Kickstart Day 3
“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.” ~ Herophilus
Have a Plant!
Bringing Awareness & Intention
Eating habits become part of your life routine regardless of your awareness or intention. Your eating habits may have been created by what food was put on your plate, the culture you grew up in or trauma you may have experienced. When you were younger, you probably never considered the importance of food choices and ate according to your taste preference, schedule, and lifestyle.
We’ve all acquired food habits without evaluating whether or not they help us live and feel our best. Have you ever thought about that? Many of us are being pulled along by urges, cravings, convenience, marketing and social influence. As an 8 on the Enneagram, that really ticks me off! Over time, poor nutrition WILL result in a low quality of life. We absolutely know this to be true and still we let it happen! Don’t you know how valuable you are? Don’t you know how much you matter to the world? Your physical, mental and emotional health is directly impacted by what you put into your body. Sometimes it’s a health crisis that gets your attention and sometimes it’s the slow and steady tipping of the scale or the disengagement with relationships and life. This truly breaks my heart.
Good eating habits are the foundation to reaching our nutritional goals and improving our wellness today and far into the future. We know that eating whole, nutritious foods will benefit our physical, emotional, and mental health. They will help us live optimally. And, we want that, right? On the other hand, bad eating habits have the opposite effect. The point is this: With good eating habits, we can experience weight control, improved mood, combat health problems, boost energy, and improve longevity. So why is it so hard to embrace what we KNOW to be true?
Intentionally establish habit. One meal at a time, one day at a time.
Set Goals by Baselining Your Health. Gather some basic facts that realistically inform you about your body: body composition, medical health screening, exercise habits, general diet, emotional IQ, stress levels at home and at work, etc. The point of baselining is to bring awareness, intention, and mindfulness to your change process, not more worry and stress. If any of these baseline measurements cause you undue anxiety, step back and give awareness a chance to promote change.
Set Priorities. Make a list of your weaknesses and strengths that crop up during an ordinary day. Weaknesses are times you feel defeated or even agitated. Strengths give you joy and satisfaction. Recapture your mind and emotion in these moments. Appreciating your strengths is a source of potency as you embark on your habit-changing mission.
Identify Harmful Patterns. To change your negative habits, first you must know what they are. Sitting all day is damaging to your health, even if you get a half hour of exercise or more each day. Depriving yourself of eight hours of sleep—for even a short period—is also hard on your body in ways sleep researchers are only beginning to fully recognize. Forming a new habit takes repetition and focus, and if your attention is elsewhere, you may have a harder time adjusting to new behaviors. For that reason, some experts advise against planning big changes if you are going through a particularly stressful period. I disagree. Although it’s true that you are likely to have more setbacks at such times, it’s just as true that people have a greater capacity for lasting change through challenge and crises. “Aha” moments occur quite often when you hit the bottom.
Make Steady Changes. You are training your brain to succeed. Most of us, having been defeated by old conditioning, will follow the course of least resistance, not realizing we are training our brains in pathways that rob us of freewill over time. So, begin with a victory you can define and choose one that means something to you. Over time, what seem like baby steps will produce new physiological changes in every cell of your body. This might mean: dropping the food guilt, letting go of calorie counting, eating until you’re 80% full, focusing on how you feel after eating, planning ahead, prepping and storing healthy food, knowing your snacks, eating mindfully, slowing down, keeping it simple, taking ownership of your food, using a food diary, recognizing and celebrating what positive change feels like, internalizing your changes, journaling for clarity and connection, incorporating self-care, finding someone to hold you accountable, etc.. Structure and repetition are key. Focus on one thing at a time and what you can do NOW.
Reinforce Good Decisions. When you undertake a wellness program, every day you will face the choice to stay the course or abandon your mission. Executive control, which means choosing a thought or action to meet an internal goal, is managed by the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Decision-making is based on the regulation and memory of feelings in the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala. The neurotransmitter dopamine is predominant in the midbrain and also influences decision-making. Eating sweet foods, taking drugs, having sex all release dopamine. Understand that we may indulge in chocolate cake because we tend to value the short-term outcome we know (deliciousness) over the long-term value of intentional eating (weight loss, energy, health). There’s nothing wrong with chocolate cake; however, the value of intentional food choices over time outlasts immediate gratification.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Improved nutrition is not a diet. It’s lifestyle change. It’s empowerment. Take it slow! Time and repetition will allow change to grow deep roots in your life. One meal at a time, one habit at a time. Take time this week to work through the following:
1. What is your current health baseline? Physical, mental, and emotional?
2. Make a list of your daily weaknesses. Make a list of your daily strengths.
3. What are your harmful patterns?
4. Identify and prioritize 3 – 5 changes. Start small and easy with one change at a time. Remember, change takes intention, accountability, reinforcement, and time. What will keep you in the process? (66 days).