Every day we are faced with choices
Some choices are easy, some are hard. Some choices can be life-changing without us even realising it. If you have seen the 90’s films ‘Sliding Doors’ or ‘Butterfly Effect’ you will remember how just one choice or action can change the whole outcome of a persons life.
Some of our choices affect the rest of our family and friends, and maybe even people we don’t even know. Some choices are tough, because you are having to choose between two things you really want. Sometimes we have to make difficult life changing choices. Choices on where we live, where we work, who we live with, leaving a relationship, entering a relationship, they are all really hard life changing decisions. However, no matter how hard these choices are, we are in control of this and how we react to the outcome of those choices.
The choice between what we want right now and what we want long term
Quite often our choices about our lifestyle, the food we eat and drink, the amount of physical activity we do, the amount of sleep we get, or the amount of alcohol we drink means a choice between what we want right now in the moment and what we want long term. And we have to get used to thinking more long term with our decisions, if we want to succeed in changing our lifestyles. We need to get used to taking a moment, and calculating do I want this slice of cake, or double meat feast pepperoni pizza, or do I want to achieve my long term goals.
How many times are we faced with a decision on what to eat, or whether to do that work out and we make a bad decision?
I made bad decisions over my choice of food, how much alcohol I drank and how much (or really how little) exercise I did, for years and years. I got bigger and bigger, and more and more unhealthy. I remember going to see the midwife at my booking in appointment when I was just pregnant with Ruby, my first child, and being told not to use pregnancy as an excuse to eat for two, as they didn’t want me returning to them with any future pregnancies EVEN bigger. Those words really hurt – EVEN BIGGER – this meant that my current size was obviously becoming a problem for my health. All because of the decisions I had made about what I had put in my body, and what I did with my body. My bad choices.
The Domino Effect!
Our choices on food, drink and exercise, whilst in the short term aren’t life changing, if we repeatedly make bad decisions, they add up and will undoubtedly impact on our lives, and potentially the lives of our families and friends, if it means we won’t be around for as long as we could be, or our health needs would require them to care for us.
We all have people in our lives, where we think that we don’t want to end up like them – hitting their mid-life in poor health, carrying too much weight, and not moving enough, and for the most part, self-inflicted. Well this is the wake-up call. The way that you don’t end up like them is to make good decisions most of the time. If we can make good decisions 80% of the time, chances are we will get into our 50’s and 60’s a lot healthier than those people that we know we don’t want to be like.
I have a relative, who hasn’t really looked after herself for a number of years. She has made bad decisions about how much she drinks, what she eats and her levels of activity. Whilst I have never considered her to be hugely overweight, she now has health problems associated with pretty much a whole lifetime of inactivity, a poor diet and drinking too much. She has just turned 70 and she has to walk with a frame, and is in pain. She is socially isolated because she hasn’t built up networks by attending different activities. My mum in stark contrast, only a few years between them, has always valued the benefits of exercise. Despite suffering from osteoporosis, she gets out regularly still attending twice weekly aerobics classes and walking her dogs twice a day. She even walks to the supermarket, when she only needs a few bits, just because it gets her out into the fresh air. She has a strong network of friends, who she sees regularly, at the various classes she goes to. So not only has the decisions that she has made around exercise and physical activity ensured she is healthier than our relative, but also that she has a better quality of life too.
So, for my mum and our relative those every day decisions really have been life changing for each of them.
Acknowledge and move on
Bad decisions can come along like buses. I know, I have made them. You know the score, you make one bad decision, then it seems to be quickly followed by another and another. For the majority of the time, I can now exercise control over food. I spot when I am making poor choices, and reign it back in. However, when I am out with friends and I have had a drink, my decision making takes a turn for the worse. I drink more than I should (shots are never a good idea!!) on a night out and inevitably wake up at 5 am, with a blinding headache and feeling sick as a dog. The only answer (or my poor decision making says it is the only answer) is to eat my way through it, so I then spend most of the following day being lazy and eating junk.
The better decision would have been to drink a pint of water or two during the evening, then some more when I get in, along with a couple of painkillers. If I do this, there is less chance that I will wake up at 5 am with a headache. Which might mean I am not as tired the following day because I have slept for longer. This would then mean that I have the energy to go for a walk or a run to clear my head. And then I don’t feel compelled to eat my way to bedtime. An even better way, Rick might suggest (tongue in cheek) would be to not drink at all the night before – but let’s not do anything too rash!
Everyone will have different triggers for making that continuous stream of bad decisions. Whether it’s that you aren’t feeling well, you are hormonal, it could be the weather, or that you’re having a bad time at the moment. The trick is to plan for this in advance. If you know what your triggers are, you can plan around it. So for instance, I can leave two pints of water and a packet of paracetamol by the front door for when I get in from a night out, and make sure there is only healthy food in the fridge for the day after, or even make a plan to go for a walk or a run early the next day, so I have to get out of bed and get moving. Staying out of the house, also keeps me away from the fridge.
Only you will know what your triggers are, and you will also know what you can do to minimise the potential for bad decisions. It’s in there, you just need to give yourself the time to think about it – if you don’t know, ask us, pop a question in the forums or speak to other Be Strong members. Once you acknowledge where you can fall down you are half way to finding the solution.
Get up quick!
There is one really important thing to remember too – it’s ok to make the odd bad decision. The real win is in acknowledging this, and stopping the domino effect. Its ok to fall off the wagon, the key is to get up quick, and bring it back on track. Like a child who falls off a bike, they just get back up and try again. Don’t dwell, just start to make those good decisions again.
The next time you are faced with options, take a moment to make the choice, be conscious, be mindful – make a good decision. Then repeat! The more you practice making good decisions, the easier those decisions become. You only get one body, so love it and make the most of it. Your body has got you this far in life so give it the respect it deserves and treat it well. Keep it healthful. Eat well, drink plenty of fluids and move more. Easier said than done I know, but done by making one good decision at a time. You are in control!