Act As If

By Michelle May, M.D.

02C54552 - smAs I mentally prepare for right shoulder (rotator cuff) surgery next week and the 18 week recovery process (read Discover the Gift), I sometimes catch myself thinking, “I can tolerate anything for a short period of time.” I used to get through my diets that way too. I usually started out feeling motivated and committed, promising myself that I was making a permanent lifestyle change this time. Somewhere along the line I’d slip into thinking, “How long can I stick to this?” 

Short-term thinking vs. long-term solution

In the name of “getting healthier,” a lot of people use short-term strategies in an attempt to address this long-term goal. They eat shakes and bars; eliminate entire food groups; weigh, measure, count, and log everything they eat; avoid parties, birthday cake, and favorite restaurants; and make numerous other sacrifices that they’re willing or able to tolerate for only a short period of time.

The problem is that you can’t get here from there.

You can’t diet yourself into mindful eating!

I met a doctor yesterday who said, “I read the first chapter of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat and it made sense to me immediately. I decided that was how I wanted to live my life when I ‘graduated’.”

“Graduated from what?” I asked. “From dieting,” she answered. She explained that she had been on numerous diets throughout her life and that the last diet triggered binge eating. She had convinced herself that when she finally got healthy, she would then “graduate” to mindful eating.

But dieting wasn’t getting her any closer to mindful eating. With each round of restriction, deprivation, cravings, emotional eating, bingeing, and guilt, she was moving further from the healthy, balanced, mindful life she craved.

Act as if you are already mindful and healthier

What if, instead of the unsustainable, “I can tolerate anything for a short period of time” approach, you started acting as if you are already the healthier, mindful person you want to be?

How would you act?

  • Would you skip meals? Would you replace meals with a bar or a shake? (Maybe; but only occasionally when you were on the run.)
  • Would you have that piece of birthday cake? (Probably. Would you have to second or third piece? Maybe not today.)
  • Would you track everything you eat? Would you scan the labels, log it in, and talk about your diet incessantly to anyone who will listen? (I doubt it. You would be too busy living the life you crave to bother with all of that!)
  • Would you postpone your life, waiting until you had somehow earned the right to live it?

As it turns out, the moment you “act as if” you are living the healthier life you crave, you are! Don’t wait! The way to mindful eating is through it: one decision, one meal, one bite at a time. Learn how to eat mindfully and commit to living more vibrantly. Then let health catch up to you.

 

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