Last month I tried to include more fruits and vegetables in my diet. Here’s what I learned.
This month was probably one of the easier and least-defined monthly experiments that I’ve done. I’ll admit that I wasn’t entirely prepared for this month and I had no idea what my end goal was. Despite wanting to feel like a healthy eating champion or have tons of great veggie recipes by the end of April, I felt like this month’s experiment was lackluster at best.
Let’s get the negativity out of the way so we can end on a positive note. I did include more vegetables and fruits in my diet so I think that I accomplished my goal of eating more plant foods. However, I didn’t do as well as I hoped and I don’t feel like I wanted to.
I started the month with a high expectation that I would feel amazing, cure any illnesses and be smarter, stronger and more focused by adding vegetables into my diet. Instead, I felt about the same as normal with a few very minor exceptions. By the end of the month I was disappointed and discouraged.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this to discourage anyone from eating vegetables. I think if I had eaten nothing but junk food, candy and soda for a month I would feel a million times worse than I currently do. What I’m trying to say is that what I learned had nothing to do with vegetables or healthy eating. It had everything to do with expectations and ideals.
This is something that I (and probably most of you) have struggled with. We set a high bar for progress or results and then are disappointed with average or nonexistent results. Because I wanted vegetables and fruits to literally change my life I was disappointed when I only felt moderate improvements in my overall health.
And I realized something very important about these monthly experiments: that they’re just experiments. They’re meant to test theories, prove hypotheses about habits and challenge my preconceived notions about what makes me happy, productive, healthy, etc.
So, I learned this month that experiments shouldn’t have ideals or expectations like these. My only expectation should be to learn something from the experience.
The expectation that I would feel so much better ruined the good experiences that I did have. It took over my focus this month and clouded the view of the positive changes I was making. Because I kept hoping to feel amazing after eating a bunch of vegetables I was unable to see other great things. My wife and I were eating much better than we had been in past months. We tried a ton of new recipes and had lots of fun during the process. I did have a little more energy and did feel better some of the time.
But those darn ideals. My ideals were unrealistically high, so I missed out on all of this until I sit here to write this down.
I learned to not create ideals or expectations for things like this. If I want to go out biking, eat healthy, write a blog post, read a bunch of books, go on a date with my wife, meditate or a million other things, I should go do it with no ideals or expectations. Sure, I can have goals or plans, but I learned that I shouldn’t expect things to be a certain way.
I shouldn’t expect to feel healthier when I eat more fruits and veggies. Instead, I should be glad for the experience and be happy if I do feel healthier. If I don’t have unrealistic expectations, it opens me up to be happy for the experience and for any outcome.