“So, what’s your secret?”
Although I’ve never experienced this phenomenon myself, every time I encounter a ‘Before’ vs ‘After’ photo of someone who got off the couch and became fit, this is the question I always see pop up. And somehow, even though we all know the answer (eating healthy and exercising regularly), we somehow still manage to ask this question again and again.
Why is that? When faced with two images strikingly different from one another, it’s easy to think that all those pounds shedded off like a snake shedding its second skin. You don’t see their sweat, their days when they felt like giving up, the hard work they put in each and every day. You don’t see the journey. You just see two images: Before and After. Instantaneous change. Perhaps because this comparison is so in our face, it’s easier to just jump to the following conclusion: “There must be this magic method that s/he made this happen.”
You see it everywhere: diet fads of all shapes and sizes, informercials advertising the latest GI cleanser or must-take-home exercise product. People want to have that magic method that will poof away the pounds. And if you look at the current state of our society, it’s not surprising. We are predisposed to purchase the fastest, most convenient products to enhance and better the quality of our day-to-day lives. We are not people, but consumers. Look at our full frozen meals ready after only 3 minutes in the microwave. Or how we can access a universe of information, connections (not to mention adorable cat photos) with a click of a computer mouse, sitting on our asses all day. Forget the computer, we can do all that on-the-go with our phones now too.
Now I’m not writing this to rant about how technology and the convenience of consumerism is terrible for us. Humans have expanded on technology to make huge advancements in history and it has bettered and made our lives much easier (think refrigeration, folks - that did wonders for food storage). But it is important to know that with all of these innovations, our lives become easier but we also tend to get lazier. We don’t need to do as much. So much of our lives is automated or up for a quick purchase solution that I think it’s so much more difficult now to get off our asses and work hard for something. We are so used to getting quick, easy results that the long road of hard work and effort seems so much longer than it probably was in the past.
Exhibit A: the healthy lifestyle fallout. Weeks or maybe months may go by without seeing visible results in fitness or physique. And that’s super discouraging. Every day is an uphill battle. Friends and family might not be supportive. Where’s the grand After image?
I feel like my generation is a bit worse off because we’re not used to taking things slow. We want results now more than ever. More importantly, I think we start out with less faith in ourselves to accomplish something without any assistance from most of our conveniences in life. And I’m not just talking about healthy E&E anymore. This struggle pertains a big portion of our lives in the pursuit of our dreams and passions.
Let me elaborate. A good part of me is absolutely terrified of graduating from university. The campus and my classes were my safe havens in this large and unpredictable world - even when I was abroad. I knew I had something to go back to. Something certain. And now with graduation, that certainty is completely out the window. I have many dreams and passions. I know what I want to take out of life. But I am so afraid that with time - and the many struggles with money and jobs to come - that stars that I can see shine so bright, promising a happy tomorrow will appear a little dimmer. I’m afraid that the desire for a comfortable, secure life will outweigh the life I’ve always wished to live. Because the former is convenient. The latter is a rough and winding road.
It’s just like with healthy living. I wonder what my family will think - if they will be supportive. I’ll start in an internship or a low-paying job that interests me greatly but as I lay awake at night, I’ll wonder just where it will take me. I’ll worry I can’t do it. I already do.
You look at all the ‘successful’ people out in the world. And when I mean ‘successful’ - I mean people who are out there doing what they love. You hear their stories. But it’s back at the Before and After image again. Back to the big question: “What’s your secret?” And the answer is the same: hard work and determination. There is no magic method.
So this is it! Another intricate layer to pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Getting fit. It’s practice. If you want to get at something, you have to practice. So I’m going to practice walking through the long and rocky road of hard work through healthy E&E because I know that it will help me focus on a much more difficult trail ahead of me. One called ‘living the dream’. Not taking any shortcuts and not escaping the easy way when things get hard.
See, there really is no Before and After photo that can sum up any one person. If you really want to see how someone achieves something, then grab a video camera and some popcorn. It’s going to be a long movie.