When you were first being taught how to ride a bike, you likely learned in stages. It would have been some version of a tricycle and you had to learn how to move the pedals in effort to propel yourself forward. The risk of injury was low.
Then you progressed onto a “big kid” bike.
With that big kid bike came the option of training wheels. Now, you’re in charge of a much larger piece of equipment but with the safety measure of those smaller wheels so you didn’t have to worry about falling.
You still had to master the skill of maneuvering something bigger than a tricycle.
And then the day came where you took the training wheels off. It’s that first exhilarating moment where you were wobbly, excited, intimidated and well on your way to your fair share of bruised knees, shins and anything else that could be impacted by some hard earned tumbles trying to get your bearings with two wheels only.
Your diet isn’t much different.
Sure, we all learn how to eat long before we embrace a tricycle.
And, we can usually get away with a fair amount of dietary luxuries at an early age too.
But something changes as we get older. Maybe it changes when we’re adolescents and maybe it doesn’t change until we’re adults. But we just can’t eat the way we used to and expect to have the bodies we want.
That’s a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow.
Because there is something about eating that seems like it should be this natural, safe, instinctive behavior that just works for us.
Which is why it can be so incredibly frustrating to take a behavior or set of patterns like eating and stick training wheels on it when we’re 20, 30, 40 or even 60 years of age in attempts to change it.
What does that look like in practice?
–It may mean you have to track your food for a short amount of time to see your dietary trends.
–It may also mean that you have to measure your food to see what an appropriate portion size actually looks like (specific to your needs and respective goals.)
–You may have to reduce the frequency with which you go out to eat because it can be difficult to ascertain how many calories you’re consuming (even with a margin of error for places that are kind enough to post calorie counts.)
You’re essentially taking your eating behaviors within the framework of your life and putting training wheels on it again so that you can teach yourself the right way (and the safest way) to do it.
And that’s great for a refresher.
But at a certain point, those training wheels will have to come off.
You re-learn and refine a skill so that you can pull the trainers off and get back to riding. Or in the case of your diet, get back to living.
The biggest difference is that once you learn how to ride a bike, you basically never forget. You may be a little wobbly if you haven’t been on one in a while but the instincts come back rather quickly.
Navigating your diet is a more complicated skill to learn because (for most people) there is too much of an emotional connection to it. We eat when we’re happy, when we’re bored, when we’re stressed, when we’re tired, when we celebrate and even when we mourn.
Your goal, the ultimate goal, is to trust yourself with the way you eat. It’s to trust that you have coping skills in place to replace things like emotional eating when life gets stressful.
It’s also to remind yourself that you can’t do whatever you want with your diet and not have your body pay a relative price for it.
It’s okay to put your “training wheels” on periodically to adapt your way of eating to where your life and body is currently. What you could do when you were younger is likely no longer effective or it’s not as effective as it used to be.
That’s not just with diet, it’s the same for exercise too.
A body that has decades of mileage and stress on it doesn’t behave the same with activity and food as it used to. It doesn’t mean that you have to pivot 180 degrees, but change will occur.
Change HAS to occur.
Much like you learned how to ride a bike in those three stages referenced above, your diet will go through stages of change where you initially need more help and guidance so that you can develop the confidence and insight into how you eat to serve you (and your goals) best.
And just like bike riding, it may take some tumbles and spills before you get it right.
It’s all normal. Which makes you normal and it’s all a part of the process.
Below is Sebastian, showing you his first stage in riding. He’ll support you on your journey too. And yes, at two years of age, he can eat pretty much whatever wants and have no ill effects.
The same can’t be said for you and I.
Nevertheless, we’ll be rooting for you.
“We Make Great People Greater”