My job as a fitness coach is to help people create the habits necessary to achieve their goals. Most of the time those habits go very much against traditional cultural practices, sometimes they go against my trainee’s very identity. This means there can be a great deal of resistance involved in changing habits. When I ask people to eat veggies for breakfast they usually look at me as if I were completely insane. At one point I used to explain that we only eat those delicious desserts called cereals because Mr. Kellogg used to believe that the consumption of animal protein lead children to masturbation, and so he invented cereal. The result is that instead of having masturbating teenagers we have fat masturbating teenagers. This story –although true and humorous– doesn’t end up diminishing their resistance, unfortunately. And things only get worse if I tell someone we don’t really need snacks if our meals are well-portioned. Then I am an untrustworthy nutcase in their eyes. “No snack?!!?! Did you go to school at all? C R A Z Y.” And when I try to help somebody enjoy the non-flavor of water then I lose what little respect I had left. Don’t get me wrong: I am not complaining. I love being crazy, and in the end pretty much everybody ends up eating veggies for breakfast and masturbating while eating snack, or something…?
But get this: the most resistance to changing habits I have encountered is when I ask people to stop eating in the car. This suggestion never goes without a snort of skepticism, even with those who already eat veggies at breakfast and live without snacks. Everybody agrees that texting and driving does not make you more efficient, and that you just put other drivers at risk. Eating in the car might be as dangerous as texting, yet that argument never works. Eating in the car is a cultural practice but also it serves a purpose for our identities: it makes us feel super productive and hard-working. “I wake up and hustle! I go right into work! I have no time! I have so much to do! I have to start my day right now! I’ll eat in the car!” And that quickly becomes eating in front of the computer, eating on the toilet, and so on. But this seemingly innocent habit is also an affirmation that eating is secondary, and that it does not deserve your complete attention.
The funny thing is that it is easy for us to understand intellectually why making separate time for eating is not only important for your health but also for your productivity. And I don’t care who you are, it is feasible, to find 15 minutes for breakfast. Nonetheless the idea of not eating in the car feels like utter NONSENSE. When it comes to fitness and nutrition and the changes we want for ourselves we all secretly want the magic pills: the perfect meal plan, the secret Russian lifting protocol that will makes us so strong, the Brazilian exercise that will make our butts amazing, and that cleanse that will clean a lifetime of poptarts and cheetos. . We tend to forget that true change comes slowly and with effort.. And changing how and when and where we eat--not merely what we eat will contribute to true change.
Try this: don’t eat in the car if you usually do, or don’t eat in front of the computer if you usually do, or shut your phone off and just seat and eat if you’re usually checking your feeds. Take 15 minutes per meal, and let those be a string of minutes in which you are not on the go–you are not doing anything except being present with your meal.. Make it a “brain break” which will increase your productivity and mood. It is not easy but you are worth it! It is simple, yet hard and powerful, which is after all, what she said.