Food and Fitness Friday: A Change in Language

There is a phrase that I don’t let my kids use: I can’t. When teaching them to ride their bikes, they would often say, “but I can’t do it,” to which I would reply, yes, you can. When Ty says he can’t get his room clean, I say, yes you can, you are choosing not to do it. (Or sometimes I say, yes, you are right, you can’t get your room clean when you are out here talking instead of cleaning it, but that’s another blog post.)

But for some reason, I haven’t yet completely banished the words, “I can’t,” from the things that I say, and I would venture a guess you have the same problem.

When on a “diet,” are you more likely to say, “I can’t have __________?”

Or how about exercise, do you find yourself saying, “I can’t stay here (in bed, on the couch) because I have to go do _____________?”

I have learned that as people find out that I don’t eat meat, eggs, dairy, and sweets (mostly), if we are having a meal together they will say things like, “Oh, that’s right, you can’t have ________.” But that isn’t a true statement, which is why I am working on changing my language when it comes to my choice in diet and exercise.

Instead of saying “I can’t” I am saying “I choose.” For example, I choose to not eat meat. I choose to get up at 3:41 a.m. (yes, alarms will set that early in the morning) to go for our long Sunday runs. I choose to eat whole wheat spaghetti without meat and Parmesan cheese. I choose to eat a taco salad covered in black beans instead of taco meat. I choose to make meal prep a little more challenging instead of just opening a box of mac and cheese and a package of hot dogs.

Changing the way I refer to (food, exercise, whatever) doesn’t necessarily make the choices easier, but it makes it feel like I am making a choice, rather than being denied something I would rather have.

Think about it. Which statement makes you feel good and which one makes you want to cheat?

  • I can’t have a piece of that pumpkin toffee cheesecake, so I guess I’ll have some fruit.
  • I choose to have a bowl of fruit instead of a piece of cheesecake.

It’s more empowering to make a good choice. And the more good choices you make, the more likely you are to continue making good choices. But if you are constantly feeling like you are being denied something because you can’t have it, eventually your inner 4-year-old is going to rebel and you are going to have it if you want it, by golly! 🙂

So today I want to challenge you to change the way you refer to the choices you are making for your health. Choose the good instead of denying yourself what you see as bad (but pleasurable). It won’t be long and you will see a huge difference in the way you feel about your choices.

What area offers you the biggest challenge to say “I choose” instead of “I can’t?”

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