Updated: Mar 12, 2020
The reason nutrition is so hard is the same reason anything else is so hard—engrained behaviors and motivation. Most of the time, these two categories go hand-in-hand to determine if a person will be successful. Other factors can play a role as well, but these two concepts are always underlying.
Engrained behaviors are inner mental workings, ways of thinking, etc. that govern how a person acts. These personality traits rest on a subconscious level influencing every decision a person makes. This is not to say a person cannot be aware of these habits, as a person can be aware of many of their inner traits. That said, these behaviors are often not easy to change, even if a person is aware of them.
On our YouTube channel, the video titled “Nutritional failure is the result of two underlying issues,” we talk about the idea of underlying behaviors. One example provided in that video relates to food as a reward. From a young age, many people are taught that food is a reward for a job well-done. This is not a lesson in the sense of standard teaching, but rather something that is taught by the actions of adults around children.
Think about it. It is not uncommon for a mom or dad to tell a child that he or she can have a candy bar if the child behaves at the grocery store. Reward for behavior. It is not uncommon for someone to celebrate an engagement, promotion, or success at school by going out for food or drinks. Reward for behavior. The list could go on, of course.
This teaches a child not only that food or drink is a reward for good behavior, but also engrains a sense of happiness with food or drink. Something good happens = food or drink involved. As these habits are engrained at an early age, these lessons are not conscious examples of how to act, but rather unconscious examples of how to act that can stick with someone for a long time, perhaps their entire life.
Other nutrition habits can and are engrained from birth. There is a long narrative and even longer conversation to be had about this topic, but that is beyond the scope of a blog or newsletter.
Motivation is tricky. The reason we say that is motivation or a lack thereof is not universal for an individual. Sure, there individuals that are seemingly unmotivated in everything they do while there are seemingly people who are motivated in everything they do. With these persons, their motivation or lack thereof is likely still not universal, but is as close as it will reasonably be for any person. Most people fall somewhere between the two ends of spectrum.
Most people have areas where they are motivated and unmotivated. For example, many of our clients are business people—including doctors, lawyers, judges, and business executives—who excel at their careers. These people put in the time and effort to succeed and reap the benefits, while still pursuing even greater success. However, some of these people do not have the motivation to focus on fitness and that is why they come to us. (This does not apply to all these individuals, as some are motivated, but do not understand how to create good programming for exercise and nutrition and/or prefer someone else to do it for them).
Motivation or the lack thereof often depends, to some degree, on engrained behaviors. As young people, individuals develop their behaviors through interaction with primary care givers. For example, if you grew up in a household where fitness was promoted, you are more likely to be interested in fitness. If you grew in a house where financial responsibility was stressed, you’re more likely to be financial responsible. Along the same lines of thought, if you grew up in a house where these things were not important, you are less likely to be focused on them.
These engrained behaviors can make motivation even harder, even as someone knows and has a desire to be healthier. That said, overcoming such issues is possible, but it will take time and hard work.
Overcoming these difficulties
Overcoming engrained behaviors and motivational issues is possible, but not easy. The process starts with awareness, in that you have to become aware of the issues that hold you back. One of the biggest obstacles to this is honesty with one’s self, or rather a lack thereof. If a person cannot admit there is a problem, they are not going to find a solution. Lack of self-awareness is an issue, in that a person cannot honestly say something is wrong if they do not realize something is wrong. At the same time, ego can play a role, as some people are too proud to openly admit problems, even if these problems are obvious.
Of these two issues, we find pride the most troublesome. The reason for this is a person who is unaware can be made aware. A person who is too proud to admit and face problems is never going to face them until pride gets out of the way. We can work with the first issue, but not the second. You see, pride is one of the greatest things a person can posses, but also potentially one of the worst.
We see the problems with pride all too often, not just with self-honesty but following direction. For example, there are many times when we will explain something about nutrition to someone for them to tell us, usually in a condescending tone, “I know that.” You know that. Great. Then you don’t need us. The “I know that” statement or similar phrases are indicators of pride, persons who are resistant to feedback, people who want to be in control, and individuals who will be likely not follow advice or only follow “what makes sense to them,” which is another flawed line of thinking.
Nutrition is hard because you make it hard. That is the simple truth. Get out of your own way and create a path you want to be on. If you need help, you have to let someone help you.
If you want to learn more about our services, visit the homepage for our site here: https://www.demetzonlinepersonaltraining.com/. We offer a variety of services for training and nutrition. Just visit the page, read the write-up, and visit the links to the service pages to learn more and sign-up.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, and the International Sports Sciences Association. Nathan has 17 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.