By Leo Babauta
It is a curious phenomena that when we try to change our habits — simplify our clutter, eat healthier, start exercising — the other people in our life don’t instantly want to be changed in the same way.
It’s as if they had their own minds!
Horrible as that might sound, it’s the reality we have to deal with if we have a family (or friends, roommates, coworkers, etc.). They often resist changes we make, or their possibly unhealthy habits stand in our way.You’re trying to eat only whole foods, and yet your daughter eats goldfish crackers and pizza and Oreos. And she doesn’t seem to want to munch on asparagus instead!
So what’s a habit changer to do? Abandon all attempts at change? No. Force change on family members? Tempting, but not effective.
The answer is that there is no simple answer. I’ll share what has worked for me, but that won’t work for everyone. When you’re single and living alone, it’s easy to make whatever changes you want to make — but if you’re married, you have to make compromises. You live in the space that is common between the two of you, and that is negotiated space. When you add kids to your life, you now live in a space that is common between all of you, also a negotiated space.
What works? Let’s take a look at some strategies. Try one, try two, or try them all, and figure out what works in your negotiated space.
Getting Others On Board
Here’s a common scenario: you’ve read about some interesting challenge or change someone else has made, or perhaps read a magazine article or book on the topic, and have been giving it some thought, and finally arrived at the decision to make the change … and then you spring it on your significant other or entire family. They somehow aren’t as enthused as you’d like!
That’s because you have gone through an entire thinking process to arrive at the decision, and they are being asked to come in only at the end — after the decision has been made. That’s not fair to them, because they haven’t had time to go through the same thinking process, to consider the reasons, to find the motivation, to be included in the decision.
I’ve found a more effective method is to get all the people who will be affected in on the thinking process as early as possible. Don’t talk to them about it when you’re near the decision-making point … talk to them when you first hear or read about the idea. Talk about why it’s appealing to you. Get their input. Ask whether they’d consider that kind of change. Talk about your motivation. Include them every step of the way, until the decision is made, and even after.
What people don’t like is being forced to change, against their will. So never make people feel that way. Don’t ask them to change … ask them to help you change, once you’ve gotten to the decision. Say that their support is really important to you, and while they are welcome to join you (you’d love that!), they don’t have to change. Just help you make your change. Ask them to be your accountability buddy, someone to call on when you’re having trouble, someone to report problems and successes to.
Setting the Example
While not everyone will be instantly on board with your ideas for change, I’ve found the best method of persuasion is being a good model for change.
When I started exercising, most of my family wasn’t doing it. I tried to convince people, but I wasn’t as good at persuasion as I thought. When they saw me exercising, at first they thought I was a bit kooky. Then they saw the changes in me, and how much I enjoyed it, and I would share how great it was, and over time, it inspired some to think about it.
That’s what you can do — inspire people to consider something they wouldn’t normally consider, just by setting a good example. No one else will do yoga with you? That’s OK … keep doing it, and share your experiences. Do it in front of them as they watch TV. Try not to be annoying, though.
Making Changes on Your Own
If others won’t get on board with your changes, ask for a minimum amount of support: ask that they give you the space to make the change on your own, without their help. This isn’t a small thing sometimes — often people are threatened when someone in their life makes changes, or they don’t like the disruption of their routine of doing things with you (eating junk food together, for example). You doing something on your own is a big change for them.
Ask for the space to do it alone, and ask that they not criticize or otherwise make it hard on you. If they are resentful, this makes it more difficult, but you’ll have to make an effort to show that this is something that will make you happy, and you will do your best not to disrupt things for them. If that means you don’t spend mornings together because you are out running, then try to create other time together, like in the evenings or on weekends.
When you make changes on your own, without the support of others, it’s more difficult. You need to find other encouragement — I’ve joined running groups online, a smoking cessation group, and other similar groups. Facebook and other social networking tools can also be helpful in finding online support. Often there are groups in your area where you can meet people in person who are going through the same changes.
One of my more successful strategies is creating challenges for my family. They aren’t required to do the challenges, of course, but sometimes people like the opportunity to rise to a challenge. And they like making changes with others.
My wife and I have created eating challenges to do with each other (we call them Lean Out Challenges, usually after we go on a trip and gorge ourselves on unhealthy food). With the kids, I’ve challenged them to do pushups, handstands, running, vegetarian experiments, daily drawing, and more.
Challenges are fun if you do them together. It can be fun to do it as a competition, or to offer rewards for people who complete the challenge.
Notes on Eating Habits
Eating changes can be especially difficult if your family isn’t doing it with you, because they can be eating junk food right in front of your face as you try to much on celery. Tough stuff.
Here are some notes from my experiences:
- If you do the cooking, cook food for the family, and cook your meals separately. Eva & I often cook our healthy food in bulk and eat the same food for days, while the kids eat other things. For some reason they’re not big kale and quinoa fans. Kids.
- Kids can change their taste buds, but slowly. They won’t instantly like big green salads, but you can introduce vegetables slowly, in soups and other dishes they might be used to. Dice carrots and kale can be added to chili and spaghetti sauce if you cut them small enough and add them when you’re cooking onions/garlic.
- Kids will eat nearly anything if you add some baked fries to the dish.
- If the kids are going to eat something especially tempting (pizza), I try to make myself scarce so I don’t have temptations. It’s too hard to avoid junk that I enjoy eating, if it’s right in front of me, so I’ll go for a run or go to my room to do some work — keep busy.
- We try to find restaurants that has healthy food that the kids will like.
- When I went vegetarian, Eva & the kids weren’t vegetarian. I did get them to try some dishes, which they generally liked, and then would just eat my food separately from them. If I made my food especially delicious, it would be tempting for them to at least try.
- Kids will go to any restaurant if there’s dessert at the end.
- Many people don’t like the idea of vegan food, even if they’ve never tried it. Making delicious vegan cupcakes will often win them over, at least to try it. I recommend Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Truly amazing.
Supporting Their Changes
If you want others to support your changes, you should also support theirs. When my kids or wife express a desire to make some change, I do my best to help them achieve that:
- I share my experiences and what worked for me, and how I overcame some obstacles.
- I share websites and books that help with that change, and often will buy books to help them.
- I’ll do a project with them, or create a challenge we can do together.
- I run and workout with my wife, and created a workout log to help her track her fitness.
- I share vegetarian recipes with my wife (who is now vegan), and with my daughter, who decided to try vegetarianism
There are more possibilities, but these are a few examples. When they see you supporting them, they now have a model for how to act when you want to make changes in the future. It’s not an overnight change that you’ll see in your family, but slow gradual long-term changes. Play the long game when it comes to changing the culture of a family.
Learn by Teaching
The best way to make changes yourself is to help others. That means supporting them when they want to make changes, sharing the changes you’ve made and teaching them what you’ve learned, showing someone how to do something cool after you’ve learned how to do it.
You are teaching by making changes and sharing those changes with your family. They might not care about learning at first, but they will, over time. And when you teach, you learn more and more. As I am now, sharing with you.
Hi guys. Sorry for the lack of posting. I’m currently working on setting up my online practice and this takes a bit of time. I’m also writing a little book about certain types of food we (esp woman) are afraid to eat, and why we shouldn’t have this fear for these products. So, I’m kinda trying to put them in a friendly spotlight again. This ‘task’ is especially enjoyable to do!
And the last month and a half I’ve been spending my last hours of spare time sanding, painting and cleaning the new house of my twinsister. Jeez!! Never knew this could take up so many hours. It’s fun tho. She is a colourful person and her house represents this. Bold and colourful! <3
Hence the lack of content. Back soon with more stuff, no worries. Have a great weekend all!
I Dream Of Power Jeannie Workout
For this workout I was using only my gymboss timer and my Pull-Up bar. I definitely suggest everyone having a pull-up bar in your house, it’s extremely useful not only to use during your workout, but to stretch on it and as I told you guys before I keep one on my office door space, to do a pull-up here and there when I’m walking by.
This workout was divided into 3 parts, first and third part were interval training, the second part was done for time.
Set your timer for 2 intervals 35 seconds ( max effort exercise ) and another 35 seconds ( recovery exercise ), for the total of 6 rounds. There will be 2 exercises max and recovery, and you will go through both for 6 rounds total. There is no break in between the exercises.
- Triple Press Combo ( Max )
- Jump-Kicks ( Recovery )
This part is done for time, so set your timer as a stopwatch. Complete 8 sets of the following:
- Neutral Grip Pull-ups – 4 reps ( unassisted on the way down )
- Iso Push-up Kick Backs – 6 reps
- One Leg Push-Ups – 4 reps
Set your timer as you did in the first part, for two intervals of 35/35=6
There is also 2 exercises and no breaks, first exercise is max effort, second exercise is recovery interval.
- Spiderman Push-offs
- Back lifts
Bonus Cardio that I did:
Complete 5 sets of the following:
- Crab – 50 reps
- Wall Climbers – 50 reps
Artificial sweeteners especially aspartame has gotten a bad rap over the years, most likely due to studies showing they cause cancer. But not to worry Ajinomoto the company that makes
Aspartame has changed the name to AminoSweet. It has the same toxic ingredients but a nice new sounding name. And if you or your child happens to be allergic to Aspartame, well don’t take it personally it’s just business.
Despite the evidence gained over the years showing that aspartame is a dangerous toxin, it has remained on the global market . In continues to gain approval for use in new types of food despite evidence showing that it causes neurological brain damage, cancerous tumors, and endocrine disruption, among other things.
Most consumers are oblivious to the fact that Aspartame was invented as a drug but upon discovery of its’ sweet taste was magically transformed from a drug to a food additive. HFA wants to warn our readers to beware of a wolf dressed up in sheep’s clothing or in this case Aspartame dressed up as Aminosweet.
Over 25 years ago, aspartame was first introduced into the European food supply. Today, it is an everyday component of most diet beverages, sugar-free desserts, and chewing gums in countries worldwide. But the tides have been turning as the general public is waking up to the truth about artificial sweeteners like aspartame and the harm they cause to health. The latest aspartame marketing scheme is a desperate effort to indoctrinate the public into accepting the chemical sweetener as natural and safe, despite evidence to the contrary.
Aspartame was an accidental discovery by James Schlatter, a chemist who had been trying to produce an anti-ulcer pharmaceutical drug for G.D. Searle & Company back in 1965. Upon mixing aspartic acid and phenylalanine, two naturally-occurring amino acids, he discovered that the new compound had a sweet taste. The company merely changed its FDA approval application from drug to food additive and, voila, aspartame was born.
G.D. Searle & Company first patented aspartame in 1970. An internal memo released in the same year urged company executives to work on getting the FDA into the “habit of saying yes” and of encouraging a “subconscious spirit of participation” in getting the chemical approved.
G.D. Searle & Company submitted its first petition to the FDA in 1973 and fought for years to gain FDA approval, submitting its own safety studies that many believed were inadequate and deceptive. Despite numerous objections, including one from its own scientists, the company was able to convince the FDA to approve aspartame for commercial use in a few products in 1974, igniting a blaze of controversy.
In 1976, then FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt wrote a letter to Sen. Ted Kennedy expressing concern over the “questionable integrity of the basic safety data submitted for aspartame safety”. FDA Chief Counsel Richard Merrill believed that a grand jury should investigate G.D. Searle & Company for lying about the safety of aspartame in its reports and for concealing evidence proving the chemical is unsafe for consumption.
The details of aspartame’s history are lengthy, but the point remains that the carcinogen was illegitimately approved as a food additive through heavy-handed prodding by a powerful corporation with its own interests in mind. Practically all drugs and food additives are approved by the FDA not because science shows they are safe but because companies essentially lobby the FDA with monetary payoffs and complete the agency’s multi-million dollar approval process.
Changing aspartame’s name to something that is “appealing and memorable”, in Ajinomoto’s own words, may hoodwink some but hopefully most will reject this clever marketing tactic as nothing more than a desperate attempt to preserve the company’s multi-billion dollar cash cow. Do not be deceived.
Update: As many comments are being posted by readers who are allergic to Aspartame we ask that you please forward this article to as many people as you can.