I’m into Twitter these days. It’s fun to get information, education, inspiration, and drivel in 140-character packages. 140 characters are about all I can manage, anyway.
I follow a bunch of different people for a bunch of different reasons. I like dipping into thoughts about world events, gossip, food stuff from Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle, sports news, what Chef Anne Burrell ate for dinner, and what Chad Ochocinco is listening to as he drives his Prius around Foxborough. And drops passes. But I digress.
I’m particularly happy that Alton Brown is back on Twitter. One of his tweets in particular caught my attention, because it was in reference to his recent weight loss and his ongoing struggles with his weight. I could look it up to quote directly … or I could just paraphrase: in essence, he said that to make the weight-loss thing start and succeed, one has to do something bold and dramatic to cut something out of one’s diet. Big sacrifice, big returns. At the time, he was talking about cutting out soda (including and especially diet) as well as white sugar and other things.
I agree with his idea. Most of us who fight the weight battle would agree, in our hearts of hearts, that we need to make big, big changes. We want to save ourselves – what’s more dramatic than that? Most of us are a mish-mash of habits and preferences that build on each other, and most of us need to break down those negative and unhelpful habits and preferences and start all over again.
A tweak from my philosophy, though, is to suggest that rather than thinking of “giving up” something, we think about adding something. If we dwell so much on our “bad habits” that we need to quit, then we run the risk of getting trapped in a negative cycle; as we know, negativity breeds negativity. Oh, I really have to quit snacking on Saltines, they’re devoid of nutritional value, they’re no good, I’m no good; I really need to give up pumpkin spice lattes, they’re so expensive and have a million calories, jeez I’m a mess of a human being, I’ll never be able to do this; why bother, why bother, why bother.
Fear not, I’m not going soft. I’m still in favor of telling it like it is. But if I say that I’ll never eat another bite of macaroni and cheese again, I get mad. I feel deprived and I resent those jerks who eat macaroni and cheese with impunity. I’m not too likely to succeed, because I’m starting MAD.
We don’t want to be mad at the dinner table. We want to be happy. We want to enjoy what we’re eating and to be proud of our choices. So, start positively. The positive changes will build on each other over time, much like the negative stuff built up and got us where we are today.
Start positively! Drink more water instead of soda. Double up on vegetables instead of fried starch products. Or how about this: go for a 30-minute walk. I particularly like that one, because it’s got positive impact on your life beyond losing weight. Going for a walk means you’ll burn a few calories, but it also means you’ll be out in the fresh air. Maybe you’ll be with a friend or relative (or faithful animal). You’ll clear your head and beat some stress. It’s good for your bones, joints, lungs, and arteries. Plus, the 30 minutes you’re out of the house are 30 minutes you’re away from the fridge, which is never a bad thing.
It’s not quite as simple as, “just take on good habits and the bad habits will go away.” No, you still have to work to break the bad habits. You still have to identify the things that trip you up and come up with strategies to avoid or redirect them. It’s not all flowers and sunshine. But I’m a firm, firm believer in starting from a place of positivity. You’ll set the stage for making more positive changes, which will make you feel stronger and, in turn, help you take on the tough work of making real, lasting lifestyle change.
Today is Square One. What are you going to start?