I want to eat better. It used to be a New Year’s Resolution. No more. I gave up.
For six years now I’ve done really well with fitness, but not so good with my eating. To be clear, I don’t eat horribly, but I know there’s significant room for improvement if I was more intentional and smarter about it. I also know my overall health would improve and I’d probably even feel better.
But, I just can’t pull the trigger.
Do you feel that way with your fitness? You know you should be more intentional and consistent with exercise, but you can’t pull the trigger either. You and I probably share the same reasons for not getting started with something we know we should be doing…something that would have a pretty big impact on our life.
For fun, I’ve decided to list the five biggest reasons (uhm…excuses) why I can’t turn the corner on this nutrition thing. See if these don’t also resonate with your fitness roadblocks.
It Feels Overwhelming
Changing my eating doesn’t involve just one thing. It involves EVERYTHING. What am I currently eating that I should cut out, or at least cut back on? What should I start eating that I probably won’t like? How should it be prepared? What about portion size? When should I eat and how often? And, who do I believe? There are smart people who don’t agree about all this. It’s simply overwhelming and I don’t know what to do…so I do nothing.
Do you feel this way about fitness? What kind of exercise? How often and for how long? What about all the smart people who disagree on the best approach. There’s so much passion on all sides that it can be so confusing. It simply feels too overwhelming! You don’t know where to start so you don’t.
I Don’t Want to Make the Sacrifice
I love Utz Potato Chips. I could eat an entire medium size bag for lunch every day. To my credit, I don’t, but I also don’t want to stop eating them altogether. I love hamburgers. I could eat these every night with a pile of chips on the side…or french fries. And then there’s chocolate cake. Actually the cake is a delivery system for the icing. No way do I want to pass that by for a little fruit cup. Did I mention how much I love cheese and crackers? Ugh.
I know that changing my eating habits will require some sacrifices that I simply don’t want to make. Do you feel the same about fitness? The sacrifice here is more about time you could be doing other things that are more enjoyable. The sacrifice of fitness also involves a level of discomfort as you begin to move in ways you’re not used to. Is the prospect of these sacrifices keeping you from getting started?
Let Me First Get Past…
I have things on my calendar that I’m looking forward to. These are events, like vacation, where the food is a fun and big part of my enjoyment. The only time I ever seriously consider making this grand nutrition change is January. I’m past the holidays and vacation is still many months away.
For fitness, upcoming big events can actually work as a motivator. You want to get in shape for vacation or a wedding or class reunion. For fitness, the things you feel like you need to “get past” are the regular stuff…the weeks that feel overly full because of work and family. You keep telling yourself that you’ll have time to start once you get past the next two busy weeks and you have some breathing room. Except you never do. The calendar is always full.
I Don’t Feel Like It
Now I’m starting to reach the deeper issue…the real reason why I’m not willing to make the eating changes. I simply don’t feel like it. I don’t want to give up chips for a salad. I really don’t want to order a grilled chicken sandwich when I’d rather have a burger with blue cheese crumbles.
Maybe this is also how you feel about fitness. You know you should, but you simply don’t feel like it. Perhaps, you even made a New Years Resolution (or two) to start exercising. You stuck it out for a couple weeks before fading away. Your motivation just wan’t strong enough to endure the challenge of getting fit. Just like mine isn’t strong enough to change the way I eat.
And, that leads to the real reason we don’t change from unhealthy habits to those that are healthier…
The Pain Level Isn’t Deep Enough
This is the real reason we make difficult transitions. The pain from the consequences of not changing becomes greater than the pain needed to make the change. Period.
Honestly, the pain point for getting serious about exercise was pretty low for me. I’ve always enjoyed moving and being active. I just hadn’t been intentional and strategic about it. I also wasn’t consistent. When I started gaining weight and feeling the early stages of some blood sugar issues I got serious about exercise. In other words, it didn’t take much pain for me to make that transition, but it did take some.
Making the same transition to healthier eating is entirely different. I feel pretty good and all my physicals are pointing in the right direction. The pain I feel from not eating the way I should is intellectual. I know my nutrition should be better. But, the pain of what I’d be giving up is much stronger. So, I make no change at all.
I have two friends who recently made significant changes because the pain of not doing so is now greater than the pain of making these changes. For one friend the issue is exercise. My other friend changed his food. Both continue to move forward with their transitions and are building momentum. This momentum is now the fuel that keeps them going…it’s no longer the pain they are trying to eliminate. But, they needed that “pain equilibrium” to change before they found motivation that stuck.
The Rest of the Story
Here’s what I haven’t told you about my nutrition journey. I really have given up on making this a BIG GOAL because I keep failing. I still eat Utz Potato Chips and hamburgers with bleu cheese crumbles. I still enjoy cake with thick chocolate icing. What I didn’t mention is I enjoy all of that way less than I used to.
I’ve also added in some new menu items that are healthier for me. Things like Greek Yogurt with amazing granola that Ava makes. Salmon, baked chicken, and brown rice are now part of the dinner rotation. Soda is gone. Instead I drink lots of water and black coffee. And, steamed broccoli is now a favorite.
The issue with changing my eating habits is trying to do it ALL AT ONCE. I simply can’t make that happen. I don’t want to. The pain balance isn’t at a point where I can make one big change. But, what I can do, and have been doing, is slowly making little adjustments one at a time.
For example, I love chicken lunch meat, swiss cheese, and mayo on rye bread sandwiches for lunch. LOVE THEM. There’s no way, I’m swapping that out for salad. Not doing it. But, what I have started doing is swapping the processed lunch meat for thin slices of chicken breast that I fry in olive oil. Just about anything in place of processed lunch meat is a good move.
There was no pain involved in this change. In fact, I enjoy my new sandwiches even more now.
And, this is how I will eventually reach my goal of eating healthy. One small change after another. Until a doctor tells me I’m in grave danger unless I change my nutrition NOW, these adjustments are going to take a while.
I get in trouble when I decide to make big changes all at once. The changes rarely stick. Start small. Think long. That’s a formula that works for a lot of things in life.
If you have struggled with fitness the same way I’ve struggled with nutrition you can change that. Here are two things you can do right now. Click the FOLLOW button (below on your phone or to the right and above if you’re reading this on your computer) and this blog will help guide you and inspire you.
The second thing you can do is Start Small. Don’t try to make a big change all at once. If you’re ready to make that change and start a new fitness journey with small steps click HERE.