Very regularly I ask people in my Facebook group, “what do you think is the number one thing getting in the way of you staying on track with healthy eating?”
The responses almost always all fall into one of five different buckets:
- Lack of time/planning/organization,
- Self-sabotage/emotional eating/stress
- Sugar/carb addiction,
- Picky family,
- Lack of quick, healthy recipes.
Now, you know me, and you know that I have mountains of empathy and compassion for the people in my community, but I have to admit that sometimes when I read these responses I think to myself:
- Make the time,
- Adore yourself more,
- Eat less sugar and more fibre,
- Tell them to eat what you make or feed themselves,
- Google it.
Don’t hate me for thinking that. It’s usually just when I’m extra tired or one of my dogs has chewed up another shoe.
And I don’t think that the responses in my head are probably much of a surprise to you. We all sort of know what the obvious solutions to those problems are. What we aren’t clear on is how to get ourselves to do what we know we need to do?
Want to know what I think it is that actually stops people from staying on track with healthy eating? I don’t think it’s any of those things. Not really.
I think it’s something deeper.
Or rather, I think that it’s all of those things, but that all of those things (lack of time, emotional eating, sugar binges, picky family, stress, etc.) are merely a symptom of a bigger issue and that issue is that we’re not living with intention.
We’re not getting ahead of things and setting the stage for how we want to live our lives, what’s going to be important to us and who we’re going to be.
We’re leaving it all up to chance and hoping for the best.
We’re letting our lives be led by habit and our choices be driven by auto-pilot.
We’re doing the best we can, but at the end of the day we’re simply reacting.
And there’s no power in reacting. When you’re constantly just reacting, you become a victim to whatever the world throws at you.
Instead, let’s talk about what it means to live intentionally. To climb out of the passenger’s seat and into the driver’s seat of your own life.
We focus too much on how to make the better choice in the moment. We want to know how to choose the salad over the pizza, or the gym over Netflix.
But the truth is that this is about something much bigger.
It’s about taking the time and space every single day to step back and choose who you want to be that day, how you want to live, what kind of life you want to have, how you want to show up in the world, the impact you want to have, what you want to leave behind.
It’s about getting out of auto-pilot and living your life on purpose.
Choosing how you’re going to feel.
Doing what you say you’re going to do.
Deciding each morning where you’ll put your attention and your energy that day (and where you won’t let either of them go any more).
Being honest about what you’re afraid of and being willing to name it, explore it and choose something better for yourself.
Listening with an open and empathetic heart to what others are saying. Doing your very best to feel their greatest hopes and their worst fears.
Making the way you feel – physically and emotionally – your biggest priority because when you do that, you can do anything.
So, how do you choose the salad over the pizza when you’re sitting in the restaurant booth with the waitress waiting for you to place your order? The answer is that the choice needs to come, not from some secret reservoir of willpower you discover in that moment. The answer is that that choice needs to flow from an energy that you created long before when you set your intention for that day, when you decided how you wanted to feel, when you closed your eyes and felt like the person you wanted to become.
That’s the energy that fuels the choice to order the salad, or go to the yoga class, or make the time for meditation or meal prep.
And that can only come from deciding that your number one priority is to live your life with intention; to wake up, get out of auto-pilot, question everything, create your own reality and decide who you want to be.
When you live more intentionally, you begin to create the life you want to live – you begin to become the person you want to be.
You feel less overwhelmed.
You sleep better, you eat better, you move more.
You feel lighter, more peaceful and more alive.
You experience greater joy and look forward to the next day.
You start to see where you can have the impact you want to have and be seen and heard in a way that people remember.
Are you living intentionally right now?
Are you deliberately choosing every day how you’re going to feel, what’s going to matter, who you’re going to be?
Or, are you slipping into auto-pilot, reacting to things as they come, responding only to the outside world and its demands, and feeling the gnawing pain of knowing that you’re not living the life you want to live; that you’re not being person you want to be?
Is there a chance that, at the end of your life, you’re going to feel as though you didn’t truly live? That you just kept up? Just reacted? Just got through it?
Is that what you want? To know, when you come to die, that you got through it?
Or instead do you long to feel that you’re fully and completely awake, aware and deliberately choosing the way you want to experience life? Even if it’s hard, even if it’s scary, even it’s uncomfortable at times?
Do you want to be the person who just made it to the end? Or do you want to be the person who knows that they fully lived, fully loved, and did it all on their own terms?
How do you start living more intentionally? It’s a huge question and one I could talk about for days, but here’s something you can do starting now:
Right now, and every day after today, take a few moments (ideally first thing in the morning) to step out of the state of habit, auto-pilot and reaction and into the state of conscious and deliberate creation.
Decide that you want to feel good, no matter what happens outside of you.
Decide on what you want to believe.
Decide on what you want to do and not do.
Decide on what deserves your energy and what does not.
Decide on who you want to be.