Certain things in my life aren’t optional. The list isn’t long, but it absolutely exists. Some of them are silly, but I think it’s important to know what isn’t optional and why it is that it’s not optional for you.

For example, here are a few things that aren’t optional for me:

  • Working out Monday-Friday (Saturdays & Sundays are optional. I usually do workout those days, but it’s an option)
  • Brushing my teeth before bed and before my morning shower
  • Wearing clean clothes
  • Shutting off the lights before I leave the house

Some of those things seem silly, right? I mean, they almost seem obvious, but they aren’t. Hear me out.

I’m far less interested in WHAT isn’t optional for you than I am in WHY it’s not optional.

The reason this matters is because many of us have made making good food choices, having a good attitude and moving our bodies OPTIONAL. They are things we do when we feel like it, versus the short list of things we do whether we feel like it or not.

I often don’t feel like brushing my teeth. Many nights I wished there was someone to do it for me. Lazy, I know. But even in those lazy moments, I force myself to get up & brush my teeth before bed.

So why is it that some things are optional an some things aren’t?

What makes things not optional? Our attitude and perspective about them. 

It is the way we think about something that makes it optional or not.

If you want to move a behavior from the “optional” to “not optional” category, you’ve got to start by changing how you think about it.

For example, if you think to yourself, “I’ll brush my teeth in the morning. I’m too tired. One night of not brushing them isn’t a big deal”, brushing your teeth is optional.

This is how many people think about food, fitness, journaling, self-care and a whole host of other behaviors we want to consistently execute.

It’s your thoughts about the activity, chosen repeatedly & consistently over time, that makes an activity not optional.

One of the ways to make this shift is to explore the grey area – the area between doing it perfectly or not doing it at all.

Sticking with the brushing your teeth example, instead of seeing it as black & white, either you brush your teeth or you don’t, take advantage of the shades of grey. “I’ll do a super fast brush. Something is better than nothing!

Or, instead of seeing this as a day where you either eat “healthy” or you don’t, you find a way to do a little of both. Maybe you plan to eat clean, fat loss friendly foods AND have one special treat.

Instead of seeing the day as a workout day or a rest day, maybe you do 5 minutes of body weight movements at home instead of skipping your workout all together.

No matter how you approach it, you can absolutely move activities from the “optional” to the “not optional” category by changing how you think about them. This happens choice by choice.

The only thing that got me to the gym today is that I’ve trained myself to see that as a not-optional activity.

With cumulative soreness from Sunday & Monday, my body was feeling pretty uncomfortable this morning. Instead of thinking to myself, “I don’t know if I can do 30 clean & jerks for time” I thought: I can show up & warm up. That’s the first step and that’s a step I can take.

“Grace”
For Time:
30 Clean & Jerks (85#)

It was a fast, fun workout and sure enough, I felt excited to get after it once I was done warming up. After the workout I did 100 cals on the Airdyne bike before heading the chiropractor.

Guys, let today be the day you really focus on changing your perspective on the things you don’t want to be optional.

On the food front:

Can I tell you how happy I was to wake up before my 5am alarm? After a busy weekend & a hard workout yesterday, I was totally beat. I went to bed at 8:45 last night and got up around 4:45 this morning. I’m so happy to be feeling more rested!

I kicked off the day with butter coffee from Picnik and then headed to the gym. I had to go straight to the chiropractor from the gym & was feeling pretty hungry when I got home.

I pulled a salad out of the fridge but put it back and had a few grilled chicken strips instead. I want to explain my thought process here in case it helps any of you:

I prefer to eat a more substantial meal in the early afternoon than in the morning. See, I’m a little more tired then, a little more bored & restless and I often find myself wanting to snack.

Instead of having that munchie feeling in the afternoon, I’ll have my “lunch” or early afternoon meal be my largest. I want it to take the longest to eat and fill me up most of all my meals.

So, as I pulled the salad out of the fridge I thought, “As much as this would be awesome right now, I think having it later will make my food choices easier. I’ll have this bigger meal to look forward when I want it the most.”

Around 2pm I mixed the cobb salad with a whole bunch of raw, shredded cabbage and really took my time eating it. Totally hit the spot!

I think it’s important to pay attention to when it makes sense to have your biggest meal.

I used to make breakfast my largest meal but, with my workouts in the morning, I find that if I can hold myself over with a smaller meal, food choices are easier with my biggest meal in the early afternoon.

Know thyself & remember that everything changes! The key is paying attention & doing what makes you feel your best AND gets you the results you’re after.

Dinner was spaghetti squash bolognese from Paleo Power Meals.

PS: If you’re new to these posts, listen to this podcast episode to get the scoop on what changes I’m making in my life and you can start back at my first daily post here.