Amy Culver - The Queen of Lean
July 08, 2012    

Change is hard

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Amy Culver

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Change is hard

Making change is hard.  If it wasn't, we would be able to do it easily.  We all have the tendency to be lazy, to choose the easier road.  That is why the road to change is the "less traveled" road.  In order to make change, you must be more uncomfortable where you are now than you would be after making a particular change.

For example, think about getting married.  That is a big change and it is hard work.  There are a lot of pleasurable things attached to it, of course, such as companionship and building a family.  There is also a lot of work, such as combining households and learning to live with each other's habits.  You make that change because you have decided that to be apart from that person is more uncomfortable, even more painful, than the changes you have to make.

And so it goes with making healthy changes in our lives, either eating better or exercising.  Those changes are hard to make.  It can be hard to limit your food intake and to remain dedicated to an exercise program, especially in the beginning.

Many times I speak with people who have "fallen off the wagon."  They tell me that when they are eating right and exercising they always feel good.  They have more energy, their mood is better, their thinking clearer and they have a better overall outlook on life.  When I ask them why they stopped, the answer is, in so many words, always the same:  "I got lazy."

It's easier to just eat processed junk food.  You don't have to cook it.  It's easier to sleep in and not make time to work out.  It's easier to say:  "Oh, just one cupcake/donut/bag of chips won't hurt; I'll get back on track tomorrow."  It's easier, at least, in the moment.

Then the next day comes and you feel tired and lazy.  You are in a bad mood and you don't seem to be able to focus on daily tasks the way you'd like.  Then, all of a sudden, things aren't really that easy at all.

It is hard to be overweight.  It is hard to be unhealthy.  Everything you do takes more effort, more time and you get less done.  Yet, still that motivation is difficult to maintain.

So, let's take some typical examples that tend to keep us from or lead us away from a healthy lifestyle and consider some remedies.

- "My spouse / parent / in-law / boss is always nagging me.  They make me so mad sometimes; I just have to eat to comfort myself.  Sometimes food seems to be the only joy I have in my life."

Food does not bring joy.  Life itself brings joy.  When we are unhealthy, in the long run, we are depriving ourselves of joy.  The joy of accomplishment, the joy of having energy to do fun things, the joy of living longer, or the joy of being able to care for ourselves.  When you are tempted to comfort yourself with food, think of joyful things you have in your life.  Think of how much nicer they are when you are feeling good.

- "If I don't eat this cake / pie / casserole (and have seconds!), the person who made it will feel devastated because they made it especially for me."

You know the old adage:  "If someone was going to be devastated if you didn't jump off a cliff, would you do it?"  Well, would you?  For many of us, the food that is being pushed on us is just as dangerous.  In love and charity, for yourself and the other person, explain that you just cannot eat that food because it is harmful to you.  Again, sounding like your mother, if they don't support you trying to take care of yourself, that person does not have your utmost needs in mind in the first place.  Food pushers do what they do because they get comfort in others enjoying their efforts.  That is usually their primary focus.  As much as it might hurt their feelings to say no, you will also not be enabling their problem.  Keep in mind that you don't have to be mean about it.  Simply explain that you are trying hard to stick to your food plan, you know that sometimes you are going to slip up, but you are doing your best.  Offer them specific ways they can be supportive of your efforts, such as fixing healthier dishes for you.  This way they still get to "help" you and "provide" for you, but in ways that will help, rather than hinder, your plan.

- "I'm too tired / my body is too old / I'm too unhealthy to exercise."

Many days it certainly feels this way.  The important thing is to define appropriate exercise for YOU.  For some people, it may be walking, rather than driving, to the mailbox.  Perhaps it is a commitment to do some extra household chores each day.  It might be to spend a little time in active play with your children or grandchildren.  Find something active that you like to do and set limits for yourself, no matter how small they are in the beginning.  Making a smaller commitment, and keeping it, will get you much further than a grand commitment that you will never stick to. 

In all things, be personally responsible.  No one truly forces you to eat, or to be lazy, or even to live healthy.  It is your choice, every day.  Remember the benefits, and know that although the initial change is hard, in time, making the changes will make the rest of your life easier to live.

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