Did you know that an aeroplane, whilst on autopilot, is actually off course more than 90% of the time?
No, I'm not blowing the whistle on some big safety scandal in the aeronautical industry. I'm creating a metaphor for you. One I hope you will find as helpful and valuable as I have!
Here's the thing. Those super-smart aeronautical experts understand that a whole lot of stuff goes on 20,000 feet above sealevel and aeroplanes have to deal with a lot of different variables. They know an aeroplane can't take an exact, specified, down-to-the-millimetre route to its destination. But they need it to fly in the right direction in the right timeframe (and safely!) so that it can land at the right airport.
So they have built this sophisticated, highly-sensitive course-correction function into the autopilot. The plane "notices" as soon as it starts to drift off course, and takes corrective action to get it back on course.
And here is why I think this is a such an awesome metaphor (and model!) for us!
Just like an aeroplane on a trans-Atlantic flight, we are incredibly vulnerable to being pushed off course by a thousand different variables.
But unlike an aeroplane, we don't have a built-in, automatic system to detect when we are 1% off trajectory and course-correct.
Most of the time, we don't notice the tiny little slips in our healthy lifestyles. Or we dismiss them as "one offs". Or we make excuses - "it's been a busy week", "I have so much going on at work", you know the drill...
Using our aeroplane autopilot metaphor, I want you to start noticing any time you are starting to get a little bit "off course", in all areas of your healthy lifestyle. Are you starting to grab a sugary snack in the afternoon ("for energy")? Are you skipping out on exercise "huge day at work (I'm exhausted! I'll do extra tomorrow")?
If you were an aeroplane, this is where the Autopilot would kick in - to get back on course, keep the plane on schedule and make sure it lands at the right destination!
So what can you do to create your own Autopilot?
Firstly, take notice! Notice when your healthy choices start to fall by the wayside.
Secondly, put some strategies in place to make sure the occasional minor off-course deviation doesn't become a pattern and push you completely off your healthy map!
You might need to be a little creative and/or do a bit of trouble-shooting. You might need to work on having healthy ways to boost your energy in the afternoons easily accessible at work, or work out a failsafe way to make sure your daily exercise is out of the way before you are mentally spent from a busy day at work.
And let me be CRYSTAL CLEAR about a few things:
There is so much more to Health that what you eat, so when you are looking at whether you are drifting off-course, make sure you look at all areas of your life. Read more about my holistic view of wellness and the areas of your life you can look at HERE!
Oh, and most importantly, it is COMPLETELY fine (in fact it can be wonderful!) to miss a workout every now and then to catch a movie, catch up on some paperwork, catch up with friends and loved ones, or catch up on sleep! Or to enjoy a divinely indulgent meal or a gooey chocolate brownie (without one single shred of guilt!). The clever boffins who invented Autopilot understand that there are always going to be deviations to the perfectly charted course. But what the Autopilot does is make sure that those small deviations don't become a permanent diversions and land the plane at the wrong destination! So by all means be a little flexible! Just make sure that while you are enjoying your treats and couch-time that in the overall scheme of things you are still getting where you really want to go!
And also, if you are beating yourself up because you ate a piece of "high fructose" fruit or a piece of bread, I want you to seriously consider whether you are drifting into orthorexia or disordered eating. Rates of eating disorders are increasing in women over 40. So if tiny infractions like these are causing you guilt or distress, let me make this very clear: I STRONGLY recommend you seek out a psychologist who specialises in eating disorders to help you nip this disordered eating (and disordered thoughts about food) in the bud before they metastasise into a full-blown eating disorder.