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Well + Good: Embrace the boring

Your body needs patience and consistency

Great news – we have unlocked the secret to true health and wellness!

To tell you the truth, we have known what it is for a long time. In fact, you probably know what it is too. It’s likely that you have seen someone on social media offering to share how they keep their health in perfect balance. And it’s true, there is a trick to ultimate health and wellness. The problem is, you won’t like the answer.

Why? Well, because the answer is boring. We want excitement. We want new and improved life hacks and wellness crazes that promise effortless health and beauty. We want the magic pill. This is how we end up with things like celery juice, moon juice or green coffee bean extract, and we flock to these shiny new products, demanding that they take our money.

We resolve to drink celery juice every day for the rest of our lives, expecting the immediate and profound health benefits promised on the overpriced bottle. Of course, after a few days of this, we realize that celery juice tastes terrible, and we return to our caramel macchiatos, defeated and disappointed that we didn’t have the willpower to stick to our new resolution – until the next craze hits the market and we declare that this time things will be different. They won’t.

Why do we keep falling for this? Because newness is fun and exhilarating but it isn’t what the body wants. The secret to ultimate health and wellness and what the body really wants is boring old patience and consistency.

The human body, in all of its beautiful complexity, is still a biological organism that needs a lot of time to make adjustments and adaptations. Too much change too quickly and it doesn’t have time to adapt. The key to any biological adaptation is time and continuity, meaning that if you do any activity for the long term, your body will adapt to it.

Anyone who has mastered a sport can confirm that while it takes time, the consistent training ultimately leads to physical adaptation and skill development. As an example, the popular Couch to 5K training program will have most beginners thinking that they will never learn how to run effectively. But with slow and steady training their distance incrementally increases. Ultimately, they will reach a full five-kilometre distance. The system used for this initial training can then be applied to develop further distances and increased training capacity.

This may be the point in the article where you feel the need to point out that these changes are unbalanced because running is hard and watching Netflix is easy. You are correct. In fact, the longer we binge on anything, the harder it is to break free. This is because once our habits are established and the body has adapted to them, it resists having to start over with new ones. It is therefore important to be smart about how we transform our habits to be more supportive of our health.

The most important way to start building sustainable habits is by building practices and doing things that you actually like. Saying that you will never eat sugar again is unrealistic because sugar is taste-bud heaven, so every time you are around sugar, you will be fighting against your willpower. Instead, try to swap out heavily sweetened experiences for more health-supportive ones. For example, try stevia in your morning coffee instead of sugar or baking low-sugar cookies at home for your afternoon cookie break, instead of buying the monster cookies from the coffee shop.

Movement is no exception to this rule but may require some creativity to build the best system. We tend to equate exercise with punishment and assume the most painful movement will be the most effective. This can lead to people unnecessarily punishing themselves by enduring activities that they hate. When they ultimately fail to master this detestable activity, they assume their weak convictions are to blame instead of recognizing that suffering isn’t effective motivation for anyone.

Choose activities that you enjoy. Don’t make a resolution to run five kilometres at 6 o’clock every morning if you hate both running and waking up early. There may be some people who love an early morning run but for those who don’t, it will feel like torture and will lead to burnout and frustration.

Instead of forcing your body to do something it hates, give yourself permission to try new forms of movement until you find something you love. Why not try a few classes and choose the one you love the most? Being happy in an adult ballet class is much more effective than being miserable on a 6 am run.

Finally, be wary of prioritizing health changes based solely on how they will make you look. Opt instead to develop habits that will improve how you feel. One of the most common drivers for health and wellness improvements is external validation because we generally put more value on how something makes us look over how it makes us feel.

Unfortunately, adaptation to any new health activity will take time and physical changes can happen so slowly that at first, you may give up on the habit before these changes start to manifest. Shifting habits from harmful to beneficial takes time and patience but it is truly the most effective way to achieve lasting health and wellness.

The secret to longevity is now yours to keep and share, although people may not listen. But the next time you are dazzled by the latest health craze, you’ll know better and opt instead to embrace the boring and stick to the consistency and patience that your body needs.


the boring