I’m going to start by saying that I’m not feeling very funny today.  I’m in a wonderful mood, but what I want to talk to you about doesn’t inspire much by way of wit.  Let’s have a chat about how we can make your life easier. The Whole Life Challenge has officially kicked off. In the first couple of days, we tend to see the same things, questions and concerns.  I got to thinking.  So many of them can be solved by one simple concept: Changing your vocabulary.

Your thoughts and words become actions that shape you. 

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For me, eating whole real food is now a habit.  I don’t even need to think about it when I go food shopping or out to eat.  The few packaged items I buy I generally stick to what I already know to be quality.  If looking for new brands, reading the labels is a quick and easy process.  When at a restaurant, I pass on the bread and know what menu items to look for (helpful hint here: if you’re going out to dinner, get online and look at the menu ahead of time. Decide what you’re having and what changes you need to make before you even get to the restaurant.). This makes each Whole Life Challenge a little easier for me every time it comes around.  What happened between struggling to start a more ‘real food’ approach to nutrition and now? I realized…

My thoughts changed.

We see a lot of these questions in many peoples switch to Paleo or first WLC:

“Am I allowed to have this?”

“Can I eat that?”

We also hear a lot of this:

“I can’t eat that.”

“I’m not allowed to eat this.”

A story that comes up more than once is something similar to…

“I’m having a really hard time sticking to the rules at work and with my family.  When they order lunch, or they get drinks and I say I can’t have it because of WLC, they harp on me and tell me I deserve it and should/can have it and eventually I cave in.  It’s really hard sticking to the rules when people don’t get it.”

Now, this is all true…BUT…what if we changed your thoughts from “Can I eat this?” to “Do I really WANT to eat this?”.

We all joined the Whole Life Challenge, or switched to a whole foods lifestyle for one of many reasons, getting healthier often being a top priority.  You’re not passing on bread because of some rule in a book. You’re passing on it because you know more about what grain and gluten does to your body.  You don’t skip the office birthday cake because it’s in the “No” column, you skip it because processed sugar does damage to your pretty insides. Maybe though, Im getting ahead of myself.  I see now that I’m not skipping beers at meetings because I’m on some challenge.  I’m passing on them because I know I don’t really need it and I’m probably not going to feel well if I do, and because having a few on a random Wednesday isn’t helping me get to my goals and isn’t necessary for me. Does this mean I NEVER have them? Hell no. It just means I’m more selective about when I do.  Staying at a friends house this past weekend, she had a bowl of Jelly Belly on the table. Did I think about grabbing a handful of sugary goodness? Fuck yes I did. My next thought was “I’m gonna break out like crazy if I do.”, so this time…I didn’t. Everything has shifted from “I can’t” to “I don’t want” and making good choices became second nature.  I know how good I feel (and yes, how much better I look) when I eat this way. Each day I’m less and less willing to give that up.
When I started Paleo (OK, mostly Paleo), I did pass on things because it was against the rules.  My first two WLCs, I didn’t have a drink because I didn’t want to lose a point.  I told people I wasn’t drinking because “I can’t on this challenge thing.”, to which I got all the usual tomfoolery of responses telling me I shouldn’t be trying to lose weight (because obviously that’s the ONLY reason worth eating well, right?) Towards the end of the last one though, I realized that something had shifted.
My thought process went from “I can’t eat that or I’ll lose a point” to “I don’t want to eat that because I’ll feel like shit and I’ll probably break out and feel gross, plus don’t want it in my body.”
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Sure, when you tell your coworkers you’re not having a drink at happy hour because “you can’t on your diet”, you’re probably going to get some push back.  What if you said “No thanks, I’m not really in the mood for one.”? Would they still jump all over you? Probably not.  At dinner with family when you don’t partake in the bread bowl, if you say “I don’t want any, thanks.” instead of “Ugh I can’t eat bread.”, they’ll probably leave you alone a lot quicker.
Let’s talk about how to get yourself to this state of mind.  It’s simple: ACTIVELY change your choice of words.  Eventually, your brain will believe it and they will become your actions, which will begin to shape a new habit and lifestyle.  Next time you’re in the store doing your grocery shopping, instead of thinking “What CAN I get?” force yourself to think “What do I want to get that will make me feel great/be a good choice in my new lifestyle?”. The answer to that question will never be, “A cardboard box filled with chemicals.” No matter how delicious Cheetos may be. We know what’s good for us. Food that’s always been food. Not something made in a lab. It’s that simple.
I know you may be skeptical of what I’m telling you, but I promise that eventually it will start to seep in to the depths of your mind.  Sometimes, yes, the answer to that question may be “I want pizza. I know it’s not good for me, but I want it and I will deal with the consequences.” I have that thought, too. I make decisions to make choices I know aren’t best for me and I handle it.  We all do.  We live in the real world and life is too short to be consumed with food. All I’m suggesting is that you TAKE CONTROL of your thoughts and your words. Make a conscious effort to change the way to perceive the challenge, or your switch to paleo.  You’re not choosing certain foods because someone on a website told you to.  You’re choosing it because it’s what’s best for YOU. Because you want to feel better. Because you want to be healthier. Because you want to set an example.
On Friday, before we kicked off, I thought to myself “I’m gonna go get a bagel sandwich today before we lock it down.” I drove to the deli, parked my car, and then something funny happened. I caught myself thinking about how I knew I would feel a few hours later and that day, decided I didn’t care to feel bloated later that evening, so I pulled away, bagel-less.  The more you tell yourself, even out loud, “I don’t want that.” eventually, you’re really just not going to want it.  Sure, you may want that Oreo for a moment, but your thoughts WILL turn to, “Ya know what? I really don’t want that.”. I promise you it’s possible. People do affirmations for a reason.  If you tell yourself something every day, one day you wake up and you believe it.
So I challenge you to take control.  For this week, change your vocabulary. I don’t want you do say, to yourself or anyone else, “I can’t eat that” or “I’m not allowed to eat that.”. FORCE yourself to say you don’t want it. Eventually, your brain will start to believe you.