Recipe for disaster

Some weeks this column just writes itself—and other weeks everything about it is a struggle. And it seems that those two things tag team each other.

After writing last week about a new way to think about eating, I found that my self-sabotaging streak reared its head in a major way. I hate writing about stuff like this. It’s personal, it’s painful, and I am not proud of my behavior.

But I also know that for me to face these issues head on is helpful—both to me, and to people who relate to my journey from life as a couch potato to an active lifestyle, so here goes. Part of the philosophy I wrote about last week can be described as “mindful eating.” It’s fundamentally a Buddhist philosophy, at its core meaning, “Pay attention.” It is deceptively simple.

In the book I was talking about last week, “Women, Food and God,” by Geneen Roth, she also opines that no food should be off limits (within medical constraints like diabetes) provided a person pays attention to when they are full, and stop eating at that point. She advocates eating without distractions—a difficulty for many of us in itself. She also talks about compulsive eating and mindless eating, the opposite of what she is espousing. And that’s where my self-destruct streak came in to play this past week.

For various reasons, including the holiday weekend, I haven’t made it to the gym in about two weeks. On top of that, self-destruct took over in the kitchen. I guess you could call the whole thing an epic fail-o-rama in terms of my health and fitness goals. So now I find myself adrift, without my lunches prepared for the week, meaning each day I’m winging it, and without gym time scheduled until Saturday. My hectic schedule is always ready to fill in the gaps, making “catch-up” difficult. Throw in a holiday weekend and a few days down to whatever bug is going around and you have a veritable recipe for disaster.

And that’s where the rest of my self-destruct mechanism comes in: After a day or two of missing my workouts or dietary goals, that inner voice is just ready to throw in the towel, and give up altogether. By the time I make it to two weeks, that little voice wants to convince me it has all been for nothing, and that voice has decades of practice when it comes to getting me to cave.

Here is the good news for me, however: I am stubborn as a mule, and I am not giving up on this. Not today, not tomorrow.

A few weeks of not meeting my goals is not the end of the world or the end of my plans. Although I will admit that right now I can’t even tell you how I will regain my momentum.

That bothers the hell out of me. In the year that I’ve been writing this column, this is the farthest I’ve sunk in terms of follow-through on the commitment I made to take care of myself.

The craziest part is that the closer I get to my goals, the harder I want to push myself down. What the hell is that? Tougher still, how do I find compassion for that part of myself that just wants to throw me under a bus?

Here’s the paradox and I’m not sure how to bust my way out of it. Exercise feels good. So when I feel bad, I should exercise, because it will make me feel good. But when I feel bad I don’t exercise, instead spiraling around the I-don’t-feel-good-I-don’t-wanna-I-don’t-feel-good go-round.

The answer is self evident: Exercise will make me feel better. Time to zap myself with a cattle prod and get to the gym. No ifs, ands or buts.

Do you struggle in working toward health and fitness? I’d love to hear about it. You can contact me at leota@lobo.net or 505-286-1212, or by joining the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!”

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