Whelp, I just ate this whole pizza. Might as well eat this whole bag of chips since, well YOLO. And because I am on a roll, how about I finish off this box of cookies too.
It is a vicious cycle. We exercise and eat well for a few days and then the weekend hits and suddenly we have consumed enough food for a small village. Prior to starting my fitness journey, I was an emotional eater. I mostly ate out of boredom, loneliness, or sadness. There were many week nights where I would sit in front of the TV and eat a whole box of cereal or bag of chips. Weekends I often would not eat much during the day, then at night I would be ravenous and eat a whole pizza. And because it was Saturday and I was lonely or bored, I would snack the rest of the night, usually consuming way more than what is humanly possible. But I still did it even knowing it was harming my health. It numbed the emotion and provided reward and satisfaction because… well… pizza is delicious.
I knew the only way I would make positive changes with my exercise program was if I cleaned up my eating as well. It took a couple weeks, but I rather quickly adopted a healthier eating routine. I simply stopped buying temptation. Anything in a box or bag is so easy to sit and overly consume. I do not have the strongest will power when it comes to mindless eating because old habits die hard. I began to replace bags of chips with bags of carrots instead and simply left pizza as a once in awhile treat. I also decided going into this journey that I would not allow myself cheat meals. It is not that I disagree with them, they just are not meant for me. I avoid looking at food as a reward. Oh if I eat well all week, then I can reward myself with a cheat meal. This mindset, for me, makes me live for food and these weekly indulgences become a strong propensity to over do it. It is a mind based incentive rather than a moment to treat the soul. I look at food as fuel. It is what my body needs to run effectively. I used to eat to satisfy my mind. I now eat to fuel my body’s needs. By allowing myself a cheat meal, it is then still satisfying my mind. This set up does not work for me because of how my mind controls eating to cave into emotions.
Now this does not mean that I do not enjoy a treat meal every now and then. I, on occasion, still buy bags of chips. They usually are tortilla chips and smaller (meaning not family sized) bags, but even now I pretty much consume them in one sitting. During Christmas time, I was obsessed with holiday popcorn. I would sometimes buy a few bags at a time and eat a whole bag in one sitting, and then do it again the next day. Popcorn is a current weakness! So I try not to buy it. I even had to stop buying granola because I would eat far more than an actual serving. Normally it would last a little longer, but it still satisfied the need to mindlessly eat. So yes, there are still times when I overdo it with treat foods. They are fewer and farer between, but they still happen! In the past, I would allow this moment of weakness to become a pattern. If it was a Saturday, I would say oh I will start on Monday with really trying to change my eating habits. But Monday would lead to next month which would lead to next year and suddenly all those Monday’s becomes 5 years and 30 pounds.
My indulgences and treats now happen in moments. Many times friends will want to make plans on a weekend and I can prepare to indulge a little. Sometimes I do, sometimes I do not. I would say this decision is dictated by mood, but that is allowing my mind to take over which I try to avoid. I rely on the energy of the moment to allow me to be free from regretting whatever decisions I make about what foods I put in my body. My favorite time to indulge happens in moments of spontaneity. I do not have time to think; however, I do not simply react either. I consciously decide today I can have pizza and enjoy it too! I do not see this as a weakness, but as a time to be present and live in the moment. These times are rare, but by being able to live freely and not be concerned about what I am eating, only then am truly able to be fully aware and content with my being. These moments allow me to be purely worry free about any insecurities. Maybe the next day I wake up a bit bloated or uncomfortable. But I simply eat right, drink some water, break a sweat, move on and forget about it. I remain content in the fact that I overdid it because by allowing indulgences here and there, I am no longer filling my mind with toxic words or body with too much food, I am filling both my heart and soul with fond memories.
How do I now break the pattern when I over do it in these moments? I forgive myself for any harsh words I might tell myself and then forget about it and move on. Notice it is not forgiveness of the act of over eating and enjoying great food every now and then. The forgiveness needs to take place upon the heart. You need your heart to forgive your mind for any of the harsh words or punishments, like excessive exercise, you might do or say after these moments happen. Life gets busy and it is easy to fall off the wagon even after several months of consistency. Maybe your cheat meal turns into a cheat day, or cheat weekend, or cheat week, or cheat month, or even a cheat year. It happens! You can get back into a routine but you must be willing and able to forgive yourself for the hurtful things you may have said or done to yourself and forget that it happened. By holding onto the resentments of overeating, your are not allowing yourself to forgive. Forgiveness leads to healing and this healing allows you to mend your mind and your heart so that your soul becomes content with moving forward.