There is a difference between wanting to do something and feeling like you have to do something. Do we really want to do what it takes to be a healthy, strong and energized person, or do we feel we have to do x, y or z because it’s an expectation or obligation or ultimatum to get healthy?
These are tough question to answer, because I believe most of us would initially say that we want to be healthy, strong and energized. I mean, who doesn’t? But “wanting” does not translate into “doing”. It’s not just enough to want it, is it? Wanting something without focused and consistent action is null and void. There is a difference between wanting results and wanting to do what it takes to get results. Often we don’t take time to look at the distinction between the two - which often results in frustration, resentment and apathy.
If we want the results, but we don’t want to do what it takes to get them, then our efforts will ultimately be short-lived and so will our results. This next point is important. Just because we don’t like to do something or we don’t enjoy doing something, doesn’t have to mean that we don’t want to do it. Here is a simple example. I do not enjoy changing my three-year old’s poopy diapers. I hate it. But I want to do it. I want to do it because I want to prevent diaper rash and I want her to be comfortable and not to feel shame or humiliation because she is sitting in her dirty diaper for hours or days at a time. Again, it is possible to not like to do something, but still want to do it.
So how do we do transition to living in the space of wanting to do things we do not like (or currently do not want) to do? Here’s the key: we have to have a big enough reason WHY to overcome the desire to not want to do x, y or z. In other words, we have to want the ultimate result more than our desire to not want to do the action.
For example. I don’t want to do laundry, but I want clean clothes and I want my child to be comfortable and clean. There are two “wants” here, right? So which “want” is stronger? As you can probably guess, I do laundry (often). I don’t want to pay taxes, but I also don’t want to go to jail or pay the penalty for not paying taxes. Again, there are two “wants”? Can you guess which is stronger? Yes, I pay my taxes.
This logic applies to our health journey. It’s the why behind the action that ultimately decides which “want” is bigger and which “want” fuels our actions. If our “health” why isn’t bigger than a smaller pant size or looking good so other people will think we are successful or have it all together, we are going to struggle with the conflicting “wants” of our journey. Superficial goals, desires and wants are not deep enough to inspire and drive us to do the things that we don’t want to do.
I have learned this lesson through years of trial and error in my own life. I was very good at doing something for a few days or a couple of months to drop some weight, but I always got pulled off course when I wanted to do or have something more than I wanted to lose the weight. I wanted to binge drink on the weekends and let loose from my stressful week more than I wanted to deal with my stress and relax in a healthy way. I wanted the ease and comfort of fast food, diet sodas, packaged diet meals and shakes more than I wanted to go to the grocery store and buy real, whole foods to prepare my own meals. I wanted to eat a container of ice cream more than I wanted to sit with my feelings of stress, fear, loneliness, sadness and not feeling like I was enough. I think most people can agree that it is easy to default to the easy “wants” in life and just give in to our whims. But there is a price to every choice we make.
It wasn’t until I had spent years choosing the easy “wants” that I found myself living a life of obsession, loneliness and perfectionism. I had brought my body to the brink of exhaustion. I suffered from anxiety and depression. I appeared strong and put together on the outside, but I was lonely, insecure and scared on the inside. I had no peace, joy, energy and my health was suffering. I was in my late 20’s. I thought to myself, “I’m too young to feel this way and live this way.” When I came to the end of myself and realized I wasn’t invincible, I began to go beneath superficial wants and ignite a desire to choose a different outcome for my life. This would require wanting to make choices that wouldn’t feel easy, comfortable or fun. I wanted the outcome more than I wanted instant gratification or a short-lived quick fix. I wanted freedom, but I had to claim it.
You may be in the process of this realization. Often, I meet women when they are sitting in a body, surrounded by a life they don’t recognize. As they reflect on “how they got here” - they come to the realization that they have been making choices and decisions based on what they wanted to do versus on what they wanted to create and have. These are two completely different perspectives to live from and they will produce completely different results.
So now it’s time to ask ourselves the question, how would we describe our current perspective when it comes to our health journey? Do we make decisions based on what we want to do or what we want to have/create/produce?
Here’s another truth for us to chew on. It’s not what we say we want, it’s what we do that matters. There is a lot of lip service in today’s day and age. It’s so easy to get on social media and type a few words about how we feel or what our opinions are - but that doesn’t create any results in our lives. All it creates is an illusion. And for many of us, it’s easier and safer to live behind a phone or some other device and create an illusion of what we want our lives to be than it is to really live a life that is real, authentic, meaningful and productive.
Our real lives (not our social media personas) are created by what we actually do. Our health is not based on the salad picture we posted yesterday or a our profile picture from five years or ten years ago when we were thin. Our relationship is not based on the cute picture we took together at a wedding, after we fought the whole way there. Our ability as a parent is not based on posting pictures of our kids smiling or videos them doing something adorable. Social media posts can make us feel validated that our health, marriage and life is okay as we see people comment and “like” a photo that represents a split second of our lives. But deep down we know what the truth is and we know what the gap is between what people see and what actually is.
It’s time to ask ourselves, are we someone who spends a lot of energy talking (or thinking) about what we want or what we are going to do or posting pictures that represent what we want people to think we are or have? Or do we spend more time in productive action towards real tangible, long lasting results?
It’s easy to gather a lot of information like puzzle pieces, but never put the puzzle together. It’s tempting to want to pick and choose what we will do based on finances, time, comfort, simplicity, popularity, etc. versus what is necessary to get the results we desire. Getting what we really want out of life is not easy. Most of us default to living a life that is less than our best life because it’s the path of least resistance. Anyone can live a life based on the path of least resistance, but extraordinary lives are those of us who choose to do what is in alignment with what we were created for, even if it those actions are not something we necessarily feel motivated or equipped to do.
Here are last thoughts. I realized that many of my “lost years” were spent striving for things that were worldly and temporary (success, worth, comfort and validation) through unhealthy means (perfectionism, dieting, drinking, unhealthy relationships and performance). There was no peace or joy in this season of my life. Everything was done with the intention of surviving emotionally, mentally and physically from one day to the next. But then God met me in the depths of my self-absorption, brokenness and insecurity. As my defenses came down, He began to show me a different perspective on how to live. Instead of striving to establish who I was in the world, I began discovering who I was in Him. When I stopped looking for my identity in the world (which I would have never found because I was not created by or for the world), I found my identity in Him. Motives changed. Actions followed. Chains were broken. Freedom was released. I’ve never looked back.
This life is a beautiful journey. It’s full of twists and turns and forks in the road. This life brings us to our knees and lifts us back up again. We have an incredible Creator who is weaving together a tapestry that is more beautiful than we can possibly imagine if we put our trust in Him and the path He has set before us. He will not force us down a road, that’s not how love works. Love without a choice is not love at all - it’s manipulation and control. We always get to choose.
But if we choose to believe in His love and His promises, we will find God’s spirit changing the desires of our hearts to match the desires of His heart. Our life path will become illuminated as we surrender our control to the One who knows the way. We will want to do what is alignment with the purpose that was planted inside of us before time began. We will want to take care of these incredible bodies that are temples of God and vehicles for our purpose. But we have to make a choice of what we want. We can follow God’s voice that says we are already enough to do what we have been created to do or we can listen to the voices of the world telling us to do, be and have more to prove we are something. If we want what the world offers, we will find ourselves going after money, power and attention which will lead us to confusion, strife and emptiness. But God’s voice will lead us to a peace that transcends all understanding and joy that is present despite our circumstances. With God, money doesn’t destroy us and attention from others doesn’t define us. What do you want? Choose wisely!
Amber Thiel is CEO of The Healthy Edge, a lifestyle coach and personal trainer. If you would like to have a free coaching session with Amber to discuss your current health reality and how to get on a path to healing and wholeness, CLICK HERE to schedule!