I live a pretty healthy lifestyle. Granted, I still have a couple of vices, but I offset them with some really healthy choices. I exercise several times a week, I eat a mostly vegetarian diet, I’m mindful of processed foods, I meditate and I drink lots of water. Have I always made these healthy choices? Absolutely not.
Let’s take a look back at where I started…
When I as a young adult I smoked cigarettes (about a pack/day), I often ate Poptarts and wine for dinner, I sometimes had ice-cream for lunch, Kool-aid was my healthy alternative to soda, I never exercised (hated it), I watched TV for hours every evening, and I ate a lot of bacon! J
How did I get from there to here? There was no secret program, no overnight strategy. I simply started with a small change. Then I made another, then another, and another. Actually, I’m still making small steps toward better choices.
True change doesn’t happen overnight. Take for example, New Year’s Resolutions. These are rarely successful long term changes because we try to do too much at one time. The approach I use, and that I encourage my clients to use, is the idea of building up small changes rather than undertaking large ones.
Want a real life example? I will share my rather bizarre series of steps to a healthy breakfast. I had decided that I needed to get away from sugary cereals and start eating a more grown up breakfast. I knew about all the benefits of oatmeal (whole grain/ fiber, good for cholesterol and blood pressure, filling, low sugar), so I decided to incorporate oatmeal into my diet. I wanted healthy, so I bought some packets of plain oatmeal. I mixed it up, microwaved it and took a tentative bite – YUCK! It was bland, mushy and just plain unpalatable. So I gave up.
Eventually, as I wandered the cereal aisle of the grocery store, I became inspired to try again. This time I decided maybe I tried to take it too far last time, so this time I bought a variety pack of flavored oatmeal packets. I went home and tried one. It wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t enjoy it either. The flavor seemed to be lacking and the texture was just too mushy. So the next time I tried a packet, I added some more sugar and some extra cinnamon, and then I added less water. What I ended up with was a thick mixture that reminded me very much of oatmeal cookie dough…and it was delicious. I ate this concoction every day, pretending it was cookie dough and not warm cereal. I know this sounds a little funny… am I advocating taking a healthy food and making it as unhealthy as possible by adding even more sugar to an already sweetened product? Sort of…
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was following what I now consider the most successful way to make lasting changes. I started with my flavored sweetened packets and added additional sweetness and flavoring. Once I became accustom to that, I decreased the added sugar until I was adding just more cinnamon. Then I switched to plain oatmeal and brought the sugar back, figuring what I was adding was less than what was in the pre-flavored packet (plus no additives). I then started substituting dried fruit for some of the sugar, until now I eat plain oatmeal with a small amount of fresh or dried fruit and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I don’t even make it thick anymore, because I no longer have to pretend it’s cookie dough.
Small changes upon small changes eventually lead to big changes. Just start with a single step in the direction you want to go….soon you will take another and then another. Before you know it, you will be living a holistic lifestyle that feels great!!
Over the next few weeks I will post a series of blogs with big ideas for small steps to help you start moving in the direction you want to go! Stay tuned….
One step at a time is the easiest way to get to your destination.
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.