ARE Your Habits Serving You?

Think back 100 years and see how fast our society has changed in a relatively short space of time.  We have witnessed the advent of cars, planes, TV, radio, the World Wide Web, computers, phones …. the list goes on and on!

The pace of change is not about to slow down either, in fact it’s probably going to speed up.  This, coupled with the fact that we are living longer lives, means that we will witness much change within our lifespan.

We are Still Cavemen Inside

Whilst our environment is changing, we are not: we still have the physiology of a caveman: a body designed for a fight or flight stress response, fat storage in lean times and the adoption of habits and routines which make our life easier to cope with and make us feel more secure.

But are our present day habits and routines serving us?   Are they holding us back from living a full and healthy life?

Change is Unavoidable

With such a fast changing society we need to be able to change and adapt to new ways of thinking, living and being if we are to survive.

I remember when I was growing up I was always looking for a path in life to follow but quickly realised that there wasn’t one – well, not a path that would give me ‘ikigai’ – a sense of purpose or that ‘butterflies in the belly’ feeling that makes life exciting.

Are You Aware of Social Norms?

Wikipedia “Social norms are regarded as collective representations of acceptable group conduct which include values, customs and traditions – informal understandings that govern the behaviour of members of a society”

Social norms have a purpose but unfortunately one size does not fit all!

I broke with the confines of social norms at the early age of seventeen. First of all I went backpacking around Europe, then I went to University overseas followed by working in various countries each with their own set of values, customs and lifestyles.

What are Your Values?

I questioned and fought off family and cultural values that I didn’t agree with and which I knew weren’t serving me and gradually, through trial, error and life experience I built up my own set of core values, habits and routines.

I have been sacked three times from high-powered corporate jobs because my values differed from theirs, I have rejected key traditions of western society i.e. marriage and kids… and now retirement and  ‘old age’.

How Hard Can It Be?

I learned early on the power of diet and the need for exercise and here I am in my 60s, priding myself of a perfect lifestyle.   But, is it?

I am unable to change a habit that is not serving me. Even though behaviour change is part of what I teach and I know it only takes six weeks to change a habit right? So why am I finding it so hard?

What is My Bad Habit? 

It’s dairy!

Yes, I hear you say “so what, change to soya milk, take your coffee black”!

I was brought up on dairy milk – no tea no coffee – just milk and lots of it. At the age of eleven I suffered from severe catarrh.  It was thought that I was allergic to the chlorine in swimming pools that I frequented at every opportunity and my dream to get a Gold medal at the Olympics faded away.

At university, as part of my Masters in Exercise and Nutrition, I studied the relation between nutrition and disease.  It was there that I had an aha moment:  I leant that when the body is allergic to a food or substance it mobilises the immune system which then produces mucus to protect itself. Hence my recurring ‘catarrh’.    It doesn’t bear thinking about what if I had given up dairy milk as a child?  I may well have gone on to win a gold medal for swimming in the Olympics!

Increased Intolerance as we age

Somehow I have survived most of my life consuming just a small amount of dairy, but as we get older our bodies are less tolerant to allergens, to the point that just recently I experienced a traumatic event.

I thought I was going to choke to death.  I had consumed a bit more milk, yoghurt and cheese than I normally would and during the night I found it hard to swallow. The mucus gradually got worse and no amount of coughing would clear it – I spent the night sipping hot water, upright and unable to sleep.

Resistance to Change!

Dare I admit this was not the first time that I’d had a near-death experience because of milk!  Previously I would give up dairy for awhile, felt much better, forgot about why I felt better and then I was back to dairy habits.

The NHS?

Over the past 3 to 4 years I’ve been in and out of doctors surgeries complaining of throat issues. I spent endless hours queueing for x-rays, endoscopies, blood tests only to be told that there was nothing wrong!

I had suspicions of what was causing my discomfort, my sleepless nights, my fear of choking but I was in denial. How could a glass of milk have such a profound effect on my body, especially as I had been drinking milk most of my life.

I lived with it – as you do – unable to drink coffee without milk, Or experience life without dairy milk, yoghurt or cheese.

Do We have a Choice?

Change is Inevitable.  Nothing stays the same: you either get better or you get worse… And I was getting worse.

As I approach my 70s, I refuse to keep lifestyle behaviours which don’t serve me and this time I am adamant to kick the habit, the dairy habit.

By giving up dairy cold turkey I got better overnight – a miraculous cure!!

Dairy products affect most people without them realising that a lot of their health issues issues could be related to dairy products.

It is important that we accept change as a part of not only growing older but also of a rapidly changing society – and also because some foods are being modified to aid production and sales.

We have all learnt various skills and habits that served us during our life or eaten certain foods on a regular basis, but we need to learn to adapt our skills and habits as necessary, always be learning new skills to stay current, not to get left behind and also to adapt our lifestyle – which includes certain foods – when certain behaviours are not serving us anymore.  This will assist us to be able to live a full, active and rewarding life until as late in life as possible.

What habits are not serving you any more?  What habits do you have that you know don’t serve you any more but you just cant find the willpower to stop or change?

I would love to know what you struggle to change …. and whether dairy affects you.

Please share this blog with anyone you think may be interested in it.

Many thanks