I was doing so well on my goals! I was eating right, exercising almost daily, and writing several times a week. And then it all fell apart. Lucky for me, “falling apart” isn’t the end of the world. It just means instead of eating real food, I want to eat pizza rolls; instead of being active, I want to sleep all day; and instead of writing, I want to play Plants vs. Zombies (even though there is literally nothing in that game that I haven’t done a hundred times). And then I start yelling at myself…
How many times do I have to tell you?
You heard it from your parents and you’ve said it to your kids. You swore you never would, but what else can you say? It’s beyond frustrating to have to repeat yourself to the brink of insanity. You say it once: well, obviously it needs to be said. Twice: ok they’re just kids and may need a reminder. Three times: all right I’m starting to get frustrated here! Four times: are you f’ing kidding me? How many times do I have to tell you?
Maybe some people can make it past four times, but I don’t have that kind of patience. At least, not until now — but I discovered something when I was saying it to myself.
See, I’ve been varying degrees of overweight most of my adult life. And while I’m not a complete fad dieter, I have tried a lot of different ways to lose weight. I’ll spare you the details of the decades-long journey, and get straight to the point of what I have “learned” over and over (I put “learned” in quotes because really you learn it once and after that you’re just repeating yourself to the brink of insanity):
- When I eat healthy foods and exercise, I feel GOOD! I have more energy. I have fewer tummy issues. I get more done. I yell less. I smile more. I am a better person.
- When I eat junk foods and don’t exercise, I feel awful. My stomach hurts. I get more headaches. I start sliding back into depression. I get angry easily. I fill my head with guilt and self-loathing. I am miserable.
It’s so simple. Why would anyone in their right mind ever choose the latter over the former? Yet I do. Repeatedly. And then I go back to healthy habits and prove to myself (once again) that virtually every aspect of my life is better. And then I go back to crap. And then I ask myself, “How many times do I have to go through this?”
But this time, I had an epiphany: we are human beings (profound!). We have the ability to reason and work through logic, and that is awesome. But we are also emotional and extremely complex. We make thousands of choices in our lives that have very little to do with logic and everything to do with emotion. And it’s ok that we do, because that’s what makes us human. Sometimes it sucks (like when you knew you shouldn’t have fallen in love with that big fat jerk), but sometimes it’s amazing (like when you know you should get up and do chores but have a snuggle day with your kids instead).
I don’t want to say we can use emotions as an excuse to perpetuate undesired behavior, and I’ve worked very hard to fix a lot of my emotional eating, but there are tons of other emotional triggers that haven’t tackled yet. And instead of beating myself up about not following the clear logical choice, I have to accept that I’m human and move forward.
So I’ve forgiven myself (again) for eating crap (again) and have committed to trying (again) to eat healthy and get moving (again).
And I’m committed to being more patient, and accepting that we aren’t always working on logic. And I will try to remember that sometimes I will repeat myself four, five, ten, a gagillion times. And I will do it with love, because it’s what we deserve.