What I am Learning About Choice

Who needs another diet book, right? There are so many on the market, what could possibly be said that hasn’t already been said? That is what I said to myself when my good friend, Jan Tilley, told me she had just written her third book on making good choices with what we eat. Jan’s new book on what it takes for people to “be well” is called “Eat Well to Be Well."

You really want to buy a copy of this book! And I don’t get any royalties for this statement, so I hope you will be curious enough to go out and get a copy. It is $20 that very well could change your life…for good! My thoughts this week come from reading Jan’s book, and I hope you have the same experience when you read it.


My Revelation

When Jan was telling me she was taking on this project I thought to myself, “I wonder how many diet books have been written?”So I went out on Amazon and found out! There are 171,292 entries for “diet books” and 7,009 that were newly released in the last 90 days!

Talk about a competitive market!

I took Jan's book with me on a trip a few weeks ago and started reading. It really is a great read!

Jan writes not about diets, but about healthy choices. Choices that will sustain you so that “…you have a fighting chance to live a healthy, strong, vibrant life well into old age."

Choice.  An interesting word.

A word that says the decision and the repercussions are mine. I am the one accountable. I am the one responsible. The choice is mine to be healthy.

So that

  • If I am working like a dog, and don’t exercise - I chose that!
  • If I get angry at someone at work over something that doesn’t matter - I chose that!
  • If I skip breakfast and don’t do my best in the morning meeting -  I chose that!
  • If I had a bad day and take it out on people who matter most to me when I get home - I chose that!

I think it is so easy to believe the lies like:

  • My boss is putting so much pressure on me I don’t have time to exercise.
  • I deserve to be angry, my rights were violated.
  • Breakfast, who has time for that…I am not hungry anyway.
  • If you had a day like I had, you would take it home with you too.

Yet we recall... choice.

It is so easy to blame others for my situation:

  • The boss
  • McDonalds
  • Drug Companies
  • My spouse
  • My kids
  • My mother

But really, how long are we in western society going to continue our blame mentality? When will we take ownership for our own choices? Maybe it is time to admit that we are not healthy because we do not want to be.

A Quick Story

A few weeks ago I had a trip that took me to the West Coast, the Mid-West, the deep South, and back to the East Coast. I had several interactions with friends and clients on the journey where the conversation turned to health. Here are bullet summaries of what was said:

  • Friend One: “I am 90 days from my doctor putting me on insulin."
  • Friend Two: “My doctor needs to up my dose of Lipitor.”
  • Friend Three: "I am tired all the time, I just don’t have any energy.“
  • Friend Four: “I just don’t feel good about how I look.”
  • Friend Five: “My knees hurt so badly I can’t exercise anymore."
  • Friend Six: “ I lost 15 pounds on XX diet, but I have put on 25 since I stopped.”

As I was reflecting on those conversations, I had a couple revelations:

  • The reason that so many people write diet books is that the market is really big! A lot of people buy them, a lot of people are trying to figure out this health thing, so authors keep writing them!
  • I really care about all these people. Why can’t they make the changes they need to make to be healthy?

Change Is An Emotional Choice

In his book “The Heart of Change,” John Kotter says that the core matter of change is about speaking to people's feelings. That any successful change is brought about by helping each other see the problem or solution that influences the emotion and not just the thought. Kotter goes on to say that the single most important notion for change is quite simple, “People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings.“

Something not going your way? Are you not getting the outcome you desire? Have you not exercised in weeks? Are you working your entire vacation?

What needs to change?

According to Koetter, you do not need any more information or data. What you need is for the feeling you are experiencing to be turned from negative to positive. To see the possibility rather than to succumb to the inevitable.

Call To Action

Many of you who read this blog I have met at some point over the course of my life personally. I know some of you personally and many of you by acquaintance. I want you to know that I care about you. I care about your health and I care about your well-being. If you have a change that you need to make, I hope you will consider the emotional aspect of what you need to do. You will never make the change if you are focused on blaming your circumstance or gathering more data.

5 Steps to making Your Incremental Change

  • Write it down
  • Start today
  • Start small
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Focus on the positive feelings of making the change
  • Keep Going. Don’t stop until your change becomes your lifestyle

Many, many thanks to my friend Jan, who’s book really stimulated these thoughts. I hope you found them to be of value in your leadership life.

I really do think you should own a copy of Jan's book. If you haven’t purchased it yet, I am going to ask Jan to guest blog next week so that you can meet her and really think about interacting with what she has to say about healthy choices.