I was in the shop last week eating lunch at the counter (a fairly regular occurence) It was a large bowl of salad with salmon fillets and boiled eggs and a customer commented how healthy it looked and said I must have great will power. It got me thinking about a lot of the things that I now take for granted like what and how we eat.
Anyone who knows me well or who has seen me pay a visit to the Avoca cafe in Rathcoole where a portion of Pavlova is as big as my head knows that will power isn’t necessarily my strongest suit. Sitting down to a desert that should really feed a small family with the determination not to be beaten by a piece of confectionery and usually finishing it looking a little green around the gills.
But I don’t quit when it comes to cake, maybe that’s the willpower bit…
Anyway like I said it got me thinking, I don’t think willpower is what we need to have to develop any good habits, be it healthy eating, training, work or anything else we want to improve or change in our lives. I like a lot of people who came to sport late in life wasn’t fit when I was younger and even when I got fit I realised that fit doesn’t necessarily equal healthy. I always thought that just because I trained a lot and didn’t put on weight I was healthy. No matter what I ate I just burnt it off. Cake, sweets, ice cream, chips, burgers were all flash fried in a metabolism on overdrive.
It eventually dawned on me that just because I was skinny didn’t mean I was healthy. Eating rubbish food must be having adverse effects somewhere down the line even if it wasn’t showing on my waistline. It was actually Ais who first started with the healthy food buzz. We initially went very strictly a Paleo and later adapted it as we found what worked for us.
Anyway back to the original point of the post. It was savage hard for the first month of the Paleo diet to get off sugar and carbs and it certainly took a lot of will power but as we adapted and found ways to live with a very different diet we learned that in order to be successful we needed to eliminate the risks of falling off the wagon as much as possible. We realised there were certain instances that were very difficult to have the willpower and eat the right food. For us that was often in work or coming home after the late shift in the shop. So what we did was to have a routine of cooking enough food for the three late nights in the shop on Tuesday (our day off). In this way we weren’t dealing with temptation when we were tired, hungry and hadn’t got food prepared.
I think that developing good habits and building our lives in a way that makes it more difficult to do the “bad” behaviour is more important than constantly relying on will power. Like the idea of having the food already prepared before we are hungry so we dont just hit the f**k it switch and eat junk. Arranging sessions where you meet friends is another of avoiding the danger of rolling over and hitting the snooze button instead of heading to the pool for that early morning swim. Organising things ahead of time very often makes the decision to make the good choice the easier one to take and eliminates to a large extent the need to have savage will power.
Also choosing to be a certain type of person can be very empowering. When both myself and Ais stopped smoking we thought of ourselves as non smokers, not as having “given up” smoking which carries an air of sacrifice and needing will power to sustain. Instead being a non smoker was hugely empowering and required no will power but instead provided motivation.
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