Health is not linear learning

This blog could change your life! Don’t miss it!

My husband is going to school to be a certified Health Coach, and one of his assignments has been to go on a 21-day cleans. The idea is to eliminate all foods – even foods you’re addicted to like coffee and alcohol and cheese — that could be inflammatory. (Inflammation being the root of all evil.) You don’t add any supplements necessarily, but you would have to find some substitutes for missing calories, which are usually in the form of vegetables. Eventually you start adding your favorites back in, while being mindful of how your body responds.

Through this, we have developed new relationships with food. We have always been somewhat healthy,  but we are quitting more foods that cause pain, and introducing more foods that cause healing.

There are two ways people learn that I know of: linear and cyclical (my words). Linear teaches that you have to understand 2 x 2 before moving on to the square root of 2. Cyclical introduces you to 2 x 2, and then to what a square root is, and then cycles back to 2 x 2 regularly. Math is maybe a bad metaphor. In language and history it makes more sense: In linear thinking, you’d have to learn everything about Dr. David Livingstone in a day or so, and then you’re on to the next hero. In cyclical learning, Livingstone’s name would come up throughout all your years of education, with a goal of putting context to new learning.

Linear thinking is dangerous. It teaches perfectionism. And sets learners (and teachers) up for failure. It’s the way I was taught to teach in the public school system. When I watched teachers teach cyclically, in the ABEKA program, I saw them put perspective on today’s learning based on yesterday’s learning.

It set kids up to win because humans by nature are cyclical. Our hours, days, weeks, years, decades and entire lives naturally ebb and flow in a cyclical fashion.

I have met a lot people who have gone on diets; who have “tried” Paleo or Keto or whatever is trendy. Most people say “it worked.” I imagine because it helped them lose weight, which, unfortunately, sadly, is most people’s health and wellness goal. But now their weight is back, and they don’t like it, and so they’d like to get back to it again.

The conversation usually has a guilty tone. As if they failed.

But they missed the point! The point is: Did they learn anything by adding more healthy choices? And what habits are they still putting into place today? The idea that you have to maintain this perfect food plan for the rest of your years is just silliness! If Warren and I thought we could maintain forever this very clean diet we’re attempting to live, we’d be seriously lying to ourselves!

I’m not talking about the 80/20 plan, where 80% of your decisions are good, and the other 20% you can safely blow it and not feel guilty. I’m talking about allowing yourself to be real! I’m talking about learning what decisions will bring you better health, trying them out, and feeling the difference when you do them/not do them.

When they’re right for you, eventually they’ll stick! (And lead to better health, long-term.)

When you embark on a new health plan, train yourself (allow yourself!) to make rational decisions about what is realistic for your life… cyclically.

The most important thing, as you’re making new healthy choices, is to be mindful about what New you can integrate into Old and the next New. For example: let’s say you decide a Mediterranean-type diet of vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans, whole grains and healthy fats would fit your life-style.

After a few weeks, you crave that addictive fast food, and you’re back to your old habits. However, in the meantime, you learned you adore cauliflower, sautéed in bone broth, a bit olive oil and sea salt. Even if this is the only habit you take back to your old self, that’s great!

Next time you go back to Mediterranean cooking, you might find another new habit. If you slip back into the old way again, just at least take one more new habit: snacking on nuts instead of chips, eating slower, introducing fresh greens.

I believe with every fiber of my heart, the more you allow yourself grace to ebb and flow out of and into your old self, the more your new healthy-self will emerge. I believe it’s the judging, the chastising, the punishing of your self-esteem that leads to failure. I believe eventually you will find a better way to take care of yourself.