Updated: Feb 14, 2021
Do you have wellness guilt? Let me explain. Do you have guilt associated with making healthy choices and extending effort toward health if it isn't the MOST healthy option of all the options? For example, if you stick to the edges of the store and buy produce, but then feel bad, because you feel you should have bought all organic. How about buying all that produce and then never taking the time to cut it up and then it goes bad in your fridge, leading to guilt about the money you just wasted? Or taking a long walk, but feeling like you should be doing something more intense so you sweat? How about feeling instantly guilty about resting, watching Netflix or reading because you know you still have tons of laundry that could be done? So instead, you scroll and waste 45 minutes and don't do either!? Sound familiar?
Over 2 years of coaching clients and hearing their thoughts, their fears, their struggles and where they draw their strength I've come to the realize that wellness guilt is REAL and can be a huge limiting factor in our abilities to get healthy. I would put my money on society, marketing and social media as being the main culprits for creating this never good enough mentality. Over the last 40 years there has been a massive health push in terms of research, products and approaches to health. While information and choices are fantastic, all this data is seemingly not making us healthier (at least here in the US). Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle continue to rise each year, right along with each new diet fad. Something is not working.
Wellness guilt goes hand in hand with toxic productivity. Essentially, feeling bad for relaxing or taking a health short cut, because you know you COULD be doing more. Most times this leads to a few different outcomes. Over achievers who complete their to do lists every day without fail, but still feel they haven't done enough. Chronic under-performers who can never quite get past the (paralyzing) guilt and shame to even start and therefore also feel like they aren't doing enough. So, what's the solution?
Well I have one for you.
Stop giving so much power to “perfect health”. Perfect health is a myth and you'll likely never achieve it. But guess what? That’s okay. You can live an amazing, thriving and growth filled life, full of energy and contentment WITHOUT being "perfectly" healthy. Don’t get me wrong, it's great to strive to be your best self in all aspects and try to create ideal health. That's a fine goal. However, when our quest for health turns to obsession or just as bad passive avoidance, we will never get anywhere close. I have my own opinions and approaches to health that apply to my own life obviously. There are certain things I avoid and certain things I don't actively encourage my clients to ingest or take part in. However, my goal isn't to get you to live like me, I want you to live like YOU. I want you to create behaviors that work in your life for who you are now and who you want to be.
Our mindset when we approach our wellness is probably the singularly most important piece of figuring out our ideal health puzzle. Our mindset can talk us in or out of an idea or action quicker than we can even realize its happening. Our personal philosophies and our specific approaches to health and how successful they are hang on our mindset. We won't get very far if we never feel like what we are doing is enough. I've come to the realization that wellness guilt is a REAL problem and it creates a very real non starter for people to work around. I've been saying it for quite some time, but its more apparent to me now more than ever, that an over-abundance(IE confusion) of approaches to health have drastically altered our own ability to make the best wellness decisions for ourselves and our lifestyles. I truly believe when we find the right combination of healthy habits and hacks we can get much closer to our ideal health than without. Life now days is hard enough. Full of over-filled schedules, stressful work environments, chores, kids activities and never enough hours in the day. Why add to it with unnecessary guilt and complication?
I offer the following ideas as
Easy buttons for health:
Steamer veggie bags
Canned beans (Level up: look for reduced sodium)
Meal prep and food delivery services
Microwave rice and grain bags
Saying no, setting boundaries, creating space in your schedule to breathe
Short moderate intensity workouts, long low energy workouts
80/20 or even 70/30 lifestyle!
Pre-cut vegetables and fruits
Protein shakes, bars, cookies, pasta
Mixing lightly processed foods in with your whole foods (pasta sauces, veggie burgers, fruit in yogurt or oatmeal, etc)
I'm in the business of health and a wellness pusher through and through. My job and my income relies on helping people find better health-whatever that looks like to them. My coaching revolves around the client getting to know themselves and their motivators, their personalities and their realistic health goals. Just like a lot of us are not signing up to run ultra-marathons anytime soon, the same can be said about things like buying organic or even buying fruit you will have to cut up! If you aren’t going to do it, let's get real about it. Quit wasting money and figure out how to still eat fruits and veggies in the mean time. Want my advice? I say buy the pre-cut, eat the fruit and recycle the container! Maybe one day you'll have the energy and drive to cut the fruit up. But for now start small, start easy and build healthy habits in an approachable way.