It still amazes me that people actually get frustrated when I politely say, “No, thank you,” to a dessert they offer me.  It’s hard enough that I’m going to have to watch people eat the thing I want to shove into my gullet more than anything in the world, but it’s even harder when they ask me 5 more times as they tell me how good it is.  People who do kind of understand my diet, will just say, “This can be your cheat day,” whenever they want me to eat food that does not fit in with my lifestyle.  I never imagined that what I was eating would have such a big effect on the experience of everyone else around me.

Often, depending on the situation, I choose to stand instead of sitting down.  Obviously standing at a restaurant table is not one of those situations, but bars, events, and parties are great opportunities to choose not to sit down and wreck my body.  Again, people often act like my actions are ruining their experience.  Some can spend an insane amount of time worried about my comfort because they do not understand that standing is what I prefer over sitting to keep my body healthy.  Typically I have to say something like, “I’m really OK, I prefer to stand,” about five times before they finally let it go or go get me a chair that I still don’t sit in.  When I perform a quality squat or deadlift for an everyday task, people always comment on how goofy I look.  When I stand with good posture, people ask why I am standing like that.  It’s simple, I am trying to improve my body and live pain free.

Again, this article is not to complain.  This article is meant to prepare you for some uncommonly talked about hurdles you may have to jump through when you are making a big life change like cleaning up your diet, standing more, and moving better.  Keep in mind that you should be striving to be an outlier when it comes to American health averages and norms.  You do not want to be doing what everyone else is doing typically because Americans posture, pain, and health are in alarming areas.

If you are going to make positive lifestyle change like working out, cleaning up your diet, sleeping more, standing more, etc., be prepared.  These changes are musts and they are worth every bit of effort you put into them.  You only get one body in this life, so learn to take care of it!

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Coach Kyle Ligon