Lately, I have been on a cycle of making progress, only to take several steps back. A few months ago I set a goal, and worked hard towards it, but things/life/chaos kept getting in the way.
For example, I just returned from a trip to New York where I ate and drank my way through the entire venture. Of course, when I got home there was a price to pay. Normally, I walk off what I eat in NYC, but this time was over the top, but I have to take a breath, and stock and ask myself – Was it worth it? Did I have a great time? The answer to both is yes. It is important to remember that goals for your health are honorable and good, but there is a time for pleasure. I built awesome memories with my children and my family.
When I get discouraged like this, it is helpful to remember that whatever short term goals you have may or may not add up to your long term goals. For example, my long term goal is to be fit, healthy, and to feel good in my skin. I would like to be free from the cycle of gaining/losing and be relatively steady. I want to enjoy myself on vacation and on holidays, but not allow for that to be a pattern for everyday.
My shorterm goal was t be a certain size before I left for the beach in July. The truth is I was nearly there, but I enjoyed myself in New York. That didn’t get in the way of the longterm goal, which was to be steady, and enjoy myself. If I want to not fall into a cycle, I go home and I take care of business.
So that is what I am trying to do this week. I am exercising hard, being careful to not overeat, and the result is not going to be the number I wanted or the size I wanted, but instead a feeling of self-control, and no regret. This is a lifetime journey.
I have a friend who was morbidly obese. Two years ago, he decided to make a lifetime change. He focused on one area in his life that he knew he could control – exercise. He made a commitment to walk everyday, no matter what. He posts regular pictures of himself or his workouts with the hashtag – #lifetimecommitment. His BMI is not in normal range, but he has lost over 100 pounds from this one small action. Whenever I get discouraged, I think of his journey and remember that losing a battle, doesn’t mean I have lost the war. I am in it for the long haul.
I think all of us, despite our best intentions, fall into bad eating, or even binge eating when we are stressed or overworked. Before I even realize what is happening, I can easily find myself reaching for my favorite comfort foods, or cutting corners with take out. At my worst, I will binge after the kids go to bed on salty snacks like goldfish or cheezeits, which is strange, because I don’t want them normally during the day. You know how it feels after a night or several days of eating poorly – you wake up bloated, your digestion is out of whack, and you have hardcore carb cravings, as if more eating will somehow make you feel better.
Why do we do this to ourselves? I once heard that if we are too tired, we reach for carbs to correct the deficit, but it really does more harm than good. The best way to use food as energy, is to keep it light and protein rich when we are exhausted, yet we crave the opposite of what we need. Another thing to consider is the carb/sugar cycle itself. I love carbs and I do not view them as an evil, but I do find if I am eating a lot of simple sugars and bread, I crave more and more, and don’t really feel full until I am past the point of no return. When I am stressed or in a bad spot, I easily fall into this cycle.
Whenever I recognize what is happening, I try my best to steer the ship around back to health and balance. Sometimes, I can only set a very achievable goal to not binge until I am in a better place, and that is okay. Just stopping damage is sometimes all you can do, and is very important. But at some point, I attempt to recover my eating health when I am in ready.
There are a number of ways to do this, and of course what works for me, may not work for you.
1. Do not immediately try a new diet as punishment
Most importantly, I do not try to lose weight when I am in this stage. Many of us want to instantly start a diet when we have fallen off the wagon. Starting a new regime as punishment, almost always sets you up to fail. Think about it. There are times it is easy to lose weight, and there are times when every ounce is an epic struggle. So much of that is your mindset. If you are already swinging to one side, trying to leap to the other makes little sense. Instead, find your balance, and then after some time, when you are ready work on trimming down if that is a goal for you. Otherwise, you may get sucked back into the cycle again.
2. Listen to your body
I know it seems overly simple, but a profound concept is to eat only when you are truly hungry. If you body is out whack and your digestion is screwed up, it makes sense to make sure your stomach and intestines are truly empty before you put anything else in there. For example this morning, even though I made breakfast for the family I held off until 11 am. because I was not hungry at all until that point. This was important because I ate very late last night, and needed to give my body time to recover. Doing this ensured I set the right tone for the rest of the day and I felt empowered.
3. Focus on fruits, vegetables and protein.
Try to make sure that whatever you food you choose is as nutrionally dense as possible. I look at as a checking account. If I put a lot of garbage in my account that is weighing me down, I want to refuel with food that is going to clean me out and be good for me. Normally, a salad is not enough lunch for me, but because I am feeling bloated and not hungry this choice was perfect for lunch:
4. Flush your body
Make sure to drink extra water to help get rid of the bloated feeling and salt. Certain teas are also an excellent choice in order to add in some diuretic or health benefits. Some great choices are:
Ice water with a lot of lemon – hydration, improves digestion and supports weight loss
Ice water with cucumber and/or lemon – hydration, weight loss, and has antioxidants
Hot water with 1tsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 tbs honey – improves digestion and nutrition absorption
Green tea with cloves, cinnamon and cardamom* – aids digestion and weight loss
Get out there and move, even if it is a walk for thirty minutes. Make sure to take advantage of any vitamin D outside to lift up your mood and build confidence that you will get back ontrack, one step at a time.
It’s freezing outside and I feel crappy, but I am going to go for a walk because #lifetimecommitment
6. Remember – we have all been there
Lighten up on yourself and remember that everybody stumbles. Health is a marathon, not a sprint, and often it isn’t your failures and indulgences that define you, but whether or not you choose to give up. I have a dear friend who is morbidly obese, and he made a committmment last year to walk every day. That’s it. It doesn’t seem like much to many of us, but for him this was a profound change. He has a lost a lot of weight, but most importantly, he feels so much better. He glows, whereas once he used to break into a sweat just walking across the room. What I love about his experience is that whenever he feels discouraged, he puts up a hashtag on social media – “lifetime committment.” He had to keep reminding himself that this wasn’t a fad – he has a beautiful family worth living for. I think that phrase really hits home what good health is. It isn’t being perfect, and for many of us, it isn’t being superskinny or extreme. It means that everyday we commit to doing the best we can. Some days, some weeks are better than others, but we get right back to it after we stumble.
Putting into practice: A Snapshot of my day
I had two rough days of eating due to stress, and a lot of commitments that meant I had to eat on the run. Among my list of crimes: french fries, pizza, and eating lucky charms at 11:00p.m. (please don’t judge, haha). So this Saturday morning was rough.
7:00 a.m. Woke up
8:00 a.m. Coffee
9:00 a.m. Ice water with lemon ( I continued drinking this throughout the day)
11:00 a.m. Grilled chicken salad with vinaigrette dressing
1:00 p.m. oranges
2:00 p.m. 45 minute walk
3:00 p.m. Green tea with cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon
4:00 p.m. Smoothie with almond milk, yogurt, bananas, berries, pineappple, and chia.
6:00 p.m. Salmon, wild rice and broccoli. Small cup of chicken soup. I ate until I was full.
9:00 p.m. Hot water with lemon. Bowl of strawberries.