An article about a health coach who successfully helped people lose weight recently intrigued me. I wasn’t intrigued by the topic (because there are only a million diet books and health coaches out there), but by her starting point. She didn’t start with her client’s diets; She started with their house.
She helped them go through their house and get it generally organized and helped them establish a good routine. And then, and only then, did she start overhauling their diet. This method produced great results for her clients. She knew that once their general household was running more smoothly, which helped them feel in control of their life with a real sense of accomplishment, they would feel more confident in the ability to change their diet and stick with it.
This got me thinking about a more holistic approach to eating a nourishing diet. Can we really expect to easily put a good dinner on the table when the rest of our life is chaos? But then again, I have kept a fairly good menu going even during really chaotic times, so while not ideal, is that just a reality we have to live with?
As I have thought about this topic I have felt two things. The first being this, we can’t expect a nourishing diet to appear out of nowhere. It does take time, commitment, and planning to happen on a regular basis, and it is born much more easily out of a well-balanced lifestyle than a hectic one. My second thought is this, if we only expect to be able to eat well during peaceful, non-stressful time, than we will give up. It’s a bit of a paradox, but let me delve into both further.
How a simplified or disciplined life will keep you on track
Like the health coach above, we need to understand that a well organized meal plan and good eating habits are much better born out of a well organized and disciplined life. We should also understand that gaining control over one area of our life (yes, even things like gaining control over our laundry – my personal nemesis) encourage us to make other changes too. For example, have you ever noticed that when you have one small victory – whether it’s losing those first five pounds, cleaning the bathroom, gaining a new client in your business, or getting a thumbs-up from your new boss – that it inspires you to go on and accomplish something new? Success breeds success, so when we find success in gaining control over our general life, finding success in eating how we want to no longer looks so intimidating.
I am just starting to delve into two books that have so far been so helpful and inspiring for general lifestyle choices. (Both of these books are part of the 86 ebook bundle package along with my cookbook, Fresh: Nourishing Salads for all Seasons). The first is Tsh’s book, One Bite at a Time (Tsh blogs at the popular blog, Simplemom.net). Her book is specifically set up to give you 52 projects that you can complete on your own schedule helping you move towards a more simplified, organized life. I have only read through a couple of her projects but have already started implementing some of her suggestions. I love that she doesn’t try to rush the process for you, but allows you to take it “one bite” at a time.
The other is Crystal’s ebook, 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life. (Crystal blogs at MoneySavingMom.com.) What I love about this book is that it is focuses on discipline specifically. And, correct me if I am wrong, but I know that many of us struggle with being disciplined in our lives and that word “discipline” almost seems like a bad word!
But the wonderful, beautiful thing about discipline is that it can help us have the time that we crave to get done what we want to! Unlike Tsh’s book, which is set up to take you a year (or more), Crystal’s book is set up to help you make changes in 21 days – changes that can easily make your life more disciplined and yes, better! It doesn’t take that long to develop new and better habits, and her book helps you jumpstart that process.
In a more specific food related discipline, meal planning is great discipline to have. My one word of advice? Do what works for you. Seriously. I have friends who plan a whole season of meals at one time, and they love it. I hate meal planning like that. I keep a simple one-week rotation going. Many of you already use the Plan to Eat service to help you meal plan well, and for those who’d like to try it out, you get a 4-month free subscription with the bundle on sale this week, which is a great!
But here’s the thing. You don’t need to read these books or use any website service, they are just one of many tools you could use for practical help. There are many ways to the same end. The important thing is finding what works for you.
In the end, eating the food you know that you need to get better or stay healthy is a discipline in itself, but sometimes finding a sense of order in more extended lifestyle choices can help you find discipline in that specific category too.
Dinner can happen even when life is chaotic
But let’s be honest here, if I had to have the rest of my life in perfect order to have a good dinner on the table I’d be in trouble. Yes, I think that we can all agree that discipline is great and so is the simple life. But let’s also all admit that life can be crazy at times – even with our best efforts! In fact, I have been secretly amused that my friends who are especially good at having a disciplined “simple” life, can overly stress out about their “disciplines”. Like the mom who is literally late to everything because she follows the advice that you shouldn’t leave the house unless everything is in order. I’ve known more than one mother in that category! (And isn’t running perpetually late more stressful than having a couple dishes in the sink?) Or a friend who is newly married in charge of a very small apartment and no job who feels that she simply doesn’t have time to do anything and is so stressed. We need to realize that we can always choose to allow ourselves to overly stress about things no matter how calm our life is, so we need to choose not to allow stress to control our lives now. Plus, perfectionism and inflexibility can be just as much of a problem as not having enough order in your life.
And as much as I want to encourage you that adding more discipline or simplifying your life are good things, I also want to encourage you that finding a way to make nourishing food work even during the chaotic years of your life is possible. I feel like that’s where I am now! You know what it’s like. I spent pretty much every minute I’ve been awake today doing chores, taking care of kids, giving baths, doing school with my oldest, cleaning up messes and a long list of other things. Yet my to do list is still looming large, and I am pretty sure that anyone who saw my kitchen cupboards, basement, or closet would take me off the list of “disciplined people I admire” list, if I ever made it on.
Sometimes I just feel lucky if I get clean sheets on the beds (yet again), have clean clothes for us all, three meals on the table, and vacuumed sometime recently. Surely you can’t expect me to organize my house too!
We don’t have a health coach coming into our homes and neatly organizing our house for us, so we need to do it “one bite at time” and give ourselves a lot of grace. And since it can take time, I’d also gently suggest not waiting for the rest of your life to become perfect before you start eating well. In fact, you can let your beginning sense of accomplishment come from conquering your meal plan, and let that carry you on to your next task!
What do you think? Do you feel that having a disciplined life is helpful in eating well? I’d love to hear your thoughts!