This year I set a fuzzy goal to create a warmer atmosphere in my home. I have no idea how to go about it, but I know it’s something I desperately want–and before my kids get any older. I don’t know what I need to do to get there. I have no plan.
But I do know this: my home was warmer–I was warmer–when I went on my Whole 30. I felt great, and had more energy and patience because of it. When I changed, the atmosphere in my home changed with it.
Do I still have progress to make? Sure. But I was amazed how much progress I made (and how fast!) just by taking care of the basics. By taking care of myself, really.
I thought I needed a complicated plan to meet my goal, but I made dramatic progress with 3 simple steps: Eat clean. Quit coffee. Get more sleep.
Complicated plans for complicated problems
I’m not the only one who makes complicated plans to solve what seem like complicated problems.
Last week I got an SOS text from a friend who was having a bad day. Everything was horrible. Her marriage sucked; her kids were brats. She was frustrated, unhappy, exhausted. She wanted to quit blogging; she wanted to go to counseling.
I told her (gently, I hope) to take a nap.
Last month another friend was fighting with her husband and yelling at her kids. She wanted to go blonde, move out of state, give away the dog. She ate a panful of brownies for dinner. (It didn’t help.)
After a week of this, she went to the doctor for a horrible headache, and found out she had a sinus infection. She took her kids to the pediatrician the next day for routine well-checks, and found out they both had double ear infections. 3 courses of antibiotics later, everyone is feeling fine. Which is good, because blonde’s not really her color and I’d miss her if she moved away.
Sometimes, my problems really are complicated, and demand complex solutions. But sometimes, the underlying problem turns out be pretty simple.
And when they do, I always think of Dr. House.
Life Lessons from Dr. House
I was hooked on the show from an early episode–#3 or #4–called Occam’s Razor. The title comes from a medical principle of the same name, which holds that the simplest diagnosis that fits the facts is usually the correct one. Med students are taught to begin with simple theories, and only move on to complex ones if they truly explain the underlying problem better.
The “razor” part is shaving away unnecessary assumptions. Here’s a funny example from several years ago:
I was in great shape after having my third baby. I was setting PRs left and right in Crossfit; I was tinkering with my diet to improve performance. (This was just before the Whole 30 was born, and I was eating along those lines.) In fact, Melissa Hartwig was reviewing my food logs for me and making recommendations to improve performance.
And every time I implemented one of her suggestions, my performance got worse. At first I thought it was just a fluke, but over the course of a few weeks my performance tanked. I was going backwards, fast. Not only was my performance suffering, but I was feeling tired all the time–not just in the gym.
I started freaking out, and tried to go back to what I’d been eating before–but I hadn’t been keeping records then. I was distraught; Melissa was confused.
Can you see where this is going? It wasn’t the food.
I was pregnant.
When I’m having a bad day, I don’t need to go to counseling, move out of state, or any of that stuff. (Okay, maybe I do, but it shouldn’t be my first assumption.) The simplest explanation is usually the best one.
So when I have a bruise on my leg, I could google it and find out I might have cancer–but I probably bumped into my desk. When I have a bad day, I might need a whole new life.
But I probably just need a nap.
Can you relate? How has this played out in your life?