zen habits : breathe

A Single Principle to Declutter Your Health

Editor’s note: This is a guest from Brad Pilon, blogger and author of Eat Stop Eat.

We can’t control the future. I wish we could, but we can’t. There are simply too many variables and uncontrolled factors at play. Even the best-laid plans are no match for unforeseen circumstances.

Sure we all enjoy the security of attempting to predict, plan, and control our futures because it’s a way for us to attempt to reach our goals, but in reality this control is nothing more then an illusion.

A perfectly planned vacation can be ruined by the weather (out of your control), a flight cancellation (out of your control) or a sickness (again, out of your control).  At some point we are going to fail while attempting to control the future in order to reach our goals.

In fact, when it comes to reaching our goals we fail ALL THE TIME.  But this is perfectly all right because this is the only way we learn.

The problems arise when we fail to learn from our mistakes and overlook the big picture, and then grasp for even more control by concentrating on the little, small, and insignificant things that don’t really matter.

This desire to guarantee the future by controlling the small insignificant parts of our lives seems to be human nature, and this fact is extremely evident in the field of health and nutrition.

Think of the insignificant gimmicks that you’ve been told will help you drop
pounds:

In reality NONE of these things are going to result in significant or long lasting weight loss results.

Each one is either a misuse of scientific fact (confusing an association with causation), is an exaggeration (the ‘metabolism boosting’ effects of green tea or caffeine) or is simply repeating common myths as facts (protein for lunch).

And while the health marketers that push these info tid-bits may or may not mean well, convincing you to focus on the minor and mostly irrelevant tasks can not only prevent you from losing weight, it can also affect your health.

Successfully losing weight seems to be one of the most difficult life-problems to solve.

Yet it can be solved with one of the easiest solutions: Eating less.

Spending too much of your time concentrating on the insignificant parts in an attempt to control the future will cause you to lose sight of the big picture – In this case the big picture is that your body is perfectly capable of burning fat and losing weight without you needing to obsess and stress over learning how this happens.

The exact details are out of your control. Obsessing about them does not change them.

But if you continually try to control the things that are out of your control with the small insignificant part of your life, you end up spending almost all of your time obsessing about health, nutrition and fitness. Recording your meals in a spread sheet, twittering about how ‘healthy’ your breakfast was, spending an extra 5 dollars to have a 90 cent chicken breast added to your salad at lunch and fretting over the timing of your next meal.

Too much of this and you can end up in a very bad place:  Spending every single waking moment of your life thinking, talking and stressing over your health.

And this is NOT healthy.

It’s nothing more than a mind full of insignificant health and fitness clutter.

In essence, by thinking that we can guarantee our future by controlling insignificant day-to-day things we end up sacrificing the enjoyment of our lives for some far off distant goal.

And remember, we can’t control the future, so we end up hopelessly grasping for control with more and more of the insignificant things, the ‘fluff’ and clutter.

And herein lies the big picture that we end up missing: Health is a lifestyle. It is a process. It is not a reward.

You should enjoy the process. It should be easy and sustainable. And in the best of situations, it should be mindless.

Enjoying the process means finding a simple and manageable way to enjoy eating less, and then eliminating the mind-clutter and the obsessive attachment to the insignificant little things. By doing this you eliminate the need to control the future, because you are enjoying the process.

The bottom line is that If you can’t sit down with a close friend for twenty minutes and have a good conversation WITHOUT talking about nutrition or your workouts, you need to take a step back and breathe.

Concentrate on getting the best results in the most comfortable and enjoyable way without worrying about the insignificant fluff.

Enjoy the process.

Read more from Brad Pilon at his blog, or check out his ebook, Eat Stop Eat.



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