Monday, October 26, 2015

The pancake rant

Randy waits for his USAW class to finish their exam. 
This weekend Randy taught another great USAW coaching course. We're so happy to be able to host these educational events at Barbell Strategy. It was a great group of attendees and there was lots of learning. Thanks Randy for passing on your coaching wisdom to the next generation of coaches!

On a different note:

I was at breakfast this morning and I saw some kind of fancy pancakes on the menu. And I thought wow, those sound delicious. But I did not order them. Do I have some kind of amazing willpower? No. How do I say no to delicious pancakes? I simply removed them as an option.

Many, if not most people who read today's rant are going to find unpalatable and implausible. But let it sit and sink in. Today's rant is: REMOVE UNHEALTHY OPTIONS. Six and a half years ago, I tried this crazy new diet called Paleo. I thought it was ridiculous to eliminate healthy whole grains, legumes, and dairy, and too hard to eliminate processed foods and sugar. But I gave it a month. At the end of a month, I felt so good I gave it another month. And then I decided to stick with it.

As the years went by, I tried reintroducing some foods in small quantities to see how I reacted. Wheat/gluten was a huge no (very bad reaction). Dairy was a mostly no (can get away with a little now and then, but it has to be super high quality and low lactose). Legumes - depends on the legume but they're not a great staple for me. Non-gluten grains - a little bit once in a while is okay but not on a regular basis. Processed food/preservatives/sugar - I pay for it with a crash and a headache. So where does this leave me? Most of the time, I cook my own food. I eat meat, eggs, seafood, vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts, and other healthy fats. When do I eat at a restaurant, there are whole sections of the menu that are simply off-limits.

What does that mean? I never eat pancakes off the menu. I never eat birthday cake at a party. I never eat Christmas cookies or Thanksgiving gravy thickened with flour. I never order pizza when I'm too tired to cook or grab a sandwich for lunch. Some, maybe most, can't conceive of never doing these things that feel so normal. I was never a weird dieter or special snowflake before - I did all of that and more, all while trying to mostly eat healthy. Everything in moderation, right? But I didn't feel good when I did everything in moderation. And I feel good now.

The truth is, when you set limitations, you make things easier for yourself. There are no more agonizing conversations with yourself about how you're really going to start trying harder to eat healthy this year, or difficult decisions day after day, meal after meal, snack after snack, about whether it's okay to make the unhealthy choice just this once. I did a workout, so I can eat a Snickers bar. I had a rough day, so I need that half a frozen pizza. A can of Coke will pep me up since I'm tired. I could talk myself into anything, and then I felt guilty. But when I decided I wouldn't do that stuff, and when I determined what my personal guidelines were (no gluten ever, be really careful on dairy, etc.), I could just stick to them.

That's what it takes: figure out what works for you, and then stick to it. You want to be healthier? Do some experimentation, do an elimination diet, don't cheat, add things back in to see if you have a reaction, don't turn a blind eye to the results, then make a plan and stick to it. When you look at that menu, a big chunk of it is not even going to be an option. And you can do it. People are strong. People can do incredible things. Every day, all over the world, people do much, much harder things than make good food choices. Choose what you want to do.
Workout
Test 1RM squat