Two steps forward....

On my personal health journey, I have tried and failed at many different things. I thought for a long time that I was simply not disciplined enough to succeed.  I loved to do research, so I would pour energy into reading about veganism, or meditation, or the importance of collagen.  And then I would have this fierce determination to immediately implement whatever advice I just read: starting tomorrow, I will do "blank" every day.  I will wake up an hour early to do sun salutations. Starting tomorrow I will officially be "Paleo". 

And I would do really well for about a week.  I would feel all high-and-mighty about my new healthy habit and be sure to take a picture to post to Instagram so everyone knew about it. Then I would inevitably fall out of practice. And I would get super frustrated that I simply did not have the discipline to make myself stick with it.  

And then I started to realize something. I took a good hard look at my daily habits today, and compared them to my daily habits a few years ago.  And you know what?  I discovered that, in general, I've been moving in a positive, healthy direction.  Simply by making small, manageable, daily changes, I had slowly created a positive trend in my health.

There's no way anyone's health journey looks like that second chart. 

Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself
— Julia Cameron

 

I'll give you an example. I've been interested in nutrition for a while. But a few years ago, I would have laughed at the thought of being gluten-free. I had heard that it was "bad" for you, so I probably skipped it every once in a while, but thought it would be nearly impossible to fully implement. And then I learned more about its effects on the body, I went through my training, and I slowly started to skip it more often than not. Eventually, I was purposefully avoiding gluten in my diet. If I had given myself a strict rule: "Tomorrow I am DONE with gluten forever!", I would have failed. My brain does not handle strict rules like that. 

Now, gluten-free is my new normal. Will I eat gluten again? Yeah, probably. I'm not going to restrict myself with an absolute like that. But gluten free has become so normal to me now, that I'm dabbling with grain free and dairy free.  Those 2 things individually would have been IMPOSSIBLE even just a year ago. But when I take these steps one at a time, they are more manageable. And then they will stick.

Because if your diet is MOSTLY healthful, nutritious and life-supporting, you don't have to live in absolutes.  You don't have to dive headfirst into a super-restrictive diet. You can make small, manageable changes that keep your trend moving in the positive direction. 

Some people do really well with absolute rules. And I do think that short-term restrictive diets can be very helpful (in fact, I offer a 7-week sugar detox program designed to give you a "reset"). But I also believe that you can't be super-restrictive forever.  You must find your new normal, and make sure that your overall net trend is moving in the right direction. 

Let me know-- do you do better in absolutes, or with small daily changes? I'm so glad I figured this out about myself, I seriously thought I just couldn't actually commit to anything! I'd love to hear from you!