I saw this image the other day and immediately thought “Yes! So true!” and “I could really go for some heavy dead lifts right now”, followed by “Interesting how I’ve changed, I can’t remember the last time I had more alcohol than a few sips…”
I don’t actually have anything against having a drink once in a while. Not long ago I would have a glass of wine most nights once the kids are in bed (if you are a mother, you are probably nodding at this point) but I realised now that I’ve stopped this habit without actively trying to stop it.
In fact I have noticed that all the positive and healthier changes in my life in the past 5 or so years have happened gradually. Every time I try to change something fast, I fail. Every time (since I can remember) I have said to myself “From tomorrow I will no longer drink Diet Coke / eat muffins / pick my cuticles / etc. “, I have failed.
When I change my mindset from thinking about what I have to give up, to what I can add to my life, I find that the good stuff I’m adding to my life slowly but surely crowds out the bad stuff.
For example, when I first gave up sugar I would still eat Cheerios for dessert almost every night but over the last 2 years I’ve found many interesting sweet treats that are not sweetened with sugar that I no longer reach for cereal. So although I gave up cakes and biscuits and ice cream, etc. straight away when I decided to quit sugar, I did not quit everything with even little quantities of sugar in it – over the years though my sugar intake has continuously decreased as I’ve found more and more alternatives to sugar, and as my body and mind adjusted to life with less sugar and craved it less and less.
Another change that I’ve just realised that’s happened in my life is that I no longer buy lunch. On and off for the past decade I have been thinking that I need to pack my own lunch to save money but I have never succeeded for more than a week at a time.
Until my focus was on having to stop buying lunch, I failed. Once I started focusing on nutrition and just thinking about and planning what I would like to eat every day, I naturally got into a new habit. I roast a large tray of vegetables twice a week and boil some quinoa, buckwheat or eggs. At work I have a drawer full of tinned mackerel – and voila – I have not bought lunch for almost a year (a few exceptions here and there when I’m travelling or running to work, etc.).
Every week I change the veggies I prep but they usually include sweet potatoes, parsnips, brussels sprouts, kale and beetroot. Once in a while my protein component is plain grilled chicken but most of the time it’s tinned mackerel or boiled eggs or both. Now that the weather is getting warmer I’m starting to add more raw salad vegetables into my lunches.
I’m currently working on reducing grains in my diet again but instead of thinking “I will never eat any bread again”, I’m letting myself eat gluten free bread once in a while and even a regular croissant once in a while. Every time I crave bread I think of an alternative I could have. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but I know how my mind works and I know that by thinking of alternatives I will eventually get to the point where I immediately go for the alternative and don’t even think about the bread.
The same goes with my evening snacking. A few weeks ago I was really beating myself up over the fact that I snack a lot at night because a full stomach at night means that I cannot fall asleep for 1-3 hours after I go to bed and that is just all kinds of sucky.
My first reaction was to just “snap out of it and stop snacking after dinner”. But I failed that day. And I failed the next. And then I realised that I needed to stop focusing on giving up the snacking and instead think of things I could snack on that would be lighter on my digestion and not give me insomnia.
I’m not 100% there yet, some nights I still eat too much and cannot sleep, but I’m positive that one day I’ll realise that by looking for lighter things to eat at night I have slipped out of the manic night-time snacking habit all together.
So this is the weird and wonderful way my brain works. How about you? Are you good at going cold-turkey or does slow and steady positive thinking work for you as well?