Where did the first half of the year go? I know I was productive but what did I actually do, is harder to quantify. What is easier to reflect on is the milestones I achieved, mindfully.
To eat fast food is convenient. It is promoted as such and we come to believe it. Tired and hungry is where I’m most vulnerable, so dropping my suitcase and heading out for a ‘quick meal in car’, became a place of comfort. It is more than six months since I last ate a fast food burger, and longer, for the spicy, flame grilled chicken, that I love. In the last month or more I have changed my habits and take a bag to the supermarket. So what did I achieve?
Psychologically I’ve achieved a sense of being. I make choices. No, I make better choices. Thoughtful choices. Choices that matter to me, community and environment. I am healthier and have more energy. My use of plastic has reduced drastically.
I’ve become more aware of other issues too. There are more vegetables and fruits in people’s trolleys. Young mothers write blogs on how to eat healthy. As people become more knowledgeable about the food they consume, the marketing ramps up. Suddenly, there are mini bottles of fizzy drinks for an affordable $2. There are fast food specials, buy the biggest size for an extra $1. On the other side, there is a sure but subtle push by health professionals who ‘entertain’ evening viewers, by providing real facts. The science behind the reward system in the brain is convincing. And there’s no better feeling than testing it.
First I worked out the moments where I’m most vulnerable. Coming home from a trip is definitely one of them. So I’ve made sure I have meals in the freezer and in the taxi ride home I visualise the meal, steaming hot and fragrant, on a beautiful plate. I quickly freshen up while the meal is warming. I’m home! My brain fires up again. Rewarded! Yesterday I got lost in a suburb where you don’t want to get lost. Flustered by the experience it was well past lunch time. I saw fast food ahead of me and tried to reason with myself. I won’t eat a burger but a small packet of fries, those hot, crunchy, salty fries would appease the gnawing hunger and reduce the stress I experienced. I quickly switched my brain into reflecting on a talk I watched on how a particular type of potato is grown, harvested and sold to the public to consume. I made a choice to bypass the “bouquet” of fries. I came home and ate a delicious steaming bowl of roasted garlic and cauliflower homemade soup. Better choice! Instant multiple rewards embedded in discipline, impulse control, mindful waiting, healthy decision making for body and wallet!
I’ve started keeping my reusable shopping bags in the car and pack one in my suitcase at all times. If I forget the bags when I enter the supermarket, it’s just a short walk back to the car park to get them. (Incidental gain in exercise!). The confined space of the bags limits my impulse shopping. I buy what I need. I fill my water bottle at home. I’ve put my recycle bin out only a few times in the last few months, largely because I have bought very little that needs to be thrown out. I’ve washed my glass coffee jars to reuse in the pantry. I didn’t buy a lot of processed foods before anyway, but now, there’s even less.
I recall a time when we had one large plastic bin (that I found so hard to carry to the kerb), and it influenced my shopping habits. Then came the wheelie bin (convenience) and later the recycle bin (environmentally friendly). It was easier to consume more and roll my rubbish out. I bought plastic, it could always be thrown in the recycle bin. Conscience calmed. So is this a chicken and egg scenario?
There are some obvious benefits to my health and the environment but how does all this impact community. The burden that is placed on health care as people get older is a dialogue just starting to become more audible. The wider cost to community is spelt out in statistics. Most of the issues that older people present with are lifestyle issues. But I’ve seen change. I can recall years ago, it was acceptable to have someone smoking at a desk nearby. Then people were asked to go outside to designated areas to smoke. Now, it is rare to find anyone is those areas. Yes, there is hope, for more change.
I hadn’t really processed this about myself. I’ve never smoked but I’ve eaten a lot of unhealthy foods over the years. I did not appreciate the science and biochemistry that makes my body work at optimum. Yes, knowledge is power. I used a simple analogy and it changed my thinking. I wouldn’t stop road side and put sand into my gas tank if it was running low. I wait to buy the fuel my car needs or I pre-plan what I need for distance driving. So now I reward my body with the best fuel at the right time and place.
Those who know me, know I love the philosophy of Marie Kondo, the Japanese declutter queen. She says, “People cannot change their tidying habits without changing their thinking”. This is true. Change can be achieved, mindfully. It fits in with three simple words that guide me: “Think. Do. Be”. There is no wisdom here. Just the principles that guide the complex science of behaviour modification.The results speak for themselves!
Until next time
a dawn bird