I am not religious. But I do find it ironic that Fat Tuesday and Pancake Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) are the same thing. I also find irony in how religiously based Mardi Gras actually is….beads anyone?
This is all followed by Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent. For those who don’t follow, Lent is the 40 days before Easter in Christian religions when people give something up or abstain from something or commit to doing something that brings them closer to God. (And if you are counting on the calendar it’s actually 46 days but Sundays don’t count.)
Many religions and spiritual practices hold self control in high regard. Fasting as a form of self control is common in Eastern religions. And in the Yoga Sutras, 5 Yamas are taught to teachers as a guide for teaching (and restraint.) These make up the first of the 8 limbs of yoga. Yama in sanskrit literally translates into self-restraint, self-control and discipline.
So why can’t we control ourselves?
Media encourages us to ‘cheat’.
You DESERVE that ice cream. Food makes you FEEL better.
But really, look past the marketing yourself. What makes a person deserving of ice cream (or not)? Truly. Are you hungry? Maybe lacking in calcium or fats or calories?
Will you feel better? I know ice cream tastes good, but when it comes to my emotions what my mouth tastes is far from feeling. It’s like marketers have created a black hole. Some void that can never be filled. Except of course if you buy more of their product to send into the void…
It’s “fun”. Or “sexy” or “good looking” or any attribute you want more of in your life.
Again with the marketing. Really? Do you find your self-indulgence is shopping? Do those clothes really change the person or physical attributes underneath? Do you deserve it because it’s been a rough week at work and you just need “something” special for Friday night? If you’ve actually had a rough week why not look at WHY and make changes to that? Maybe getting more sleep might help? Getting to the treadmill to burn off some stress. Or finding a better balance in life by living healthier.
Deserving something makes it appear as though you are entitled to something. Maybe the only thing you actually need to change is your perspective. Perhaps you are lucky to have a job in this market. Sometimes pressure challenges people and brings out more than what they though they had in them. Work on the inner stuff. Your bank account will thank you.
Junk food is created to seduce you.
It is literally altered at the chemical level to appeal to your instincts and WANT more. By reducing calories in it (diet soda) you can consume more. But more of what? Do you even know what makes up the non-calories? Do you want those unknowns in your body?
As for the junk food you are eating and just ignoring the label on the back, or the fact that you are consuming four thousand calories…it was created to get you at a primal level. All those things our ancestors struggled to get enough of to survive (salt, sugars, fat) trigger responses in our brains at the neurological level to make you happy (or at least content). This sensation can become addictive over time according to some research.
But you all already know this. Which is the frustrating part. What is it about us that doesn’t want to wake up, do 500 jumping jacks, an 8 mile run and then eat a bunch of blended fruit and veggies?
For one, our lifestyles aren’t set up for it. We rush to everything. Proper food prep and meal planning takes time and organization. We’d rather be doing something else. Even if it means sitting on the couch, remote in hand, flipping channels finding nothing on. And it is easier sitting on the couch than getting up and going out for a run.
People are inherently lazy.
My theory is that conserving energy was key to our ancestors survival. Back then who knows when the next meal was coming right? So when life was good, they sat in rest and expended as little energy as possible.
But you do know food is available. And your brain is advanced enough to know that exercise is good for you. That’s where the self-discipline and control come in.
Get rid of the junk in your house. Fill it with healthy options like fruit and veggies with hummus to dip.
Get out in the world and move. Run. Swim. Walk. Cycle. Yoga. Build it into your life and your daily schedule.
Make changes in your life that simplify the challenges.
For the next forty days I will give you one tip a day on how to simplify living healthier.
I may not be religious, but I am spiritual. And giving back is a large part of that.