The Minimalist Plan for Better Health
I've been there.
I've had short-term success with some of these plans, and a lot more failure.
I don't have a minimalist body. I have the body of a person who has struggled with excess weight for her entire adult life. I have a lot of excess weight, but even if you only have a little bit, you might be able to relate.
Why do we make it so complex?
Our culture's ideas about beauty are also extreme. Flawless, unwrinkled skin, long, thick hair, and above all, thinness – the criteria for attractiveness are demanding and ever-changing.
Maybe you're horrified by a little extra around the chin or a bit of extra arm wiggle. That shocked response pushes you toward a deprivation diet or extreme workouts.
What does healthy eating look like?
- nuts and seeds
- whole grains
- lean meats and fish
- low-fat dairy
- very few sweets or highly processed foods
And what does healthy exercise look like? What did thousands of generations of our ancestors do to "keep in shape"?
- lots of walking
- occasional sprints
- bending and stretching
- carrying things from one place to another
So you don't need gym equipment or a personal trainer, you just need to stop driving everywhere and do some actual work. Get outside and walk, ride a bike, climb stairs, run around with your dog or your grandkids, carry your child or your groceries, use a vacuum cleaner and a mop, do your own yardwork, wash the car.
So what's the problem?
overweight and obesity become more prevalent around the world, they start to look normal. I'll admit that I appreciate being able to find clothes that fit with more ease than I could 20 years ago. But maybe that's not such a good thing.
Humans are very adaptable. This is both beneficial and harmful. When you consider the typical lifestyles of a modern developed nation, you see urbanization, car dependence, a prevalence of fast food and processed snack foods over healthy home-prepared meals, tons of screen time, and other factors that contribute to the problem. This is nothing like the way humans have lived for countless generations, but we have adapted to it in a relatively short time span (basically since my parents were born).
This "new normal" is just as destructive to an optimal life as the "normal" consumerist lifestyle that minimalists are hoping to leave behind.
Here's what we need to decide.
What do you want for your body and your health?
If I say I want to be healthy, but I have a caramel latte every afternoon, or dessert after dinner every night, and then feel guilty every morning, I'm just hurting myself.
It's the same thing if you go to the gym or to a Zumba class (like I used to go to Jazzercise back in the 1980s) with the idea that you can treat yourself to a large smoothie afterwards (with more sugar than a candy bar). I bet a walk through the park followed by a glass of lowfat milk and a slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter will make you healthier. And it's a lot more pleasant than an hour on the elliptical followed by some raw kale.
Your health, your diet, and your fitness don't need to be complicated. A minimalist body – just sticking with these basics which we all know – is within reach of anyone. I have to believe that.
Renee at The Fun Sized Life recommends imagining your end goal. She writes:
Imagine what you want your life to have been like
when you've reached the end of it.
Now, slowly begin getting rid of anything
that isn't going to help you achieve that life.
It could be that simple.