One of my favorite things on the planet is sitting at my lovely Italian neighbor’s kitchen table, chatting with her and sipping on one of her delicious cappuccinos made with love. She and her family were on vacation when I started the 90 Day Practice Project and didn’t know about it, so imagine the moment when she asks her adorable 4-year-old daughter to ask me (in English) if I want a cappuccino. In my mind I am saying “Yes, darling! I would love a cappuccino!” But instead I tell her that I am doing a 90 day experiment, so I will decline for now. No frothy milk. No sugar from their unique blue sugar decanter to be stirred in with a tiny silver spoon. Insert inner sad face here.
But I rallied quickly! I’m not there for the cappuccinos; I just love being in their company! I watched as her son began building a small solar-powered car at the kitchen table, and her daughter sat in my lap as we sang along to a One Direction video on their mom’s iPhone while she cooked dinner. Food and drink truly are secondary to joyful moments in the company of other people.
Remember last week when I wrote about how many food photos I was noticing in my Facebook news feed? Well, the Universe is really testing my commitment and has now bumped it up to videos of ooey-gooey cheese. One was a video of a chef scraping melted Raclette cheese over roasted potatoes, and the other was another chef actually mixing cooked pasta in a bowl carved out of enormous wheel of cheese! Again, I was like, “SERIOUSLY?” This time I actually found it kind of funny, in a “This is absurd!” kind of way.
Sure, the cheesy goodness certainly looked delicious, and let’s face it—it probably was, but it got me thinking about how we can sometimes trade “delicious in the moment” for unwanted consequences that can be short or long-term.
Some people will consume food or drink they know their body doesn’t like and are willing to suffer the after-effects for instant gratification. This is really curious to me. I am not judging because I’ve done it, too. I know that my body doesn’t like dairy in general, yet I was eating it week after week because I was telling myself that I didn’t want to cook. My skin was a mess, my throat was mucous-y, and I had some digestive issues that were hard to ignore.
Since starting this project three weeks ago, I look and feel so much better. So when I saw the ooey-gooey cheese videos, I reacted but I didn’t feel tempted. What I did was what I call the Fast-Forward Technique:
When you think you want to eat a certain food, you fast-forward in your mind to how you will feel after you eat it.
Are you tired?
Do you have a stomachache?
Do you feel like a loser because you are verbally shaming yourself for eating it?
What are the longer-term effects of eating food your body doesn’t need or want?
Skin, joint, or metabolic problems?
A poor relationship with yourself due to chronic self-judgment?
When you stop and take a moment to do the Fast-Forward Technique in your mind, you give yourself an opportunity to make a different choice. For a moment you can mentally experience the after effects and decide to accept them, or say, “No, thank you. I’ll pass.” When I saw the cheese videos and imagined how I would feel after I ate it, it was really easy to allow that moment of “I want that” to wash away.
You can also use the Fast-Forward Technique on foods that are great fuel for your body, too! As you scan the menu, you can fast-forward in your mind and imagine how you will feel after you eat that fuel meal:
Are you feeling light and full of energy?
Is your food digesting well?
Do you feel amazing and thank yourself for taking such great care of your body?
What are the longer-term effects of consistently choosing food your body likes and runs well on?
A balanced body weight?
Clear skin, bright eyes, great mobility, overall good health?
A great sense of respect, trust, and love for yourself?
I invite you to try out this technique this week and let me know how it works for you. Remember that it may take some effort on your part the first several times to actually follow through with the actions that are in alignment with your goal. It’s not a matter of willpower; it’s a matter of switching your brain’s current track of instant gratification to the new track of making conscious choices on purpose.
Success Tip: Keep a Daily Journal
Like any good scientist, you are going to want to track your experiment and take notes on your findings. When you document your Practice Project like a science experiment, you can review the data and make adjustments that will further your success. Keep a notebook and a pen on your kitchen counter, or in your purse, or keep notes in an ap on your phone.
Keeping a food journal—noting the food you eat and the way it makes you feel afterwards—provides valuable information. It’s a log of your body’s communication to you whether it likes what you’re feeding it or not. Energy level, physical symptoms, and your digestion are the ways your body is talking to you. I invite you to check in with your body daily and take action on the feedback it’s giving you.
I also invite you to log all of your successes. When you change what you put in your shopping cart, make note of it. When you say, “No thank you” to something you’re choosing not to eat right now, acknowledge yourself for following through. Having a list of successes to look at strengthens your belief in yourself and inspires you to keep going. You are also re-training your brain to look for all the ways you’re getting it right—and that feels way better than picking yourself apart every day.
Look for the good in yourself and that is what you’ll find.