I had this thought when I went to the grocery store the other day. I am one of those people that is fine parking far away from the store. A short walk is not going to kill me. In fact, it’s probably better for me. It reminded me of years ago when there was a health trend along those same points. Now everyone mistook it and turned it into “walk yourself skinny” which is not what it was. However, it was the idea that making conscious choices to be move active in your day to day life was good for you. Park far away and walk. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Get up from your desk every few hours and take a short walk. It was a good response to the fact that we have very sedentary lifestyles.
Like most things however people had to come out and completely shit all over it. They called people that believed that getting healthy by simply being more active stupid. They declared that it was a lazy excuse to not go to the gym everyday and make real changes in their lives.
Look the core problem is there. If you believe that making these small changes is going to make a drastic difference then you are being misled. However, being so aggressively negative about it solves nothing either. For at least a few months after this fad took off, I remember people fighting over the far away parking spots, not the close ones. As I was at the grocery store watching five cars fight over a spot by the entrance I have to wonder if those negative people are really happy with the end result. The doing small active things everyday trend is dead. Many of the people doing those small active things have gone back to doing nothing active. Congrats? That’s what you wanted right?
It just reminded me of how damn negative we always are. We can’t simply inform people without jumping on them and screaming. Wouldn’t a better response to the fad had been something like this:
-Look walking yourself skinny isn’t a thing. You aren’t going to lose massive amounts of weight by just being slightly more active every once in awhile. However, this is a great first step towards making real lifestyle changes. Continue with doing the small things and then add in going to the gym. Add in taking longer walks/jogs if you can’t go to the gym. Use it as motivation to become even more active and healthy.-
But no, we had to tell people they were stupid and lazy and it was pointless. The reality is, it’s not pointless. We are dangerously inactive, so any degree of activity is probably a good thing for people. So why be so negative?
Another example I saw of this was some show about helping people lose weight. A woman went to her favorite restaurant with a trainer. The trainer asked what she normally got, and it was some crazy burger with extra bacon and the works. The trainer then told her to pick something else. The woman mentioned salad and the negativity began. The trainer began to rant and rave about how salads really aren’t healthy and we dumb people just think they are. We overload them with so much crap that any nutrition is lost, and it’s stupid to believe that something packed with dressing and cheese is healthy. I took a lot of problems with this, but one of the biggest was seeing how discouraged the woman got.
First of all, yeah, we put a lot of unhealthy crap on our salads, but the woman was trying. Second, you are not going to convince me that a salad, even a pretty unhealthy one, is as bad as a burger with bacon, cheese, and fries on the side. And lastly, tell the woman what her mistake was without making her feel like a moron.
Say that while the idea of a salad is good we put a lot of extras on our salad that make it bad for us. Be aware of all the extra calories on a salad from things like too much dressing, cheese, extra meats. If you still want a salad to compensate for it. Make sure the dressing is on the side and don’t use all of it. Ask for no cheese or lite cheese. Make sure whatever meat is in the salad is not bringing down the nutritional value. Then compliment her on making the choice to go for something green instead of something fried, greasy, and basically all fat.
But we can’t do that. We are so negative that even the idea of celebrating someone taking small steps, making small changes, baffles us. We have to just yell, call people stupid, and most of all discourage the hell out of them. We tell people to stop walking and finding excuses to bring a bit of activity in their lives, and they do. We tell people they are dumb to think that ordering a salad is really a better option, so they just order the burger. We tell people that things are hard, grueling, and difficult then sneer or scoff at them when they dare to celebrate small changes.
Then we wonder why people give up, get down, or just never start to try in the first place.
This, of course, applies to a lot more than getting healthy, it was just the most recent thought that came to me and inspired this. I’ve been thinking (and blogging) a lot about my own negativity. My negativity towards myself, towards others, towards the world really. I won’t push off all responsibility, but I have started to realize that at least some of my negativity is learned behavior because we’ve all gotten this way.
We won’t let people celebrate small milestones. We won’t let people change their lives slowly. We can’t come to people and be constructive about things. It’s always yelling, insults, and downright negativity. Nothing good came of telling people not to park far away and walk to the grocery store. Because nothing good comes of that much negativity. And you can argue tough love all you want, but tough love doesn’t include (and in fact require) a bit of love.
I think we need to seek to be more positive in our own lives, but also to make sure people are experiencing more positivity. When we see someone being overly negative and discouraging maybe take some time and inform them their approach might not be the best. We also need to be open to when others approach us and say that maybe our words/actions are coming off a bit more negative than we might mean them to be.
And we all need to celebrate our own small changes and allow others to do so too. Some people can wake up and say, “You know what? I am cutting out all bad food” and do it. Other people take more time and take small changes. It’s not our place to discourage that. Yes, we need to tell people the truth, that they won’t just walk themselves thin. But we can do that without being assholes, and while still celebrating that someone that never walks has taken that first step (no pun intended).