When you anticipate great change, little changes happen that you wish would stay the same.
New car, new job, new home – all good, all great!
Forgetting to take your vitamins, new found cravings for comfort food and a quick fix of sugar or caffeine, binge watching TV shows on Netflix instead of hitting the gym – less good.
Why is it that when you’re facing big changes in life, that the stuff you DON’T want to change inevitably does?
I hope I am alone in my return to less-than-desired habits but I suspect that I’m not.
It takes months, years even to truly develop a sustainably “good,” health-focused lifestyle. You research, you test, you hone, you fail, you get back up and eventually you land on a set of patterns and positive habits that you want to continue.
Things that were once a chore, like walking the dog, become an indispensable part of your day! Cravings change from cupcakes to avocados, and you like it that way!
But there’s something about the stress of change that causes people, okay, maybe just me, to revert back to habits I foolishly thought were broken.
Each time Mt. Man and I have gone to look at houses, afterward, we craved comfort food: PF Changs, Chili’s and burgers. Every time I think about how much furniture we don’t have to fill said future house, the couch I’ve hated for the past two years looks more and more comfy. And when before I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a new kitchen tool to make cooking Paleo easier, I now think about having to pack that tool in a box and move it across town.
But the greatest challenge has been my drug of choice. For me, avoiding sugar has been my Lifestyle Everest. I feel like I’m back at base camp, waiting on supplies to start the trek again.
I know why. I know that the dumb labrador retriever part of my brain doesn’t know that everything will be okay. That ancient part of my brain feels the stress and the pressure and is freaking out thinking that the end is nigh. Which then, starts a chain reaction telling me that I really do need that cupcake or someone (myself) might just get hurt!!
That parts of my brain, the parts geared solely on survival and comfort are strong: much stronger than my higher reasoning these days. The pull these parts of my brain have on my body and the rest of my mind is pretty overwhelming.
I know that money is tight whenever you’re going to move, but I also know that we will have enough and we won’t starve. My labrador brain doesn’t know that. He thinks winter is coming and I better start my layer of blubber for hibernation.
I know that the pressure of large purchases and making decisions in a housing market timed to keep pace with the Autobahn is not a sabertooth tiger coming to eat me. My labrador brain thinks that each stressful thing will kill me!
I know that being uncertain of the future is a natural part of change and that I’m in the Lord’s good, capable hands. My labrador brain must be a pessimistic atheist.
And yet, I also know, that eating the damn cupcake won’t kill me. It won’t even make me sick (not really). But the labrador part of my brain thinks that it deserves a treat. He’s got a very convincing face.
And what’s more, I know that each moment I spend debating the decision of the damn cupcake is wasting my precious reserve of willpower. So my labrador brain tells me that it would be smarter to just have the cupcake now and save my willpower for bigger decisions. Okay, labrador, whatever you say.
Is it just me or are you starting to picture the labrador wearing devil horns and carrying a red pitchfork in its mouth? Just me? Fair enough.
The internal struggle is real. Seriously, genuinely real. In my case, the eternal internal battle of man’s need for survival and desire for being more than just an animal is taking the form of house hunting and poor eating/exercise habits.
Isn’t that silly? When you really think about it, isn’t that silly?
Perspective is a beautiful thing.
Now having a bit more perspective, I have a renewed determination. Next time that labrador retriever part of my brain comes begging for a treat, I’ll remind him that it will spoil his (my) dinner. I’ll remind him that the long list of tasks to get us to the finish line of being home owners is not a stampede of elephants about to trample me, but just a few phone calls, emails and signatures. NBD, really. I’ll remind him that the quick fix of a cupcake will not fill my need for stability and routine.
And then I’ll have some coffee. Because coffee works in every situation, real or imaginary.
With a freshly raided refrigerator free of contraband, a healthy supply of tea and coffee to take the edge off, and my sights set beyond the remainder of March, I have a little hope that I can get back into the swing of things before change actually happens. There is no famine, there is no tiger, there is no medicinal power in a cupcake.
There is enough time in the day. There are people with whom I can confide. There is a God: a benevolent, omnipotent, faithful God. Amen.