April 28th, 2014 Turning Off The Self-Judgment
I'm a creature of habit. My breakfast menu usually has two options: Eggs and sometimes cheese, wrapped in a Joseph's 60 calorie pita, or placed on a 100 calorie sandwich thin if the pitas aren't available. Or steel cut oats and perhaps a few scrambled egg whites. Rarely, in a tight pinch—if I wake up too late to prepare, I've allowed a fruit and maple oatmeal and scrambled eggs or a fruit and yogurt parfait from McDonald's. I've pretty much concluded the McDonald's Oatmeal and the parfait options need to go simply because each contain a significant amount of sugar. And for me, sugar is like a drug.
Is it possible for me to start my day with a double dose of sugar and still maintain my calorie budget throughout the day? Yes, I've done it. But, in making those choices I'm choosing to make things much harder. And just to be fair—I've started the day like that many times before and spiraled out of control in a feeding frenzy before sundown, check that—before noon. This cause and effect self-analysis isn't something I've always considered or realized about myself, it's a fairly new epiphany, as in the last couple of years.
When someone is just getting started and they ask me for advice, I stand behind exactly what I did from the beginning. I tell them to maintain a calorie budget and exercise, period. I tell them, “eat what you like and nothing you don't. Don't complicate this process. Get accustomed to eating less, naturally. Focus on maintaining the integrity of your calorie budget and you'll naturally evolve into making better choices along the way.” And I go on: “You can get fancy later. If you're like I was, simply cutting down to an intake best suited for weight loss is a big enough victory in the beginning. Start with this and allow your natural evolution of good choices to unfold.” Of course the conversation also turns to the emotional and psychological side of this very big battle most of us have in common. We all know this is about much more than food and exercise.
I find myself in an awkward position lately. I have traveled over five years along this road and I've learned a great deal about myself and now I tend to be more critical of my own food choices. And some of those, like the sugar, for good reason. But what happens is, if I choose something that I've mentally noted isn't good for me, I immediately bring about negative feelings about what I'm doing. Does this make sense? I can make myself feel like a failure even when the choice fit nicely within my Calorie Bank and Trust. Even if it's something I enjoyed and even celebrated along the way of my initial success.
I didn't eat fruit and maple oatmeal from McDonald's this morning or a parfait. I did prepare my usual eggs and cheese wrapped in a Joseph's pita—and it was delicious. I had some fresh fruit for snacks and I enjoyed a fabulous lunch and dinner too. So where does this line of thought come from? I stopped at the grocery store on the way home. It takes me so much longer to shop now because I'm judging everything I put into my basket. Why am I doing this to myself? I believe it's because I've raised the bar of expectation very high. And while it's good to raise the bar as you go and ascend to new confident levels—I must recognize when retreating to the basics is imperative for my stability. If I continue to struggle living up to the highest expectations I've set for myself, then I'll continue to be disappointed in myself when I fall a little short. And the negative consequences of those emotions are not acceptable any longer.
I am retreating to the basics with a few exceptions. Anything high sugar or high fat is a minefield for me, so I'll tread lightly or not at all with those. I'm more specifically proclaiming: I will be less self-critical and self-judgmental. Because here's the bare truth: The barriers I've created within myself via shame and guilt—the avoiding pictures, the dreading public appearances and doing my best to avoid seeing people I haven't in a long while for fear they'll judge me or be disappointed in me---these barriers have been built with my own self-judgment and disappointment in me...and I've been amplifying and projecting it upon others. No more of that insanity. My fear of receiving this from others is actually a reflection of my own judgment!
In order to return to my healthiest weight and be more fit than ever, I have to embrace where I am, who I am and what I'm doing. And feel good about it 100%. And be kind to myself. Is it hard sometimes? Yes it is, very. And I don't necessarily understand all of the psychological dynamics of why I treat myself the way I do sometimes. But I know for certain that breaking this habit of self-sabotage is key to the healthiest visions of my future.
I'm headed to the trail for a good walk. It'll compliment all the stair climbing I did today. I don't even count the stair climbing normally—but today I noticed because it was unusually high between work and home, maybe 20 flights of stairs? That's fairly accurate.
I can't even begin to express how much consistently writing is helping me. It makes all the difference in the world. I look forward to so many incredible things ahead.
I'd love you to join me on twitter: @SeanAAnderson and on MyFitnessPal: SeanAAnderson
Thank you for reading and for your incredible support,