I’ve been soaking up health-related information: nutritional, diet, recommended daily allowances, get thin quick schemes, etc for the last 45 days, and my head keeps spinning around in a circle around this question:
“What’s the best way to be healthy?”
Is it to count calories? Is it to come up with some physical weight goal? Is it to join a support group? Is it to monitor protein, carbs, and fat? Is it to seek a certain level of moderation?
It actually comes down to what works. While some people lack information about how to be healthy, and all of us have gaps in our knowledge, it’s more about motivation and habit-creation than about simple information acquisition. Right?
That’s a little crazy though, isn’t it? We live in a society that holds knowledge on a pedestal. We figure that if we know the right thing to do, that we will do it.
Of course, brands and advertisers know this isn’t true, and have come up with a million and one gimmicks that are designed to “trick” you (or at least the uncontrollable urges part of your brain) into being healthy. We are in cahoots with them because we too want to trick ourselves.
Comparing different health strategies turns into a comparison of tricks rather than a comparison of information or health facts. And choosing the right strategy is all about finding that strategy whose tricks work best.
Which, I guess, is just a realization that all of us knew already. The part that I keep spinning on is whether or not the tricks can be simplified. In the quest for tricks that are resilient to our subconscious’s ability to adapt and disable any but the most tricky of tricks, we create ever more complicated tricks. The trick-war with the subconscious, it seems, is probably futile.
What if we took the complexity out of tricks (so that the Catch-22 of needing enough motivation to, say, count calories hides the fact that you could have used that motivation to put any other health plan into motion) and went back to the core principles of health:
- Eat healthy food
- Exercise regularly
The strategy doesn’t need to be complicated or tricky… we just need to figure out what motivates us. What excites us, what gives us the energy to put will into action. There are other ways to make something unboring, and there are other ways to bootstrap motivation. There are other ways to trick the brain that have nothing to do with complicated and investment-requiring tasks (like counting calories) and instead tap into the things that we find intrinsically motivating and rewarding in the first place: support from friends, the feeling of making progress, recognition of hard work, etc.
I’m trying to wire it up that way, but the proof will be in the pudding (or some clever pun on that).