“Just Tell Me What to Do and I’ll Do It”
As a speaker and health coach I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that line, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” We all want someone to give us clear directions so we can have more energy, better health, or a leaner, stronger body.
You know…a simple list of “Do’s and Don’ts.” Something that’s easy-to-follow. And, in articles, blogs, videos, and in many “programs”…that’s what we get. Have you ever noticed how it’s often packaged as the “secret formula” just now discovered?
And, What’s Wrong with That?
Well, nothing. If you can easily stick with it. But, if you’re like many people, you can’t.
Go ahead….think back to all the programs you’ve tried. How long did you stick to it?
How do you feel when you eat or do something that you’re not supposed to (on the program)? Like a failure?
When we follow other peoples’ rules, we tend to think of ourselves as either ON or OFF the program. And, sadly, when we fall off the wagon, we tend to see this as being OUR fault…that we didn’t have enough motivation or willpower. And, then we emotionally beat ourselves up.
Why can’t you stick with what you’re “supposed to do”? It’s not because you’re weak, undisciplined, or a total failure.
Stop beating yourself up. It’s not your fault. The program failed because they consisted on other peoples’ rules…not YOUR rules.
No One Likes Other Peoples’ Rules
Do you like other people’s rules? Think about it. Whether at home, at work, or in politics, even if we don’t vocalize it every time, don’t you wish you could have things YOUR WAY? But, in most cases, we can’t.
So, we silently go along with all these rules that we really don’t like.
It’s no surprise that when it comes to deciding what to put in your mouth or what to do with your body, that we’re about to explode with frustration. We feel like we deserve good health, a healthy weight, and a calmer life…but we just want to do things “our way.”
And, our frustration comes out much in the same way that two-year old toddlers rebel against someone telling them what to do. Oh, maybe we don’t stomp the floor and shout, “No.” Instead, we rebel by stuffing our face with delicious delectables. Or sitting on the coach with our arms crossed instead of going to the gym. Or simply going “OFF” the program.
Ya, even if we’ve paid good money for a health coach or professional to “change us.”
So, I’m Destined to be Unhealthy, Overweight, Stressed?
Heck, no. Not at all.
Start first by recognizing that when we follow a plan and then fall off the wagon, it’s not our fault.
The problem was that the rules were set by someone else. They are someone else’s rules. Not YOUR rules!
Do I Need to Throw Away All the Rules??
No. There’s nothing wrong with rules. Rules make life easier. More routine. Rules remove some of the stressful decision making. But, since we’re all wired differently, if you want to be healthier, fitter, or leaner, you’ve got to find rules that work for YOU.
When I’m speaking on this topic at a conference, I’ll make this suggestion:
“Follow the Guidelines. Make Your Own Rules”
That’s because…if you want to be energized, healthier, fitter, or leaner, there are definitely some guidelines to follow. For example, here’s one that’s strongly supported by medical research:
- 20-35 g protein per meal (3X day) is important to build strong muscles, reduce hunger, and ramp up your energy.
That’s why programs often instruct you to eat a higher protein breakfast such as steak or three eggs with cheese, instead of a bagel or cereal. Some people have no problems eating more protein at breakfast, but many of us just can’t stick with it. We’re craving carbs – or maybe nothing but caffeine – when we wake in the morning. Instead of throwing in the towel, heed the guidelines but find a rule that works for YOU.
Different Rules for Different People
For example, if you really love cereal at breakfast, what about eating a cereal with a higher protein content such as Kashi? What about putting peanut butter on your toast (instead of jelly) and adding a glass of milk?
Don’t feel like eating much for breakfast? Then, do as I do, eat like a “Hobbit” (he eats two breakfasts). Mine are probably smaller than a Hobbit’s but together I meet my protein requirement. I often have peanut butter on a whole grain English muffin for my first breakfast. But because it’s below 20g of protein, I’ll enjoy a second breakfast a couple of hours later. It might be yogurt and fruit. Or maybe a fruit smoothie (made with milk). All told, my two breakfasts add up to 25g protein. I’m still following the guidelines, but I’m making up my own rules.
Stop Looking for THE Secret Formula
Remember, while there are general guidelines for health, there’s no ONE set of rules for optimal health. Stop trying to do what you’re being told that you SHOULD do. Instead ask, “What CAN I do?” Reasonably. Consistently.
Then find your own rules that work for YOU. Then, own it! There’s no need to break the rules when YOU are the one that set them.
Here are Some More Ideas
We all know that “exercise” is critical for maintaining muscle mass (that’s a guideline). But WHAT you do, is up to you. So, make your rules fun, please! If you hate going to the gym, then don’t!
One of my rules is to go to tap dancing class once a week and yoga twice a week. Those rules are super easy for me – because I love doing both. Plus, I use the word, “movement” instead of exercise. I just think it sounds more fun. What will your “movement” RULES be?
Here’s another guidelines – don’t eat too much sugar. The Dietary Guidelines state to have no more than 10% of your daily calories. But, there are so many different rules that people follow that allow themselves to adhere to the guidelines. Some completely avoid sugar (not me!). Or maybe they switch to all sugar-free (not me, either…though I do like my breakfast diet coke). Some enjoy their favorite dessert once a week. If I tried to wait that long, I’d break down with a binge. So, instead, I have a small amount of sugar every day – four Dove Miniatures. Seriously! I’ve been following that rule for a decade or more – and it works for me. I used to have an eating disorder and binged on sugar for years and years. Avoidance didn’t work for me. But, again, those are MY rules. Make up your own!
If you need some help coming up with your own rules, give me a call. I can help.