I talk a lot about figuring things out and making no excuses in the pursuit of health and fitness. But, the question raised was how can the "average" person do this when there is just no information around them to get rolling? Well, I have a double response to this, a tough one, and a little more helpful one.
The tough one is: use basic logic, ask questions, use books and the internet. Thinking you don't have enough info at hand, or that you are surrounded by people who don't support your needs in life are just more excuses. It's really not hard to figure out how to be a healthier person, you just have to be honest with yourself all the time. Saying you don't know how to eat better or exercise properly is like saying you can't find enough information to do a presentation on the Battle Of Gettysburg (I had a friend in college actually use that excuse..). There are literally hundreds of thousands of articles, websites, books, and people out there just foaming at the mouth to help you out. And if you are surrounded by people who inspire bad habits in you, well, they are nit good people to surround yourself with; and - and this is kind of harsh - you are being weak. If I have a friend who is begging me to go out drinking with him the night before a competition and I choose to go, it is completely my fault, not his, that I feel like crap during my event. I need to be strong in the way I want to live my life and make my choices accordingly. If I don't want to eat like crap, I shouldn't make life decisions that make me want to eat like crap (and surrounding yourself with people who are a negative influence is just plain stupid to be honest).
The helpful response here will offer some solutions, rather than shove it in your face like I enjoy doing here and there. I think the number one thing anyone can do when trying to make changes for the better is to to take some time and just think about it. Think about what you really want, what you'd be willing to give up, think about all the information you already know about what you are about to do. When you take this time, I think it'll be pretty eye-opening what you actually know about health and fitness (as in, you probably know a ton about it). There is so much information out there on all this stuff that it makes sense people would get overwhelmed and think they know nothing at all? Are fats bad? Isn't whole wheat bread good for you? How long on the elliptical is ideal? Isn't weightlifting only for getting big? Is diet soda better than normal soda?
To help answer all the questions you might have, try not to jump to conclusions because generally, the answer you come out with will be one that was forced on you through faulty information. For example: are exercise machines the best way to approach lifting weights? This is one of those questions I get all the time from people new to serious exercise and I have found that every single person knows the answer to it. All you need to do is take a little time to clear out all the slop that has been forced on us about health and fitness for so many years and in the end, we all know exactly what needs to be done. Ask yourself basic questions: does the human body move naturally, or sit in a single position naturally. When we move around outside, do we use our own body to stabilize and move in random and non-structured ways, or do we isolate single muscles and joints on a regular basis? The answer to these questions should be blatantly obvious. And, with those answers fresh ion your mind, go back and ask weather machines are best for you again. No way Jose!
We all know how to be healthy and fit. Be active naturally (get outside, lift things, run around, climb, play sports, etc), eat real food (not packaged, processed, fake stuff), sleep as much as you can, and smile often. It it NOT that hard to understand. Putting it to practice is pretty hard, sure, I'll admit that. But don't confuse your own lack of motivation with not knowing what to do. Again, I really never expect for the world to be filled with a bunch of super-elite athletes (hell, I'd be so far out of a job I probably vanish into thin air!); all I hope for is that people get their heads out of the asses and start making somewhat sensible choices.
I'll leave you all with one final thought. I have literally never, in my entire career as a trainer and coach, had a person tell me that getting a good workout in was difficult. Most of my clients and athletes, and people I talk to about this stuff with come up with the excuse: "I just don't know what to do!". I'll then throw a little something together and in the end they'll all say: "that was so simple, yet it was still worked!". Exactly people, this does not have to be complicated. And the second you start to overwhelm yourself with all the crazy things you think you are "supposed" to do, you lose track of all the things that should just come naturally to you. Eat good, be active. 'nuff said!
Never Stop, GET FIT.