Thursday, June 8, 2017

One Decision or 200 Decisions? Which do you think is easier to make?

In this process of creating health in our lives, sometimes it seems like the decisions we need to make regarding what to eat, what not to eat, when to move, how much to move, etc are flying at us throughout the day at a rapid pace. As the day wears on, our will-power wears down.

Typically, by 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon we are spent, tired, probably haven't had enough water in the last few hours, and may have consistently run a tad late on our fuelings. We are left feeling like we trying to catch up.

Am I right? Can you give me a thumbs up if you have ever felt that way? I know I have!

We dread the decisions that we know are COMING after 4:00, because we doubt our will-power or self-discipline can withstand what may unfold around dinner-time, or between dinner and bed!

According to a study done by Cornell University in 2006, we actually make 200 food decisions in a single day!

Seems a hopeless scenario!

Or does it?

In my reading of the heathy habits book we use in our transformational system, I really take to heart what the author says about making a quality decision, a fundamental decision, to be healthy. This, for me, is my "ONE DECISION" that trumps all other decisions at this point in my life, and offers guidance and a "roadmap" to all of the other decisions I make during my day.

There have been times on my journey where the decisions seem to be TOO MANY, and the odds of me making a healthy one 100% of the time would dwindle as the day wore on.

But, I have discovered a key concept that has made a world of difference for me. I can now finally put it into words, and make it practical advice to share with you all! I used to simply say "Just make a fundamental decision for health, and the rest will take care of itself", because if we have a strong WHY the HOW seems more effortless provided we have the right tools and support.

What I have found, however, is that even in my own life while this sounded like a great concept and made sense, I was having some difficulty making it my own, because there were simply TOO MANY DECISIONS TO BE MADE IN A DAY!

Or so I thought.

Over the last few days I have learned something about myself, and I hope my sharing it will help you with some valuable things to consider. I'll give you the scenario, the "story" of what happened, and how I was able to now crystallize this concept in my own brain and put it into practice, truly.

So, yesterday, I planned on going for a swim. I'm at the point again where adding habits of healthy motion makes sense and works FOR me (not against me) in where I'm at with my health goals. I made a secondary decision to promote my primary decision. The author talks about primary and secondary decisions in Chapters 3 and 4 of his book, so if you haven't read those yet (or it's been awhile) I highly recommend reading or re-reading those two chapters this week!

My primary goal is that I have made a fundamental decision to attain optimal health and then maximize health for my age in order to have the potential to live a longer, healthier life. That is my "Big Picture, Long-Term" decision and goal.

Secondary decisions are decisions we make in the framework of the primary decision, which support the primary decision. Up until yesterday, I thought I was making 200 secondary decisions every day in terms of encountering options (eating, drinking and moving), evaluating them in the context of my primary decision, and choosing (200 times per day) that which would support that primary decision.

Man, was this tiring! The mental exercise of going through the "stop, challenge, choose", as hard-wired as it is in my brain, still takes effort. Additionally, every time I would say "yes" to the healthy decision I was saying "no" to the unhealthy one, and after 150 times (around 4:00 in the afternoon) it can begin to feel like a deprivation and a struggle. As the day wears on, if we are relying on willpower and not skill-power, these decisions and options become more tenuous, feelings and emotion (or exhaustion coming from thinking and analyzing too much) enter into play, and it can feel like an uphill battle.

So, back to yesterday and my epiphany...

Yesterday I decided I was going to go for a swim, because a couple of weeks ago I made a "swim chart" and planned that I would begin to swim 5 days a week, upping my distance until I was swimming 1 mile per day (5 days a week), and that would be the healthy motion habit I was going to foster and develop for the remainder of my "step 2-getting to a healthy weight".

Because Dave had been out of the country from Monday morning to Wednesday around noon, and I was caring (and still am) for my little man who is battling a NEW respiratory infection (on top of the FIRST respiratory infection/virus he had been battling for the 4 weeks prior and was JUST beginning to recover from when he got the new one this last weekend), I had not had the opportunity to swim on Monday or Tuesday, so that left me no option except to swim daily from Wednesday-Sunday in order to get my 5 swims in for the week. So, that had been decided, I WAS going for a swim yesterday and had planned and prepared to do so.

As yesterday unfolded, and situations presented themselves which required my immediate attention, I began to delay my departure for the gym. Obstacles were arising that could not be avoided, external factors were making demands on my time and I say that not in a way that I was resenting them, in fact quite the opposite, I love our life and I love what Dave and I do for a living, and I thrive on every aspect of it. As my day progressed, the thought of swimming was still present, yet delayed, and I never waivered on the expectation that I WOULD be going swimming SOMETIME before midnight.

In other words, I didn't "re-visit" my initial decision or "check on it" or "consult my feelings" or "put my finger in the air to see if my external situation was still just right in order to go". None of those things mattered. I didn't re-evaluate the decision I had made, I simply took it as a fact and moved forward accordingly.

This reduced my decisions to ONE from 200. I had made the decision in the morning that yesterday would be a swimming day. Period. No more mental energy was expended on any other decisions that had to do with my healthy habit of motion.

Now, not all of my obstacles were necessary, I created one or two of them myself. For example, I had received my waterproof Ipod (how cool is that?????) the day before, and I had planned on using it for the first time yesterday, but in order to do that I had to actually download some songs onto it, and I did not start that process until about 8:00, thinking that it would only take me a few minutes to transfer one hour's-worth of music from my I-tunes Library to my Ipod Shuffle. I also needed to go pick up some guifinosen tablets (cough medicine) for my son so he could have some before he went to bed. Both CVS and the pool at LA Fitness closed at 10:00 pm, and I was going to go to CVS after setting up my Ipod, grab the meds, come home, grab my gym bag, and get to the pool at my LA Fitness to swim my mile (takes me about 50 minutes to swim a mile). All would be done by 10:00 pm and I'd be home by 10:15 in time to get a good night's sleep!

Or so I thought.

That is not how the night unfolded.

At 8:01 pm I attempted to transfer the first song from my library to my shuffle. I won't go into all the details here, but suffice it to say that the process of transferring songs to my shuffle did NOT go as planned. Somehow I had managed to lose access to my 2,340 songs on my library because the "file could not be found" and Dave and I went into trouble-shoot mode to figure out what was happening.

After arguing with my computer, it winning, me adjusting, finding our storage chip in a drawer somewhere with the I-tunes Library which was under a PREVIOUS Apple ID and therefore not available under my NEW Apple ID to be accessed, recovering and resetting the password to the previous Apple ID, deauthorizing the 5 computers that previous apple ID was authorized for then re-authorizing the computer I was working from, I SUCCESSFULLY TRANSFERRED ONE SONG TO MY SHUFFLE! That process took about 3 hours.

It was now 11:00, and our back-up plan on the cough medicine was to go to the 24-hour CVS that is farther away from our house. The pool at my LA Fitness was closed, but the back-up plan to that was to go to the 24-hour LA Fitness, again, farther from my house.

Had I viewed each of these obstacles yesterday as a new decision I had to make of whether to get my swim in or not, I would have thrown the towel in at 8:02 pm, gone to our regular CVS, got Julian's meds, come home and gone to bed.

I will say I was stubborn, though, because I had my heart SET on trying my new Ipod for yesterday's swim I was not satisfied to drop that process of transferring songs and swim without it. It would not have felt right LOL. I would have hated every minute of it, because I EXPECTED to swim WITH it. Every lap would have been a reminder of DEPRIVATION.

OK, so I still would have done it if we hadn't been able to get it to work, but I KNEW we could get it to work...eventually!

So, by 11:15 I had transferred plenty of songs to my IPOD, and just for fun and because I know you are SO curious as to what was on my playlist, here is a list of the bands:

Imagine Dragons
The Corrs
Black Eyed Peas
Ed Sheeran
My Chemical Romance
All American Rejects
One Republic
The Cranberries
Def Leppard
American Authors
New Order
Chumba Wumba 
Talking Heads
The Proclaimers
Icicle Works 
Jimmy Eat World 
Maroon 5
Five for Fighting 
Milky Chance

I set out for the 24-hour CVS at 11:20, got the cough medicine, and returned at 11:50pm. Julian got his meds, I grabbed my gym bag and was in the car and rolling by 11:57pm. By the time I got to the 24-hour LA Fitness, checked in, and situated myself at the pool for the swim, it was about 12:45 am.

Then the last obstacle hit. The water was cold. I hate cold water.

When I say I hate cold water, I mean I HATE COLD WATER. There is something about getting into a pool that is too cold which, for me, is a deal-killer every time. Except for last night.

Why? Why was it not a deal-killer last night? I mean, really, had I decided to consult my brain and think of the pro's and con's of getting in or not, if I had tried to muster up the will-power (or skill-power) to rationally MAKE YET ANOTHER DECISION as regards my health, I would have decided, I just know it, to march myself right back to the locker room, grab my keys, and go home. Because really, who swims a mile in cold water at 1:00 in the morning? Is that even healthy? What about my healthy habit of sleep that I would have to sacrifice? Is sleep more important or is swimming more important? Did I want to wreck myself for the next day? Am I going crazy? LOL.

It wasn't a deal-killer last night because I did not view it as a new decision to be made. It was not decision 48 of the day. It was simply ACTION resulting from decision #1 I had already dealt with, made, and signed on to that morning.

Had it been decision 48 it would not have played out the way it did.

So what is my point to this narrative?

My point is that we truly only need to make ONE decision every morning, a secondary decision of doing what it takes TODAY to support our PRIMARY decision we made at the beginning of our health journey, that decision to attain optimal health. That's it. And making that ONE secondary decision every morning sets into ACTION what we DO for the rest of the day.

Our day doesn't have to be spent making 199 other decisions. Our day is freed up to live our lives, love our loves, while we ACT in accordance to our ONE decision we made that morning. It doesn't have to be exhausting, we don't have to worry about what we may or may not "decide" at 4:05pm when we are tired, frustrated, or emotionally and physically drained. Any variables that come up during our day, planned or unplanned, do not change the CONSTANT that we decided that morning.

Does this make any sense? I hope it does! It made sense to me when I thought of it while sitting at the edge of the pool on a Facebook Live video reaching out for moral support to just get in that pool and go. Had no one been on the other end of that video I would have still gotten in and swam my mile, but it WAS much more fun to have some thumbs up and hearts and to share a little of my real-time journey to whomever may have been up and interested at 12:45 am this morning. 

And I swam. I actually swam 40 laps because I was having so much fun, and loved every single song on my playlist. 

So where do you go from here? Well, if you haven't made the fundamental and quality decision to create optimal health in your life, do it.

If you have made that decision but find yourself wavering every evening, or even morning, seemingly unable to "stay on program" then examine how many decisions you think you are ACTUALLY making every day? Do you view that decision at 10:00 am to go ahead and have one of the Krispy Kreme's that so-and-so brought "unexpectedly" to the office as a BRAND NEW DECISION that you are making, the 10th decision you have had to make that day regarding how you will conduct yourself? 

Or do you make ONE decision in the morning that TODAY you will do what it takes to behave as a healthy person would behave, then go about the rest of your day in action based on that one decision?

Rinse and Repeat!

*Reference: Cornell Study on food decisions made in a single day: