Have you ever heard about learning things through osmosis? Obviously it’s a joke—and I know I’ve seen print cartoons showing people sleeping with books under their pillows to try and absorb the information passively…
But I always think of this when I’m working in wellness because exposure to healthy concepts over and over (and over) is how most people eventually take steps toward changing. I can see this with Joe—he was probably average (maybe a little better?) with health habits before he met me. Over the last year and a half since we met, he’s improved his health habits, and it’s not because I make him do things differently. First, I talk about health stuff all the time, some is reasonable and applicable to his life and some isn’t. Second, I don’t tell him what he should do or what he needs to do. He still eats lots of sandwiches and we both love pizza….but most of his produce is organic, his cereal is natural and whole grain, and he’s even cut down on dairy and started drinking almond milk. He adds hemp protein to his post-workout smoothies, stopped drinking pasteurized juices for the most part, and even has a wheatgrass shot once in a while! Oh yeah, and he only buys whole grain pasta, cut down on toxic cleaning supplies in the house, and really loves the infrared sauna.
A couple days ago, he really wanted pizza—so he made it with whole wheat crust, healthier cheese, and put only veggies on top. If you asked him about his improvements in health habits, he might talk about it (but probably not)—and we have this joke about “Major Agers” that I stole (borrowed) from Dr. Oz, and every time something comes up that’s not ideally healthy we call it a major ager and then move on—either making it slightly better or just knowing that we’re not making the best choice in that moment.
I’m happy that Joe is happy with his healthier habits, and it makes things easier for me too—he doesn’t try to influence my choices even if he isn’t ready to be quite so health-nazi-ish yet. He ate all of his meals either standing up or from the couch for the entire first week I grew microgreens because I had consumed the entire kitchen and table space with it. And he encouraged me to do it without complaining (p.s. I’ve cleaned up and streamlined the process a lot since then).
One of the major barriers to making healthier choices people tell me (especially women) is that their family won’t go along with their healthier habits. Maybe I’m just lucky, but it seems to me that your family should be supportive of your health improvement efforts—if they’re not, maybe they need to know why it’s so important to you. I think it has helped me significantly that I haven’t tried to force my habits on anyone else—I just put it out there (ok, maybe I talk about it a little too much, but health is my job!), and totally accept where other people are in their own lifestyle.