Saturday, December 29, 2018

Currently Reading #4

Truth be told, I haven't finished the books in my Currently Reading #3 post, and I wasn't planning to post another installment of this series before the new year; however, I recently received a PR book that I wanted to read before my annual goal setting exercise. Change Bites by Marissa S. Costonis describes five change management strategies that can be used to transform your health. The book focusses mainly on food, but there are also "Business Bites" that describe how the strategies can be applied in a work environment. The last chapter of the book contains some tips to apply the strategies to areas of your life that are "Beyond Food."

Although food goals aren't really on my radar for 2019, I've been trying to shift my diet to incorporate more whole foods, specifically in the vegetable and fruit categories. I've fallen off a bit over the holidays, as I often do, so this book was a really good reminder of how to get back on track. I really like that the book is structured like a workbook, with sections you can fill out at the end of each chapter. I tabbed a number of pages, with my favourite concepts being the following:

Finding and customizing a food plan that works for you.
Dogmatic following of strict rules doesn't often lead to lasting change, I've often advocated tweaking concepts and guiding principles to suit your own needs. You know yourself best, so don't be afraid to adapt an idea to suit your lifestyle.

Implementing quick wins to start shifting behaviours towards your goal.
Again, I've practiced this in my own life--by making gradual changes and mini "experiments" (like monthly challenges) to gently nudge my behaviour towards my ultimate goal. It isn't always apparent what I'm trying to do (even to myself), but looking back, I'm sometimes amazed by how my practice of setting "win quick" goals have led me to where I am today. Baby steps really can result in big changes.

Identifying your personal best foods.
This is the section where I started finding tremendous value in the book. Chapter 3 includes a list of nutritious foods that you can use to build your own list of "personal best foods," which are whole foods you currently eat and enjoy. Coincidentally, I keep a running list of "Healthy Food I Love" on my phone in case I hit a mental roadblock at the grocery store. My list was compiled a while ago, and I haven't revisited it in some time, so I'm very excited to go through the prompts in the book to add to my list of foods that make me feel great.

Fostering food flexibility by having a list of base recipes that you can customize in numerous ways.
This is another strategy that works well for me. With four successful monthly eat-at-home challenges under my belt (three of which were completed when I was working full-time), I can truly say that the key to staying motivated to cook regularly is having some go-to recipes you can whip up when you're feeling tired or uninspired, simply by using what you already have. My current favourite base recipes are salads, risotto, rice bowls, garlic shrimp pasta, overnight oats, and chia seed pudding. I customize these recipes based on what I have on hand, so I'll often change up the individual ingredients. I'm eager to experiment more in this area now that I have time.

Celebrating success by expressing gratitude.
The final section I want to touch on emphasizes taking a moment to thank your own body. This is such an important concept, and I'm glad it was included in the book. I'm often very hard on myself, but I'm learning to let go and appreciate all the amazing things my body does to keep me healthy.

I want to end off with a tiny real-life example of how this book helped me change my mindset and realize success in a different way. I've been logging 10,000 steps every day since I quit my job, which is no small feat, considering I really have no place to go on a day-to-day basis. Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day getting organized, cleaning up, and editing a YouTube video. We then had an amazing night with our friends playing a variety of games and throwing axes (more on that in my next vlog). I knew I was short on steps, so I took a moment to walk up 20+ flights of stairs in my condo building and back down again, while my husband got our friends settled in with drinks in our home. At 3am, after our friends had left, I noticed that I had only logged 9,955 steps in the previous calendar day. I was disappointed and angry with myself that I missed my goal by only 45 steps. When I woke up this morning, I was still upset with myself, despite having an incredible time with our friends! I thought, "why am I so fixated on this? I made an effort to meet the goal, I got some exercise in, and I had such a good day." I don't want to be the type of person who prioritizes meeting arbitrary goals over spending time with family and friends, so I knew I needed to change my mindset. Then it struck me that I actually did meet my goal. I was way past 45 steps between midnight and the time our friends left. A calendar day is an arbitrary constraint, and my day wasn't done just because the clock struck midnight. Someone who is a stickler for the rules may argue that I'm rationalizing, but I call it being flexible and kind to myself. :)


Another book I'd like to read fairly soon is The Three Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan (pictured above). This is a book that I found in our condo building's library, and it sounds intriguing. Once I've read this book, I'll update this blog post with my thoughts.

Update (Jan 25/19): My interests have changed somewhat since picking up this book, so I ended skimming it quickly. I liked the overall concept, but I wasn't too interested in the business cases or examples.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. Change Bites was provided to me for PR purposes. This post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own.

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