Convenience stores are everywhere. They charge much more than a larger store, but we’re happy to pay for convenience. It’s easier to pop to the corner shop rather than that 10 min walk to the supermarket, right?
There are some great apps out now. You can order fast food without even having to call someone and have it delivered straight to your door. So much easier. It’s easier to sit on the sofa and order to the door rather than quickly rustle up some real food.
The inconvenient truth
We seem to be hard wired to find the easy route. Back in the days when life was much harder (physically it’s very easy now but perhaps not psychologically…) it was very advantageous to find all the shortcuts and easier ways of doing things. Our survival depended upon it.
Our bodies probably haven’t evolved much in the past thousand years but in that time we have made our lives drastically easier. Just look at two relatively recent changes like transport and the internet and the impact it has had on our lives, both positively and negatively.
We want the biggest win for the least effort
I think it’s important for us to understand that we are always looking for the easiest path. We want the biggest win for the least effort. It’s how we have survived and thrived. When we were foraging for food and even until relatively recently when our lives were physically very tough with limited food supplies we needed to be as efficient as possible, conserve energy and get as much food in the shortest time possible. Is it any wonder that high calorie foods are favoured?
Times have changed, we haven’t
Fast forward to today and we’re still applying the same logic to a different world. The world has changed a lot. Fundamentally we haven’t. Now we have an abundance of energy and food with very little effort required to survive. If you live in a developed country you can get away with doing pretty much nothing if you want to and still have a good standard of living.
So when we see the ease of getting food from an app on our phone we’re going to be very tempted to use it. It’s just human nature. But does easier mean better? It all depends on what your goals are.
If you’re aiming for using the least amount of energy with the highest amount of food, it’s amazing. If you’re more concerned with your health and fitness then it’s not so good. Personally, I’m not a fan of cooking so anything that makes my life easier in that regard is welcome, but I just have to be aware that most fast food is terrible for your health.
Your mind and exercise
Our minds are amazingly complex and are able to ensure we survive by controlling our bodies and reacting to events happening around us. When we exercise, quite often our minds start to tell us to stop when it gets difficult. The mind gets signals from the body that stores of energy are getting lower and that we are using up valuable resources very quickly. Somewhere internally, we’re still running off the system that considers fuel/food as scarce and to be used sparingly.
Ever heard about people doing amazing things like lifting cars when they had to because their life was in danger? That kind of event shows you that the body can actually do incredible things but most of the time the mind does not allow it to because of the potential damage it might do. We are protecting ourselves.
In a life or death situation all of that protection goes out the window and we release our full potential.
On a smaller scale that happens when we exercise. The body wants to keep some resources in reserve just in case an emergency happens. We know that there are loads of energy resources around but our internal systems don’t know that.
That’s why naturally we are always looking for the easiest way to complete a task. To use the least amount of energy. To make it as efficient as possible. We never used to know where our next meal was coming from so resources were scarce. Why use energy unnecessarily? Nowadays we have abundant resource so it’s not a problem, but still our bodies try to conserve it.
Your mind is stronger than your legs
I stole that saying from somewhere. Can’t remember where but I liked it. And when I Googled it to find out where, I came across this post which was interesting reading. In short, they talk about how your mind often causes the fatigue that you feel in order to stop you from over exerting yourself, from using your full potential unless you absolutely have to.
Side note: I heard about a trick you can do on your body. If you take a mouthful of a high carb drink when you’re exercising hard, but don’t swallow it, the body thinks that it has more energy coming because the sensors in the mouth relay it to the brain so it allows you to work harder and use up more carbs. However, because you spat it out you don’t actually take the carbs in.
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right. We all know the significance of this. Your state of mind affects everything you do. It doesn’t matter whether you are in ‘great shape’ or not, it’s how you think about yourself that counts. If you are comfortable within your own skin it doesn’t matter how you look. You could look like you should be on the cover of a magazine but if you aren’t comfortable with how you look you won’t feel good.
In short, it’s all about your mind. Not how fat, fit or thin you are.
Becoming more self-aware of your thoughts, actions and behaviours is the first step in learning to understand what you do and why you do it. Just listening to the tone in which you speak can help you to see where your motivations are coming from. Learning to feel how your body feels at various times helps you to understand the emotion that is most prevalent inside you.
Try it: Turn your attention inwards. Are you breathing deeply and slowly or shallow? Is there tension in your body? If so, what could be causing it? Can you take 5 deep breaths and relax and then see how you feel?
Looking out for triggers that cause mindless eating can help you identify how to handle those triggers differently. Maybe you eat poorly when you’re stressed.
Have you ever been doing something that you were not aware of until someone pointed it out? Like tapping your hand. Only when it was pointed out did you notice you were doing it and were therefore able to stop it. The same applies to eating, exercise and a whole range of behaviours. Without recognising what you are doing, it’s difficult to stop it.
This is a time when you can start to question yourself. When you reach for the biscuit tin, why are you doing it? Are you hungry, perhaps feeling a little low, stressed or it’s become a habit. It could be any number of reasons, which can vary and be very complex so it’s not always obvious.
Maybe a close friend is better at knowing your triggers than you are, so if you’re able to accept criticism well maybe you can ask them what they think about your behaviours…
1. Prepare and stock up
If you’re hungry and there is no healthy food in the house, the chances are much higher that you will go and buy something unhealthy because it’s more convenient. Even if you keep snacks around that are quick and easy you can have them until you make something decent. Some examples:
- Carrots & hummus
- Falafels & tzatziki
- Protein shake
- Fresh fruit
- Nuts & seeds
Keep your house stocked up with these foods or some of your other favourite, healthy snacks so that when you’re not feeling up to cooking you can reach for these instead of the biscuit tin.
2. Remove Poor Quality Foods
Would you leave alcohol lying around in front of an alcoholic? Didn’t think so. So why would you leave chocolate bars, crisps and bad food around when you are trying not to eat it? Same principle applies as before. Make it very inconvenient to get hold of the bad stuff, not convenient. Throw it away and only have good foods in your house.
If you’ve got other people living in the house, try to get them to help you with this. Maybe they don’t want to stop eating the bad stuff but if they are able to support you without rubbing it in your face that will be helpful.
Hopefully that is some food for thought. In short, the more self aware of your behaviours and triggers you are the more likely you will be to break free of them. Once you have identified them, you can put strategies in place to overcome them.
As always, drop me a message if you want to ask anything or leave a comment below. Good luck.