The central conflict in the human condition might have been best summarized by Ancient Rome's most amorous poet, Ovid, when he observed, "I see better things, and I approve, but then follow worse." This concept applies, without exception, to all areas of wellness. Meaningful lifestyle changes require knowledge, reflection, and no small amount of hard work, but their successful adoption can only help you to lead the life you want. As a daily decision-making process, dieting presents a helpful case study. The Value of Recognition You may "see" and "approve" of better food choices as much as three or more times a day and yet consistently choose more tempting options. You're disciplined enough fulfill your work obligations each day, so do you truly "lack self-control" as some might accuse? But how can you exercise self-control all of the time and never allow yourself an indulgence? At the same time, you may recognize that your dietary habits need to improve but not know how to do is consistently. It's one thing to follow a diet for a few weeks or months; it's quite another thing to do it for life. That might even sound like a kind of prison sentence. In the weight loss community, it's considered extremely beneficial for beginning dieters to rigorously document calorie intake and eating trends. The idea is for dieters to better understand what's going into their bodies, but the reason it works for dieting is also true for everything else: Knowledge is a species of power, and ignorance is a species of weakness. Human beings are rational animals. It's impossible to prevent your brain from chemically lighting up in the presence of pastries and ice cream, but it's possible to study that reaction and lessen its impact on your life. Maybe your willpower fails only for cookies. Maybe it only happens around 2pm. If you approve of the better course in theory, you should be able to practice that knowledge whenever appropriate. If something stops you from doing that, shine a bright light on the culprit and look for a fitting pair of handcuffs. The Little Things That Count Loose nails tremble sturdy homes. Trouble making solid dietary choices can indeed be reflected in other areas of life because the mechanism underlying your rational decision-making skill has gotten rusty, but the good news is that it's easier to prevent a buildup of grime than to replace the entire car. By focusing on improving your eating habits, you can prime your mind to reduce cravings and increase discipline. Everything feels far away when you're still in bed. Instead of being a prison sentence, living healthily and making decisions you know are good is valuable for its own sake. It has its own momentum once you're doing it, and you'll never regret having made the right choice. Tackle the little things in order to do a better job on the big ones when the time comes.
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