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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Eating an Elephant

Have you ever heard this?

Question:  "How do you eat an elephant?"
Answer:  "One bite at a time."

I have heard it, and subscribe to part.  If the "elephant" represents one goal (say losing weight) and we break it down to it's simplest parts, then working out today is one bite of the elephant, drinking water is another, eating a healthy lunch is yet another, and before you know it, we have lost weight.  It seems so simple when broken down into little next right choices like that, right?.

But that oversimplification can create great stress and feelings of inadequacy or inferiority in some people.  They may ask themselves - if it's that easy, why can't I do it?

The problem is that for many of us it's not as simple as just eating a healthy bite of food or just getting up and going for a walk.  There's a whole complex series of obstacles to wade through to get there and a laundry list of human components that must be navigated to get to that seemingly simple series of steps.

We may be dealing with feelings of inferiority (I'm not good enough), insecurity (what if I fail?), disorganization (Where are my workout clothes? Or where did I put that treadmill?), misinformation (What? You mean a nutella sandwich isn't healthy? I thought nuts were good for you!), difficulty with physically performing basic tasks (like tying our shoes), depression, stress, time management issues, lack of support and many other impediments to getting up and getting going.  For some of us, any one of these can be almost paralyzing, and for the truly lucky among us, we may experience several of them all at once.

So then, how DO we eat that freaking elephant?  Well, one bite at a time.  But I suggest cutting it up into big chunks first and taking a bite at a time from different chunks until they become manageable.  I could write a whole book about this (in fact, I think I will.)  You don't have to fix everything all at once, but you do have to do a little something from each area, purposefully.

For example, let's say the following three things are holding you back:  Housekeeping, Eating Poorly, and Depression.  Develop a small plan to start tackling them.

For housekeeping, grab a trash bag and walk around your house and throw away anything that is trash or not worth holding on to.  This will create a visual space that looks more organized.  Or clean your kitchen sink.  My mother always told me if you do nothing else, if you clean your sink the house looks so much better.  I think that's true. (Try the Fly Lady for great help in this area.)

To help learn new diet habits, add one healthy item to each meal.  If you are going to eat a Big Mac, go ahead.  But add a plain garden salad, too.  Or get the extra crispy fried chicken, but make yourself eat an apple with it.  Get your body acquainted with chewing, tasting and experiencing the healthy stuff you may have been avoiding.

For depression, consider if you are managing it okay.  Do you need medication? Is it working? How about St. John's Wort or SamE?  Have you tried reducing the amount of white carbs you eat (flour, sugar?)  Or go sit outside for 15 minutes in the sunlight.  Maybe a hot bath, or get out of the house and force yourself to get a pedicure.  (I'm going to write a whole chapter on the pediCURE.)

One small bite from each "chunk" actually helps ease the other areas.  A cleaner house will help depression.  Eating healthier will give you more energy to tackle cleaning the house and help depression.  Managing depression will make it easier to eat better and maintain a more organized house. And I understand how getting all of these under control makes it mentally easier to add another activity, like exercise, to the mix.

I have my own issues I deal with on a regular basis.  Housekeeping, organization, food addiction, burnout, stress, parenting, etc.  A decade ago I was a train wreck with most of this stuff.  I have learned a lot and swallow my share of the elephant every week.  And I do it one bite at a time.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Carly! This is just what I needed to read today. I've got several elephants that need eating and they're just sitting around NOT being eaten. I've been a little (okay, a LOT) overwhelmed by life in general since I lost my awesome job back in 2009. I've gotten to a place where I just don't care about anything anymore. But, you and I both know that's a lie I just tell myself to keep myself from completely losing it every minute of every day.

    I think I need to set some goals and start cutting up chunks of those pesky elephants.

    Thanks again! <3 you!


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