Last night we had a huge rainstorm. It was the perfect night to stay at home and cook dinner. Since my son was home and we love to cook together, it was a great opportunity to take our time and do something fun. And we did indeed enjoy ourselves: we planned our meal first, then sliced and chopped, sautéed and roasted and finally after about an hour or so we had a gorgeous and delicious meal. As we were cleaning up after dinner I began to think about how this kind of experience is disappearing from our culture.
It’s true that we live in a time when life moves very fast. We have found ways to shortcut and circumvent tasks, allowing ourselves to cut down the time it takes to do many jobs. In some ways this is a good thing. Why should we study a map before a road trip when we can just turn on the gps in our phones? Why go to the library and research the best places to stay in NYC when Google can answer all your questions in an instant? We used to stand in line for an hour to get tickets for the latest hot movie, today with a push of a button, our tickets are waiting at the theater for us. While some of these shortcuts definitely offer value, we have created a culture that prizes speed over process.
The truth is, some things just work better when we slow down. For example, in my work as a health coach, I frequently hear people talk about wanting to lose weight. I believe that for many people it is a good idea, and yet I also believe that it must be a process. It’s important to realize that we are all different and what works for one person may not work for another. So it can take some time just to figure out how to work with your body in a way that can maximize your healthy goals. Focusing on your own body, weight and overall health in a sustainable way takes patience. There is no magic pill. No quick fix. And anyone who tells you otherwise should not be trusted. I know this for sure.
The New York Times recently published a very interesting article which explores the reasons why most people who diet to lose weight and attempt to do so quickly, end up gaining back the weight they lost and often more. If you want to change your diet in order to lose weight (or for any other reason), you need to do so gradually and intelligently. Your incredible body has pre-programmed defense mechanisms set up to protect itself, and you need to work with your body, not try to outsmart it. If you had never run before and desired to run a marathon, you would not start out by running 16 miles the first day. You would build up slowly, training your body as you go. You might hire a trainer or a coach to help guide you through the process. And over time you would become strong enough to achieve your goal.
It’s the same with changing your eating habits. You need to acclimate to your new healthier approach to eating or you will be unable to sustain your changes. Whether you decide you need support or not, please do not be in a rush to get to the finish line. Allow your body time to adjust and move sustainably into the place you desire to be. Making dramatic changes to reap dramatic benefits can be an enticing trap. Remember, you want to reach that finish line and spend the rest of your life enjoying it, rather than running toward it over and over again.
Here’s to enjoying the process!