For the past two weeks I have been abstaining from processed sugar…and grains…and dairy…and legumes. I have passed over free brownies at work, I stuck with veggies at a work barbeque, and I have even stayed away from pizza (my favorite). It hasn’t been as painful as it might sound though.
It’s actually been a very eye-opening experience. I have more energy, I think I’m appreciating natural foods as God intended (who knew almond butter tasted so good!), and it’s helped me to be more disciplined in other areas of my life.
Steps toward healing physically (and financially)
I am not on a diet. I am doing a health experiment. I have a really stubborn defective ankle joint that just doesn’t seem to want to heal. I’ve had a few surgeries, and it looks like there may be another in my future. But before resorting to that, I want to be absolutely sure that I have exhausted every other option that I have control over.
I am a firm believer that what we eat has an immense effect on our minds & bodies. After only an hour or so of reading It Starts With Food, I was so inspired that I decided to put their food challenge to the test right then and there.
I put the book down and went shopping for stuff I have never purchased in my life—broccoli, kale, chard, asparagus, carrots, raw nuts, lean meats, etc. I know that’s probably normal for most of you though 🙂
I am hoping to stimulate whole-body healing that will hopefully have an effect in my problem area. If I can lose a little padding around the middle section and get ripped too, I am willing to accept that as a positive side effect.
It’s not that I was unhealthy before. Amanda is really good about buying and cooking healthy food, but I like to make treats with the kids, a lot more often than mom would approve of (chocolate chip cookies 3x a week anyone?). It’s also not uncommon for me to go out to eat for lunch a few times a week with coworkers, and I’m definitely not the guy who orders a salad. Seriously, you people impress me.
Now that I’m 2 weeks in on my health experiment, I am experiencing what it’s like to actually exercise a little bit of discipline–not snacking on every single little thing I see around the kitchen or at work.
I don’t know about you, but when food is free, my subconscious tends to take over and makes me eat as much as humanly possible, because the more I eat, the better the deal! Right?
I’m not going to bore you with all of the observations I’m having about my diet. The fact that I have been thinking about health a lot lately combined with the fact that I’m always thinking about money has caused me to make some powerful connections between physical health and financial health. Check it out.
Your muscles are like your income.
Just as you can’t function without muscle, you can’t really get by without an income either. If your muscles are small (or if your income is modest), you can still get along okay.
Your diet is like your spending.
If you have no control over your diet, it doesn’t matter much how big your muscles are, because all that processed sugar and artificial food can eventually outweigh any positive effect of muscle quantity and lead to a heart disease and death.
Similary, if you have no control over your lifestyle and spending, it doesn’t matter how much money you make because you will always live far beyond your means. This is not a sustainable way to operate and will always end badly.
What matters more: Exercising those muscles or eating healthily?
So which is more important? Strengthening your muscles & income or controlling your diet & spending?
Physical: Want to know why you didn’t get ripped like the guys on youtube when you did P90x? Because you didn’t follow the diet guide! That is the foundation! Just as Isaac Newton once said, “Great abs are made in the kitchen.”
Once you have your dietary health habits under control, then it makes sense to also focus on strengthening your muscles. That’s not to say you can’t do them simultaneously, but you get the point.
Financial: I can see why you might say income, which I think can be true as I argued in It’s not what you save, it’s what you make, but in this context, it’s your spending. Your spending is indicative of your lifestyle, which is a foundation of a healthy life. It’s about the order. Focusing on other financial goals before learning financial discipline will likely end in failure.
Energy is money
Physical: As I said, I have had more energy as I’ve been eating more carefully. If you maintain a healthy diet while working hard to increase muscle strength, there’s pretty much no way you’re not going to look like [insert your body idol here].
Financial: When we get our spending and lifestyle under control, we’ll notice that we have more money. When you are saving and in control of your spending, you are then ready to take the next step and focus on increasing your income. Maintaining (or scaling back) your current lifestyle at the same time as you increase your income is the most powerful thing you can do financially.
- Income = Muscle
- Spending = Diet
- Money = Energy
How you choose to split your attention between #1 & #2 will directly affect the quantity of #3. Actually, each element has it own unique effect on each of the other elements.
A good diet (good spending habits) leads to more energy (more savings) which supports muscle strengthening (greater income).
And for all you health nuts out there, I am a financial professional and not a health professional, and I realize this is not a perfect analogy (it’s a pretty darn good one though).
If you find yourself making impulse purchases all the time, why not try a 30 day challenge? Make a budget, and don’t buy anything that is not in your budget. You’ll save money and develop discipline. You will feel more financially in control and have more confidence to try to increase your income.
The ultimate diet motivation
If you find yourself constantly caving in and not reaching your physical, financial, or other goals, you need to find the right motivation. Here’s an example of the ultimate motivation.
When we had our first baby almost 8 years ago, the little guy did. not. sleep. (we’re talking 4 hours a day as a 3 week old). And when he was not sleeping, he was doing this (see footage). Warning: May not be appropriate for 1st time expecting moms.
Amanda’s mom suggested she go off dairy and wheat (and other sensitive foods). She was so exhausted and desperate at that point that she didn’t think twice about it. As soon as she made the change, we saw a night and day difference in our son. No more endless colicky screaming. It was a miracle. As a byproduct, she lost the baby weight pretty quickly, and everyone just assumed she had good genetics or a fast metabolism (bless their hearts).
She felt like she had discovered this amazing secret! When she encountered other moms with colicky babies, she was excited to suggest going off dairy and/or wheat, but was often met with “oh, I could never do that” or “I could never give up my cheese!” She had a hard time understanding why they would reject something that could actually help.
So I’m thinking that either these moms REALLY loved cheese, or their babies must have been more tolerable than they described. Whatever it was, they weren’t even motivated enough to try.
Find your financial motivation
Anyway, that’s the same thing I see with money all the time. “I want to be out of debt, but I could never give up my morning Starbucks.” “I could never give up my unlimited data 7G smart phone.” “I could never” [fill in the blank]. Why is that?
Is it because we don’t want it bad enough? Maybe we are too comfortable satisfying every want and appetite we have in the short term that we are sacrificing long term goals and benefits.
The motivation needed to accomplish your goals is unique to you. Only you can determine what it will take. You need to find your “colicky baby” that will motivate you to get up and do something.
- Is it the thought of how relieved you will feel when you are debt free?
- Is it the peace of mind you have when you finally own (or pay off) a home?
- Is it the security derived from finishing your education or sending your kids to school?
- Is it picturing how miserable your life might be in 20 years from a life of making dumb financial choices?
Whatever it is, it’s got to be stressful enough or appealing enough to cause you to act now.
My motivation for 30 days of no sugar is getting rid of my localized chronic pain, being active with sports again, and being more active with my kids.
I’ll definitely finish out the 30 days and will slowly introduce different types of foods back into my diet to see if I can tell how they affect me. It would be great if I could avoid another surgery, but if I don’t, at least I’ll be nice and cut.
What is the source of motivation that really makes you keep going? Also, do you have any good Paleo recipes you could send me?