Have you heard the quote, “Mile by mile, it’s a trial, yard by yard, it’s hard, but inch by inch, it’s a cinch”? It has a similar meaning to the old Chinese proverb “The man who moved a mountain is the one who started taking away the small stones.” It is a reminder that big tasks can be overwhelming, or feel impossible. But when we break them down into smaller tasks, they feel less daunting and easier to achieve.
It’s no different to eating well. Hearing long-term healthy eating habits is overwhelming. Doing anything long term is hard. So, how do we get around that?
When long term goals don’t seem long term
It takes lots of steps over a number of years to learn to write. As a young child, we master how to hold a thick crayon, then a pencil, followed by a pen. We learn how to shape individual letters, then words, followed by sentences. It takes years before we can write quickly, legibly and in copious amounts. But how many of us stop to think about how long it takes to learn to write. And yet it does.
So why do some long term goals not feel like long term goals, yet others do? We simply don’t dwell on them as being long term goals. We also accept there is a process and that this process takes time.
With so much marketing from the weight loss industry and attention on weight loss in the media, weight loss is portrayed as quick or easy. Often both. If our focus turns to progress, not time, as well as how it is achieved, not what is achieved, there is a stronger focus on being our best in the present moment. It also gives a greater sense of achievement.
It is a well know fact that the most important step for building any structure, is the foundation. It is the basis of what can and can’t be achieved. The foundation provides security, confidence and trust.
Dieting is counter intuitive because it works against building a strong foundation with our bodies, food and health. On the other hand, when we have as our foundation an appreciation for our hunger, a healthy relationship with food and respect for our bodies, long term healthy eating habits follow.
Dieting works on the premise of making drastic changes to achieve quick results. Repeating the process over and over, achieves yo-yo goals, yo-yo dieting and yo-yo outcomes. Rushing wastes time in the long run. When we want to fast forward our results, we compromise our health.
We live in a fast world. But not all things can or should be rushed. Insight, changing habits, and wisdom, take time. It is often not until we slow down and pay attention to our habits, that we are able to think deeply, put things to the test and gain big ah-ha moments. When changes to eating habits are made at our pace, on our terms, changes are more sustainable.
Celebrate the small stuff
When we are tracking a baby’s development, we don’t just note when it was able to walk, talk or eat. We focus on each of the little steps that are needed to reach the ultimate goal. For walking, it would include when they were able to sit up, to stand, put one foot in front of the other, walk a short distance supported by someone, walking a short distance unaided. We focus on the process it takes. We celebrate each and every milestone because we see the improvement, the development. However, with eating habits we may get impatient, want to bypass the stepping stones, the significant milestones, and fast forward to the end result.
We needn’t (and shouldn’t) go from ‘all’ to ‘none’. We can be making gradual changes in the right direction, by starting with what is relevant to us and where we feel we can make slight improvements. Each step, although small, leads us to our ultimate goal, and we deserve to praise ourselves along the way.
So, if you’re feeling burdened with the thought of long-term good eating habits, remind yourself that:
Day by day, that’s the best way
Meal by meal, healthy eating’s no big deal
Bite by bite, intuitive eating’s a delight!