Recently, I had a conversation with this chick who is a big time gym bunny. She’s in there all week keeping it toned, working a great #fuckyeahthighgap, and is huge into eating right- except on the weekend. On the weekends, she snapchats me crap she is eating (no comment), like Taco Johns and Pancheros and restaurants she’s brunching out at with mimosas and what not. When I gave her shit over text for her weekend 180, this is how it went-
Me: You do all that but eat like shit on the weekend
Her: Its the weekend… I love food. Not like I need to punish myself and eat healthy all the time. Eating healthy sucks lol. But during the week I am big in it and the gym.
Me: Haha I love eating healthy
Her: Well you are a freak lol. I mainly just eat bad after a night of drinking. Not like anyone wakes up after a night of drinking and says man i could really go for some fruit and vegetables right now! Haha
Me: I might just be that guy haha
Out of all the conversations I’ve had with people and all the posts I’ve written about eating healthy, this one was the most revealing to me on what it takes to make healthy eating fully integrated into one’s lifestyle. Allow me to explain-
One of the biggest problems people have with making big or small lifestyle changes is that logic and reason only go so far. In this day and age, with all the nutrition information out there and the backlash against many of our culturally ingrained shitty eating habits, there is not a soul in this country who doesn’t know about healthy eating. Everyone knows they should be eating healthier, everyone knows the benefits of eating healthier, and everyone knows that there are plenty of tasty healthy foods and recipes out there.
So why don’t they change?
It’s part laziness and lack of willpower, being a slave to impulse and baser instincts, but even then the assertion of willpower can only go so far.
You need the willpower to eat right if eating right is not what you want to do, and the best way to change this and make it stick is to make yourself into someone who enjoys eating healthy. Reframe, reframe, reframe. It’s all about reframing the activity in your mind and making it become part of who you are.
In my conversation above, we have two identities at play. She is a person who loves food, is not a “freak”, reluctantly eats well because she knows she should, and then goes crazy on the weekends. I am a person who eats healthy all the time and rarely makes exceptions because I love eating healthy and I take pride in it. That’s part of her identity, that’s part of my indentity.
Overweight office shlubs always throw out that whole “yeah shucks I really need to cut back and work out more” bit but in reality being someone who needs to cut back and who knows better *is part of their identity*. Obese people have become comfortable with their identity as huge people who eat a lot. Their protests aside, they are literally ok with being fat or they would change. Anorexic people love being anorexic. Bodybuilders bitch about cutting calories but they wouldn’t have it any other way. That girl who crams Ben and Jerry’s tubs down her blowhole on Friday night watching The Notebook and petting both kitties- that’s part of her identity, it’s what she does on Friday nights and what you do is who you are.
Whether anyone’s identity is good or bad or they hate it or love it is immaterial- it is their identity and people will always make decisions that conform to their identity. Lasting change is impossible without an identity switch up. Furthermore, and this is where willpower comes into play, your identity is incredibly resistant to change unless you have the right prompts and motivation. Nobody changes unless they, deep down inside, want to. (NLU writer Chef in Jeans shared his big weight loss story where you can see these dynamics at play- he hated being the fat guy but it took awhile for him to actually want to break himself of that identity)
If you really want to make eating healthy a permanent lifestyle change, then you need to reframe your approach to eating. If you need to start by defining it in opposition to to your old habits or other people, do that. Even better, though, is if you can tie it to something positive from the get-go. Incentivize the change, throw in some pride.
Eating healthy is not a sacrifice, it’s a pleasure and a gift I do not waste… Normal people food is shit and I want to be better than normal… Food is fuel for being awesome, not an indulgence for the lazy, I want to be awesome so I will not be lazy… Being a healthy eater makes you feel better and look better and I want to look and feel the best… I am proud of my dedication towards building my body into a monument by eating healthy… Lazy people can’t control their impulses so they eat garbage, I am not lazy… Healthy food makes me feel good and I love being someone who feels good all the time… Fat people are slaves to their taste buds and I do not want to be a fat person… Dedication is how you become a winner and I want to become a winner.. and so on. Find your “kick”.
If you exercise that willpower and pull off the reframe in the initial stages, you can then solidify your transforming identity. Once you get to the point where you *are* a healthy eater, then it’s child’s play staying that way. Automatic.
The only catch is that *you* have to want to change. Nothing anyone says or does will make you pull the trigger, it’s all you.
Do you have what it takes?