Has this ever happened to you?
Ok, Ok, I KNOW that I’m supposed to _________ (love myself, eat healthy, eat intuitively, not compare my body to others, be sweet to the skin I’m in, buy clothing in the size that I truly am and not be sorry about it, feel good about myself naked, drink enough water) – but I just don’t want to today! I’ll start again tomorrow/Monday/next week. Today I just want to sit around in stretchy pants, avoid exercise, watch TV, and eat ice cream sundaes all day.
Raise your hand if you’ve had a day like that – I know that I have. Back when I was actively dieting, this type of behavior looked a lot like, Oh well, today is shit.. I’ll just eat whatever I want and tomorrow I’m going to be REALLY good. I was “starting over” every Monday morning from age 11 to 23. I was promising myself repeatedly that it was OK, I could binge, I could be lethargic – I was going to start fresh tomorrow.
Unfortunately, though no longer dieting, and a whole lot more sane and healthy around food and my body – sometimes I still catch myself acting this way. Sometimes I find myself eating the things that I know will make me sick (ie. wheat, sugar, alcohol, dairy) without pausing for a just one second to check in with my body. Sometimes I catch myself giving my body a little pep talk that sounds something like this:
Hold on. You’ll be OK. I pinky swear that tomorrow I’m going to drink enough water and eat the foods that I know will make you feel 100%. Tomorrow I will take better care of myself/sleep more/stress less/find a way to relax. Tomorrow I will put less pressure on myself. Tomorrow I will meet myself where I’m at, truly, and without expectation or judgement.
The fact of the matter is, inconsistency is bad for you. It is bad for your body to be yo-yoing between healthy and not-so-healthy, and from working out all the time to months of sitting on the couch. It is also difficult on your heart (your emotional heart, though I’m certain it is hard for your physical heart as well) to always feel like you need to be doing something better, or more perfectly. Or that you are always starting over, and making promises to be better next time.
What if we threw the idea of starting over out the window?
What if we truly permitted ourselves one second, one bite, one moment of solitude to pull ourselves together, remember who we are and what we truly need – and made better choices in the moment. The necessity of this way of thinking may not make sense to someone who has never compulsively lived – but for someone like me? I dream about nothing more than having the strength to redirect myself mid-compulsion, and be consistent in my efforts towards self love.
Whether it’s about food, exercise, having sex, getting dressed, going to work, dealing with your family – we all have moments where it feels like our compulsions and neuroses are eating us alive. It can feel as though you are drowning in a pool without a bottom and gravity is weighing down on your from all sides. It can seem like you’ll never get out alive.
You can choose not to live your life this way, but it can (and does) take lots of practice. In a society where we are indoctrinated from a very early age to couch bites of cake with some variation of “Oh haha, like I need THIS” or “Good thing the diet starts TOMORROW” or “I’m so glad you’re eating this too – I didn’t want to be the only fattie at this party.”
You can just eat the freaking cake and go about your day.
Now, this isn’t only about cake. This is about the feeling in your body that you aren’t good enough and thus deserve to be some sort of continual make-over project. This does not mean that you should stop striving to be better/stronger/more dedicated to your craft/responsible/whatever. The difference is in the way you approach things.
This is about the cycle of being out of control and starting over. This is about not believing you deserve the life you have. This is about changing directions mid-bite instead of using a “slip up” as and “excuse to binge.” This is about eliminating the idea of the slip up.