Don't do THIS in 2020... [Episode 56]
Dec 30, 2019
Welcome back to the Balanced Body Blog! I’m Corin Groustra; Holistic Health & Behavior Change Coach, Podcaster, and Blogger helping you find your own balance between life and health. ICYMI: I'm running a New Years video series sent straight to your inbox to help you tackle the new year with confidence! Click here to sign up so you don't miss a thing!
2020 is here! Among the fad diets and juice cleanses that are popular in the beginning of the year, there are some of us who skip those fad diets and do something we feel is less drastic. Not cutting out solid food or exercising for hours on end, but just, ya know, get back to a healthy lifestyle. In theory, this is amazing. It sounds like a foolproof plan, especially if we were living mostly healthy lifestyles before the holidays hit.
What we don’t consider is the mental impact of telling ourselves “NO” on all our favorite, not-so-healthy treats and no longer skipping workouts after months of struggle in this area. Typically whenever we feel restricted or deprived in any way, our inner rebel comes out. I struggle with this pretty bad, being raised with such an independent feisty spirit, if you tell me I can’t do something (either because I’m not capable or it’s not something I should do) you can expect me to do it twice and take photos. I’m guessing this is how 98% of us are. Which means the moment you put pizza in the “off limits” category and intend on it staying there for more than a month, you’re setting yourself up for a binge or quitting your plan and having pizza for dinner 3 nights in a row.
We tend to think that because we could do it once means we expect ourselves to be perfect and pick up right where we left off. If it’s been months since you’ve worked out more than 3 times per week, muscling yourself into 6 days at the gym isn’t realistic and you’ll be dead sore, probably leading to increased risk of injury, over-training, or fizzling out. We start the year off with the superficial motivation of a fresh start; and I say superficial not because it isn’t real, but because it’s momentum, not motivation. Unless the idea of a new start deeply resonates with you and is going to help you make the hard choices each time they come up, the fact of the new year is only going to propel you to do what you need to for a few weeks. I will say this a million more times, but anything we do that is significantly different from what we are currently doing leaves us exponentially more prone to burnout and in the long term - quitting because things are difficult and they don’t seem to be getting us to where we want to be.
Maybe your resolution or goal is to cut sugar, alcohol and processed food from your diet starting now. “Clean eating” is a diet, just like anything else. If you’re going into the new year saying you’ll eat completely clean from here on out and you’ll get back to your 5 day intense workout plan, it sounds like you’re just whipping yourself into shape with a little tough love and you’ll be there in no time. The truth is that you’re setting yourself up for an extreme, just as anyone else. The new year is not a time to “hit it hard” in every area of your health. Just because you can get back into it guns blazing doesn’t mean that’s going to be your best long-term strategy. If you focus, however, on including significantly more veggies into your day and allow for a little wiggle room each day with a treat, you’re much more likely not only to be successful in hitting a goal but in sustaining a lifestyle. Which, to be clear, I think is the goal, right? To step off the rollercoaster of new eating plans, of “falling off track” and having to consistently try to get back into a routine you don’t really like just to fall off track any time something unexpected comes along? A lifestlye doesn’t allow for cheats or falling off track, because you can’t cheat on a lifestyle and there are no tracks to fall off of. I don’t know about you, but I want to live a lifestyle where a Friday night out to dinner with friends and a Saturday movie date with some wine doesn’t make me feel guilty for what I’m not doing, but instead to feel joy in the freedom in which I’ve built a lifestyle.
Let me tell you about Donut Man. He was a weight loss group client I had a few years back. He came into the group already having lost 200lbs, which goes without saying is completely phenomenal. He got his name because one day he shared with the group (who were feeling particularly discouraged that their progress in overcoming some bad habits was going much more slowly than they expected), that at his heaviest he was eating 13 donuts a day. That is roughly 364 donuts per month and 4,745 donuts per year. 200lbs later he was eating 1-2 donuts per month, and on average about 12-24 donuts per year. This is a transformation that leaves me speechless every time I think about it. I love to share this story because when I ask how long people think that took him to go from 364 donuts per month to 1-2 donuts per month I get answers like: 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, or 6 months. How long it actually took him? 18 months. Because he knows habit change is a long game, and the second he made those donuts “off limits” in his head he was in for a binge. He slowly but surely worked his way down in donuts and in 18 months, was more successful than he would have ever been long term by going from 364 to zero. You guys, this is how it works. The biggest life changes are the ones that happen over long, slow periods of time. They’re the ones that take consistent action towards, but that feel completely doable and realistic each day. I know we’ve all got that voice in our heads saying that we aren’t enough, or that we aren’t trying hard enough, doing enough, etc. but that voice is a big fat liar!
Grab a sheet of paper and a pen and turn on some music that helps you focus. Do this activity with me.
This is cheesy but I’ve heard many times the following story:
“A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”
”A second mason, seemingly more interested in his work, was hammering diligently and when asked what it was that he was doing, answered, “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I’ll sure be glad when it’s done.”
”A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I…am building a cathedral!”
“Three men, three different attitudes, all doing the same job.”
The third man had perspective, and understood very clearly how what he was doing related to the bigger picture and could take pride in the smaller things because he knew the bigger things relied on him. Zoom out for a second. What is your bigger picture? What do you want to accomplish in 2020? What do you want your life to look like at the end of the year? You can have that if you create your plan. So often things seem out of reach for us or too slow because we don’t see the bigger picture. We have no clue how to get there so each day if we take action at all, it’s not necessarily guided action. Then, we get frustrated we aren’t seeing the results we were hoping for, when they were not even the results we’d get from the work we’re doing.
i.e. if you know that tracking your food helps you to become more aware of your food intake and choices, but your expectation is that you’ll be able to eat intuitively after 6 weeks of tracking, you’ll likely be frustrated. But intuitive eating is your end goal and it won’t just happen from 6 weeks of tracking. Or 10lb weight loss won’t happen by simply tracking your food without making changes for 6 weeks.
My proposal to you: what if you took this one step at a time? Introduced no more than one new thing per week, or maxed out at 2 new things per month? Here’s what this looks like in real life: it’s the new year and you feel like you need to overhaul your life. You want to address sleep, stress, nutrition, exercise, and relationships. Holy Hannah that’s a lot to start off with in a day, or even one month. Start with the one you feel is most pressing and has the biggest ripple effect to the rest of your life. Chunk it down. What’s your end goal with sleep? What are your steps to get there? By including one new thing each week, or every few weeks, how long will it take you to reach the goal you’re looking to attain? Do that for each of the areas and before you know it, you will love the life you live and feel so much pride because you worked up to that. Plan. it. out. Cut yourself some slack and allow room for life.
The hard truth is that this crap takes forever. And it’s hard work. Seriously hard work. But the end result is worth it 100x over. You can’t amazon prime yourself to a lifestyle you love if you’re far away from that currently. You can, however, take directed and guided action to get where you feel your best. You CAN do this.
xo, Corin Groustra
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