By Jimmy Hays Nelson
… The question stuck in my head. That question came in the form of a comment on my Facebook Page when I posted a picture of my cheat meal that week. The admittance that I cheat on my diet like everyone else wasn’t a huge deal, but the issue of guilt associated with rewarding oneself opened the door to an issue that goes beyond goals and discipline.
I allow myself one cheat meal a week where I can eat and drink whatever I want. A whole rack of ribs with French fries???? If the mood strikes me…Absolutely! That meal is something I now look forward to each week, and I enjoy every last morsel- but that hasn’t always been the case.
As a person with a 100 pound weight loss story, the history of my relationship with food is a complicated one. Growing up the mirror was a daily reminder of my poor food choices, but as I got fitter the mirror still found ways to torment me. Even at my fittest, often after a splurge I would feel like ‘Fat Jimmy’ all over again! Somehow my mind’s eye would manifest that when I looked in the mirror. A temporary exhale would have me feeling like I ‘failed’ and was starting all over from square one.
I imagine you have had similar feelings whether with exercise, diet, or battling an addiction.
Eventually I had to take a step back and ask myself why I put such high expectations on myself with very little room for error. Was it because I honestly felt better in my rigid schedule? Was I constantly comparing myself to others and chasing their results? Maybe I had created some ‘image’ in my head of how others saw me, so I had to constantly live up to that standard 24/7. I’m sure each of these played a role in my guilty remorseful ‘cheat hangover’. Maybe a few of these same issues are affecting your state of mind as well.
So what changed? How is it possible for me to indulge in some super loaded burger meal without having a remorseful food hangover?
I had to examine whom I was living my life for. Was it for me and the personal goals I set for myself, or was it to live up to a standard I thought others had for me. I finally had to ask myself, “What’s the point of all this hard work if I never get to exhale, congratulate myself and celebrate the accomplishment?” Everything has a season and a time. So are there still stretches where my training and nutrition are what others would label extreme and unrealistic. YES! Those times are usually reserved for a build up to some kind of event. It gives me a specific date to shoot for knowing the celebratory splurge is awaiting for me on the other side of that finish line.
So if you are just starting a new nutrition plan or fitness regimen, don’t look at it as this huge impossible task! Get over the ultimatums like ‘I can never have margaritas, chips and salsa again’. Instead start small. Example: ‘For the next 3 days I will get up an hour earlier to exercise’ or ‘ This weekend I will cook my meals for next week to improve my nutrition’. At the end of that small timeline, review how it went and how you feel. Do you deserve a small reward or have you created some momentum to where you want to keep going? Either way, celebrate your achievement- set the next mini goal- and repeat! Welcome to your new manageable goals way of life!