When you wake up, it’s time for some cereal, eggs, and bacon. If you have a headache, take a couple of pills and work through the pain. When Saturday night rolls around, meet up with friends, have a couple of drinks and maybe stay out late, followed by a “lazy Sunday” in front of the television set. Repeat.
These are the cultural norms most people live by, and can reflect most of the daily decisions people make. When it comes to what, when, and how to do something, there are expectations you and those around you have come to accept.
But how are those expectations working for you? Do you feel good, healthy, and successful or are you feeling powerless or trapped? Sometimes the best way to improve your health naturally is to step out of the box and abandon some of the norms that have permeated American culture.
For example, when it comes to meals and snacks, there are expectations about what and when a person should eat. It’s expected you should eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at set times along with some afternoon snacks. Any more than that and people might judge you. If you’re sitting at your desk at work at 10 a.m. eating a chicken salad, then eating a tuna sandwich at noon, people might look at you funny. They might even be more judgmental if they see you eating an energy or protein bar around 3:30 p.m., wondering why you eat so much.
But there is some indication that eating small meals or snacks when hungry, as opposed to gorging when starving, is an efficient way to get calories, avoid binging, and keeping our metabolism rolling. For some, this could involve eating every two to three hours, while others can wait five hours or more. It really depends on your individual needs and energy expenditure.
People who want to get healthy often have a difficult time doing so because they are afraid to abandon the cultural expectations of their friends and family. It’s hard to turn down the big family feast, not talk about the television shows everybody watches, or live a healthy life when others around you aren’t making the effort.
Living to improve your health involves, to an extent, breaking cultural norms and making decisions that benefit you in the long run. Packing your own meals for dinner parties, living an active lifestyle, taking a day off work to rest and recuperate if you’re sick, and avoiding so much of what’s “normal” is difficult, but really makes a difference in your health.
Many of the people you see in great health—nutritionists, trainers, friends, colleagues, or coworkers—make decisions every day that break cultural norms. They operate behind the scenes and choose to spend their time being active, eating right, and doing things to promote their healthy lifestyles. You might see them at the all-you-can-eat buffet once in a while, but it’s rare. It’s a reward for hard work and making against-the-grain decisions the majority of the time.
There are a number of ways a person can choose to live their life. And these days, there are more alternatives and people living in health-conscious ways to make these decisions easier on you. Joining a group that gets together for walks or jogs and spending time with people who are living the lifestyle you want is a great way to ease your transition and make your alternative decisions seem more “normal.”