Thousands and thousands of years ago your ancestors would prowl through the jungle or travel through the plains searching and hunting for food. Some of them would starve to death and some of them would get impaled on the tusks of a Woolly Mammoth as they were simply trying to get food to survive.
One cavewomen watched in horror as her husband was eaten by a saber-toothed tiger when he was simply trying to collect berries that were probably poisonous anyways. After this scaring event, she met with her tribe and grunted out “pe mei gro” which roughly translates over to, “this totally sucks”.
So our ancestors started making cities, growing crops, and domesticating animals. We quickly realized that this was much better than taking hundred-mile treks to get a single antelope for 60 people. Who’s carrying that thing back, seriously?
But farming was still tough and exhausting and it left us little time to do important stuff like make paintings, wheels, cars and highbrow poop jokes.
We made machines to make our jobs easier and eventually we made machines that did our jobs. With all this free time, we realized that we needed to be entertained. We invented televisions and computers and sat back in our recliner chairs.
High Five, We’re Awesome
We cracked open a nice cold Budweiser and high fived our friend in the recliner next to us because let’s face it, we’re awesome. Our days of suffering over food were over. In fact, deaths by Giant Baboon mauling has dramatically decreased in the last thousands of years. That’s worth celebrating, right?
Life was good, but then something happened. We started getting sick. This sickness wasn’t caused by the diseases that had plagued us in the past. We’ve done a pretty great job of taking care of that. Horary for no more leprosy!
Our sickness is caused by lifestyle choices. We stare in the mirror and we’re dissatisfied with how we look. Overtime we have accumulated 50 extra pounds of fat. How did that happen?
We Can Only Swap Out Problems, Not Eliminate Them
Turns out we simply traded in one form of suffering for another. Our saber-toothed tiger is now cancer, stroke, diabetes, and heart attacks. And it turns out that these diseases are killing way more of us than giant cats or starvation. These diseases are preventable and mostly caused by all the food we eat coupled with the low necessity to move.
Our solution to one problem caused another. In fact, research suggest that 50% of deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease can be prevented if people just exercised, maintained a somewhat reasonable weight, and refrained from smoking.
This might sound easy, but it’s not. Right around 70% of people in the United States are overweight or obese and 80% of us fail to meet the recommendations for aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise.
But here is the great news, you don’t have to choose between (1) starving just to end up a meal for a prehistoric animal or (2) cancer/stroke/diabetes/obesity. You do have options but no matter what, if you are thinking about changing or staying the same, there will be some form of struggling. You just get to choose what kind of struggle you want to deal with.
You’re Awesome No Matter What, But I Think You Should Go For it
If you are currently overweight or obese your health may suffer and you might suffer emotionally because you are displeased with yourself (in reality, you should love yourself no matter what, you’re awesome!).
You want to change, but you’ve tried and failed before so that already makes the situation scary. Then where do you even start? Low carb, no carb, intermittent fasting, detox shake diet, buy a shake weight, get booty max?
But that’s life, it’s a great game where you get to choose how you would like to struggle. Would you like to struggle with behaviors or feelings that make you better and stronger in the long run? Or would you like to struggle with sickness and dissatisfaction?
In psychology, there is a concept within Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), called experiential acceptance. We all have a concept of who we want to be which is based on our own personal life values.
Within the ACT framework, suffering and negative emotions are inevitable, it’s just a part of life. Experiential acceptance is the accepting of whatever suffering may come your way as you work to live a valued life.
In order to change, there certainly needs to be a plan of attack that works for each individual. However, just know that whatever decision you make, change or don’t change, there are going to be bumps in the road. And because struggling is an inevitable part of life, if you are even contemplating making some health changes the time to start is always now.