You Do Not Control Your Health


Yesterday, I was in a spin class and the instructor said, "This might be the only hour that you have control over today, so let's do it." As the people around me began to pedal harder and dig deep into their energy reserves, I was struck with the notion of how unsettling that sounded. You see, as someone who struggles with control in nearly every aspect of her life, including health, I was taken aback by how misguided her motivational words were. You do not, nor will you ever, control your health.

control is toxic

Control is a scary word when it comes to exercise and nutrition. It reminds me of seeing  frighteningly thin girls in the dance competition dressing rooms who barely had the energy to perform their solos. It reminds me of stepping on the scale every single day of my senior year of high school to see if my day would be good or bad, based on a tenth of a pound lost or gained. As a fitness instructor, I do my very best not to comment on the size of someone's shape and instead focus my attention on their progress, results, and good habits.

The idea of control encourages type-A personalities like me to feel like they have the power to make changes. I understand why someone would think that control would be a great motivator, but in actuality, telling someone they can control the uncontrollable creates a heightened sense of anxiety and a lowered sense of joy when benchmarks are achieved. 

CONTROL IS Impossible

But, how is it impossible, you ask, as you picture swimsuit models and professional trainers? They seem to have the perfect nutrition plan, a flawless exercise routine, and an ability to stick to their healthy habits, no matter the temptation. There is a difference between following all of the rules and having control. Yes, you can choose what you put into your body, when and how you exercise, and the routines you establish. However, health is not just about the choices you make, it is about all of the uncontrollable factors, too.

You can't control your genetics, you can't control everything in your environment, and you may have no say in many of the things you experience in life. If you spend your life making all of the right healthy choices and are diagnosed with a genetic disease, is it because you lost control? No. It's because you never had it to begin with. If you envy someone else's shape or proportion, you have to realize that your best look may not be their look. No amount of control can reshape your bones.

CONTROL IS Not the goal

Ultimately, the reason I hate including the idea of control into healthy living is because control is not the goal. If you desire control over balance, all of your energy will focus on your decision making power, rather than living. If you stay up late consoling a friend and miss your morning gym time, that's the goal. Relationships should win. If you're a new mom and doing your best to get back into a routine, you shouldn't feel defeated in your inability to "control" your stretch marks and sleepless nights.

At the end of the day, we can only do our best when it comes to health. We should strive and encourage one another to feed our bodies whole, good foods, and find a form of activity that makes us feel great. But, we also need to learn to let go a little bit. So, when it comes time to kick your fitness routine or nutrition plan into high gear, don't waste your energy trying to gain control. Work towards your best results and focus on taking care of your body, not punishing it.