Originally my plan for this blog was to make it a bit more about health, fitness and mindset than it has actually been so far. I’d like to try to write a bit more about that stuff so today I thought I’d share a bit of my own health journey.
My journey of moderation.
See, all my life I’ve seen myself as an all-or-nothing kind of person. And I have been, – because I didn’t know how to be any other way. I didn’t see that there was another way.
I didn’t have the tools to change.
But with the right tools anyone can change.
It’s fair to say I’ve been ‘all-or-nothing’ in many areas of my life, but I wasn’t happy living with this mindset, so I’ve been working hard to change it. In this post I’m going to focus on my relationship with food in particular.
How many of you eat a really good and strict diet Monday to Friday, only to let lose and binge at the weekend?
That was me, for years! I can’t remember having a normal relationship with food, not ever. On a Saturday and/or Sunday I could and would eat like there was no tomorrow, because come Monday I would have to tighten my belt a bit to make up for all the bingeing over the weekend. And I would swear, that the following weekend I would only have a small and well thought out healthier treat and be able to control my intake. But then I was so strict during the week that by Friday I stuffed my self silly.
I mean I had been so good all week!
I deserved it!
Gone were all willpower and reason.
The thing is that I know a lot about nutrition and health. I’ve been working with it and studying it for many years and have a profound interest in it. I know what’s healthy, I know how many calories I should consume, and I bet I can name the calorie and nutrition content in almost any food by heart. I’ve been obsessed for years!
But knowing and doing are two completely different things!
I would have weeks on end where I would be “good” and not eat anything “bad” and then I would feel better about myself. I was worthy; look! I can control myself!
But the problem was that food was the only thing I could think about. I assumed that when I’d gotten in a certain shape or when a certain amount of time had passed, then I wouldn’t think about food anymore. I wouldn’t have to count my calories and be conscious of every bite. But that never happened. The path always lead back to food – more food! – in the end. And back to me feeling hopeless and stupid for not being able to stay away from chocolate.
But then I came across another path. I have learned, or shall I say, I am learning that I can live another way. A way where I don’t have to stop eating all the good things, and where don’t have to feel guilty when I do eat.
It’s called Moderation.
It sounds so boring. It sounds like ‘not really trying’
It is hardcore.
It. is. hard.
So how does it work?
Well, I eat whatever I fancy. Ok, not quite.
But it’s the opposite of deprivation and binging.
It’s about finding a way to eat that doesn’t make you feel deprived (‘Oh, I can’t eat cake, even if it is your birthday’) but also a way that doesn’t leave you stuffed and uncomfortable (‘Oh my god, I’m so full I think I need to lay down”)
It’s about finding the middle ground.
I have a few nutritional guidelines that I’ve set for myself and that I follow every day. I also know myself well; I know that I don’t like eating sweets in the morning for example, so that’s not a hard time for me to stay away from stuff like that.
But when I do want something, like a glass of wine with dinner, I can have it! If I want a piece of chocolate while watching Game of Thrones, I can! But it’s Monday?! Doesn’t matter!
What I try hard to do though, is to stay mindful. I ask myself, do I really want this piece of chocolate or can I do without? If I have another glass of wine, will I be able to get up at 5am with a clear head, and if not, is it worth it? I have to make a conscious choice and then not feel guilty. Guilt has no place here. It serves no purpose other than to make us feel bad.
Now this all sounds like hard work doesn’t it? We’ll it is and it isn’t. Staying mindful and learning how you really feel takes practice. At first it might seem like a lot of effort and self reflection, but practice really does make perfect and soon mindfulness becomes second nature. I now know that I’m happy with just one glass of wine. The second one I can take or leave, so usually I just leave it. Or just a few bits of chocolate not a whole bar.
And this from a girl who used to stuff herself silly with chocolate every Saturday night!
Like I said, this is a journey. One that takes time and I have to be patient. Some days, like Easter weekend just gone, I slip a little and might eat a bit more than I intended (whoops) but the thing is to not feel guilty about it or to try to make up for it by being mega-strict again, because I know that will only lead back to the deprive-binge cycle.
I am over a year down this path and I am still not there yet. I don’t think I’ll ever arrive at a destination. Like I said, it’s a journey.
Some days are easier, some days are harder, but I keep trying because what else am I going to do? Go back to deprive and binge mode? I already know that doesn’t work.
I just move on. Try to stay on my moderation journey the next day.
And enjoy the ride.