Part of me wanting to do opinion articles on this blog is to keep it real in the health/fitness/nutrition world we live in. There are hundreds of "gurus" out there who, according to their blogs, have their s*** together when it comes to fitness and nutrition ALL THE TIME. But the average person trying to be fit and healthy isn't a "guru" with their s*** together 100% of the time. And as an average person trying to be fit and healthy, I know it can be a roller coaster, especially when that pesky thing called life gets in the way.
So here's the deal. Ugh. Forgive me, trainer/bank account from which a large sum of money is withdrawn to pay for food and personal training/guilt complex....for I have sinned. Big time.
Lately, I've been busy. I know, I know...so have you. It's not my excuse, but it is my context. So I've been working long hours and that has also involved learning a bunch of new stuff from two very different industries (ah, the joys of public relations). I've also had a few uni assignments due and study to catch up on, learning even more stuff. I've been planning my trip to South America and have inadvertently stayed up well past my bedtime researching. There's been more-than-average craptastic events and circumstances within my family lately, plus I've been trying really hard to do my workouts and prepare my meals, while also spending time with my family and friends and generally trying to have a life.
I know, whinge whinge whinge. There's a point to this, though, just bear with me.
In my absolutely wrecked emotional state, I took a teaspoon and dug it into the gourmet ice cream I knew was open in the freezer. Not just once. Or even twice. I went to town. It was as if I transformed into a sugar-craving fiend. The hairs on my arms stood up, I can't remember blinking, and I can't even recall how much I ate. I do know it included at least two biscuits, the ice cream, some chips, a large bowl of muesli, a piece of chocolate, an apple, some coconut flakes and countless nuts.
I wasn't even hungry.
Now, some of those things like the apple, the nuts, even the muesli aren't bad on their own and in the right portion size. But geeeez I was not measuring at that point, and ate so much of it that I may as well have gorged on more ice cream instead.
I felt sick, guilty and like I'd completely undone every bit of freaking hard work I'd put in thus far. I don't even think I felt satisfied. Just ill.
My skin broke out within hours, no joke. A big fat zit on my cheek - something I've come to recognise as my body's response to sugar.
It was all I could think about for the next day. How dare you. You're meant to have willpower. You know how hard you've worked in the gym. You have a meal plan written down ON THE FRIDGE. How did you manage to fall so far off the wagon that you were crawling on the road miles behind it begging it to stop?
It took me a day of this guilt-driven negative thinking to realise that I couldn't rewind and undo my moment of complete lack of self-control. All I could do was dust myself off and try not to let it happen again.
Here's the moral of my unfortunate confessional story:
- When we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect in our healthy lifestyles every day and give ourselves unrealistic expectations (like, I have to be on track all the time even when s*** is hitting the fan in my life), we're setting ourselves up for a pretty spectacular downfall.
- I'm on track a lot of the time, but I needed to be prepared for this. I know from my past that I am an emotional eater (cue a dingey basement, a circle of chairs and "My name is Gemma and I'm an emotional eater.") but that's even more reason to be prepared to deal with my emotions without going crazy loco.
- We can only move forward.
Sometimes is takes the most horrific fall from healthy grace to re-gain momentum and get back on track. The important part is not to feel guilty and self-loathing about what you may have done or eaten or not done (like your workouts). The important part is to find your way back and not continue the downward spiral. No guilt eating to make you feel better after your emotional eating.
The pressure we feel these days to look amazing, eat clean and dominate at the gym is immense. At the end of the day, we will more than likely slip up at some point...some moreso than others. But what I learned from my foodscapade was that beating myself up about it was only going to make me feel even worse than I did as a result of eating like I was never going to eat again. In turn, it was only going to make my mindset completely negative and toxic.
Part of having a healthy lifestyle is looking after your mental health and self-esteem. If you've experienced what I've gone through, think of it as one speed bump on a very long stretch of road. If you recognise the triggers and prepare for them, take the pressure off yourself to be perfect and pick yourself back up if you fall down, you'll be far better off than relentlessly kicking yourself for doing it in the first place.
After feeling stupidly angry at myself for a day, I looked at my progress pictures to remind myself what I've achieved when I've been on track, looked up some new healthy recipes and re-did my weekly schedule to make it realistically achievable. I've got some coconut oil "chocolate" at the ready if I "need" a fix and I've put teabags in containers everywhere, as a reminder to drink the damn stuff when I'm feeling under the pump, instead of eating my entire pantry.
What do you reckon? Have you had a fall from grace? How did you pick yourself back up and get back on track?