Getting off the pendulum swing

“The Tortoise and the Hare” from an ed. of Aesop’s Fables illus. by Arthur Rackham, 1912

There’s this notion that at some point between moving from one extreme to another, you will land in the middle. For me – in the case of eating healthy and taking care of myself – that certainly hasn’t been the case.

I’ve lived most of my life in opposite extremes. Half the time, I ate super healthy, exercised daily and practiced mega discipline towards achieving my goals. But the other half of the time, I had the live a little attitude a little too often and sat idle all day, getting nothing purposeful done and eating whatever junk I wanted.

Never, did I land in the middle.

Despite the desire to find a happy, healthy medium – to make healthful choices and be at my best, while also enjoying treats from time to time – I never managed to do it.

But one day, my body stopped bouncing back as easily as it used to, and I ended up with food-related health issues. I realized that I couldn’t continue taking my body for granted. Luckily, I had an aha moment and decided to take a different approach. I took baby steps.

I started off by changing one thing at a time. First, I decided that I could indulge in a treat, as long as it was made fresh. For example, I could eat a cookie as long as it was made fresh from a local bakery, or ice cream from a parlour that makes its own on site. After I achieved this, I moved on to the next step, which was: I could eat whatever packaged foods I wanted as long as they didn’t have any preservatives or refined sugar. In order to achieve this, I became more diligent with reading food labels. The only packaged foods I purchased were whole foods – such as naturally sweetened granola bars and raw trail mixes. After achieving this, I refined my eating even more by adding other small, healthful steps.

My food choices may have not been the best, but they were definitely much better. I felt more in the middle and healthier. My food cravings even went away. And most importantly, it took the obsession out of the one extreme, and the guilt out of the other.

As I continue to master this practice and reflect on what I’ve learned, I notice how the old Tortoise and the Hare fable has a ring of truth here. It’s not about being perfect as fast as you can. That doesn’t work, at least not for me. It’s about breaking goals up into slow and steady steps that, ultimately, win you the race.

FYI… My biggest challenge right now is peeling myself away from the desk to go and work out. It seems that my “ideas fairy” taps at my door every time I consider putting on my running shoes and heading out. Like right now. But I’m learning to ignore her, and am getting myself up from this post to jog around the neighbourhood…

See you in the next post!

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