I’ve been thinking a lot about what inspires someone to not only start eating well, but to keep doing so.
Starting on a healthy diet is usually exciting. You have goals, a plan, and you’re actually doing something about it. But keeping it going over the long run gets boring and difficult. Shopping for groceries, cooking, and cleaning can be tiresome after a week. Then, if the diet isn’t satiating enough, cravings drag you to junk food, and resolve dissolves.
From personal experience and observing solid long term wellness in “senior” friends and family, the greatest factor to success is a regular diet. It’s the Archimedes’ lever, in a sense. Good food eaten on a regular basis seems to be the practice that clears the path to good health. And from what I’ve seen and done myself, it’s the boring stuff that works over the long run.
My wife and I decided years ago that we would eat well, and to do the hard work involved with that. Whether we’re tired, energetic, happy, or in the middle of a fight, we both know that as dinner time approaches we’re going to cook something. We know that as the weekend approaches, we’re going to go grocery shopping.
The thing that makes it easier for us is coming up with familiar meals that we like. Korean food, Chinese food, and Italian food are some of the staples. We have an informal system in place for things like who makes the meat dish, and who preps and cooks the veggies. Rice is a normal part of our diet, so someone, usually my wife, gets that going right away. Dishes are done by the person with more energy for the most part.
Since we know we’re going to need veggies every night, we shop for at least three kinds at the weekend farmer’s market. My wife is an expert at inventory, and makes sure everything else in the pantry is in stock.
The thing is, it’s not hard to start. The hard part is to keep going. I hate to say this, but there is no easy way through that part. You’ve just gotta do the grocery shopping, the cooking, and the cleaning. It can be hard work, especially if you have a full time job plus commute.
My advice for you, if you are making plans to get healthy, is to drop the exercise programs, and establish a daily system of buying, cooking, and eating food that works for you. If you need to make extra food to last two days, and save a day of cooking, go for it. You don’t have to be a meal prepper with a thousand tupperwares lining your fridge. Just start small.
Exercise is sexy, but it takes time and a lot of energy. Not only will you be tired, but figuring out the whole food factor at the same time will be just unbearable. If you figure out the food stuff first, you’re going to see physical results anyway.
The last bit that makes it work for us is that we’re not perfect, and we have audibles. Meaning, we have some go-to places for relatively healthy food when we just. Can. Not. Cook.
Your diet should bore you, in a way. Think really old people, like people in their 80’s and 90’s, and the boring food they eat. There’s a reason they’re old. Make food so routine that you don’t have to think about it. Set it up so that you’re full afterwards, energized the next day, and happy with yourself on a continuing basis.
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