If you are anything like me, you have tried to lose weight more than once. Or at the very least you’ve committed to eating better. Whether it was giving up soda (pop) for Lent or setting a resolution on Jan. 1 to eat better and exercise more, I would venture a guess that the thought of being healthier has already crossed your mind. You may have tried subscription weight loss programs, fad diets, or portion control. Even the catch-all ‘everything in moderation’ is a diet of sorts. We begin new phases with enthusiasm, having genuine intentions to follow through. We’ll continue to follow our new rules until we hit a fork in the road. Sometimes we get frustrated with the lack of results and give up. Sometimes, if you’re one of the ‘lucky’ ones, you go down another path. You get great results but then when you finally fit in your jeans again, you head out for ice cream to celebrate. Uh oh.
It’s great that a new ‘diet’ or exercise regimen or momentary motivation can get you some good results. Periodic success and annual resolutions keep us trying despite past failures, which I suppose is good. But in the long term it’s a recipe for disaster. If your old ways have gotten you to a place you don’t want to be, maybe it’s time to take a long hard look at permanent change. Before you start another plan, I’d like you to ask yourself first:
- What is it that’s making you want to change?
- Appearance? Lack of energy?
- Failing health?
- The fear that you’re following in the footsteps of your family history?
- A desire to live a higher quality of life?
- What are your goals?
- Fitting in to your old favorite clothes?
- Feeling comfortable in a bathing suit, maybe for the first time ever?
- Getting off chronic medications?
- Being able to walk to the mailbox without feeling out of breath? Completing your next marathon?
- What are you willing to do to achieve your goals?
- Shop for fresh produce? Eat real food?
- Chop and cook most of your own food?
- What about eating differently than everyone else you know?
It’s this last one that gets most people. It might seem hard to cook all your own food. It might seem challenging to stop drinking alcohol if you’re used to going out several times a week. But don’t even get me started on all the people who stop dead in their tracks thinking that they just ‘could never give up _______’ (insert cheese, chocolate, filet mignon, ice cream, etc). Eating differently than the norm is a real hangup for a lot of people. The thing is, we’re all capable of doing anything. I’ll say it again – anything. We just have to find the right motivation.
The number one key to success is finding the right perspective from which to evaluate your next move. If you would be handed a $1M check for losing 25 lbs over the course of the next year, could you find a way to make it happen? What if someone held a gun to your head and said you had to eat vegetables every day for breakfast, or else? Just pass the broccoli! But what if you had a heart attack and survived (thank goodness!) and your doctor told you that you would have to stop eating animal products if you wanted to avoid a second one? Would you choose to do it or would you roll the dice? What if you received a scary cancer diagnosis and learned that what you put in your mouth can be even more influential over your survival than any chemo drug on the market? Would you change the way you eat?
What if you could enjoy watching your grandchildren graduate, get married, and have their own babies? But to do so, you would have to make tiny sacrifices along the way. What are those experiences worth to you? Think about what you would like your future life to look like. If you could prevent or even significantly reduce the risk of chronic medications, oxygen tanks, insulin shots, physical limitations, early dementia, chemotherapy, and/or sudden death, would you choose to?
Every one of those maladies is hard. All of them are seriously inconvenient. All of them are expensive. Changing a few lifestyle habits like eating more vegetables, avoiding alcohol and sugar – Not that hard. Here’s the best news yet: You don’t have to wait for a scary diagnosis. You don’t need a wake-up call to change your life. Welcome to your very own Choose Your Own Adventure. It is your
job privilege to put pen to paper and write the next chapters yourself. Will you spend your time hospital hopping or island hopping?
The reality is that we make decisions all of the time without even thinking about the consequences. We take it for granted that we’ll live a long fulfilling life. We ‘treat’ ourselves with cake and ice cream to celebrate, and later end up depressed that our pants don’t fit that great. We’re not thinking about the actual cost or benefit of each particular choice. I know people sometimes think I’m missing out by not drinking wine or eating cheese any more, but the reality couldn’t be farther from that. I like to think I am making choices today that allow to enjoy today (if I haven’t made it clear, I’ll work on that – I TRULY enjoy the food I eat!) and all of my tomorrows too. There’s something about watching a child grow up before your very eyes that makes you want to be there and really be able to participate in life. Remember what I said about perspective? There’s not a bite of chocolate or cheese that I would trade for fun with my family and friends.
Hope to see ya in Tahiti!
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