The other day I was browsing through the comments in a Facebook group of women over the age of 50 discussing fitness. One caught my eye, and it’s not because it was the first time I had read the sentiment being expressed.
It was a woman frustrated with the amount of conflicting information coming at her from the diet and fitness industry. She couldn't decide where to start. Keto or intermittent fasting? Should I buy books on these approaches? What are macros? What fitness program should I follow? CrossFit or Orange Theory?
The underlying issue was too much information to make a decision. The overwhelm in her plea was clear. And within the comment, she also mentioned feeling the need to purchase a bunch of equipment and supplements before she could even get started.
And therein lies the problem. Our lack of health isn't due to a lack of information. Instead, information overwhelm leads us down a path of not taking action. And that is the most dangerous path of all.
The basics of health should be accessible to anyone living over the poverty line (for those below, the lack of access to the basics of life is another conversation entirely). Getting quality sleep, eating a diet of unprocessed foods, drinking more water, and moving more cover the basics. And none of these need to cost a dime. Or require complex systems, investments in supplements, or fancy gym memberships or equipment.
My response to this woman’s question was this:
The initial steps toward better health shouldn’t require any spending on your part. Step away from the information for a bit and let your mind rest. Focus instead on reconnecting with your body, thinking about how the changes you end up making leave you feeling.
Stop the supplements temporarily. Start with the basics, like quality sleep, eating simple, unprocessed foods, drink more water, and move daily.
The movement doesn’t have to be fancy. Go for walks, get on and off the floor a few times, etc. Don’t focus on anything with too many rules or calculations to start. And of course, breathe and reflect on the process.
Once you feel ready, start taking in small amounts of information and make changes slowly and incrementally, allowing yourself time to adjust.
And there you have it. Health made simple. In my years as a physical therapist working with older adults, I’ve caught on to common patterns. The ones who age well, still active in their 80's and 90's, don't overthink. They aren’t researching and waiting for the right answer to hit them before they take action.
Instead, they spend time maintaining their mind-body connection. They are open to trying new things. They focus on activities they enjoy, move daily, and spend time with loved ones.
It really can be that simple. Less is more in all aspects of life, and our health is no different.
How can you start doing less today?