Author: Chelsea Caito, RD and Dr. Huber
What is the biggest hurdle between you and your health goals?
We have all read the articles and seen the books. Sugar is bad and wheat will kill you. Knowing and doing are two different things. You might be thinking you are about to read a nice article on how wheat is bad for you and sugar is toxic. Even after reading an article on the dangers of wheat, the reality is it would not stop the average American from placing an order at Panera minutes later. Knowing and doing are two different things. So how do we justify these odd behaviors? How do we “know” what to do, yet continuously and tiredly aim for the target and miss every time? This article isn’t about shame or guilt, but rather exploring the one thing that the best diet in the world is lacking: change between the ears. Without breaking down barriers and changing imbedded paradigms that we have built, “falling off the wagon” is inevitable. Or rather, letting the wagon fall on us. Changing Mindset is not as easy as flipping a switch, or swapping cow’s milk for almond milk. Making a life change is scary. But you know what is even scarier? Regret.
First, reexamining your paradigm. A paradigm could be defined as a simple set of rules that we believe to be true that guide all of our decision-making. The problem is some paradigms that we cling so tightly to can prevent us from seeing that our approach isn’t actually working. You may, for example, operate under the paradigm that because your parents have hypertension and diabetes, you will too. Or wheat is healthy for anyone as long as they don’t have celiac disease. Because of that paradigm (belief), thoughts of living a healthy lifestyle seem impossible and any efforts to avoid or reverse hypertension are dismissed. This false paradigm becomes your reality and movement in a healthy direction loses traction as you don’t really invest yourself in the belief that it would work. What paradigms are holding you back? Those who are willing to reconsider their current beliefs and challenge their internal notions of what is “right” will begin to have success.
Second, realign your priorities. There is a difference between interest and commitment. A commitment is achieved regardless of outside circumstances. For example, a healthy home cooked meal may only happen if the kids don't have soccer practice, work is done by 5:00pm and there’s no rush hour traffic. Although the intentions may be good, living dependent on outside factors will rarely allow those good intentions to happen. On any given day we could point the finger in a thousand directions. “I’m too busy to cook a family meal. I hate grocery shopping. My kids LOVE bread.” If this sounds familiar, begin to recognize that these excuses or paradigms mean your priorities aren’t in line, yet. Today is the day you will not be the victim of circumstances that you created. The reality is everything in your life is a reflection of a choice that was made. If we want a different result, we must make a different choice. Then stand by it, defend it and live it.
Third, make a plan. A goal without a plan is simply a wish. Take action today, no matter how small, towards a goal. Everyday there is an opportunity to use food as fuel or a slow form of poison. Anything that you’ve ever achieved in life did not just coincidently happen or come about. Careers, college degrees or financial status all was made accomplished because there was a strategic plan in place regardless of set backs and outside circumstances. In your mind it was a foregone conclusion when you sat down for your first college class, you KNEW you were going to graduate. You were committed to seeing it through. Think back to something great you have achieved. Was it easy? No. Was it seamless? Of course not. Did you think about quitting? Probably; but what stopped you from quitting was the tenacious necessity for the end result. If you want to learn to cook, do something right now to get a step closer to that goal. Attach the goal to a bigger picture. Tell yourself, “If I learn to cook, I will eat better, lose weight and not be embarrassed to get in the pool this summer.” That sounds more powerful than “My plan is to eat better.”
Counseling hundreds of patients over the past five years, I have noticed there is a distinct difference in the patients who succeed and those who do not. It isn’t how many calories are consumed and it certainly isn’t the amount of hours spent in the gym. Success is measured by the shift in mindset. This article may have been better served if I discussed the importance of vegetables, or the benefits of sleep. But I would argue that most Americans would have sipped on their coffee with a croissant in hand, thinking, “that’s nice, I really need to increase my vegetable intake. But I’m just too busy” and flipped to the next page. Before you carry on, ask yourself the simple question: Is what you are doing now working for you? Are you willing to build new paradigms and make your health a priority? If not now, when? Will it be easier in 2 years when my belly has grown and my joints are achier than they are now? It is easier to put out a small smoldering fire than trying to put out an entire forest that is going up in flames.
Chelsea Caito, RD, LD
Dr. Gary Huber, DO