In short pleasure! This might seem like a strange thing for a fitness and nutrition coach to be concerned about. I mean quite honestly my industry has a label of self denial of pleasure.
Where do you receive pleasure in your life? It seems to be something that we are lacking. I mean most people I have talked to say they find pleasure in things like getting out for a night of drinking with friends, some greasy fried fast foods or a sugary coffee drink. And even at that I don't know many who take the time to sit and milk the pleasure out of their meal or drink.
The truth is we are hardwired for pleasure. Human beings are made to feel pleasure in so many different ways. But from my experience growing up in our society I was taught that most pleasures are naughty and should be forbidden, are for when we get older or should at least be only enjoyed only at special occasions.
Living in this pleasure suppressing society it's no wonder we find ourselves on a yo-yo diet and exercise train. Let me explain. As a fitness and nutrition coach working in this industry for 20 years I have seen a lot of people come and go. It seems most of us are all on then all off. And trust me I’ve been there myself. It’s almost impossible not to be with the way we are programmed/taught growing up in our western society. So after years as children being told to slow down, stop laughing so loud, not to jump on the furniture, not to eat too much of the fun food, to try harder in our sports games, sit still at a desk all day we graduate to adulthood. And then the rules get even harder. Then we need to provide, earn, be successful, get a job, a house, have kids of our own. Don’t be that guy, don’t be that girl. Look at media images and be more like them. And don’t even get me started on how media marketing has taught us that pleasure comes in nice cars and clothes.
But where is our encouragement to enjoy pleasure? Even our leftover things like vacations and nights out with friends that we think will bring us pleasure are often spent snapping pics and posting our fun to compare to others on social media.
Now here's where I see all this connecting to our health, fitness and weight. We are literally starving to feel pleasure. And the one safe easy thing left is our food. But we are told it is bad and we restrict it regularly or feel guilt about how often we overindulge. So when willpower finally does give in we choose the biggest dopamine hit we can get. The greasiest, sweetest, fastest foods we can find. And we shovel them in so fast (usually while on our phones or driving) our pleasure is so short lived that it never really satisfies our thirst for pleasure. Then out of despise for the fat on our bodies and the guilt over food choices we go to the gym to punish our bodies into losing the fat. It’s a hamster wheel cycle that really can only be maintained for short periods of time before we fall off and spiral.
I’m sorry to paint such a grim picture of our lives. But I do see this pattern all too often year after year. I never really knew how to help or how to break the cycle. But I do now.
First off, make pleasure a priority in your life. Take time to find pleasure wherever you can. Disconnect and truly experience these pleasurable things. Try sitting down to your morning coffee or meal with no phone, no TV and savour that first cup or meal slowly. Truly taste it, smell it. Revel in the experience. Take little breaks during the day to stop and take a deep breath and find pleasure in that moment of stillness among the chaos of the day. Take a bath, go for a walk, dance, be intimate with a partner or yourself. When you go to the gym do things you enjoy not what you hate out of punishment. Make a promise to yourself to find more pleasure each day and I promise it will start to transform your life, your relationship with food, exercise and your body.
I am all about helping my clients find long term sustainable healthy lifestyle patterns. If you are struggling with lack of pleasure in your nutrition and fitness program, reach out. I would love to help coach you to a more pleasurable way of life.