One of the most common responses I get when discussing nutrition, exercise and healthy living with people is the dreaded:
“But I like my ______.”
If I’m talking about bringing lunch from home, people say:
“But I like my fast food.”
If I’m talking about plant-based eating, people say:
“But I like my meat.”
If I’m talking about drinking green tea, people say:
“But I like my soda.”
If I’m talking about lifting weights, people say:
“But I like my bean bag chair at home.”
This is flawless rationale…if you’re getting ready to enter kindergarten.
I don’t know if “liking” something validates doing it. And I’m pretty darn sure that “liking” something doesn’t automatically make it a good idea. Heck, I might “like” cigars and strip clubs, but I don’t actually smoke cigars and go to strip clubs. Why? It’s a bad idea (to me). It doesn’t matter if I “like” them.
And look at kids. They “like” taunting siblings, eating dessert before dinner, and yelling really loud while you’re on the phone. Bad idea. Just because they “like” it doesn’t mean it’s OK.
These examples may seem obvious, but how many times have we convinced ourselves to eat a crappy food, skip a workout, or engage in another health deteriorating activity because we “like” it?
We may not always phrase it to ourselves like that. We may justify it by saying we “need a break,” “can’t be perfect,” “do everything in moderation,” and so on.
But really, the immediate satisfaction we obtain from something is usually why we do it. As we get older and wiser, we begin to realize that most tasks have a delayed “like” component. Right? We might do something that isn’t very fun right now, but we definitely “like” the long-term results.
These people don’t always “like” it
- The successful CEO doesn’t always “like” taking on extra projects… but they “like” running the company and providing a reliable product/service.
- The sustainable farmer doesn’t always “like” staying in the fields until late at night… but they “like” showing up at the farmers market each week with crates full of fresh produce.
- The fit 50 year old doesn’t always “like” eating vegetables instead of chips… but they “like” waking up each morning without having to rely on prescription medication for high blood pressure.
- The person about to hit the beach doesn’t always “like” the idea of eating until 80% full… but they “like” how that bathing suit looks on them.
- The plant-based eater doesn’t always “like” ordering beans instead of steak… but they “like” knowing their food choices can improve the lives of animals.
- The stay at home parent doesn’t always “like” cleaning up after the kids, doing laundry and prepping meals… but they “like” raising a happy and productive family.
- The weekly volunteer doesn’t always “like” showing up with a smile on their face… but they “like” lending a hand and boosting morale at the dialysis center.
- The single person with a job doesn’t always “like” taking time to balance their finances and budget… but they “like” having enough money to afford food and housing.
- The young professional doesn’t always “like” putting 10% of each paycheck into savings and tithing 10% more… but they “like” the idea of retirement and karma.
- The athlete doesn’t always “like” going to practice instead of watching TV… but they “like” winning.
- The fit person doesn’t always “like” waking up for the morning workout… but they “like” the energy boost it gives them all day.
This list goes on and on. You get the idea. You can see how successful people don’t always immediately “like” what they are doing. But they definitely “like” the long-term outcome.
Immediately “liking” something isn’t necessarily a requirement for successful people. The only requirement is that the behavior gets them closer to their goals and what they really value (well, without harming others, themselves or being unethical, etc.).
That’s good news, right?
We can “like” the healthier option because it aligns with our long-term goals. We can begin to like the process because it’s aligned with our core values. It’s about shifting from the “kindergarten-rationale” to the “I’m-a-conscious-adult-rationale.”
So, next time someone suggests altering your daily habits to achieve a long-term goal, avoid the ever so convincing “But I like my ______!”
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They’re probably better than 90% of the seminars we’ve ever attended on the subjects of exercise and nutrition (and probably better than a few we’ve given ourselves, too).
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