Something I use to struggle with from time to time but have really improved upon over the years in trying to take on too much at one time.
I still fall into “I can do anything at anytime” trap from time to time but I am slowly starting to ween myself off of the stuff but it hasn’t been without some withdrawals that’s for sure.
I use to get so excited, maybe too excited about completing a new task or accomplishing a goal that I would often try to change too much at once and create these massive feelings of being overwhelmed. I’d consume too much information, try to apply to many action steps, and either fizzle out from exhaustion, paralyze myself with procrastination, or just give up completely because simply too much was going on at one time, or so I felt, in my life at the moment.
For tasks and goals I was able to accomplish I never really was able to fully experience them because I had so much going on and was using up so much mental and even physical strength. This made it difficult for me to stay present and live in the moment, the only thing I could think about was completion instead of fully embracing the experiences along the journey.
This post as most of the posts here on Limitless features some practical wisdom that can help you overcome trying to do too much at once and eliminating those feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out. It’s focus is on how you can improve change your nutritional habits but the principles can be applied to anything.
When stress hits
How many of you have said to yourself “this is it, I have to change now, this is going to happen, I’m going to start eating better today, I can do this.” Only to find yourself right back to where you started a week or two later.
- It’s not that you’re not motivated
- It’s not that you’re not excited
- It’s not that you don’t have a plan
- And it’s not that you don’t really want to make changes
You’ve got your meal plan in place, recipes in order, you just went grocery shopping and your workout times are all scheduled; you’re legitimately ready come monday. So what the H.E. double hockey sticks happened?
Life happened. That’s what.
Changing your nutritional habits just like changing anything, your job, your love life, or your friendships doesn’t just involve changes to one thing. For example, when you’re trying to put a meal plan into place full of wonderful recipes it’s not as simple as eat this and don’t eat that. There may be a bunch of new habits you’ll have to get the hang of in order to achieve success.
Maybe you’re not use to cooking so much, the clean up afterwards, more consistent and possibly expensive grocery shopping, preparing meals ahead of time and storing them properly, trying to figure out how to cook for the entire family, learning how to eat when you go out, all of these things might have to change if you are simply changing your eating habits. Couple that with other changes or stress that may be occurring in your life; work, relationships, finances, etc… and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.
When stress gets to tough to manage you probably feel overwhelmed and shut down. In the example of trying to change your nutritional habits it’s not necessarily the recipes, your commitment, or the plan that keep you from achieving your goals but instead it’s the grind of everyday life. It’s those straight forward challenges like love, fear, work, and personal finances that are the biggest cause of stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Those responsibilities and concerns usually and unfortunately take precedence over your health and that ends up being the first thing you give up on.
- Workouts become less frequent
- More meals are eaten out and on the run
- Sleep is non-existent
We commonly blame time and we desperately want to believe that any discomfort is caused by outside sources because admitting you might actually be the one responsible for your own discomfort is a pretty big shot at the ol’ego. So as life gets more complicated our ego gets in the way and we actually try to do more and take on endless responsibilities and demands to prove to ourselves we can handle it all, which leads to more confusion. This is followed up with the typical response of…
What to do, what to do
There are some basic principles you can follow and as well as some common advice you can find googling around the inter webs.
- Accept anxiety
- Stop multi-tasking & avoid the “everything has to be done now mentality.”
- Focus on the present and plan, plan, plan
- Remembering to breath
- Finding time to take a break and relax by participating in an enjoyable activity
- Staying in the optimistic state of mind
These are some very wise and practical tips you can apply immediately but I think there are only two steps you need to take to keep momentum moving towards success and feelings of being overwhelmed to a minimum.
- Eat more mindful
- Simplify the heck out of everything
By simplifying the heck out of everything you can avoid the common reaction of creating the busy in your life, procrastinating, and doing things inefficiently or not at all because you are in a rush.
Intention is trumped by habits every time.
So many of the decisions you make on a daily basis are made automatically and out of habit. They require little to no energy or thought, it’s almost like you’re just reacting, it comes easy. You can have all the intention, dedication, and motivation is the world but if certain bad habits are to strong you’ll find it very difficult to experience success.
“…What’s the best way to predict what food you’re going to eat tomorrow? Should I ask about your intentions, your preferences or that diet you’ve just started?
Don’t bother. All I need to do is ask you what you ate yesterday. The best way to predict what you’re going to eat tomorrow is to examine your habits. On average habits tend to trump our best intentions and even our stated preferences.
Changing our eating habits is hard because so many decisions are made automatically, in response to routine situations we find ourselves in…” psyblog
Eating for example has become such a mindless activity. It’s so routine that many of us probably zone out completely and hardly enjoy the taste, aromas, and experience of a good meal. Food is put on a plate in front of us, we devour it, and move on with the rest of our day and more important things.
2 Simple steps to eating more mindfully today
1. Put down the utensils between bites or use different utensils all together. This is in an attempt to slow you down as you eat. After each bite put those utensils down or instead of using a fork or spoon opt for chopsticks instead. Slowing down while you eat can results in improved digestion, feeling more satisfied after a meal, and result in consuming fewer calories at each sitting.
“…In a University of Rhode Island study, researchers served lunch on two different occasions to 30 normal-weight women. The meal in both cases consisted of an enormous plate of pasta with a tomato-vegetable sauce and some Parmesan cheese, along with a glass of water.
At each visit, researchers instructed the women to eat to the point of comfortable fullness. But during one visit, they also told them to eat as quickly as possible, while on the other visit, participants were asked to eat slowly and to put down their utensils between bites.
When the researchers compared the difference in food consumption between the quickly eaten lunch and the slowly eaten lunch, here is what they found: –precisionnutrition
- When eating quickly the women consumed 646 calories in 9 minutes.
- When eating slowly the women consumed 579 calories in 29 minutes.
2. Use smaller plates. By simply adjusting the size of your plate, bowl, or glass you can affect the amount of food you eat at a given sitting. Researchers from The University of Central Florida and Cornell both conducted studies in which they told movie goers that they planned on asking them questions about the movie once it had finished, and anyone that answered the questions would get a free bag of popcorn. Some of the participants were given medium and large bags of popcorn while others were given stale bags of medium or large popcorn.
The findings showed that:
- Those participants that were given the large fresh bag of popcorn consumed 45% more than those that were given the medium-sized bag.
- The participants that were given the large bag of stale popcorn still consumed 33% more than those that were given the medium-sized bag.
Lesson learned here is not only to use smaller plates but to also avoid distractions like movies, the television, while checking email, or while on the phone just to name a few.
The 6 recipe method
I see way to many complicated meal plans with a laundry list of ingredients, supplies to buy, and a million and one different recipes to make. Most have a different recipe for up to 5 or 6 meals a day, spread that out over a week and you’re looking at 35 to 42 meals you’re going to have to learn to prepare. I don’t know about you but I don’t have the time, desire, or willpower to pull that off.
If you really want to simplify eating for yourself and increase the chances that you can develop some healthy eating habits I highly suggest going to the 6 recipe method for meal planning.
What’s the 6 recipe method you ask?
You’re going to pick 6 Paleo friendly recipes that you enjoy and master them. You’re going to cook the heck out of them over and over until you get sick of them. At this point you’ll be picking 6 more recipes you enjoy and running with those.
So for example you may want to pick 2 breakfast, 2 lunch, and 2 dinner recipes each. What I like to do is cook up enough of the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that it lasts me a few days. Usually Sunday through Wednesday, and then on Wednesday I cook up the alternate meals. Saves me all sorts of time, headache, stress, and confusion about trying to decide what the heck I am going to eat.
It’s best to specify ahead of time a particular day and time that you plan to do your food preparation. I like to prepare food following another habit I have already established. For instance, every sunday I work with a couple of clients, right after I finish with them I get to cooking.
Here are a few recipes to get you started and a couple of cookbooks that will rock your socks.
We already have enough going on in our lives as it is, why pile more and more on top by taking on more than we might be able to handle. If you have a specific goal you would like to achieve consider simplifying the process to its bare minimum concepts so that you can avoid confusion and that deer in headlights look when live takes its natural course.
In what areas can you simplify your life to create less stress and avoid being overwhelmed?
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