Are you suffering from a TERMINAL case of “The I Can’ts”?
I would like to make the official announcement that starting tomorrow I am going to fine anyone that says “I can’t” twenty dollars.
As much as this might be an elaborate scheme to support the “Dr. Nicole Early Retirement Plan” I will absolutely need to retire early if I am forced to continuously battle all the negative and self limiting statements that begin with “I can’t”.
- “I can’t give up sugar”
- “I can’t walk every day”
- “I can’t drink water”
- “I can’t eat vegetables”
- “I can’t remember to take that”
- “I can’t give up wheat and dairy”
- “I can’t quit coffee”
- “I can’t quit drinking alcohol”
- “I can’t quit smoking”
- And the one I most commonly hear… “I need you to prescribe a magical herbal pill for my cholesterol because I can’t change my diet because I really like to eat fried food and meat.”
Think of “cants” like rocks. Rocks can crush you, weigh you down, be the obstacle in your path, or just an annoying pebble in your shoe. But when put properly in their place, “cants” can help guide your path one stepping stone at a time. When you take the time to understand and embrace the hesitation surrounding your “cants” you are then ready to learn to use them as a tool and not a weapon.
Contrary to popular belief, Naturopathic Medicine is not about giving you a glamorous herb from the rain forest to magically heal you.
True health is typically not about taking something, it is about taking something away. Most of the time we need to subtract before we add. Although herbs have their place, and I typically prefer to use them instead of drugs when at all possible, they still aren’t “treating the cause” “treating the whole person” “preventing disease” or “removing obstacles to cure” in the true spirit of Naturopathic Medicine.
Self limiting semantics like the evil “I cants” are exactly what are inhibiting you from making real long term progress with your health.
Much of what we limit ourselves with by using the phrase “I can’t” is more accurately “I won’t” or “I don’t want to…”
Unless you are physically disabled and unable to get out of bed, please replace the statement “I can’t exercise today” with “I don’t want to exercise today”.
However, before you decide that you don’t want to do something, consider this…If you expect to enjoy the same health next year that you currently enjoy this year then you have no choice but to tighten up your routine and create new healthy habits. If you expect to be better next year than you are right now then you will have to tighten it up that much more.
Now why is the title of this blog “Are you suffering from a TERMINAL case of the “I cants”?
- Because much of disease is highly preventable by implementing a healthy whole foods diet, exercise, and stress management.
- Smoking is proven to kill you and those around you with lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, emphysema, and cardiovascular disease.
- Being overweight will most likely kill you quickly with a heart attack or slowly with diabetes.
- Drinking too much alcohol will kill you quickly with a drinking related accident (please don’t drink and drive) or slowly and insidiously with cirrhosis of the liver or pancreatic cancer.
- Eating cholesterol laden foods when you have sub-optimally managed hypercholesterolemia will typically result in clogged arteries that will result in a stroke or heart attack.
Are you starting to see now just how dangerous a bad case of the “I cants” are?
If your doctor wants you to make a health improvement and you brush away the advice with “I can’t” you simply need to change your semantics in order to change your life.
It is fine to admit to yourself that you don’t want to do something. Honesty is the best policy. Yet, every adult knows that much of being an adult is all about doing things that we don’t want to do. Getting the “I cants” out of your life is simply embracing the reality that it is time to be a grown up about your diet and lifestyle. A healthy grown up.
Do you have to do it all at once? Probably not. Most diet and lifestyle changes take time and most people simply need to be on the road to gradual improvement. For example, if you are struggling to follow the cholesterol or diabetes diet now and you try for a bit and then brush it off with an “I can’t” your health will only continue to worsen as time progresses. In ten years you will most likely weigh ten more pounds than you do right now. Cholesterol and blood sugar levels also tend to just continue to rise with age. Without a firm grasp on diet and lifestyle, you will be on that many more medicines five and ten years down the line. Are you sure you really “can’t” make a few simple changes now?
Positive affirmations are a great way to implement these necessary acts of self love and discipline:
- “I am actively working to eat healthier because I love myself”
- “I can practice a little bit of discipline each and every day”
- “Today I will exercise and move my body so that tomorrow I can prevent disease”
- “I can quit smoking by committing to smoke one less cigarette a day, a week, or a month”
- “I can reduce the stress in my life by adopting a more positive attitude.”
- “I can improve my attitude by thinking positively”
- “I can reduce my anxiety by leaving the worrying up to God”
Make your positive affirmations about what you CAN do and post them on your bathroom mirror to serve as a daily reminder. Visualize yourself being successful with your goals. Remember that oftentimes with these changes it is three steps forward and two steps back. All we CAN do is keep trying!
Instead of getting held up by your failed attempts, focus on the fact that you are moving towards a healthier overall direction in life with your diet and lifestyle. And really that is all any of us really CAN do. That is the purpose of Kitchen Table Medicine, to gradually get you going in the right direction over time, at the pace you feel comfortable.
Now since this is a holiday weekend, and many of you will be off camping and barbecuing I would like to remind everyone of the most important key to overcoming a bad case of the “I cants”…moderation.
Holidays are the perfect excuse for indulgence, and if the other six days this week you have been healthy then why not kick back with a couple beers and some BBQ? I am not here to ruin your life, I am just here to make it a bit more balanced. Of course eating the healthier choices available is also key, if you are working in the direction of progress and adopting new strategies of discipline each and every day, then you are most likely earning the occasional indulgence.
- Can you eat a salad or plate of veggies along with that hot dog?
- Can you eat baked chicken instead of fried chicken?
- Can you drink a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage?
- Can you go on a nice long walk while chatting with a friend?
- Can you play some games with children to get some exercise?
- Can you give up dessert or eat fresh fruit in lieu of dessert?
Regardless of what you end up doing, please do bite your tongue around me next time you ask me what will help your problem and you tell me that “you can’t do that”. I firmly believe that you are capable of accomplishing ANY goal, large or small. Let’s not waste our time talking about why you can’t do that.
But, if you would like to continue rambling on about what you can’t do, I am sure the “Dr. Nicole early retirement plan” will thank you!
Remember if Lance Armstrong can battle terminal cancer and come back stronger than before to win the Tour de France seven times over, you can easily adopt the discipline necessary to get a handle on your diet and lifestyle.
Just because you “don’t want to” doesn’t mean that you can’t. You CAN do anything you set your mind to. Think about trying it one stepping stone at a time.
I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend. Please eat healthy and exercise because you CAN!
~Dr. Nicole Sundene