An embarrassing childhood story…
When I was about 5 years old, we were visiting my Dad’s hometown of Deadwood, South Dakota and planned to attend a big family party that afternoon. My mom had dressed me in a beautiful white, wedding gown type dress for the family event. With some time to kill, my parents took me, my brother and my two older cousins to the playground to burn off some energy before the event.
Maybe you can already tell where this is going.
The slide loomed high and looked even taller and scarier than what my older, taller cousins and my brother must have experienced.
My brother was the brave one who went down the slide first. Upon reaching the nadir of the slide, he noticed a huge mud puddle, adeptly jumped over it, and warned us all.
“Watch out for the mud pile!”
Next up was my cousin Julie. She slid down swiftly and expertly jumped over the mud pile unscathed and yelled out to the two of us left..
‘Watch out for the mud pile!”
Lastly was my oldest cousin Roy, who, undeterred went down the slide head first only to flip around, ninja style, just in time to jump over the mid pile to safety all the while yelling…
“Jenny!! Watch out for the mud pile!!
Finally, it was just me left. I stood atop the intimidatingly high slide ready for my big moment. Why my parents weren’t aware of this entire debacle and didn’t shepherd me off to clean safety, I do not know.
I readied myself and cautiously started my dissent, heeding the words of my cousins and bro.
I struggled mightily in my vain attempt to avoid the huge mud pile (but secretly wanted to land right in it) and yes, I landed, butt first straight in the gooey, sticky and worm filled mud pile. With a wily, mischievous smile on my face and a determination in my voice, I yelled…
“Watch out for the mud pile!”
You probably knew how this sad tale would end and can imagine the moment my mom and dad figured out what had gone on.
Why do I tell you this fairly mundane, albeit amusing and definitely embarrassing childhood story?
Because knowing what to do and how to behave doesn’t equal actually DOING it.
And this important mantra can serve as a good reason to take some of the blame off of yourself when it comes to your food choices and decisions about your wellness in general.
Oftentimes we know we shouldn’t have a late night binge, that extra piece of pizza or skip the gym for the 3rd day in the row. But sometimes, despite the knowing, we just can’t get to the doing. The doing is the hard part right? We all know that broccoli is healthier than french fries and that a spin class burns more calories than a nap but it doesn’t mean this will translate into action.
“A body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest” – Newton’s first law
Human beings are smart cookies but we’re not so great in the motivation and action department. We know that willpower and discipline will sometimes throw us under the bus. But, as humans our M.O. is often to conserve energy and we may be pulled more towards inertia vs. action biologically unless faced with a threat.
What should we focus on then?
Compassion AND action.
How do we bridge the gap between the knowing and the doing? By taking small, measurable and gentle steps towards our goals daily – not one big swoop. And by focusing on the intrinsic reasons why you want to make the change instead of external motivators such as over-exercising because you have a wedding coming up in 3 weeks.
Just as I knew, even at the tender age of 5 and with enough warning that I shouldn’t sit in the mud pile with a big smile on my face, the knowing didn’t teach me enough to take the right action (avoid the slide all together?)
If you’re curious to learn more about why knowing doesn’t equal doing and how to flip your behavioral food scripts, I invite you to watch my free masterclass on heart-centered habit shifts below.
And, my self-guided course, all about heart-centered habit shifts and behavioral change, The Consistency Cure, is open for enrollment at a very affordable price.