After my last post, which talked about the little things that you’re going to leave behind this year, I thought it would be fitting to take a look at the bigger picture. While we can easily identify what we need to let go of in terms of our behaviours, it can be tough to figure out why we have those behaviours in the first place. However, tough comes with the territory of changing the way you live and if you want to make a lasting change in your behaviours, the beliefs that drive you are probably going to have to change along with them.
So, in this process, it’s important to think about what’s really holding you back. Even though I dedicated my university career to studying health and fitness and the body—there’s tons to know there!—I don’t think being healthy is rocket science. Unfortunately, I think most of us get focused on the little things at the expense of looking at the big picture: Are we moving our bodies in ways that feel good? Are we eating mostly real, whole foods that we can feel good about eating? Are we getting enough sleep and managing our stress? Are we happy? These questions, more than the number of grams of carbs we’re eating or whether or not we’re training at exactly the right intensity, are the important ones (not that those specific kinds of questions don’t have a time and a place—but aiming for general health or getting fitter doesn’t require complicated plans, imho).
When I seriously consider those questions and try my best to be honest about the answers, I can come up with the big thing that I want to work on letting go of: the remnants of my eating disorder thinking where there’s a dichotomy between eating (bad) and exercising (good). This old weight loss mindset where food is the enemy plays out in a multitude of unhealthy ways in my world: I think it’s “better” to skip a snack and end up way too hungry by the time meal time rolls around (cue overeating) or I drink coffee or eat random things in lieu of planning a snack or a mini meal filled with healthy nutrition or I make up weird rules about how I shouldn’t work out in the morning once I’ve eaten breakfast. That means I don’t end up moving my body in ways that always feel good and I don’t always choose the best foods and my stress levels are higher than they need to be. Big picture, this mindset isn’t serving me and it’s something I entirely need to leave in my past.
Just like when you think about replacement habits for your less than stellar behaviours that you’d like to leave behind, it’s worth trying on some alternatives when you come up with the big picture things that are weighing you down. For me, that means believing that food is fuel and shifting from a weight loss at all costs mentality to a health and happiness above all mentality. That’s what this blog is all about, which brings up an important point: it’s not like a light switch when it comes to making changes.
Your little victories will feed back into that belief and serve as proof of it. The more steps you can take in the right direction to convince yourself of your new belief, the stronger it will get. Eventually, the more you acknowledge the ways in which you’re playing out the new and awesome belief, it starts to become your default. There’s an element of faking it until you make it and acting “as if” but keep in mind that you are not a fake–you’re just challenging yourself and stretching yourself. Be patient along the way and with time, you can change your beliefs.
Where do you find yourself tripping over something in your past?
What beliefs are you working on stepping into?