Resolving to Adopt New Habits? Use this Mantra...

In my early 20s, my cooking was pretty much limited to:

  • boiling water for pasta and mixing the noodles with store-bought sauce
  • heating up a can of tomato soup while making a grilled-cheese sandwich 
  • toasting a bagel and dipping it into microwaved spaghetti sauce
  • shoving a frozen cheese pizza in the oven
  • pouring a bowl of cereal

When I moved to San Francisco 16 years ago, my boyfriend and I got hooked on Jamie Oliver’s cooking show, The Naked Chef. While I loved watching Jamie whip up mouth-watering meals, I wasn’t as inspired as my boyfriend was to actually take what we were learning from the couch to the kitchen.

Although I enjoyed looking at the sumptuous photos in Jamie’s cookbooks, I was daunted by the recipes, overwhelmed by the unfamiliar ingredients, equipment and techniques. They were really quite basic (e.g., coriander, mortar and pestle, blanching), however they seemed exotic and complicated to me. I couldn’t be bothered. It all seemed like so much…work.

I knew, however, that I needed to step up my cooking skills and let go of my college way of eating. So, eventually, I joined my boyfriend in his cooking experiments. And, wouldn't you know it, I evolved into a passionate home cook.

It Looked So Much Easier
Learning how to cook better was definitely not as easy as Jamie made it look. I had to seek out ingredients I’d never heard of and suffer from embarrassment when I mispronounced them to store clerks. I had to buy new cookware. There were more plates to wash and pots to scrub. And, of course, I had to deal with the disappointment when a recipe flopped.

All of this inconvenience, however, was temporary--and, it undoubtedly led to permanent improvement. I started eating more varied, wholesome and pleasurable fare. I discovered an unexpected outlet for alleviating stress and expressing creativity. And, I developed a deep commitment to supporting my local farmers and producers.

The Initial Pain of Change 
As we embark on a new year, many of us are resolving to change our ways, whether it’s to eat less sugar, cook more dinners, drink less booze, start working out or meditate daily.

And, for most of us, adopting these new habits will be hard, uncomfortable and inconvenient at times, like getting out of your cozy, warm bed before sunrise to exercise, dealing with the pain of sore muscles, cooking dinner instead of ordering takeout, or forgoing your 3 p.m. sugar fix or nightly glass of wine. Not always easy, I know.

When you find yourself faltering and hitting bumps in the road, I encourage you to think of this very helpful statement that's often posted on construction signs:

"Temporary Inconvenience, Permanent Improvement"

Make this your mantra. It will motivate you to stick with it by reminding you that the initial "pain" that often accompanies positive behavior change is often short-term, absolutely endurable and totally worth it.