6 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Wellness Goals

6 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Wellness Goals

The Good Life Massage would like to commend you on trying to live a healthier lifestyle! Even simple things like reading this blog post are steps in the right direction. But is every step you take a step forward?

We’d like to point out a few things people commonly do in the interest of taking care of themselves that are actually counter-productive and even self-sabotaging. Do any of these describe what you’ve been doing?

“Diet” Soda and other pre-packaged “Health” Foods
To be sure, diet soda is not as bad for you as regular soda, but it isn’t doing you any favors, either. You’ll tend to drink more of it than you think you are, which can damage your teeth and marinate your nervous system in caffeine! Regular consumption can even increase appetite, especially if you’re used to drinking it with meals or snacks. Low fat/carb “treats” from companies like Weight Watchers also tend to deceive you into thinking you’re eating well, when in fact you’re eating very poorly. Read labels! They may have reduced the fat, but they also may have increased the sugar to balance it out.

Leave it to Western consumerism to create a cycle where what you consume (low fat, high sugar food products), creates a problem (weight gain), which in turn has to be solved by some other product. It’s a cycle of madness that stops the minute you stop thinking you can buy your way into eating better. The science is clear: a diet consisting mainly of whole foods–whole grains, nuts, lean meats, vegetables, and fruits–is the key to good nutrition. Don’t be seduced into thinking some magic product will remove your responsibility to make better choices.

Being your own trainer
Sorry, but you really can’t be your own trainer. It’s an appealing idea, especially in American culture, that you can bootstrap yourself into physical fitness and lifelong habits of activity and health. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually a realistic expectation.

You’re a more complicated, more social animal than that, whether you want to admit it or not. Don’t believe me? Those mostly-wasted gym memberships of years past and the lightly-used abdominizer which you bought from TV and that now languishes under your bed are all the evidence you need that I’m right. That’s not to say a more detailed explanation isn’t merited.

There are just some things you can’t do all on your own. Even if you have the athletic experience and history on your side, your own will power is a finite and unreliable resource. You just can’t depend on it alone. You’ll need several levels of redundancy to account for it’s inevitable failure. These can include sheer habit–a powerful tool–or building in some kind of accountability. If you can’t afford a trainer and can’t find a workout buddy, consider joining a team or taking a class, preferably in-person so someone will hold you to your commitment.

Skipping meals
Sure, you’re motivated. You want to eat less, hoping that it might give your metabolism a kick in the butt. And besides, you’re busy! Who has time to eat anyway! So goes the logic. But skipping meals is a big mistake if better health is your goal. It actually slows your metabolism down! Regularly stressing your body like that signals your metabolism to store more calories as fat in the interest of long-term survival. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a famine and being busy. Don’t send it the wrong message by skipping meals!

Eating small meals high in protein and complex carbohydrates will keep your appetite at a moderate level, while reassuring your body that it will get all the fuel it needs to survive.

Going it alone
We get it: health is a personal thing, and not everyone wants to share their progress towards their health and fitness goals on social media. (And truthfully, most of your followers probably don’t want to follow you *that* closely!) But that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Invite those closest to you–those people you know in three dimensional meat space–to be your cheering section. And get your doctor, massage therapist, and other health professionals in your life in on it! They’ll be able to help you measure your progress, set realistic goals, and give you expert advice on diet and exercise tailored to your body’s needs.

But above all, having people support you feeds your progress! When you have people interested in your progress and in seeing your wellness improve, you won’t want to flake out and let them down. And when you succeed, it feels even bigger and more significant. Because it is big. It is significant. Your life matters, and we all want it to continue as long as possible.

Getting lost in the stats
Data can be helpful… to a point. Knowing whether or not it will rain today: helpful. Knowing exact rainfall stats for this day for every year in recorded history? Consuming all those numbers might be interesting, but ultimately doesn’t help you decide how to dress. All the information you get from your food scale, measuring tape, wearable fitness tracker, nutrition labels, and your bathroom scale–numbers, numbers, numbers–can create an unhealthy obsession.

Not convinced? Consider this possible scenario:

You’ve been good! Excellent, even. You’ve been pushing yourself hard on your workouts, and you’ve been eating well (which is more enjoyable than you ever could have expected). You rise one glorious morning feeling fantastic–healthier than you’ve been in years. You do your workout, and feel pretty good about it.

But your wearable fitness tracker gives you results far worse than you were expecting. Kind of frustrating, but no big deal, right? Surely the results will show on the scale. But no! Betrayed there, too! What was the point of all this? Why have you worked so hard, made so many big changes if this is the result you could expect?

Remember, you woke up feeling great, feeling healthy. But the only conclusion you can draw from all that scientific data is that you were wrong about that–that you aren’t as healthy as you felt. And while you may know logically that what you’re doing is fine, that the way you feel about your progress is valid, that you just have to keep at it, the emotional signal you’re giving yourself is the opposite: you’re defeated. You’ve been wasting your time. You should quit. You might not be committed to that defeatest way of thinking. No! you say to yourself defiantly. This is good. I will persist! And while that war is raging inside you, someone brings a big bag of candy bars to the office to share with everyone. It’s pouring rain and freezing cold for your jog the next morning. What do you do? Chances are, your efforts have just come to a quiet, ineffectual close. Why? Because the data psyched you out.

You’re always telling yourself a story about yourself. To persist as the hero of that story, you need to be able to trust your own gauge on how you’re doing in moving forward with it. Data can be very helpful! It can even be essential, not allowing you to fool yourself about what you’re doing or how well you’re doing. Just don’t forget to think long-term. The game isn’t won or lost with one days’ data. Take control of your narrative by taking that data with a grain of salt. Try working out a few times with the wearable left at home. The results you want will, in time, be fully measurable and satisfying, but don’t let those numbers stop you from moving towards that goal.

Ignoring your body, because “the program”
This is common early on, especially when you’re determined to make a change and you’re feeling zealous. If you’re too hard on yourself, you could actually injure yourself, sabotaging the whole project. Educate yourself on what kind of pain you should be feeling and when! If it’s the day after your first heavy activity in a long time, don’t be surprised if you feel sore. But don’t dismiss all pain!Pain

Contrary to that meme, pain is not just weakness leaving your body–it can also be health leaving your body and being replaced with pain–terrible, agonizing pain. So be smart! Get in for a massage after your first few workouts, or after a particularly tough session. See a doctor if you have pain that persists for longer than a few minutes. Get your form down so you can up the intensity without hurting yourself. Yes, progress matters, but don’t damage your body in its name.

Don’t quit! We’re pulling for you.

Choose the good life.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to develop your brand and social media strategy by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

Advertisements

5 Massage Red Flags: When to cancel your appointment or cut it short

5 Massage Red Flags

When looking for long-term massage therapy, it’s important to look for a massage therapist and a clinic that makes your health and wellness its top priority. Massage is technically a healthcare service, but it’s also on a gray line between therapeutic care and spa service. As such, not everyone is in it to take care of people. Some view it as a commodity to be sold, or have some other intention a million miles from caring for your health. These warning signs should help you avoid wasting your time and money with a therapist or a clinic that won’t meet your needs.

You don’t like your therapist
It’s a simple thing. It sounds petty, but it really isn’t. You need to have a good personal chemistry with your massage therapist. If you are coming in for a massage treatment as part of a healing regimen, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable consenting to be treated by your therapist! You want a therapist who will see you for the whole person you are, regardless of how much or how little healing you need. You want that person to be able to freely offer you both their skill and their compassionate care. If you’re personally uncomfortable with them, that will come through, and your care will be compromised.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel your personalities mesh, or if you just feel uncomfortable with a therapist, it’s best move on or try to reschedule with someone else.

Not sure if your therapist is going to be a good fit for you? We’ve provided a whole series of blog posts and videos so you can get to know the therapists of The Good Life Massage a little better.

The hard sell
You know it when you see it: it might be a coolness in the way someone sees you. Maybe your brain is unconsciously picking up on some whiff of contempt or condescension from them. If you sense this when coming in for therapeutic massage, don’t hesitate for a moment to do something about it.

 

contempt-microexpression-750x481
See this look? If you catch that look on someone’s face, even for a moment while they’re interacting with you, watch yourself. Someone who has contempt for you will do you no good as friend, business partner, lover, or even as a massage therapist. Photo: davidwolfe.com

Massage chains are notorious for this. They offer you a low rate in their window signs, but this turns out to be an introductory rate, designed to get you in so they can sell you on an annual contract.

Now, to be fair, massage chains can be staffed with dedicated professionals. Most massage therapists get into the business to truly help and heal people, not just collect a paycheck. But the nature of the massage chain system tends to promote “salesy” behavior on the part of the therapists. Sure, they’re saying you need to come in for massage x times a month. But since you’re about to be pitched on an annual contract, committing you to so many massages a month, can you be sure they’re not just trying to meet a quota?

The truth is, chains aren’t really there to sell massage: they’re there to sell memberships. If all you want is a regular, but casual experience, it might be a good fit for you. We discussed chains in an earlier post, so check that out for more information to help you make a decision.

Chains aren’t the only culprits, however. Individual massage therapists or clinics of all shapes and sizes can be more motivated by the bottom line than the wellness of their clients. Watch out for the hard sell, or any sign at all that they’re more concerned with getting to the wallet in your back pocket than getting to the knots in your back.

Um … is this a brothel or a massage clinic?
Unfortunately, massage has a reputation for being a euphemism for sexual services. Since prostitution is illegal in most states, many “massage parlors” aren’t licensed clinics, and are fronts offering anything but therapeutic treatment.

Do they take cash only? Do they not give you any intake paperwork to fill out the first time? Does the massage staff seem to be exclusively female and scantily clad? Are they open late into the night with a mostly male clientele? Not only should these things have you looking up someplace else to go, you might want to notify the police. Such places operate illegally, and are often involved with rape trafficking (also known as sex slavery or human trafficking).

And certainly, if a massage therapist touches your breasts or genitals, or makes unwanted romantic or sexual advances, you should leave immediately. This can sometimes happen, even in legitimate clinics, but you have the right to stop the session short. Call the police if you’ve been sexually assaulted.

You instantly feel worse when you walk in
Any massage therapist working hard to give their clients a good massage will be conscientious about making their clients feel thoroughly welcomed and safe. Is the place dirty or unkempt? Does it feel less-than-private or unsafe?

Keep in mind that the clinic doesn’t have to be in a posh neighborhood to be legitimate, staffed with skilled, caring therapists. But if you don’t see any effort on their part to make you feel welcome, how much care are they going to offer if you’re coming in for regular treatment and healing?

As you’ll see when you come in to The Good Life Massage, we’ve worked hard to create a peaceful, healing space for all our clients. Our clinic is ADA compliant, and all our rooms are completely private. Clients have told us they feel an overwhelming sense of safety at The Good Life Massage, and that’s no accident.

They don’t listen
Say you’re having your first session. You’ve told them before you started that you don’t want your feet worked because they’re too sensitive–but they work them anyway. Honest mistake, right? But what if they do it again? Or what if, for every request, they either ignore you or forget what you’ve asked for?

Move on. Your massage therapist should be fully present with you in the session, listening to your wants and needs, and should be willing to customize the session to suit you.

They aren’t present
Are they chronically late for appointments? Do you catch them texting or using their phone while they’re working on you? A good therapist will give you and your healing their full energy and attention. Don’t tolerate a caregiver who doesn’t care. We don’t at our clinic, and neither should you.

At The Good Life Massage, we have a diverse, caring staff that show up dressed like professionals, and will treat you professionally. What’s more, our emphasis is on healing and relaxation. We train our staff to give you compassionate care first and foremost. You won’t be hard-sold on anything. So when your therapist says you need x number of massages a month, you can trust that they truly believe that’s what would benefit your health.

If you need regular massage, but need a break on the price, we offer prepaid massage packages. If you buy 5 massages at once, you get a sixth one for free. It’s simple, there’s no contractual commitment, and no expiration date.

Book your next massage with us today!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to give your business a boost with brand and logo development, or with social media by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com