Making Progress One Day at a Time

I’ve been a disgruntled cook lately.

I am tired of cooking. I am sick of washing pots and pans and wiping down my counters. I am tired of counseling my kids on how to eat better for more energy, clear skin, and better cognition. I am tired of cooking for the longevity of the health of my family.  Tired.

It has felt an overwhelming and pointless effort to make good choices with our food. I have been bored with the routine of it all. After all these years I am still trying to find “that dinner” that everyone in my family will like. It has just been feeling so mundane. Until today.

Today I caught up on a series offered at a church I attend titled “Dream Big, Think Small” by the pastor Jeff Manion. The first talk was like a breath of fresh air into my mind and heart that was feeling stale, grey and purposeless. The point of this first message was that in a world in which we celebrate immediacy and touts “overnight success” we need to refocus on the routine, the ‘faithfulness” of repetition, and enjoy the  progress of our efforts.  This thought was like a cool breeze on a hot summer afternoon. Suddenly, I saw the importance of my “mundane” cooking. I found value in making sure my family had breakfast available each and every morning. I realized my consistent counsel on making nutritious choices is slowly, but surely, paying off.

Do you ever feel defeated before you begin? Whether you are trying to gain better health, lose weight, avoid a common family disease, create a consistent healthy life, it requires a lot of work. Sometimes the thought of “it all” can make you feel like quitting before you begin.  However, the trick is not to think of “it all”. The trick is to focus on just today, or just this meal.  Making small changes can lead to a big impact.   In the series I referenced “Dream Big, Think Small”, the poster image is the ant. The power in the repetitive nature of an ant leaving the ant hill, retrieving a seed, and bringing it back to the ant hill seems minuscule in just one day. However, repeat that behavior day after day after day and by the time winter rolls in, the ant community has plenty to eat to survive the cold months. “There is life in the redundant, repetitive action we take on a daily basis”.

A suggested tactic in finding a way to keep on track is to find a large calendar. Each day you implement your behavior you desire (drinking 8 glasses of water, eating a nutritious breakfast, eating vegetables with each meal, taking a probiotic) make a large “X” on that calendar day. Then repeat, day after day after day. Soon, you will see a “chain of “x”s ” . Your next job is not to break the chain. On a daily basis it may not seem to be impacting your goals, however, revisit this goal after 4-6 months. Do you see a difference then? Fast forward a year? Can you imagine? Small changes can make a big impact.

I may not immediately regain all my joy of cooking with this new mindset, however, the seed is planted that the mundane job of providing meals for my family, the planning, the cleaning, the tolerance of the griping at the dinner table…it will all pay off. Maybe not today, next week or even next month, but I am planting the seed about how the power of nutrition is life-giving with my family.

So don’t give up. Pull out your calendar and making your “X” chain. Next, don’t break the chain.

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