Why is it that some of the simplest lessons remain so difficult for us to comprehend? Last night my friends and I were discussing exercise while waiting for our badminton court to become free. We agreed that our eating habits were reasonable enough, but our sedantary lifestyles were at the root of our problems. We all grasped that it was a simple equation: Eat the same + do more = get fitter. It was only this morning that I realised that this was probably a rare moment of insight. All too often, we are quick to blame various other factors for our physical woes: supposed wheat intolerances; slow metabolisms; genetic make-up; menstrual cycle… The list goes on, when really in many cases it is a simple case of readjusting the eating/exercise balance.
Why do we look for other excuses? Is it because we view healthy eating and/or exercise as hard work or unpleasant? Or is it to simply free ourselves from any blame or responsibility? Maybe it’s a remnant of an earlier age, when humans sought explanations in the mystical or religious for things that they couldn’t comprehend, like crop failure or pestilence. Maybe this habit of turning to the unfathomable has become hard-wired in our brains, so that the adhering to the obvious pearls of wisdom is never as simple as it seems it should be – hence failed health kicks, failed diets, failed New Year’s resolutions, failed dreams.
I was thinking about all the seemingly simple pearls of wisdom as I was getting dressed this morning. Under the bathroom sink, I spied my electric toothbrush. I love my electric toothbrush. It cleans my amazingly well, yet is never abrasive. My teeth are my pride and joy, and it’s only when I’ve used the electric toothbrush that I feel fully confident about flashing my pearly whites (I am paranoid about my teeth yellowing, but my hygienist reassures me that healthy strong teeth are really more of a cream colour than pure white. The desire for white teeth is part of the ‘Simon Cowell affect’ – we are so used to seeing celebrities with artificially whitened teeth that our view of what teeth naturally look like is becoming distorted – another pearl of wisdom to bear in mind).
So given my love of my electric toothbrush, why does it sit largely unused under the sink? Because despite how easy it is to use & recharge, I fall out of the habit of using it and revert to the hard, horrid manual toothbrush. In the same way, I routinely fall out of the habit of eating cereal for breakfast and end up eating toast, even though it actually takes longer to make & leaves me wanting to eat half a packet of biscuits by 11.30am.
I am geniunely baffled by why the pearls of wisdom are so hard to stick to. But today I’ve made an effort to get back into good habits. I had muesli for my breakfast & used my electric toothbrush. My teeth have felt lovely and clean, so much so that I’ve spent the day licking them. Looking like a fool is a small price to pay for pearly whites and sticking to those pearls of wisdom.