I had a client session last week that took me by surprise. My client has struggled with psoriasis, eczema and acne for years. And for all my nudging and professional guidance, she is still giving a gluten-free diet the finger. “Following a gluten-free diet is so easy for you,” she said. “I could never do that!” Her perception of my dietary choices completely floored me, because eating clean has always been a psychological challenge for me. It has taken me ages to get to develop a healthy relationship between the needs of my body and the desire of my pleasure zone. Pleasure is a nutrient, and oh how I loooooove to indulge. The hard truth is, I’m intimately familiar with the struggles of change and letting go. I’d love to think the rules did not apply to me. But my body would tell you a very different story. Knowing what my goals are makes the decision to eat clean that much easier. It doesn’t mean I don’t want chocolate or cocktails every night; it just means that the feeling of waking up not feeling bloated trumps the temporary food buzz any day of the week. (Everything has a price, right?) Getting in what I like to call The Zone—that sweet spot of feeling motivated with a razor-sharp focus—will let you hone in on the task at hand, making the change effortless. So although I make the conscious effort to eat clean on a daily basis, what reinforces that behavior is feeling really great and, even more importantly, having a clean conscience when I wake up in the morning.
How can people see the world of eating on such different ends of the spectrum? It’s pretty simple. We prioritize the work we are ready to do and draw a line in the sand for what we won’t. We are our own rate-limiting reactions; although we often stand in our own way, we can also learn to clear a path to our successes.
Change can be hard—especially if you’re not ready for it. When your nutritionist tells you that you need to rebuild your eating habits to heal your body from the inside out, it can rock your world. For most people, change is a very gradual process. Fortunately, our brains are wired for plasticity and are capable of making incredible changes when we want something badly enough. Getting the body you want isn’t always exciting or sexy. It’s doing the same thing over and over, each and every day. Consistency, diligence, and hard work are the cornerstones of self-improvement—and not much more than that.
We are either victimized by our choices or empowered by them. So if you feel like you’re following someone else’s plan, then your choices will never feel like a lifestyle for you. Telling yourself “My nutritionist told me I can’t eat this” versus “I’m going to choose foods that help me get healthy” have two very different messages. If you are ready to embrace change, and it actually feels like a choice for you, then the world is your oyster—and quite a delicious one at that!
Which path will you choose when you want to take on new changes in your eating and exercise habits?