The Selfish Side of Health and Wellness
I am now, what you may call, and I MAY have referred to in my early 20s as a “health nut.” It’s OK, I take no offense to it, even if the jab is from my former self. I can clearly remember making the argument that I didn’t see the point in working out for greater health, if the time I added to my life I was spending in the gym! I’ve since recanted and I’ve found the enjoyment of training. Over the years I’ve learned the joy of cooking, that spread to the joy of sourcing high quality ingredients, turning my kitchen into a laboratory and voila, you have one certified health nut.
What made the difference? Why the change? Of course maturity played a role, also parenthood has a way of opening one up to seeing the big picture; life beyond your life, legacy and all. Another big factor is also just plain solid self-concern. How do I want to feel as I age? What do I want from my experience? For me the key idea is that I want to feel good, be free of chronic pain, and live a long, productive, medication-free life surrounded by friends and family. Sounds good, right? I know.
Well, here’s where the negative part of the “health nut” moniker comes in. Because I know what I want, and I think it’s GOOD for anyone, I want to share it with the people. The result is often the perception is that we card-carrying health nuts are preachy, finger wagging evangelists spreading the gospel of quinoa. That couldn’t be further from MY truth, though I do confess to a sometimes ulterior motive: Selfishness.
“How can YOU be selfish when talking to other people about THEIR health?” We’ll come back to that, but touch on the other side of the coin first.
People love cake. People love watching TV. Some people love hanging out with friends at happy hour. None of these things are life ending bad behaviors, no big deal. Now when the love of sweets, couch coaching, and alcohol consumption compound and become a lifestyle, we see problems. What we see is the fertile ground from which major diseases occur, like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Have you ever tried to talk to someone who drinks just a little too frequently about quitting for a while? In my experience it’s answered with either an “I’ve got it,” a “Yeah, you’re right” with no actionable change, or flat out denial. The same applies to negative eating, both behaviors can be addicting, hard to break, and when challenged, can cause people to fiercely defend. That’s part 2.
The last 6 months have been a time for health extremes in my circle of family and friends. Three cousins had heart attacks, one fatal. Two diagnoses of cancer in the family, one stage 4 and the other treated with radiation and surgery. A close friend and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and during the surgery to remove a portion of intestines, cancer was discovered. He lost his life before completing chemotherapy. Most recently, one of my good friends, a former collegiate athlete and hall of famer in high school, found himself in ICU, alcohol rehab, and wearing a defibrillator jacket at age 40. Simultaneously, many participants in The Ultimate Nutrition Course have lost from 20 to 50 pounds, shed inches off of their waist, and had their physicians drastically reduce their medications. Polarizing.
This is where the two trains meet. There is a definite selfishness on both sides of this wellness coin. On one hand we have the selfishness that causes us to continue to engage in negative behaviors. Sure they only effect ourselves in the moment, and typically in a positive way. We feel good after a slice of pie, sitting on the couch watching a great game, while having a couple drinks. When those behaviors become problematic (whether we know it or not) it’s that selfish element that causes us to defend our lifestyle. “Life is short. It’s Miller time. Leave me the heck alone, health nut!”
On the other side of the coin, in my case it’s often my own selfishness that accidentally compels me to the ‘pulpit of quinoa.’ Sickness, disease and loss bring pain, not just to the individual, but to everyone who loves and cares for us as well. Everyone hurts. And though we can’t guarantee that reducing negative behaviors will keep us from illness, the numbers say that we can tip the scales in our favor with a little consistency. That’s the reason I started down the road that would eventually become Eating For Abs 1-on-1 Coaching. It was my selfishness that wanted to do everything that I could to minimize, or at least push as far into the future as possible, experiencing the pain of unnecessary illness of loved ones. If I can help my loved ones to do a little better, I’m actually protecting myself.
So from one selfish health nut to the world, have a little compassion. I’ll work to convince the health nuts of the world to tone it down a little bit, and do a little less finger wagging. In exchange, I’m asking everyone else to think about the impact of doing just a little bit better on your family and friends. We’re all on the same team.
–Coach Be Moore