In a recent interview, someone asked me the following: “Most of us know what to do: Eat more vegetables, eat protein at every meal, don’t eat too much (or too little), exercise, blah blah blah. Why are we so bad at DOING this, consistently?”.
I giggled. Actually, I might have laughed out loud. It was NOT an appropriate response at all, but I did find it hilarious.
The flu/RSV/COVID/plague season is here. There was a cough, and a cold, and a runny nose, followed by a stomach bug, followed by three (!) symptom free days. After three days, both children emerged out of their bedroom… coughing. Guess what I said when I heard them coughing?
“Oh no, you poor dears, you are sick again!” - was NOT it.
Was there swearing?
You better believe it.
Our brand new couch has been peed on twice in the two weeks that we’ve had it.
Last night we were both up between 2am and 430am with our one and a half year old, who decided that sleep was overrated and her new toddler bed was literally THE WORST thing ever.
My four year old woke me up (you know… again…) at 7.30am, because she was soaking wet - and it was probably time to night train her out of the overnight pull-ups many months ago, but we keep hoping for just a little stretch of uninterrupted sleep before we go and interrupt our sleep intentionally, and we haven’t hit that stretch yet.
Ten minutes of back-and-forth of “No, I don’t want that jacket!” and “where is my hat? No, the other hat!”, I practically threw both children into the snow, while Italian started the car, and drove them both somewhere that is NOT my house to be supervised by adults that are NOT us.
I started my relaxing workweek morning by changing the sheets (because pee, remember?) and starting a load of laundry, and throwing out broken crayons, and vacuuming the living room, AND dusting and wiping the floors in the bedrooms.
After all that work, I could get to… you know… work.
Yes, we know what to do.
So, why don’t we do it?
Like… every day? Consistently? Perfectly? For the rest of our lives?
Because… I dunno…. life is hard?
Because… shit keeps happening?
Because… no one (I repeat: NO ONE) is actually doing all the things consistently all the time.
I think most of us truly believe that once we get our shit together, it WILL be smooth sailing.
We WILL include protein in our breakfast not just for a few months at a time, but once and FOR ALL, til death do us part (from our beloved protein).
We WILL sleep all night peacefully, and wake up and meditate, stretch, and journal, and make healthy breakfast, and go for a walk to get some sunlight. [I am assuming someone else will be cleaning our house, doing groceries, taking care of our children, AND going to work instead of us, while we are sunbathing in the forest, or whatever.]
I had a snack at 4am last night.
Why on earth?
Well, I was up.So there is that.
Also, a good chunk of dinner was spent trying to just manage general chaos - so.. like any other day, really - and that resulted in a LIGHT dinner. That in itself is not a problem (I can always eat a bigger breakfast), BUT if you happen to be up and at it for HOURS in the middle of the night, yep, you get hungry.
I barely remember what I ate.
I THINK I finished half eaten banana lying on the counter, and then had some berries, and a bowl of cereal. Wow. Not bad, actually, for a 4AM MEAL - but then… not exactly overflowing with protein, is it?
So… what exactly would I have done IF I was doing all the things consistently perfectly all the time because I have officially arrived at my destination of health and enlightenment?
I imagine I would have made myself a healthy egg scramble with some chopped red peppers, and tomatoes, and maybe a side of green salad (because vegetables!). Yep. All of that at 4 IN THE MORNING. Then I would sit down at the table and eat my middle-of-the-goddamn-night snack slowly and mindfully.
Do you see why I was laughing now?
No one is doing ALL the things consistently.
Everyone WANTS to be doing ALL the things consistently.
Everyone knows deep down that it’s not actually a realistic goal for THEM, but feels like they should keep trying, because the magical person X on the internet seems to be doing it ALL.
They are not.
I’ve been waist deep in all things coaching and behavioral change for ten years, and I eat berries and cereal in the middle of the night. The accomplishment is twofold - not eating an entire box of cookies instead, but most importantly knowing that eating in the middle of the night is not ideal, knowing that cereal is not ideal, interrupted sleep is not ideal, and also knowing that nothing is fucking ideal. Ever.
You and I are doing so well.