"How Being a Couch Potato Can Affect Relationships and Your Health"

Hey honey, can you grab me some more diet soda and potato chips? Does this sound familiar? If not, then that’s a positive indication that you are probably not part of the "couch potato club.” But if it does sound familiar, then maybe it’s time for change. The question is: can being a couch potato damage relationships and your health? I believe the answer is yes. A couch potato's mentality is one in which a person is consumed in “self”-- just doing what is comfortable according to what one's “flesh” desires. It is placing one's self and what he or she wants over others and their needs.

Let’s set the context for this discussion. We are focusing on people who have a choice and the ability not to be stuck on the couch, but who have become slothful over time and resort to lying around whenever given the moment. We are not referring to being lazy one day a week on your time off as we all need rest and relaxation, but rather to the person who prioritizes being a "couch potato," or in other words being lazy over most anything else such as family relationships, their health, and normal day-to-day responsibilities. Being lazy leads to gluttony, and being a glutton only leads to more laziness and more gluttony, because laziness breeds more laziness and overeating only results in more overeating. It’s a downward-spiral "snowball effect" that continues to worsen over time and does indeed have the capacity to damage relationships, beginning first with the spouse and immediate family, with others outside of the family, and then, of course, affecting the person's health.

As a couch potato's health declines due to habitual inactivity and overeating, it forces one to become even more dependent upon a spouse or other family members to cater to them as they maintain their slothful lifestyle and thus become a burden to the entire family unit. It may not appear to be as serious as like with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, but it does carry the potential to do some serious damage, not only to relationships but also to the person's health. According to a study published by the American Journal of Public Heath, "obesity is associated with nearly 1 in 5 US deaths. The new data suggest that obesity's toll on Americans is more than three times previous estimates.”

So what is the root of this type of disorder or evolutionary unhealthy habit? It stems from selfishness--placing “self,” what one's flesh desires, above his or her family, health, and other responsibilities. It begins like most addictions, little by little, day after day. It sneaks up on the person dictating to him or her and eventually controlling his or her life. A couch potato comes home from work, kicks off his or her shoes, grabs a drink and some salty or sweet snack, hits the couch, and flicks on the television. Before he or she realizes it, one hour later he is still lying around, holding an empty bag of treats, an empty container of brew, and about 1200 extra calories more in his belly. How did all this begin? In small increments, over several months or years as it is with most flesh-controlling habits. The problem is, this type of behavior has become the very thing that motivates this person throughout the day as he cannot wait to get off work and do it all over again the next day. When it begins to become a part of a person's life in how he or she thinks and lives, and influences his or her daily decisions, it becomes a motivator indicator--that is to say, something that motivates the person. At this moment, it is in full control of his or her life and has shifted from being a bad habit to becoming an addiction, thus controlling one's emotions and thoughts.

Remember, everything begins in the mind! Therefore, if someone desires to change his or her life, then he or she must change his or her thinking--from "unhealthy excuse thinking" to “healthy no more excuses thinking,” hence the name No More Excuses!

So the question is: How does a person break out of the “couch potato” syndrome? In the same way that he or she ended up as one--by making little changes in his or her daily thinking, which will eventually lead to forming positive attitudes that will take on the form of healthy habits in his or her life. In the same way that becoming a couch potato did not happen overnight, transitioning into an active, healthy, and energetic person will require time, discipline, and sacrifice. It will be challenging in the beginning stages, but like with anything else that is worthwhile and has value, well worth it. Additionally, this will require some painstaking forward steps in order to get the momentum going in the right direction. It’s like how a train gets moving in the beginning from a stopped position. The iron wheels begin to spin without actually propelling the train forward, then after a while the train begins to slowly catch-up to the wheels and move forward, gaining momentum and eventually increasing speed. So if you see yourself as a member of the “couch potato club,” the question is: what positive changes can you begin to take?

1. First, pray and ask God to help you and give you the strength and motivation you need to make the necessary changes in your life daily to get you out of this habit.

2. Write down several goals with the steps required to get you moving toward your goal of getting "off the couch." Writing them down has a way of holding yourself accountable as this will give you a greater percentage of success. Here are several things to write down on an index card or better yet, put on your smartphone along with an alarm to remind you to read them every other hour throughout the day. Write this: The couch and laziness are my enemies; activity and exercise are my friends. Everything begins in the mind. Therefore, you have to start to retrain your “stinkin thinkin” (Zig Ziglar) and begin to see the "couch" that you look forward to and enjoy as the very thing that is encouraging your lazy behavior and affecting your relationships and health in a negative way.

3. Now write down: I will exercise for 20 minutes every day immediately after work. If you haven’t exercised in a long while, the best way to get started is with walking. Walking will allow your body to adjust in a safe way to this new activity (exercise) that you surprise it with. Here at the No More Excuses Institute, our goal is to set you up for success. Therefore, the best way to experience the greatest success in exercising, meaning that you actually complete your exercise routine daily is by doing the following two things.

Number one: Bring your gym bag with your exercise apparel to work so you can change your clothes before even leaving your job.

Second: Plan to perform your exercise "event" immediately after you finish work, before you even arrive home, to allow you to avoid coming into contact with your new enemy, the couch. Instead, you can perform your new friend - "exertivity" (exercise/activity) by walking at your place of work, at a park that is on your way home, or at a gym. Keep in mind that if you choose a gym, it will need to be on your route home, because if not, eventually you will quit, as just getting to the gym is ninety percent of the battle of exercising. Wherever you choose to perform your exercise, it need not be a burden to get there, as performing the exercise itself will be a challenge enough to you in the beginning. Therefore, you do not want to create another obstacle in your path to overcome, as this will decrease your chances for success. One of the best places to do your exercise is at a place outside or park that is very close to where you work. Additionally, if you perform your "new friend" outside, after spending most of your day inside, it will help to reduce stress and allow you to breathe in fresh air.

So, write down where you will perform your exercise and begin exercising daily by walking at a slow to moderate pace, one that you can maintain for the full 20 minutes. Remember to hydrate yourself throughout the day by sipping on water, beginning when you first wake-up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night. Keep a water bottle at your desk or nearby your work area to remind you to sip water constantly. And one vital detail--stop drinking all those diet sodas as they contain aspartame, which is poisonous to your body and causes a reverse effect since it promotes weight gain and robs you of your energy.

4. Write down that you will eat fruits and mixtures of nuts and seeds between meals throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Now, since we’re already in the mode of setting you up for success, by being proactive, immediately go to the store and buy some bananas, apples, chopped walnuts, almonds, and seeds, like flax and sesame. Then when you arrive home, prepare several one-ounce servings of the nuts and seeds mixed together and place in a Ziploc baggie. Place several apples and bananas along with your nut mixture in your fitness bag with your sneakers and fitness clothing which will be ready to go with you to work the next day. (Note: Be sure you are not allergic to the nuts and seeds; furthermore it is recommended that you consult with your physician before consuming any nuts or seeds.)

5. Now the most important part! You have to begin to train your mind, renew it to think of your exercise not only as your friend but also as an “event.” By doing this, it will increase your success rate of completion. With this in mind grab your music device, buy some new tunes, or some old songs you used to jam to when you were in your teens and twenties, tunes that have encouraging words that will get you pumped-up (psyched-up), and put them on your device. Begin listening to your new jams on the way to work, at lunch, whenever possible, anticipating your exercise "event." Get fired-up and excited, and tell yourself, “Yes, I can do this!” When it’s time to begin your exercise event, put in your earplugs and “rock the house," meaning get excited! Dance around a bit before starting! If people think you're a little crazy, oh well. If a little craziness leads to better health and stronger relationships, then who cares what people think. Pull out the moves and break it out!

6. Write down: "After I have exercised and get home, I will (Do not grab the TV remote and hit the couch!) greet my spouse and say hello to the kids". If you are single, then call a close friend, one that will encourage you, and tell him or her what you just did. Then hit the shower and reflect with enthusiasm what you accomplished. Sing your favorite tune that you just exercised to when you performed your new friend,"exertivity." Very important! Exercise does not give you a license to eat whatever and whenever you want--no! After your shower, if you are hungry, then eat a healthy meal or if it’s not quite time for dinner, then eat some more fruits or vegetables. You do not want to waste all that preparation and effort you just did on a “celebration period” of mindless eating. Remember one important fact: You cannot out-exercise Mr. JF (junk food). He will kick your butt.

7. Next, write down that you will repeat these new friends, Mr. Exertivity and Mrs. Nutrition, who is now another new friend of yours since you kicked out your old buddy - Mr. JF (junk food), whose been hanging out with you on the couch for way too long. Please forgive me for not introducing Mrs. Nutri (nutrition) to you, but Mr. Exertivity (exercise/activity) and Mrs.Nutri have always been hanging out together, and it's impossible to separate the two.

8. Plan to hang out with your two new friends (Mr. Exertivity and Mrs. Nutri) on a regular basis and perform your “event” daily, six days a week for 6-8 weeks. After 6-8 weeks, begin to do the following circuit as described. Walk at a moderate pace for exactly 5 minutes; stop, assume a squat position (feet- shoulders width apart; knees and feet straight and with proper alignment all pointing straight ahead in the same direction) and do as many squats as possible using good form as described. (Note: You may need to perform "half squats" in the beginning until you drop more weight and until your core and legs begin to strengthen.) Then walk for another 5 minutes, stop, drop down to ground assuming the push-up position and do as many push-ups as possible (Can perform push-ups on your knees instead of on your feet/toes.) If you can only do one or barely one, that’s okay. You have to begin somewhere. Walk for another 5 minutes at a moderate pace, stop, and do as many jumping jacks as you can. Then walk 5 minutes more and drop down to the ground in the straight arm plank position since you may be on a hard surface, and perform an isometric hold in that position for 10 seconds. Stand up slowly and walk for another 3-5 minutes as a cool down. Do this new routine as described for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Then evaluate your progress and increase the calisthenics training exercises to more volume, meaning more repetitions and sets of the above-described exercises.

Here are some ideas of how to increase the intensity (difficulty) of your exercise regimen to make it more challenging as you improve. Increase the velocity of your walk or replace it with jogging. Begin to do several sets of each described exercise. For example, with squats: Instead of doing only one set for as many as you can do, perform 2-3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions with 2 minutes of walking in between each set. Repeat these described sets and reps for the other previously mentioned exercises.

Now you are on your way to creating a healthier lifestyle that will, in turn, motivate and encourage you to stay away from your new enemy, the couch. This will result in improved relationships and overall better health.

No More Excuses - get off the couch today!

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