Wednesday, August 31, 2016

There's a difference between "distraction" and "direction"

Ever notice how being "on plan" with our program feels much easier when we are busy?

When we are at work, or busy on a project, and a temptation comes, we usually we don't have "time" for those thoughts. We certainly don't have time to ACT on them, our minds are so occupied with other things that when the thoughts come we are rapidly "distracted" by the next thing that is required of us, so those temptation thoughts don't germinate and expand.

But during the weekend, evenings, or our downtime those same temptation thoughts come in and seem to grow exponentially, many times resulting in our acting on them in a way which sabotages our plans, delays us achieving our health goals, and making us feel like failures.

What to do?

Well, there is a real difference between "distraction" and "direction".

Distraction is what I mentioned above. It is the DISPLACEMENT of the original thought by necessity of other things taking priority. On the weekends, we can run out of things to distract ourselves, can't we? We can get bored. We can seek entertainment with food or drink.

Direction, however, is intentional. Direction is us taking that thought, that temptation, MINDFULLY, unpacking it for a moment, acknowledging it's presence, and then CHOOSING to say "no" to that because it doesn't forward our long-term agendas, our primary goals, as regards our health.

The "Stop! Challenge! Choose!" method is a very practical way of dealing with those thoughts or temptations in a way which will give us peace of mind, strength of resolve, and momentum in achieving our goals. Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen came up with the "Stop! Challenge! Choose!" method and writes about it in his book "Dr. A's Habits of Health" and also his New York Times Bestseller "Discover Your Optimal Health." It basically goes like this:

Temptation arises.
Literally, stop what you are doing or are about to do! Take a few DEEP breaths.
Challenge yourself and ask "will eating/drinking/doing this action take me closer to my health goals, or farther away from them?"
Choose the action which furthers your most intrinsic goal of creating Optimal Health in your life.

If we rely on distraction, those temptation thoughts MAY go away for awhile, but when they return they will bring lots of friends with them, or return stronger than they were before. Why? Because we didn't DEAL with the thought or emotion in a cognitive way. Therefore, it can resurface, or bubble up LATER, or EVEN manifest in OTHER ways that are non-food. Those thoughts can show up later as chronic stress, or irritability, or depression, or anger. Ever feel that way?

Ever feel like you've been holding those thoughts at bay ALL WEEK LONG, you've been SO GOOD, and then Friday evening hits and you have all of a sudden "run out of will-power?"

That is a typical pattern of being "on-plan" during the week, when it seems to be "so easy", and then on the weekends we can get so loosey-goosey that no one who might be watching us over the weekend would even think we were the same person as we were Monday-Thursday! We can even surprise OURSELVES at how "double-minded" we seem to be!

It truly is the difference between "Distraction" and "Direction".

So what to do?

When those temptations come during the week, take a moment and think "yes, I COULD choose to have those, but I PREFER to say no to those now so that I can have what I REALLY want eventually, which is OPTIMAL HEALTH." Practice saying that throughout the week. By the end of the week you will find that those thoughts now come more easily when faced with temptations over the weekend. You have created a pattern of mindfulness which, once established, can become your default way of thinking about things that might otherwise set you back were you to indulge in them.

Try it out! Let me know what you think!

Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Instead of "Preventing Something Awful From Happening" let's "Make Something Amazing Happen!"

The medical and academic culture is rife with trying to discover "things to avoid" in order to "not live an unhealthy life".

I think it's time for a major intervention and paradigm shift in our thinking as a society.

How about instead of "trying to avoid" things that we "don't" want in our lives, we go about the business of CREATING what we DO want in our lives?

Like health.

So much of the literature these days focuses on "what not to do" or "what not to eat", so much so that we could create encyclopedia-length lists of things NOT to do and NOT to eat.

I've decided to live life from a perspective that CREATES my BEST days, which are in FRONT of me, instead of attempting to "mitigate the inevitable decline" of my health or my life.

How do I do that? Why do I do that?

Because people don't make significant life changes based on FEAR, FORCE or FACTS. People make significant sustainable life changes first by finding a group of people or a person or an ideal which inspires them, gives them HOPE that a change is possible. Then they LEARN the habits and skills needed to create and sustain the NEW life or lifestyle, and finally they REMAIN in community with like-minded people who have MADE and sustained that life change.*

It has nothing to do with "preventing illness" it has everything to do with "creating an abundant thriving life which is then a JOY to continue living.

*Concepts from the book "Change or Die" by Alan Deutchmann