Far too often, I hear people say "I could never do ___________." I generally hear it in relation to food choices, like "I could never eat liver, or sardines, or <insert random green vegetable here>," or "I could never eat the way you do." Here's the thing: I didn't wake up one day and just start eating differently. It was a process that has changed and shifted over time. My dietary habits have continued to change with ongoing trial and error, education, and overall health needs. It didn't happen instantly, but has organically evolved with time and intention.
When facing the prospect of change, we often look at just the big picture, end result. We see the completed task, overlooking the steps it took to get there, and deem it completely un-doable, too difficult, impossible for us. We fail to take into account the process. That thing didn't materialize overnight. It took time, intention, and dedication. We have to set ourselves up for success before we can determine that "we could never" before even getting started.
I too have fallen prey to the “I could never” mindset. Oftentimes in life, we put restrictions on ourselves long before we've even thought about the possibility of "what if I did?" It's so easy to look at the lives that others are living and think of all the ways we could never do that. We immediately place restriction on ourselves out of fear of the unknown. But what if we got out of our own heads and into real life living?
Here are some tangible things to consider before you call it quits on something before you’ve even begun:
#1-- START SMALL.
Don't bite off more than you can chew. Aiming for too much all at once will only set you up for failure and disappointment. Pick one thing to master, and don't move on to the next until you've completed it. With diet change, maybe start by adding or removing one food. Give yourself a fair amount of time to make the change, and then aim for the next thing. More on that below.
#2-- GIVE IT A FAIR CHANCE.
Let's use sardines* as an example here (perhaps the first time those words have ever been uttered!) Many will just hear the word "sardine" and immediately cringe and shut the idea down completely. But giving it a fair shot is actually trying the sardine. Worst case scenario? You don't like it. Oh well. But give it a chance. Try sardines in a way that you could actually enjoy them. Maybe that's with a little quality mayo mixed in and some superb crackers on the side for dipping. Find a way that you would ideally enjoy something and then give it a go. Do you typically eat plain tuna straight from the can? If not, don’t do that with sardines either.
# 3-- DON'T FEAR FAILURE.
Fear is a thief of joy. It also steals your willpower to act or to do long before you've even attempted something new. A little trial and error is vital to the process. You don't have to have immediate success for something to be viable or worthwhile. Just determine how you’re going to move forward if it doesn’t work for you, viewing it as a learning experience rather than a failure.
# 4-- THINK OF THE WORST-CASE SCENARIOS.
Sometimes getting out of the fear element of trying something new can be as simple as thinking about the worst thing that could happen. Calling those scenarios to the forefront removes some of their power over us. Sardines: worst case scenario, what if you try them and you totally hate them? OH WELL. At least you tried. You're no worse off. And maybe that motivates you to try something else new instead. Allow yourself to really ponder the worst that could happen, how you would respond, and then go from there.
What might these things look like in action in your own life? Maybe you want to eat healthier, but the thought of where to begin overwhelms you. I get that. So you start with a small change. Maybe replace one soda per day with an equal amount of water. Do that for one week, and then add in or take out something else. Perhaps you start by making and taking your lunch to work two days a week rather than eating out. Or maybe you commit to trying one new healthy homemade recipe a week. Think about something small you can master. Give yourself some time to accomplish it, don’t be afraid of a little trial and error, and think about the worst case scenario.
When it comes to improving your diet, the potential rewards far outweigh the "risks." Maybe you learn that you don’t like some foods. Rather than give up altogether, find something new to try, or a new way to prepare a food you didn’t like growing up. The reward of taking control of your health is worth the "risk" of trying a few foods along the way that you maybe don’t love. Feeling better overall, having more energy, and improving your health is worth the "risk" of shifting around some things in your lifestyle and habits.
Before you know it, your “I could nevers” have come “I dids,” and perhaps you’ve even picked up some great personal and life improvements along the way.
I'd love to hear some of your "I could never" scenarios, and how you have or plan to turn them into "I dids!" Let me know in the comments below. Here's to going forth and just doing it!
In loving health,
*A note: Why sardines? They're strange, different. Many have never tried them and never would. This post perhaps didn't really sell them for you, so here are a few things you should know from a nutritional standpoint: Sardines are more mild in taste than tuna. They're rich in nutrients like vitamin B12, selenium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. They're incredibly portable, convenient, and shelf-stable, making them a great source of easy protein. As always, look for a quality source. You want a variety packed in water or olive oil, NOT soybean oil. Sardines are incredibly sustainable and don't run the risk of mercury contamination as some other fish varieties. Always look for wild vs farmed, with any fish variety. #teamsardine