This morning I woke up to find I was out of oatmeal, my go-to healthy morning meal. No biggie, I thought, and I poured myself a bowl of cereal.
As soon as I took the first bite, I realized that I could barely taste it (I developed a cold during my travels over the weekend and am all stuffed up). However, after eating the first serving, I had a bit more milk left in the bowl, so I refilled the bowl halfway with cereal to sop up the rest of the milk, happily munching alongside a rerun of my favorite TV show.
As I was walking my licked-clean bowl to the sink, I realized how odd my rationale for the second serving of cereal was. I could barely taste the first serving, but because I was used to refilling the bowl, I did it anyway, despite not even really enjoying the meal to begin with. I wasn't really paying attention to what I was eating, but I ate it anyway, despite not really feeling hungry or unsatisfied.
Sometimes our most detrimental health habits are the ones we don't even think about - the extra cookie to polish off the dregs of the box, the finishing bites of mac n' cheese from our kids' plates before we pop them in the dishwasher, or the unrealized double portion (yes, there's more than one serving in ONE bar!) of a candy bar we shouldn't be eating in the first place. Eating behaviors become disconnected from the actual reasons to eat (hunger, energy) when we allow our routine to govern our meals and our habits to outweigh our health.
Determined to make up for my mindless morning, I visited a nearby cafe for lunch and ordered the half salmon salad. Every bite was savory - the light feta cheese melted into my mouth alongside the perfectly chilled salmon filet as the tangy citrus dressing (on the side, of course!) complemented the slivered almonds reasonably portioned across the salad. For around 300 calories, I enjoyed a meal far more flavorful and far more filling than the empty, starchy cereal I'd poured this very morning - and I was present for every bite.
Intentionality and presence are important to our lives in many ways - from exercise and diet to just spending time with our loved ones or finishing a project at work, yet too often the most fulfilling parts of our daily tasks are lost to the rush and bustle of the routine.
This week, try your best to be present and listen to the messages your body and mind are telling you. Tired? Commit to 7-8 hours of sleep each night this week. Hungry? Make sure you're adequately hydrated (around 100 ounces of water daily, depending on height, weight, and activity level) and taking in 7-9 servings of fresh fruit and veggies to quench your appetite in a healthy way. Wanting to skip a workout? Convince yourself to get to the gym or be active for at least 15 minutes; if you feel okay, add 15 more and then go home to a nice non-food treat (a warm bath, a good book, or even a short massage).
When you are trying to make positive change and establish new healthy habits in your life, sometimes the biggest distraction is the noise in your own head. Be aware, stay accountable, and watch your life transform as you reach your goals mindfully and with purpose.