How ‘easy’ is convenience?
For years, Naomi had a fight ... a fight with convenience.
That convenience had to do with food. She knew what to do, what to eat, to get the most out of her training ... and she did not (always) do it. She continued to fall back on convenience, such as protein shakes after training or skip food around her training altogether because she had nothing prepared in advance.
You may ask yourself: when that results in a lack of progress and all kinds of frustration during the training, is that convenience really convenient?
Naomi is not the only one who fights this fight. Many people struggle with what they have to do and then be seduced by convenient options ... which are often at all easy.
Convenience is very often the fence that stands between you and almost everything you want to achieve.
Better health is torpedoed by easy food choices: "I'll get some takeaway, I'll order something in".
Athletic performance is thwarted by the temptation to stay on the couch, zap the channels or play Candy Crush. (Or only train those things that you are good at, that are easy!).
In your social life, it is easy to stay with 'the pack', that is easier than, for example, not drinking any alcohol right now, to skip eating the Dutch 'bitterballen' or to turn down a piece of (factory made) cake on a birthday. You do not have to have any difficult conversations, which usually start with "Do not be so ongezellig, a spoilsport" ...
Naomi used to do bodybuilding, and thinking of bodybuilding protein shakes come to mind. Containers, tubs, full of that stuff have been consumed in this household. In her competition preparation, there were days when she took 14 shakes a day (and did not eat anything else, craziness).
What is the idea behind protein shakes? Convenience! Before the shakes, bodybuilders ate giga quantities of eggs, meat, fish, chicken, cottage cheese. You had to prepare that and eating it took some time. Discomfort, therefore, not convenient.
Real Whole30 food
Since Naomi switched to real Whole30-food, we found out that many of those shakes also have a disadvantage: she does not respond well to them. Except for bloating and breaking incredible stinking gas, she does not really grow stronger with it either. And yet we kept looking for a shake that worked, because: convenience.
In the end, she now uses Paleoethics (sometimes), made from beef, but you can imagine what processing has to be done to make cows meat into a powder with vanilla flavor. Right... After the Whole30 this year, the penny has dropped: shakes are not her best choice ... only the easiest!
Confidence in the kitchen
Naomi also tends to opt for convenience, the easiest way. But suddenly the penny dropped: how easy is that convenience when it thwarts you on a different level in your life? What if building strength on shakes largely ensures that you can not lift that heavier bar? Is that convenient? Or is it actually easier to make sure you have a real pre- and post-workout meal with you? Some egg proteins for after the training (and the yolks before the training), a piece of chicken, half a pack of roast beef ...
The latter appears to be the real answer. What also helps is that she has gained more self-confidence in the kitchen in recent years. She is no longer stressed by 4 pans on the stove top and that makes it easier to make some extra things to eat pre- and post-workout, in addition to making a meal in the same time. In short: by learning something new (cooking) she can make better choices!
The tyranny of convenience
Naomi is not alone in her struggle with convenience. The New York Times published an article this month about the "The Tyranny of Convenience". The first sentence of that article: "Convenience is the most underestimated and least understood force in the world today."
Author Tim Wu (also a professor of law) goes on to say: "In the developed nations of the 21st century, convenience — that is, more efficient and easier ways of doing personal tasks — has emerged as perhaps the most powerful force shaping our individual lives and our economies. This is particularly true in America, where, despite all the paeans to freedom and individuality, one sometimes wonders whether convenience is, in fact, the supreme value".
Life without... Netflix
Indeed, imagine your life without a vacuum cleaner, washing machine or .... eeeuuh, Netflix. Waiting until your series starts is so not convenient! Yet Wu warns: "Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes. We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides. [...] We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time. You need not churn your own butter or hunt your own meat, but if you want to be someone, you cannot allow convenience to be the value that transcends all others. Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity".
Although it was a tough article to read (for non-native speakers at least), so it would have been easier not to read it, we devoured it. Because we recognized a lot in it, of ourselves, but also of people we work with.
Is your convenience easy?
Nine times out of ten when people do not do something, which they know is going to bring them where they want to be, convenience is the cause for not doing it.
Someone has exercises from the physiotherapist which will help them get rid of that painful injury ... if you do the exercises! Yet people think that it is easier to not do them and because of this, they walk around for weeks longer with pain and complaints. Is that easy?
Training is easier without knots and adhesions in your muscles, therefore Naomi teaches everyone how to use a foam roller. To their surprise, everyone notices a huge difference and yet many people stop using the foam rolls. Not easy enough. (We are left wondering: how? Why? You can do it while watching TV!).
Easy and convenient. Really?
People who find out in the Whole30 that, for example, grains are not their best option: they lose focus, their stomach starts to hurt, they get an after-lunch dip ... Then after a few months, they are a regular again at the sandwich bar on the corner. Because it is so easy and convenient. Really?
Yes, not doing your exercises, no foam rolling whatsoever and not making your own lunch, it seems easier. But it IS not easier. Walking around with pain, getting stuck in your training, spending more time at work due to loss of focus and a dip ... Is. Not. Convenient.
Short term → long term
Where this kind of choosing usually goes wrong: the long-term discomfort is not taken into account in the decision to go for the short-term convenience. We choose 'instant gratification' above the effort to get where you really want to be.
What would help if we adopt "Choose hard" as our new mantra? Choose the difficult road, climb that mountain yourself. You are really on top of enjoying the view in a different way than when you took the trolley cart up!