All of us fall into unhealthy habits that don’t serve us. Entire industries have been created to encourage and support these habits (McDonald’s, Starbucks), making them much easier than their healthy alternatives. In an often stressful and lonely world, these habits give us comfort and pleasure, at least in the short term. Creating new habits is hard and finding the extra time to do it makes it even more difficult.
I recently helped a woman who was preparing for gastric bypass surgery. She knew she needed to change her eating and exercise habits for the surgery to be successful long term, but she was stumped about how to find the time for it. She detailed her entire daily schedule from wake-up to lights out, convinced there was not an extra minute available for exercise and cooking.
One of the things I hear most frequently from clients, friends and family is that they just don’t have enough time to eat right, exercise and get a good night’s sleep.
The problem is, when WILL you have enough time? When you retire? When your kids move out of the house? When you change jobs? Life happens and unless you make your health a priority, you’re never going to magically find the time. Saying you have no time is often an unconscious way to let yourself off the hook without feeling (too) guilty about it.
We all have blind spots, including the woman preparing for gastric bypass surgery. I found many holes in her schedule where she could easily fit in some exercise without sacrificing her sleep or family time. Sometimes it takes a new perspective to see what’s possible in your life.
When I hear a client say she has no time, I think of the work of Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is. In this highly recommended book, Katie offers four questions to help you break through negative or disabling thoughts. They are:
1. Is it true? “Yes!” you say. “I work; I have kids, a husband and a dog. I’m lucky to get 6 hours of sleep each night. When would I find time to make green smoothies and work out?!”
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true? So here’s a hint. The reason question two looks an awful lot like question one is that the answer to question one is always “no.” Most people automatically say “yes.” It’s a knee-jerk reaction. Who wants to be wrong?! But of course you have some time. It just may not show up in the form you’d like (such as an extra two hours each day, by yourself!). Sometimes we need to change our thinking and get creative to find that time (more on that to come in a future newsletter).
3. How do I react when I think the thought, “I don’t have time!” I don’t know about you, but I feel frustrated, irritated and defensive when I think that thought. Not my favorite way to be.
4. Who would I be without that thought? What if you were physically incapable of thinking, “I don’t have enough time!” Wouldn’t that feel better? Maybe your brain would come up with some clever solutions if you weren’t always telling yourself, “I don’t have time!”
Now letting go of the thought is not always easy, I’ll be the first to admit (if I had a dime for every time I thought that while trying to build my website, it would have paid for itself!). But the good news is that the brain is pliable. The more you remind yourself that you DO have time, the less likely you will immediately jump to “I don’t have time!”
Ready to give it a try with me? Make it a game by wearing a rubber band around your wrist. Every time you think the thought, move the rubber band to your other wrist. Challenge yourself to keep the rubber band on the same wrist for an entire day!