Is there such a thing as a slip up?
Working with clients to establish a healthy lifestyle is a process I love.
The best practice is to adopt a step-wise strategy, which helps my clients layer-on new (higher ground) habits sequentially. This works best with a solid combination of diligence (the act of aiming towards the new habit and desire, the compulsion for change)
That being said it’s totally normal and acceptable to have ‘departures’ along the way…this is part of the process. Part of the mechanism of adopting a new healthy lifestyle is dismantling habits that don’t serve us but it’s important to acknowledge and accept that we are not robots. Unfortunately we cannot flip a switch and turn off habits that don’t serve us. Some of these habits and behaviours might be decades old and entrenched into our character. It takes time and diligence.
There are also deep primordial mechanisms that make us prone to diverting from the healthy path from time to time - it’s just bloody hard…and there’s little we can do about that!
I spoke with a client today with whom I’ve been working with for 8 weeks and have made some incredible changes and hit some significant milestones. However, a crisis at work had disrupted the new strategy and some older ‘self-soothing’ habits had re-emerged. As a consequence he'd labelled himself a failure and thought he was ‘out of control’. However, further exploration revealed that he hadn’t re-bounded back to old habits despite stress levels peaking. Instead there were just a few moments in which he had ‘departed’ from the new normal. He had chosen to see this recent behaviour as binary or in black n white …. his ‘departures’ were a failure in his view and undid the good he had achieved over the 8 weeks.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
I reminded him that he needed to insert some empathy for himself and diffuse the black and white attitude - sometimes we want to eat certain foods to meet our needs in that moment.
And that’s totally normal and ok!
I also reminded him to that applying more perspective around this would help. Given his age, he easily has another 40-50 years, therefore plenty of opportunity to be consistent with his health. Our health outcomes are largely determined by what we do most of the time over the greatest period of time. Therefore if my client adhered to a healthy lifestyle MOST of the time, the occasional departure is not a failure. In fact, it hardly registers in the grand scheme of things.
Worth inserting that 100% (yes 100%!) of my clients would demonstrated a departure from the ‘plan’ at some point…as do I. Where that occurs is always different and the amount of time they spend ‘off plan’ is always different but it illustrates how susceptible we all are to desires, habits, impulses and needs.
Our health outcomes are determined by two things, our inherited genes and epigenetics. Our inherited genes from our mother and father account for 10% of our health comes, whereas our epigenetics accounts for the 90%. Meaning that our diet and lifestyle can directly influence which genes are expressed or not. In fact 15% of our entire genome oscillates daily. So it does make a difference, even on a micro level, what we eat and drink. Other external factors include our environment, how much stress we are exposed to, how many contaminates or pollutants we are around, whether or not we exercise and how much sleep we get. Fortunately for us, these are all factors we can control, which gives us the power and sovereignty.
Crafting a new healthy lifestyle can take time but the pay off is the legacy you’ll inherit. And following a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean living with scarcity or depravity, life is for enjoying.
There are no failings or slip-ups.
Lastly, don’t forget to pay homage to the good days/weeks/months that you have which immediately puts the occasional ‘departures' into perspective.