Instincts like a Chicken
You probably know that I have a few backyard chickens. It's amazing to watch their instinctual and simplistic behaviors. Eat, socialize, eat some more. Recently, thanks to my chicken keeper neighbor, I was alerted to a hawk in the 'hood. When I heard the distressed noises from the girls, I ran out just as it was ready to swoop. (You wanna play food chain games with me, buster?) The poor girls were huddled under some bushes, refusing to come out. I ran back inside to get the trusty mealworm treats to lure them into the pen. Now here's where the instincts kicked in. They heard the bag rustling and forgot that they were nearly eaten two minutes before. They ran across the yard in full danger to get a treat. Hawk? What hawk? Later that afternoon, after hours of research, I was tired and hungry. Rather than reach for something healthy, I finished off some leftover cold pizza WHILE standing in front of the fridge deciding what healthy snack to make (I heart cold pizza). It's an ugly feeling when you realize some days you've got the instincts of a chicken.
A wellness coach might say, “Lisa, I notice every time you're tired and skip meals, you eat like a pig, uh, I mean chicken. Unaware of your surroundings, willing to risk your long term health (since you're doing this a lot lately). What are some strategies to break this cycle, blah, blah, blah."
So there's my intention-action gap. I share this to show you how easily our wellness instincts can be thrown off from hunger, fatigue, or stress. Despite our complex brain functionality, we sometimes operate on such a simplistic level, especially when we lose sight of our greater goals. We fall back on familiar habits, even if they negatively affect our health. Identifying the patterns is the first step in designing effective strategies, followed by action. Again and again, until it becomes second nature to fall back on healthy habits. Which is why we have to take specific steps to support our decisions. Like not working all day without eating (set a timer), or keeping simple, healthy snacks on hand (like sugar snap peas and hummus). Small steps = big results.