Lets Turn Your Habits Into Indulgences For Better Health
by Phil Cameron | Wednesday Mar. 1st, 2017
There are many people who say humans are flawed individuals by nature. I say that humans seek opportunity for pleasure and often ignore the consequences attached to their indulgences until it is to late. Of course everyone likes to feel good, to eat tasty things, and to experience euphoria because our brains are wired to do so. The limbic system, a developmentally old part of our nervous system, is designed to make us aware of pain and pleasure. I refer to it as the lizard brain. Reptiles only know how to respond to a stimulus, they don’t have higher thoughts about what the stimulus means. If the stimulus feels good, they are happy and content; if the stimulus causes pain, they run away. We have the same wiring in our brain, but we also have a conscious mind to understand the consequences of our actions. Mark Twain says “A man without vices doesn’t have much reason to get up the morning.”
That quote speaks often to our bad habits, which we let control our lives instead of changing our behavior to live a more optimal, healthier life.
There is a very simple law of physics that holds a great universal truth. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The same is true for what happens in our physiology. We either do things that will enhance our physiology or detract from it, by our actions, our diets, and our habits. The physiology of the human body is very paradoxical. We need to feed, nourish, and build our body, while at the same time detoxifying and eliminating waste from everyday stresses that weaken our body. Survival of the fittest is the name of the game. If we have too many indulgences we make our body weak, which can ultimately lead to a disease.
There is a fine line between an indulgence and a habit. An indulgence is a calculated extravagance that we do occasionally because we enjoy it. A habit is an action that is done on a repetitive basis. Humans are creatures of habit as we like routines, and to go on autopilot to conserve brain energy. Remember good habits are hard to make and easy to break and bad habits are easy to make and hard to break. Surviving your indulgences takes good habits that only come with practice. The trick to long-term success of good habits is discipline. The best definition of discipline I ever heard was “doing what you don’t want to do now, so you can do what you want to do later.” If you want to lose 10 lbs., you have to start by putting the donut down now and start exercising even though you don’t want to.
So let’s be realistic; we are not going to be perfect all the time. We need to allow ourselves some wiggle room to have an occasional indulgence and not fall apart or create a recurring problem. The first step is to know what your indulgence is, and they come in many different tastes, activities, and time wasters. If your indulgence is ice cream, just be mindful that you have a weak spot in your limbic system for it. Using your conscious mind, make a choice to not deny yourself from ever eating ice cream again, but to stop eating ice cream every night before bed. Think of special occasions where you truly want to indulge in an ice cream cone. Go have really good ice cream at your favorite ice cream parlor instead of eating cheap ice cream full of preservatives and bad ingredients in your Lazy Boy chair every night while watching television. Then after you have the ice cream, take some lactase enzymes to help digest the lactose in the ice cream that is irritating to your intestine. It’s best to have the ice cream after a meal so you have less stomach space and your body is already in digestion mode and can work more efficiently on your ice cream indulgence. You have now changed a habit into an indulgence that you can survive with a little planning and preparation and still not feel like you are denying yourself what you want.
Turning every bad habit into an indulgence will drastically reduce the stress on your body. But that’s not to say that every indulgence won’t come with a price either. The reality is you will have to pay the piper at some point; the idea is to pay as little as possible. If you stay up late to watch a movie, you know you will be tired the next day when you have to get up and go to work. Create a recovery plan to maximize your time and efficiency so you don’t have to make decisions when you are tired and weak. Plan to make a meal in the crock-pot so it’s cooking while you are gone at work. Then when you come home there is already a healthy, delicious meal waiting for you. It’s little tricks like that which help you to survive your indulgence and get back on track very quickly. Remember failure to plan is planning to fail!
Make sure to survive your indulgence by thinking ahead and planning for your recovery from your indulgence whether it is from food, activities, or alcohol. Rule number 1, don’t over do it. Then, when you do it, don’t go so crazy that it makes you sick. Support your body in ways to help with digestion and detoxification, like being more hydrated, and eating healthier food around your indulgence. Keep your body moving so you don’t become stagnant and fester in your own toxicity. Even if its just going for a walk, your body will be grateful for the movement to get the toxins out. Keep your body habit free and make yourself conscious about your indulgences by thinking through what your body needs to recover, which will ultimately help you live a healthier, more natural, and more optimal life.