Well, my blossoms, I feel like I am turning a corner! This week I attempted to drop all junk food, and I finally feel that I am on my way.
I have been trying to get back to healthy eating for quite a few years, but have never seemed to manage it. For a while, there were stresses and challenges that, understandably, made it harder. However, this year is the Year of Sunshine, Birdies Singing, Dancing in Rain, Holding Hands and Skipping Through Wildflowers, Children Laughing and Inexpressibly Adorable Furry Baby Animals! In other words, I am learning to take hold of Life once more and make the most of it! It might take me all year, but I am going to be healthier!
So, of course, I began my efforts this week by baking two cakes and a batch of cookies, eating chocolate and crisps, and buying McDonalds!
That’s right! Two cakes! You see, Monday was my sister’s birthday, so the baking and bad eating was always a given! The big improvement is the way this one day of eating junk hasn’t spiralled into a week of buying and eating chocolate and lollies. The biggest test was when my sister and her family came around for lunch and dinner yesterday. Often, as we all get run ragged looking after her two little boys, the consensus becomes “let’s just get fish ‘n’ chips”. This idea was raised, but I instead made a dinner of fish and vegetables at home. I did not have any dessert (while the others ate theirs) and I did not even succumb to the temptation of chocolate biscuits afterwards.
While this is still a choice – I still ask myself “Shall I have a chocolate biscuit?” – it is not willpower. I have no willpower! It is just some kind of psychological shift that I have been trying to achieve for ages. I think weaning myself off chocolate a few weeks ago was the biggest key to this shift. It’s evident how important it is to find strategies that work for me.
It is only the McDonalds that I am disappointed about. I was called in to my research job at the last minute to cover a (very far away) home visit for someone who was sick. It was difficult to organise a healthy lunch to eat while on the run. I ended up getting take-away while I was out so that I could be sure I had eaten enough to get me through the long afternoon and evening (I get migraines if I don’t eat enough). I’m not sure what else I could have done other than rely on healthy snacks, which are not filling enough. That’s what is still a challenge for me: finding healthy and filling lunch food to eat at work, food that this picky eater actually likes. However, I am finally turning the corner, so I will nut away at this problem and figure it out!
This week I added statements of my competencies and positive traits. No wait, I shall call them Statements of Greatness, AKA: Why I Am Great.
I recently watched a TED talk on “The Happy Secret to Better Work” by Shawn Achor. He observed that we tend to believe if we work harder, we’ll be more successful and if we’re more successful, we’ll be happier. He noted the flaw with this belief is that we constantly create higher standards of success as soon as we’ve achieved a goal. (Wait, that’s one of my biggest problems! How did he know??) It turns out that training your brain to be positive and happy to begin with actually produces improved levels of success, and one way to train your brain to be positive is to write down gratitudes daily.
So I took this idea and adapted it slightly to what I felt I needed. I have tried focusing on things that made me proud or happy and it has been helpful but has not helped me to overcome the self-doubt that often undermines my efforts or my enjoyment of successes.
How often do we actually just come out say how great we are? I have learned to feel arrogant (and even deluded) just thinking it. This week, I decided I will believe I am great. Every night I wrote down anything that I thought was great about me. I wrote down the things that I like about myself. Perhaps most important, I wrote down the things that I can do, the things that I am good at, the skills that I have. I do spend too much of my time focusing on what I want to learn or improve, or how much better others are at things than I am.
I actually quite enjoyed doing this each night. Shifting my attention to the things I can do and the things I like about myself was actually a relief. It was uplifting to give myself permission to be boastful. I still find myself wanting to moderate what I write with words like “somewhat” or “competent” rather than simply saying “I am” or “talented”.
I managed to fill up a little notebook with statements and have started a second one!
Even if this alone doesn’t have the dramatic effect promised with positive thinking, I think it’s definitely worth persisting with! I would love train my brain to notice and believe all the great things about me.