You're frolicking in the ocean, having a grand old time, when all of a sudden you get pulled into a riptide. You are being drawn further and further away from where you were, and fight with all your might to stop the drifting. You get choked by some waves and your arms and legs are tiring fast. Your friends and family are shrinking as you are pulled further away from them.
I promise I've not jumped ship and decided to start giving swimming advice. What I'm talking about is my experience with the last part of 2012 and how it relates to my eating.
I've been working through Susannah Conway's Unravelling workbook (it's free!) and it had me thinking about last year. There is so much clarity in hindsight if you pay attention to it. I had a lot of change happen in 2012 between trying to fix an injury, get back into workouts, leave my corporate job to start my own company, and figure out how to just manage myself in new ways. The changes were swirling around me and it all seemed perfectly normal at the time. Looking back, however, I see that I had myself caught up in a riptide and I was trying to swim against it. I beat myself up mentally for not being able to control my food – having 4 great days and then 1 day off the rails that would lead to 3 days sort of okay but not really, and then 2 good days back to 1 bad day. It was a bad cycle, and something in my brain wasn't clicking. My workouts were pretty consisten the last part of the year, but my food was just a fight. As work got challenging or even when I was faced with extra down time, I was still fighting something and pushing against the current.
So often when we've had weight issues for any extended period of time, we get gung-ho (like at New Years) and inflate ourselves up mentally to undergo the behavior changes needed to lose weight. We get our ducks in a row and make sure everything is in place to succeed. The problem is that we can't keep things exactly like this. Things change, we can't control everything, and something knocks us off balance. Many times, we can correct course and push on. But many times, we get flustered and end up giving in to the wave that shot salt water up our nose and made us say “uncle.”
Or tell me this: Have you ever tried to lose weight when you really weren't into it mentally? You knew you were SUPPOSED to lose weight to fit into a pair of pants, or to look better for some event, or to please someone else. But everything you did was too hard and complicated and it seemed like it was 100 times worse than any other attempt? These are often the situations that have us losing 10 pounds only to gain back 15. Without our mind in the right place, for whatever reason we jump willingly into the riptide, not even prepared for the fight.
No matter what the reasons are that you find yourself in a riptide, know that you can get out of it! Here are some things that personally help:
- Catch your breath: If you find you are bashing yourself for not being able to stay on track, just stop. Give yourself permission to catch your breath and give things a break for a couple of days. Often, we just need a little bit of time to get through whatever hissy fit we were having and we can correct our path.
- Remember your why: Why were you attempting to lose weight THIS TIME? Was it for something external or because you thought you should? Or did you have a deep driving force motivating your change? If you aren't clear on your “why” then you're just muddying the water. Write down your “why” and repeat it over and over. It has to be a soul-stirring decision from within to lead to lasting change. If you haven't found that yet, then stop fighting yourself until you find it.
- Forgive yourself: Remember that no matter how many times we fall down, we just have to get up. We can fail 100 times, but if we dust ourselves off 101 times, then we've won. If you've gotten caught up in something and feel like you let yourself down, please stop. Each moment is a new opportunity to make a positive change. If not today, then tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then perhaps next week. Do it in your time, and for your reasons.
- Ask for a lifeguard: You're not alone. If you're struggling, then ask for help. Talk things out with a family member or a friend who is a great listener. Personally, I took a few more trips to my therapist to figure out what was throwing me off. I also had to talk to friends to just get things off my chest. So grab onto that buoy and get rid of some of the load.