Start Acting Like a Two-Year-Old

I was in Trader Joe’s the other day when I overheard a conversation between a mother and her toddler. I couldn’t hear much of what the mom said, but the only word emanating from the daughter was “no.” It’s experimenting with that word that allows children to begin defining themselves and to figure out who they are.

As adults, we need to cultivate the ability to say no and to discern when it’s necessary otherwise, our priorities suffer. When might you want to say “no?”
Photo by Vanessa Serpas on Unsplash

As adults, we need to cultivate the ability to say no and to discern when it’s necessary otherwise, our priorities suffer. When might you want to say “no?”

  • When you’re already over-committed
  • When you’re stressed, sick or tired
  • When someone else is trying to drag you into his/her drama
  • When saying yes would violate your values
  • When it’s something you don’t want to do
  • When it takes away from something you’d much rather do
  • When you’ve had enough to eat or you’re not hungry

Okay, I know that last one seems weird, but think about it. People regularly eat to please others like the grandmother who urges a second helping, or the host who went to all that trouble to make a table full of food that shouldn’t go to waste. But overeating hurts our weight and health and doesn’t really help grandma or the host.

If you’re out of practice, run through it in your mind. Think about a situation in which you often say yes when you’d rather not. Picture the request being made and see yourself comfortably, assertively responding “no.” Sometimes you may need to give yourself space to decide. If someone asks for your time (e.g. joining a committee, attending a meeting), use the phrase “let me get back to you.” This gives you the time to assess if it’s something that’s genuinely a fit for you or if this is a chance to practice no.

Realize that you don’t have to explain every no that you give. I love this quote from Anne Lamott: “’No’ is a complete sentence.” When we start explaining ourselves, the other person sometimes sees it as an opportunity to talk us into whatever it is! Be thoughtful about when explanations are necessary or appropriate to the situation, but often it’s sufficient to simply say “No, thank you.”

Lastly, we are finite beings so every yes is a no to something else. It’s the law of tradeoffs (not sure it’s technically a law, but I know it to be true). And remember, saying no doesn’t mean it’s a no forever. It may just be a “not now.” That’s an especially good thing to remember when we’re making tradeoffs between two really good options. Make decisions based on today’s priorities, knowing next time your choices may be different.

Head over to my Facebook group and let me know what a healthy “no” looks like for you.

Feeling Motivated is Over-rated

More than 20 years ago I heard what is still my favorite definition of commitment: the ability to carry through with a worthy decision once the emotion of making the decision has passed. Emotion is what we tend to think of as motivation. We think we should “feel” like doing something in order to do it. But is that how you experience it?

For most of us, the answer is no. For instance, I never feel like doing the dishes, but I do them. I’m committed to a clean, cockroach-free kitchen.

Psychology Today defines motivation as “literally the desire to do things.” The desire to do something does not mean you will feel like it. Our human tendency is the path of least resistance (you know, burn as few calories as necessary) and our feelings keep us stuck there. We have to want the outcome enough to overcome our lack of “feeling” motivated.

I saw a recent interview with Admiral William H. McRaven, author of the new book Make Your Bed, in which he shares successful life principles learned during Navy Seal training. The title comes from the habit of making one’s bed first thing in the morning. And when we accomplish one thing, it sets us up to do the next. And the next. We can’t wait to feel like making the bed, we just have to make it.

Considering your health goals, what is one small thing you could do in the morning that would make a difference the rest of the day? For many, I suspect that thing is eating a balanced breakfast. If you regularly skip breakfast, and lunch is the first time food makes it past your lips, then waiting to feel like eating will not work. Your body’s metabolism has adapted by slowing down and you will not feel hungry in the morning.

Our human tendency is the path of least resistance. We have to want the outcome enough to overcome our lack of “feeling” motivated.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Maybe for you it’s drinking 8oz of water first thing, meditation, prayer, or 10 minutes of stretching. Decide and do it. Then notice how the next step becomes easier. In essence, your initial step helps provide the “feeling” of motivation, the feeling that being successful at one thing can lead to the next.

Our lives are the sum total of mostly small decisions like this. Sure from time to time we make big decisions, but day-in and day-out we are formed by the millions of small choices we make each moment.

This is good news! Instead of thinking we have to take quantum-leap actions, we can focus on small daily habits that produce significant results.

So, what small step would (ultimately) make a huge impact in your life?

5 Questions to Ask if You Struggle to Reach Your Goals

Have you noticed that working towards any goal typically requires more effort than you first expected? For example, you set a goal to lose weight and you think “nutrition and exercise.” You gather all the right information and start doing all the right things. But then you discover that it doesn’t all go according to plan. Eventually, you’re back in your old habits and discouraged that you can’t make it work.
I get it. This happens all the time. When it comes to health and weight loss, we’re not programmed to think holistically. Sure we give it lip service, but it always comes back to monitoring food, counting steps and increasing exercise. It’s not that those things play no role in being healthy, of course they do. But smart people (you!) know these things. So what’s the problem?
The good news is that all your nutrition and exercise efforts can work, if you figure out what’s getting in your way of being consistent. Ask yourself these five questions about your behavior:

Do you ever set out to lose weight, gathering all the information and doing all the right things? But then struggle to reach your goals? What happened?
Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash
  1. What could I stop doing? You know, a couple of years ago I totally stopped playing video games. It was too easy for 15 minutes of downtime to become an hour (or two) throughout the day. Now I read a lot of books each year! Where you could find some time for what you really want to do?
  2. What could I do less of? For some, this is where TV and internet time come into play. Statistics show we spend a startling number of hours in front of the screen. How could less of something enhance your well-being? A few months ago I stopped listening to the news in the car (but still watch/listen at home). This has created much more peace while driving!
  3. What could I keep doing? Recognize the habits you currently have in place that support your goals. Health-enhancing activities like meditation and practicing gratitude are things my clients are often doing when we first meet. What are you doing that you want to make sure to continue?
  4. What could I do more of? Sometimes it’s easier to build on what you’re already doing than it is to stop or start something. What habit is already in place that if you did more of it would move you in the right direction?
  5. What could I start doing? If you don’t already, think about scheduling healthy habits into your calendar. A maintenance client shared with me that she had stopped calendaring her workouts because it had become a habit. But when her schedule became more challenging, exercise dropped off. After a couple of weeks, she decided it had to go back on the calendar. What action or habit calls to you that you’d like to start doing?

And there you have it! Five questions to consider if you want to make health and well-being a priority and actually be successful. Now, go check out my 5 tested strategies to achieve what you really want.

And, if you have a passion for being healthy and losing weight without dieting join the Enjoy Food Love Life Lose Weight group.

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