What do jigsaw puzzles and diet have in common?

Good Health is like a jigsaw puzzle

 Gayle loves jigsaw puzzles.  The other day, I was watching her work her daily puzzle and it made me start to think: putting together a puzzle is very much like trying to achieve a big goal, like changing the way you eat and live for better health. 

First off, when you first open a new 1000-piece puzzle and dump it out on the table, the whole task looks daunting and overwhelming.  You may question even starting the puzzle as you see the enormity of the task ahead. 

That’s the same feeling you may get when you declare a big new goal of improving your health through lifestyle and diet changes.  When you begin to see the steps it takes to live a healthy life, the enormity of the task ahead hits you and suddenly it feels too daunting and overwhelming. This is when most people delay or procrastinate or push off the idea all together.

But, here’s the thing, you don’t have to delay.

The first step is simply to dive in and start flipping over all the pieces, sorting them out into more manageable piles.  The same way you start any major project, including improving your health.

The next step is to determine what image you are putting together. What will better health look like to you?  Imagine dumping out 1000 pieces of the puzzle without an accurate clear picture of what you are putting together, what the end goal will look like.  But that is how most people start their diet and lifestyle changes.  They don’t have a clear picture of what success will look like for them.  Then they wonder why they can’t find the right pieces for their health puzzle.  

I have found with my clients that having a clear picture of what better health will look like for them is the key to their success.  If they are going to put out the effort to understand the changes needed and then implement all the intricate little pieces of their health puzzle, then it needs to be compelling and life changing for them. They need to enjoy the picture of health they are building or they lose focus and their willpower is gone. 

6 tips to make putting together your health puzzle easier

1. Build the border first. The border creates order and a sense of security. In achieving health goals this is the education piece. Understanding the root cause of what’s going on and addressing that.  When you do this first, everything else falls more easily in place. 

How do you do this without putting in years and years and tens of thousands of dollars in education? You assemble the right healthcare team.  A functional nutrition practitioner who is in the trenches with you is an excellent border piece.  They help you set up the framework in which to operate, thereby making everything else easy.   

2. One puzzle piece at a time. This is true in achieving better health, too. Often we try to do too much at one time and therefore do nothing. The overwhelm can be too much.  So focus on one piece at a time when making healthy lifestyle and diet changes.

It’s important to remember that you can do anything, but not everything at once.  If you are trying to get everything done at one time, you will quite often get very little done. And you will be stressed all along the way.  Puzzles, like diet and lifestyle changes, have to be worked one piece at a time.  

3. Don’t force a fit.  You think a certain activity or food is healthy so you try to force fit that piece into your routine.  You want it to be part of your health puzzle, but if you force it, it could ruin your whole health puzzle, your entire goal, your entire vision.  Remember, we are all unique with a unique physiology. Finding the right piece to your puzzle can make all the difference.  

Interestingly, some pieces that don’t look like they go together, do.  Similarly, what will improve your health may not look like it’s the right fit. Part of this is caused by the American Culture’s eating and lifestyle habits. We are taught that this and that are the right pieces to good health when, in fact, this and that may not be true for you.   Remember, symptoms can also be solutions. Problems and challenges in one’s health can be the catalyst that leads to entirely new possibilities and a better longer life – if addressed. 

4. Take a different perspective. Sometimes you need a different perspective on how to improve your health.  Every now and then,look at the puzzle from a different vantage point. It can provide a clearer perspective on the big picture. You might have to step away entirely. Take a break. Go for a walk. Everything will look different when you return to the problem. 

5. Don’t quit.  You’re “gonna wanna” quit.  Don’t. As in life, sometimes you get in a groove, things progress quickly and it’s exhilarating. But when it slows down or you experience temporary side effects of healing, you’re “gonna wanna” quit. But don’t. Just keep moving forward. One piece at a time. Keep the vision, with the end result picture in mind. 

6. The joy is the journey, not the finish line.  We often think the joy is reaching the goal of some project so we rush through to complete it, while stressing ourselves out to get there.  You find joy in working the jigsaw puzzle. Once it’s complete, you tear it apart and put it back in the box. Sure, you may leave it on the table for a day or two, but then back in the box. 

The joy came from the journey. 

It’s sort of the same when making diet and lifestyle changes.  Find joy in the journey to better health.  The magic happens when you realize the joy is just as much about the journey – trying new foods, trying new activities, slowing down, sleeping better, etc. – and, unlike a jigsaw puzzle, it doesn’t have to end. 

Sharing

If you know someone who is feeling puzzled (pun intended) on where to begin improving their health, I encourage you to share this article and have them schedule a free 30-minute call with me. It could be the missing piece they’ve been looking for. 

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Improve Your Health With Personalized Nutrition Counseling - I'll Show You How!
Picture of Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

Yetta is a certified functional nutrition practitioner, holistic cancer coach and speaker. She studied whole-food, plant-based nutrition with T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. She is a food driven analyst and works with clients to help them use nutrition principles to solve the root causes of their health symptoms. She knows that functional nutrition is the answer to our current healthcare crisis, both for individuals and for society at large, and wants to inform as many people as she can of the power of food to heal. Her promise to clients - if you eat better, you will feel better.