by Barbara Berkeley, MD
It's been just two weeks since I resolved to do one new thing each day, in search for an answer to the following question: can daily micro change lead to macro change?
The experiment is already interesting. I can tell you that, while most new changes don't stick, a few do. And those can be really, really good.
One of the new things I decided to do last week was to limit my clothes closet strictly to the clothes I like and wear frequently. Everything else went to Goodwill or to another part of the house---likely bound for eventual elimination. I did the same thing with my shoes, paring down to the really good ones and getting rid of the hangers-on. After a day of cleaning out, my closet looked like a department store rack: organized and with one over-arching theme...a consistent expression of the style I like.
More than any other micro-change I've made in the past two weeks, this one has given me the most pleasure. I simply enjoy getting dressed in the morning. Favorite things that lay buried have emerged and the anxiety of choice has been severely reduced. Any combination of my basic, favorite items will work and work well.
I was sharing this insight with SP, one of my favorite patients, this morning. In talking about this, and about the new way in which she's been able to control weight long-term, some interesting parallels emerged.
One of the major reasons that we overeat and eat badly is that we are inundated with stimulation and choice. We tend to think of more choice as a good thing, but every one of us knows that too much choice makes us anxious. Enormous stores, overwhelming menus, on-line sites that offer goods of every possible type, closets that are jam packed with things we never threw out.....all of these can confuse us, slow us down, and make us uncomfortable.
Our choice of food and diet is very similar to what we keep in our clothes closet. We really only need a few basic pieces. Elegant is elegant after all, and has nothing to do with how many clothes you have but rather with the "bones" of the clothing, its basic construction and worth. And, of course, the way you choose to wear it.
Could you benefit from looking at your food choices and paring them down to a select few? What are the "bones" of your diet and would you feel alot less anxious if a whole bunch of elements were relegated to Goodwill?
In science, we use the word "elegance" to refer to research that is beautiful in its simplicity and truthfulness. This fits perfectly with the concept of diet. An elegant diet is one that makes stylistic sense, that hangs together as a whole, that fits like a glove, that has simple, clean rules and that makes us look good. When we open our diet "closet", there should be a theme and that theme should reflect you and your beliefs.
I know what is in both my clothes closet and my diet closet. Can you say the same? If not, maybe it's time for a New Years clean out.