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When I speak of improving the pacing of your life, I’m not saying that you can tinker with it once and that it will regulate itself. Life simply doesn’t work that way. But I do believe that we can engineer our lives to give us a balance of what we need in terms of up and down and self and other time to bring us maximum satisfaction. My hunch is that when your life is paced to better suit your needs—and adjusted as necessary—that this shift will lead to a decrease in mindless eating.
Step back from your life and, without judgment, consider the amount of time you’re busy and energized versus relaxed and wanting to chill out. To repeat, don’t make any judgments about not being productive enough or feel angry that you don’t have enough time to relax. Just note, in the average day or week, how the times compare.
Next, again without judgment, decide if this is the balance you want. Maybe you’d like to be more or less busy. Maybe your weekdays are fine, but you’d like to spice up your weekends. Or perhaps your weekdays are boring and need some jazzing up, but you’re quite content to veg out on Saturday and Sunday.
Consider a time when you had better balance. What do you have too much of now compared to then? Or too little of what you miss? What’s changed? Is it circumstance or have you stopped paying attention to your needs (or both, as having children, for example, shifts your gaze outward rather than inward)? Obviously, you can’t time travel back to a more balanced time, but you can tweak your routines to better meet your current needs.
Start slowly. Pick one activity to add or subtract from your life. If your weekends are boring, find one thing to do that would make them more interesting or exciting. If your week days are overflowing, what’s one outside commitment you could ditch and one me-time activity you could substitute? Try your new schedule for a few weeks and see if life feels more in tune with your needs. If not, give it a bit more time. If you feel better, see if there are other tweaks you could make for better balance.
Note that making change in your life will take commitment and effort and that it may feel unfamiliar to take a half hour off during the day as a work-at-home parent to do yoga when there feels like so much needs to get done. Or if you’re single and used to doing relatively little with others, you might have to gently push yourself to get out more—take a walk, meet up with friends, join a club. Remember, better pacing means better eating!
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