Change in Small Bites — Michelle Is Back!

Michelle contributed two weeks ago and chimes in here again today. She will be writing on a quasi-regular-but-not-weekly basis, publishing on Fridays.

I went to the gym yesterday and struck up a conversation with a fellow treadmill-er.  I learned that she’s a 40-something mom of four, working full-time from home.  She is working with a personal trainer twice a week and is frustrated.

Her trainer is (in my opinion) one of the stereotypical personal trainers that scare people from ever considering this as an option.  Based on what I’ve seen of this trainer, she’s hardcore.  I mean, eating only chicken and rice, working out like it’s going out of style, at the gym all hours of the day.  She expects her trainees to be the same way.

Well, with four kids, working full-time (and not at a gym!), this kind of lifestyle isn’t something that people can jump into easily.  Trying to make such sweeping changes often results in a feeling of failure and disappointment, leading them back to eating ice cream while sitting on the couch watching the latest episode of “Biggest Loser.”  I know — this was me.

While I appreciate that there are very specific ideals and goals that a person should have around what they put into their body, how they train their body, etc., oftentimes this doesn’t jibe with their current lifestyle.  If you’ve spent the last 20 years making all of your food choices from restaurants, it’s going to be nearly impossible for you to jump into a whole food, limited regiment of food choices.  Change of this magnitude can’t happen overnight, expecting your people to do this isn’t helping anyone, least of all the people that need it.  Scolding them when they are already feeling guilty makes them feel worse.  “Why should I continue if she’s only going to yell at me?”

I’ve tried that “I’ll change everything all at once” mentality.  I failed.  Each and every time.  Why?  Because I’m real, and I make mistakes.  They key for me is that now, I have someone who understands that the mistakes and the missteps are just as important as the successes and achievements.  Those mistakes allow us to learn and to grow.  If we don’t know how to eat right to fuel our bodies, yelling at us isn’t going to give us the tools we need to hit those goals.  It’s going to ensure that we never hit those goals.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  taking small, baby steps will allow you to make healthier choices without adversely affecting your lifestyle.  Take, for example, bread.  I made the conscious decision to stop purchasing white bread and instead, purchase and eat only 100% whole grain bread.  Is it more expensive?  Sure — by about $1.00 a loaf.  Even in my family, where we go through 2-3 loaves of bread in a week (we do a lot of brown bag lunches for school here), it’s costing me an additional $10/month.  That’s worth it, to me.  My kids don’t even like the taste of white bread anymore.

I’ve made very small choices; several of them, over the course of the past couple of years.  And, I’ve found that when I’m only changing one thing at a time, everyone has an easier time of accepting it.  As mom to two picky eaters and wife to a farm boy, I could choose the easy way out and go to McD’s every day.  But I would weigh a bazillion pounds, my kids would be sluggish, and my husband … well, honestly, he’d probably love it.  🙂

My very long point?  If you’re looking to make changes, make them slowly.  Set a goal to workout three times this week … and, do it.  If you don’t — that’s okay.  Set the same goal for next week.  Do what you think is fun — working out doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym.  Take the kids for a walk.  Play a game of basketball.  Do some yoga.  Play Wii Fitness.  If you’re goal is food-related, make small changes.  Switch to whole wheat bread.  Eat more chicken and less red meat.  Vow to make one meal a week vegetarian.

So, what’s your goal for the week?  Mine: stop eating after 8 p.m.  I tend to snack once the kids are down and I’m finally winding down from the day.  This happens more when my husband travels for work, and it’s so easy (and tasty) to munch.  We’ll see if I can stick to it.

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