Health Fitness

The Power of Intent and Advance Decision

This is not the post you hope to read after today’s doctor visits. That post, in which I compare and contrast the results of my two most recent blood tests, will come a little later. Partly because I need to work on organizing the data into a nice, readable table that can be easily updated to show my progress over time. But also because I wanted to share about a different and interesting experience that happened on my way home from the doctor’s office.

Every time I go to or from my doctor’s office, I pass a McDonald’s, not to mention, now that I think about it, a Checkers, a Diary Queen, and a Krystal. Talk about running the gauntlet! (My previous doctor was located across the street from a Dunkin ‘Donuts … one must wonder, what wrong did I do to a whole grain in a previous life, to have stacked so high against me this time?!?)

Today I passed by on the way home, without even a “pang.” I even thought it was almost 1:00 PM and I hadn’t eaten yet due to the requirement to fast before my blood test.

It is funny and quite unusual to feel the lack of something. But I felt the lack of that “sting” quite strongly. I was surprised, because I have a long history of not just eating fast food in the car, but rationalizing my decision to do so. Although I sometimes drove straight to fast food places with the intention (and anticipation) of eating my favorite unhealthy food, I often ate there in a fit of desperation as well. And I’m not just talking about diet despair and deprivation, though I’ve felt it too, but here I’m talking about that feeling of having burned my last calorie, yearning for something to eat because my blood sugar is dropping, my head is starting to pound, I’m starting to feel dizzy or grumpy or whatever.

I would argue that these are relatively rational and legitimate reasons for wanting to grab the most convenient first food. Even “normal” people (non-messy eaters, if they exist) sometimes let their hunger last so long that they become desperate to eat. And all types of eaters are doing the right thing when responding to your body’s need for nutrition.

What caught my eye today, however, was a memory of the ways I used to rationalize my “need” to stop by McDonald’s. Using those extreme hunger pangs, or my need to get to the next place, or to stick to the schedule, etc … to tell myself that getting my “food” or “snack” from Mickey D’s was a perfectly acceptable solution. . Yet at least a perfectly justifiable one considering the dire situation staring me in the face.

Today, instead, I walked past that McDonald’s without even thinking about it (except the germ of this post). He had no idea what exactly he was going to eat when he got home. I wasn’t sure that a phone call, a traffic jam, or other unforeseen incident would not prevent me from getting my hungry self home in time to eat the food I needed. But I knew that what I needed to eat – my strong vegetable selections, whole foods, low oil, low sugar, and low soy – was at home, not at the self-service. And he knew that was what he WANTED to eat, even though there were a few more minutes to go.

What made the difference today, I wondered?

What I think is the difference is the intention. Another way to describe intention, in this case, is advance decision. Look, I made the decision on June 2 (25 days ago!) That I was going to eat this way. As shocking to me as it is to those who know me, I have not doubted that decision (* yet – see the warning at the end of this post).

Since the decision had already been made on June 2, there was really no other decision to make when I stopped by that McDonald’s. At least not on this day. Today was just another building that I passed by on the way home.

Anyone who is committed to a partner, to God, to a goal, a cause, or a creature, you know what I mean. Usually we cannot separate ourselves from the things that would tempt us to commit ourselves, at least not completely. There will always be handsome men and pretty women walking around; there will often be opportunities to cheat, lie or take advantage; there will be times when we want to procrastinate or take a day off or cheat … But, on a good day, we are blinded to these temptations and we can pass by.

I am happy for the good morning I have! It is not like this? It is not a perfect science or a lifetime guarantee … but I think we get them because we took the leap of faith that is the intention, the decision made in advance.

* So here’s the caveat. As I was driving through those Golden Arches, it occurred to me that I had also felt this way during the early stages of other attempts at dieting. This scares me a bit, especially since I’m posting all of this THERE via this crazy new thing called interwebs. I would like to think that my current state of strong satisfaction as a plant “feels different” and therefore “is different”. But alas, I’m afraid I have to face reality too: the 25th is impressive, but only milli-milli-milligrams on the journey I hope to travel. (The writers of the Big Bang theory know the real name of that unit of measurement, but I don’t.) I intend to keep track of milestones that have tripped me in the past. What I remember from my most recent experience with Weight Watchers is shaking it for about two months with no problem, then stopping and shutting down for a few months (still trying but losing effectiveness), and then pretty much quit the plan (whether I admitted it or not). That is not reason enough to panic and quit, or to predict sure destiny and failure. Instead, my plan is to observe, celebrate, and reflect on each of my upcoming months-iversaries with this mind. And, as always, I’ll keep you posted!

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