Guilt and a Healthy Lifestyle

These days, the pressure to “live your best life” is coming at us from all directions. It’s everywhere! From magazine covers littered with articles ranging from ‘6 Weeks to a Healthier You’ or ‘10 Ways to Tone,’ to entire TV shows designed to show you how to reinvent yourself, social media is also crawling with “influencers” promoting the latest meal prep services, supplements, and diet programs. Even the most self-aware consumers can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the endless options and finding the “right” path to a healthy life.

With that often comes the ominous feeling of guilt many of us know all too well—guilt around not doing enough—guilt over not doing the right things…so in this quest to lead a life of wellness, we struggle. Instead of committing to trying one thing, we do nothing because that one thing doesn’t seem sufficient, or we can’t decide what path will be most impactful, so we continue to look for the illusive perfect option instead of just trying what is most appealing to us as individuals. We form excuses like “I’m too busy” or “I have other, more important, priorities” because these excuses give us comfort and temporarily relieve some of that guilt.

But what if instead of being overwhelmed by the vastness of the health and wellness continuum, we focused on just one aspect at a time? We can focus on small changes that can be made in daily life to work towards that picture of what we believe can be our best selves instead of committing to a 90-day fitness program. What if you just commit to taking the stairs at work today? Instead of a 6-week healthy eating challenge, maybe you decide to work some extra vegetables into dinner; small steps towards a larger whole. Little wins to work towards those bigger gains. What do you think would happen to that guilt? Would there be as great a need to soothe ourselves with excuses when the accomplishments, however insignificant they feel, are ever present?

The framework we use to view our health should also include a mental element just as much as the physical. So be kind to yourself. Set yourself up for success. Don’t lose sight of the big picture but allow yourself to just be in the moment, taking each smart choice as it comes and ultimately, you will find you are making a much larger impact on your life than you would have starting and stopping those daunting larger initiatives.

In health together,

K. Kohl

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