Saturday, January 1, 2011

Power of one

2010 was a year of improving our eating habits, if only in small increments. One night, my husband and I went to dinner at one of our favourite restaurants. I ordered a salad, and grilled salmon with veggies on Naan bread. Delicious. My husband ordered the fish and chips. I had a cranberry juice and sparkling water. He had a Coke. I was just considering how nutritionally lost he is, when he looked up from his meal, and said, "I think you broke me."

"Not enjoying it?" I asked.

"Not nearly so much as I used to," he replied. Score one for healthy eating.

We got rid of our deep fryer in 2010. It was one simple change, one that was within our reach, and one that made sense for us. There was an adjustment period where we had to start figuring out what we would eat in place of french fries, but we got through it, and now I don't even miss it.

It is tough for me to make one change. Finding motivation to make the one change is not the problem. The problem arises when I think that the one change must immediately become twenty changes, and then one hundred, and then continuing until I have the nutritional habits of a mountain yogi.

I attended a nutrition talk a few months back that supplied me with far more food rules than I had ever before dreamed existed. My inner critic had a heyday, dropping my grade in personal nutrition from C to F-. How could I claim to be interested in nutrition, and live like I was living? If I wasn't willing to cut out white flour, refined sugar and MSG completely, how sincere could I possibly be?

The impulses to begin some major life overhaul started to pull on me again. Seems to be just my way. Is there something worth improving? Better jump in with both feet, and turn your life upside down to accomplish it. No sense doing things halfway.

This is a lifelong pattern. When I was young, my mom would send me into the basement with a simple instruction: "Go straighten up your room." Everything would start out fine. It would continue to be fine until I had to actually put something away. I would open the door to the closet to put away it doesn't matter what, and I would think, "Oh, there is no space for this. If only my closet was organized better." And of course, I always thought it would have to be better organized right now. I would start emptying, sorting, and relabeling, and when my mother would check on my room-cleaning progress 30 minutes later, she would find me knee deep in the contents of my bedroom closet, standing in a much larger mess than the one I had initially been sent to 'straighten'.

Thankfully, I have been introduced to the concept of balance since those closet-emptying days, and am starting to realize that doing something sincerely does not automatically equal making it into my new life's purpose. This is a lesson hard to learn, and easy to forget.

In 2011, I am going to make a greater effort to keep these words in mind during all attempts at improvement:

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
- Edmund Burke

And also, the classic:
A journey of a thousand miles much begin with a single step.

Maybe I will make it my 2011 mantra: Doing a little is not the same as doing nothing. Small changes do add up. Our small changes in eating have added up enough now to see my husband regretting his own junk supper choices. After the restaurant visit, we went to a movie, and together scarfed down movie popcorn, and deliciously devoid of nutrition fountain Coke. It is good exercise for me. It helps me to remember not to chase after perfection. Just progress.


Queen Bee said...

excellent mantra! i think a lot of people struggle with new goals by doing what you said- making it their life mission. we start out strong then it gets really tough and we either give up feeling overwhelmed, or fizzle out. i'm all for the small steps :)

my DH is a meat and potatoes type and drinks a lot of soda. he has slowly cut back too, but it can be difficult to completely overhaul your diet and eating habits overnight.

mel said...

good for you two!
i'm sure by the end of 2011 you'll be leaps ahead of where you were in 2009. i like the small step mantra too.
all the best in the new year, cheers!

Susy S said...

That's like a story I heard where a father and son are walking on a beach, and find hundreds of starfish stranded. The child begins to throw some back into the water and the dad says "what are you doing? You can't possibly save them all." And the boy says "no but these ones'll make it"

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