Does Healthy = Unpleasant for You?

By Marsha Hudnall on 07/22/2011
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I made an interesting connection yesterday.

A couple of years ago, when I did most of my work for Green Mountain at home, I moved my usual place of work from my desk to my bar, where I could stand as i worked at the computer. I did that because it allowed me to work much longer; I stood straight and avoided the neck pains of being hunched over a computer.

When I started teaching again at Green Mountain, I went back to a desk. But when we renovated our offices last December, I put a standing desktop in. And there I’ve been working many long hours this year (all sympathy accepted). Once more I was able to do that without the pain that had been creeping back from working at a regular desk. It made me feel more energetic, too. I loved standing as I worked.

Then research started popping up that standing while we worked was better for our health. You’d think that would cement my practice, right? Noooo. Instead, I seemed to have unconsciously started to do it because of my “health,” not because it felt good. It didn’t feel natural anymore. I thought twice about sitting at the stool I keep handy when I feel like I need to sit. There was a tinge of guilt when I did sit. It didn’t feel so good anymore.

So what’s that about? Was it, as our psychologist Darla would say, my rebel coming out? I don’t think so. Instead, I think my thoughts about “health” all of a sudden took away the pleasure I got from what I was doing.  I started taking it to an extreme, making it more about meeting a definition I came up with of a healthy behavior, rather than paying attention to how my body felt when engaged in the healthy behavior.

It’s interesting to think about how I, and dare I say many others, think about what is required to be healthy, and how our definition of it can interfere with our actual attainment of it. We often get caught up in all-or-nothing thinking, which of course really creates problems for putting healthy behaviors in place long-term.

I also think this ties in to my recent self-proclaimed mission at Green Mountain of encouraging weight strugglers to become mindful eating foodies. That means putting pleasure first — gasp at the thought! — and having health be a natural outcome of that because we know that to truly be pleasurable, the taste of food and how it makes us feel after we eat it are equally important.

With that, I wish you a happy weekend and hope those of you in this terrible heat stay safe.

Does it work better for you to be focused on doing things that are good for you, or doing things that feel good for you?

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