Life Lessons: Learning your Likes and Dislikes

October 1, 2008

It took me 8 years of piano lessons, competitions, and hours of practicing, to figure out that even though I won first or second place fairly often, music just isn’t for me. I have zero natural music talent. And after I quit piano lessons, I had no inclination to play the piano. And that’s okay.

It was back in the spring, as some of you may recall, that I came to the realization- after several months of intense running and training for a half marathon- that I really, really don’t enjoy running. It took me a while to come to that conclusion, to learn that I was only running to deal with my depression. So I stopped, knowing that using it as an escape wasn’t healthy for me.

Did I quit exercising altogether? Ha! On the contrary, I threw myself into the fun of exercising; experimenting with belly dancing, boot camp, biking, and the one hundred push ups challenge. I figured out what didn’t work for me. Then, I experimented to see what did (and check out this fantastic blogger for someone who really experiments with fitness!).

Last night we celebrated my mums birthday (Happy Birthday!), and after a fabulous dinner and some mini cupcakes for dessert I still had the munchies for something crunchy. I opted for carrots.*

I’ve learned through trial and error that some healthy snacks- like smoked mussels– aren’t going to work for me. But others, like carrots, will be satisfactory.

We’ve got to experiment along the way, and figure out what we do and don’t like. What works for us, and what doesn’t. I’ve got an enormous list in my head of replacement foods for things which don’t agree with me, the healthy and the unhealthy alike- champagne for hard liquor, cheesecake for ice cream cake, raw spinach for cooked, air popped popcorn for chips.

These things- my replacements- aren’t going to work for everyone. And that’s what we need to remember: tastes are very individualized. It takes some time to “get” what does and doesn’t work for your body, and you’re always going to be learning new things about what you do and don’t like. But once you figure some of them out, you can know which things to rely on and which to pay no attention to.

It’s also handy, in times of celebration (such as the birthday season!), to know these things so as to achieve maximum enjoyment. Indulge in what you enjoy, and what your body appreciates, and forget about what doesn’t work. For the healthy and the unhealthy. You really hate brussel sprouts? Don’t eat them. Eat asparagus instead.

Try them all out! Make mistakes. It’s all worth it to figure out what works.

*I’m not always quite so good at the self-control. I had 3 pieces of (somewhat healthy) cake at one of my birthday celebrations (we don’t *believe* in one-day celebrations in my family!) and then some chocolates afterwards. Oops:)



  1. Sagan, I love reading about your personal experiments and what you’ve learned about yourself! You’ve come a long way girl! And thanks for the shout-out – I’m honored:)

  2. Great post, Sagan!
    I’m still learning about my likes and dislikes – no matter how hard I try, I still don’t like vacuuming, but haven’t found a substitute yet! πŸ™‚
    And Charlotte is right – it’s great to read about all your personal experiences and watch you grow!

  3. Love your post! I have a piano in my living room that I don't play often. Never liked to play (or practice), but it was a gift from my dad, so it stays. I agree that one has to find what works for one's self. I'm still doing that & loving it! Have a great week!

  4. Less of the Oops – it’s birthday time, no Oopses allowed :0)

    I’ve learned only really in the last six months or so that I love to eat super healthy most of the time, but that on social occassions I dig in and really indulge. It all balances out for me – it turns out I can easily maintain my weight this way. Plus I don’t feel deprived anymore, and I’m starting to feel less guilty about enjoying the less-than-healthy stuff too, which was a real problem for me until very recently.

    And finding a new fun snack to crunch on is always exciting! I probably need to get out more :0)

    You’re absolutely right- we all need to worry less about doing what everyone else is doing and make our own path.

    TA x

  5. Charlotte- thanks! I aspire to your level of fitness experiments:)

    Bag Lady- the dogs don’t make for good vacuum cleaners?

    Dadivastreet- there’s something so tedious about practicing something you don’t enjoy… much better to put those things aside and play something that you do like!

    TA- yes ma’am:) Great point about how it all balances out. We ought to spend more time with experimentation, less time with the worrying.

  6. Always fantastic reading here! I always look forward to your posts! Thanks!

  7. Great post. I agree with you on learning what works and what doesn’t. It is fun to experiment and see what we like/dislike along the way and the stories that go along with each experiment are sometimes more rewarding than the plan itself.

  8. Come on, tell the truth, did you eat that spinach your dad made for you when you were a little girl πŸ™‚

    I was forced to play piano by my folks! I hated it! I did learn to play guitar in college, and love it still! I also play some piano, and guess what, it’s fun without the pressure. Oh yeah, I even like spinach now..who knew?

  9. I’m all for healthy eating, but sometimes you have to eat cake. Glad you have found ways to enjoy yourself and be healthy at the same time!

    I never had piano lessons, but I used to love to play – as well as I could, being self taught. I still miss it. I keep trying to convince my husband that we can find space somewhere for a piano, but so far he’s not going for it…

  10. Mark- glad you like them!

    Crystal- the stories really DO make it all worth while. You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself!

    Dr. J- absolutely not. I believe I lived solely off of sunflower seeds and kraft dinner when I was younger. OH GOD my poor poor body… hehe.

    Javachick- being self taught can make a big difference. You do it for the love of it rather than because you have to practice and go to lessons. Sometimes structured classes can really take the fun out of it!

  11. I found that I like variety and changing up my exercises. Have you tried zumba? Lots of fun! I also like to have a goal – working towards a 5K, or an Avon walk,etc. As long as it keeps us moving, right? πŸ™‚

  12. GIRL I SO NEEDED THIS TODAY. and not for why you might have intended.

    a few words or Ill ramble for days.

    Daughter. Dance Class. Begged for. Refused to dance. HILARITY ENSUED and I didnt get miffed.

    she didnt like. and now she knows.

    thanks for the post.

  13. Missicat- I need the variety or else I get bored! I keep on hearing people rave about zumba but they don’t have any classes in my city… I might have to get a zumba dvd or something so I can try it out:)

    MizFit- that’s awesome. Reminds me of when I was really really little and begged my parents to let me do ballet. And I hated it, just as they knew I would. Funny how that happens!

  14. i really really REALLY dislike running. so you know what? I dont do it.

    I also really really dont like working out in the mornings, so I dont.

    I always tell my clients- never do anything you hate, workout-wise, or you’ll never like working out. find something you enjoy and youll be hooked for life.

    Great post!

    Kelly Turner

  15. Not everything good for you is difficult to do. I agree, accentuate your healthy likes.
    Thanks for the post

  16. Kelly- you have such style. This is what makes you such an awesome trainer!

    Jame- thanks for commenting. There’s lots of easy little things we can do that add up real quick!

  17. *excited squeal* the piano bit is exactly me! Lessons for years, not an ounce of talent, and not even bothered.

    I snack on nuts if I want something a little savoury – sometimes I make myself work for it, like dry roasting cashews with a pinch of salt and chile. For sweet munchies, cranberries savoured SLOWLY always work.

  18. Dee- hurray, I’m not the only one! Have you had cranberries and feta in salad? SO GOOD. I love nuts too. But I always overeat on them. They’re TOO tasty!

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