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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Making changes until they feel normal / The Seat Belt Analogy


The other day I was driving home from taking the children to school. I pulled into my driveway, unbuckled my seat belt, and was about to get out of the car. I saw that I'd forgotten to put a letter in the mailbox a few hundred yards back. I started the car again and drove back down toward the mailbox. As I headed down the hill (seeing wild turkeys running out of my way - - always a fun sight), I realized that I felt a little more free than usual, but not necessarily comfortably, like I was walking with my shoes untied. I'd forgotten to buckle my seat belt. I decided just to stay that way since I was just going down a private road. Nothing illegal about it, no cars around to run into. (I'm sure I could have run off into the ditch or hit a turkey, but I wasn't too worried). But it felt weird to not have my seat belt on. I could feel every bump in the road. I just wasn't feeling as secure as I usually do. I was used to being strapped in and now that I wasn't, it felt strange and uncomfortable. I kept evaluating this uncomfortable feeling because it wasn't always that way.

I thought back 20+ years ago when I was in college and the seatbelt laws went into effect in California. I was going to school in Utah, but would go home during the breaks to California and was aware of the seatbelt law. Not too many people wore seatbelts regularly back then. I'm not sure what my guideline was, but I know I didn't wear them all the time. It wasn't hard for me to remember to buckle up when I was in California, but I remember when I was back in Utah, that I'd feel kind of strange once I did buckle it into place. I felt a bit confined. There was even a mental aspect. When others were in the car and I buckled up (and they didn't), I wondered if they thought I was unnecessarily afraid of crashing. No one ever said anything, but I remember that thought crossing my mind several times. Did they think I was being overzealous? Did I really need to buckle up when I had ridden without a seatbelt for so many years? I was more comfortable without a seatbelt anyway. Why shouldn't I just ride without it?

As the years passed and seatbelt laws became the standard in every state, buckling up became as routine as putting the key in the ignition. It became the norm. I didn't have to think twice about doing it. I didn't mind it at all. I felt completely comfortable with it on.

As I pondered all this a few days ago, I thought about how I shifted from one habit to the other. How what once was normal became a thing of the past and what was once uncomfortable or undesirable became easy and the preferred way. It should be as simple to shift my thoughts about eating as it was for me to shift them with wearing my seatbelt. What is uncomfortable and strange to do at first may very well later become the norm and what I prefer. I've learned this with many eating habits (and with exercise too). I have fought many needs to change, then later realized I preferred the new way. I'm glad that I understand this concept -- that change can feel normal later on. I have more room to change and am glad to know that it's not as difficult to do as it sometimes seems. I've talked with many people who say, "But I don't like to . . . " or "I can't live without . . . " and I think that may be the case now, but we change. We really do. We have adapted over the years and centuries from eating whole foods to processed foods. We can adapt and change right back to enjoying and preferring whole foods if we just work at it for awhile. We have adapted from living physically demanding lives to living with motorized transportaion, indoor plumbing, and jobs that require us to sit all day instead of lift and move. We can teach our bodies to enjoy a physically active life once again.

As you set your goals for healthier living, don't thwart your progress by thinking you can't take a leap like that. Don't fear your ability to adapt to a healthier way of living. Think of the seatbelt analogy and how what was once so standard in so many lives later became obsolete and a new preference took its place. I'm amazed at this whenever I walk down the ice cream aisle and am no longer tempted. I used to have to forbid myself from even going in that aisle because I knew if I saw a sale sign on the Breyer's or a new Girl Scout flavor in the Dreyers, that I was a gonner. I couldn't depend on myself to stick with my goals. But now I can. I have other foods that I prefer and I'm just fine without it. Now to just get that way with Clif bar products. That's one aisle I truly need to keep myself out of for awhile. Best of health to all of you! -- TTFN!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Take advantage of the time change

Spring forward, fall back. I love falling back! Springing forward is okay too, but it's rough getting kids to bed on a school night when it's still light outside and they want to play. What's wonderful about falling back is -- well, the obvious, that first day of getting an extra hour. How cool is that? Who wouldn't love an extra hour to sleep, get ready for church, or just relax on a Sunday morning? I also find it absolutely wonderful each fall when my body is used to getting up at that same time, but now the clock reads an hour earlier. I have been bouncing out of bed at 5:15 for the past few days with absolute ease. This is the moment I've been waiting for since we've moved! I've had the hardest time getting myself excited about getting up early in our new house. I haven't quite figured out why, but it's been a struggle. I've played the resetting the alarm game far too many mornings. It's so nice to be waking up before my alarm sounds off once again and thinking "oh good!" when it finally does go off and I can get up to turn it off. (It's not like I can't get up before that, but for some reason, I just kind of hang out in my bed and think about life until I hear my alarm).

I've loved having ample time to work out. I feel like I'm getting that great start to my day -- no guilt for cutting my workout short because I slept in (or skipping it all together). It was tough fitting my workout in later on, even though I did manage to muster that up magic a few times. If you haven't been taking advantage of this wonderful time of year, hurry and do it before your body adjusts. If you live in Arizona or Hawaii, then you don't get this opportunity. But you could always pretend! I've done that before when preparing for trips to the east coast. I start adjusting my alarm in 15-30 minute increments to get closer to the time zone I'm about to travel to in order to make it not so tough when I get there. Maybe that's not pretending, but if you don't actually go on the trip, it would be, right? Speaking of sleep, it's feeling like it's closer to 11:00 than almost 10:00 p.m., so I'm heading off to bed. TTFN!