When I was unhealthy, I did so many things in the name of ‘easy’. I ate take out because it was easy. Let myself go thru the drive thru when I smelled fries because it was easy, way easier than saying no. Drove past the gym where I had a membership, it was easy, way easier than actually going in the building. Stayed on the couch to watch tv, rather than getting up and going for a walk… it was just easy.
Once I got myself healthy, you know the one thing that became really easy for me?
I’m not trying to tell you that losing weight fixed all my problems. It didn’t. I’m not trying to tell you that it was always totally easy to form new habits or learn new things. Some days were more challenging than others. But I have been thinking about this concept of what is ‘easy’ a lot lately…
From the beginning, when I decided to go paleo, nearly everyone around me had mixed reactions. They were proud of me, they were impressed with my results but didn’t think they could ever do it, that it wasn’t realistic, that they could never give up bread/pasta/cupcakes.
I get it because I am, by nature, a skeptic. When I started, I didn’t know if I could stick with Paleo for more than a week. I didn’t know I would be able to get under 200lbs (I literally thought it would never happen, because I hadn’t seen the 100’s since age 19, but here I am). I didn’t know anything for sure… I just decided I would try because all the other things I’d tried hadn’t worked for me. And since I was trying, I decided to give it my all.
One big criticism of Paleo that I hear from the ‘it’s not realistic’ camp is how could I never eat _______ again. And I get that too… I felt the same way because my diet was so heavily grain based when I started I was at a loss as to what I could eat other than eggs. And I was very attached to all the things I wasn’t supposed to eat. They had been in my life for a long time. I used them to celebrate, and when I was sad. I used to say I loved food – I love bagels, I love French bread, I love penne with marinara, pizza, fried potatoes… Yet they had done such awful things to me. And pretty early on, here’s the thing I realized: if you love something… It shouldn’t make you feel like crap. That applies to people and food and just about everything else in life.
All those things I don’t eat now, I don’t miss them. Genuinely. I remember what they taste like and sometimes I think about eating them again. But then I remember what they did to me, my body, how unhappy I was, how sick I felt… And I don’t want them anymore. It’s like breaking up with someone – there were good times, of course, but there were bad times too. There were reasons the relationship ended. And choices like that – in the beginning they’re hard… You don’t know how you’ll live without __________. But as time passes, not having those things does get easier. And you find new things that you enjoy, that don’t make you feel like crap. They make you feel awesome, they help your body rather than hurt it.
Food has always made me happy – I like to cook, for myself, for other people, I like to eat, try new things. And it still is that. Just with a different twist.
The other thing about weight loss /easy stuff is this: Physical weight, and every other kind of weight a person can carry around. I carried it. You know what isn’t easy?
Weight you cannot get out from under like guilt or disappointment or regret. And anger, that’s a big one. All those things are heavy. All of those things press on your shoulders, make you walk with your head down. It is the furthest thing from easy. Yet when you’re in it, you are so exhausted from carrying all that weight around that you feel as though you can’t make hard choices – you just want easy ones. So you eat the chips in front of the tv… You buy the bag of Halloween candy for yourself.
Food is addictive because it makes you feel something. The taste, the sense of fullness. It dulls the ‘heaviness’ that otherwise one lives with all the time, it lets you feel something else.
And when you try to change – it’s not easy. You worry that you’ll fail, you feel guilty for being tempted, you regret how far you’ve let yourself go and you’re angry about how much work you have to do. I get it. I’ve been there.
Here’s another way to look at it: Losing weight… it could be easy, but you’re making it hard. You’re carrying everything heavy and you’re refusing to put it down.
I had to resolve to stop holding on to all the heavy stuff, and you should too. Stop mentally beating yourself up. Stop being angry about the things you haven’t done. Stop being so critical of yourself. It takes practice to do that – to give yourself grace. It starts out small. But all habits start out as small, repetitive choices that are made one at a time. So make them one at a time. Just start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. Realize that you’re going to screw up, and don’t be shocked when you do. Accept that one wrong choice is just that – one out of (a ton of other) choices you’ve made. Don’t make excuses, keep moving forward. If you put all that heavy stuff down, it will be easier. And then time will pass, and the number of times you make bad choices will start to get smaller, and it will get easier still. It will become so easy that you will ask your family to go to a famous cupcake shop for your birthday and you’ll sit with them while they eat cupcakes in front of you and you won’t, not even for a second, want to even so much as taste the icing. (Seriously, that’s what I did on my birthday this year.)
Because you’ll know who you are, what actually makes you happy, what doesn’t, and discerning the difference will be easy. Really easy.