I eat too many Snickers bars.
When left to my own devices, I eat a Snickers every day at work. I walk to the vending machine around 3 PM and return to my desk with the Snickers already half-eaten. Sometimes, I eat two: a morning Snickers and an afternoon Snickers.
One time I had three. Three Snickers bars in one day. 645 calories of . . . whatever’s in a Snickers. The custodian who empties my office trash must have seen the wrappers and thought I hosted some kind of weird Snickers party, where I invited two friends over and we ate Snickers together. Nope. It was just me.
I just really like carbs (remember when I confronted my Jimmy Johns problem?), and a well-timed Snickers allows me to stay productive when my energy is flagging. Paired with a cup of coffee, it can turn me into a productivity juggernaut.
But obviously, eating 5 or more Snickers a week isn’t sustainable over an entire lifetime, not if you care about your health, anyway. And I do care about my health, so I recently decided this Snickers business has to stop.
Compromising with yourself
A basic principle of habit change: it’s better to replace than eliminate. I get hungry around 3 PM like anyone else, and trying to power through until 5 PM is asking for a Snickers relapse. Better to replace the Snickers with a healthy snack, right? My go-to healthy snack is an apple, and fortunately, we always keep plenty in the house. So I started bringing apples to work.
No luck! I still found myself trudging to the vending machine, feeding a dollar into the slot with guilty hands. What gives? My frugal nature, that’s what. I do the grocery shopping ’round here, and in an effort to keep our food costs down, I usually buy the cheapest acceptable version of each grocery item. And cheap apples just don’t taste that great, which means I’m not going to be excited to bite into one at 3 PM while the siren song of the Snickers calls softly to me.
So yesterday, I went to the grocery store and bought expensive apples. Braeburn apples, from New Zealand. They are big, beautiful, and impossibly flavorful and juicy. They can compete handily with a Snickers. And this afternoon at 3:05, I found myself holding an apple core instead of a Snickers wrapper. “Now that’s an apple,” said I.
What’s the lesson here? I think it’s this:
Bringing your behavior into alignment with a certain value often involves compromising in another area. And that’s okay.
One of my core values is frugality, and that means spending as little on groceries as reasonably possible. I also try to buy local, in-season food.
Paying $2/lb. for apples shipped from New Zealand to Missouri compromises both of these values, but you know what? It’s aligned my behavior with a much more important value: taking my physical health seriously. And in the final analysis we’ll still save money, because even an expensive apple is cheaper than a Snickers.
If you’re struggling with some area of your life, think about whether relaxing the rules in another area could create a solution you hadn’t considered.
You might wind up holding an apple core instead of a Snickers wrapper.