Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
On the way home from work today I had a thought brewing about how my perspective has changed in the last 6 months. Back then I used to want to eat all the bad food I ate – I enjoyed it, eating was something I did for pleasure. But I don’t feel that way any more; eating certainly isn’t a hardship and I enjoy the act, but it’s not something I do specifically for pleasure.
My mental perception of normality has changed. Today it isn’t normal for me to eat cakes for fun so I don’t do it. I might still eat the odd piece of cake, but it is the exception not the rule. And when I do have a piece it becomes a big deal, I don’t make that decision lightly and I think about it a lot: “is it of a high enough quality to justify the calories?”, “does this occasion merit a treat?”, “can I offset this within my diet later?”, “will this affect my weigh-in?”, ¬†”what are the other options for this decision?“. That last question is really important: what are the easier options available to me? Perhaps instead of having cake and worrying about all these things, I can just have an apple instead – that’s the easier option. I can see a similarity with this thought process and when I used to try and go to the gym/eat healthy. Eating healthy then would be something abnormal so I’d start thinking about it a lot, debating the pros and cons of the decision. By doing this I’d come up with all the “little voice in my head” excuses (reasons) why eating bad food and sitting on my ass was the better option, the easier option.
There is also a cognitive bias to consider, the “status quo bias“, in which we “tend not to change an established behavior unless the incentive to change is compelling”. So when the established behavior is unhealthy, it takes more effort to do something healthy than when the established behavior is already healthy: this is perhaps why going to the gym is mentally easier for me than for someone at the beginning of their journey, and why it’s less likely that I’ll fall off the wagon and binge than he will.
Today it is normal for me to eat healthy. It is normal for me to go to the gym. It is normal for me to walk to work. I don’t spend any time thinking about a decision – I just do them. The things I do habitually I do on auto-pilot with no internal discussion. I no longer give myself the opportunity to talk myself out of going to the gym, I just get up and go. This is definitely one of the key differences between my life now and before, I’ve replaced my bad habits with good ones ‚Äî I wonder if this is the essence of making a lifestyle change?