Everyone wants to look and feel better, but the path to wellness is beset on all sides by the temptation to indulge and the scathing self-loathing that can follow. Then a simple moment of weakness can become a symbol of failure and effectively derail any future efforts toward these goals because “it’s too late now”.
The main reason for this unfortunate reality is that many people tend to view their fitness and health efforts in terms of good practices and bad practices. Food selection can be categorized into “four good choices and two bad decisions” on a single plate. This leads to feelings of guilt and shame that have long term effects on our determination and even the digestive process.
A large part of the problem comes from this black and white view on our actions and even our inactions. While there are lapses in this rule, we all know that a cucumber is going to be far healthier than eating a glazed donut.
Then there is the reasoning that what we eat and how we achieve our goals is completely under our control. Which is true and this means that the decision made to eat a healthy meal will trigger a feeling of pride and accomplishment in making good decisions, but the opposite is also true.
The essence of comparison also means the individual who eats the glazed delight can feel strong feelings of guilt over their actions and each bite adds to this emotional weight. This way of thinking is especially insidious and can lead to many incorrect and very unhealthy approaches to diet and exercising.
Take for example the study done at Cornell University on the eating habits of men and women in intimate company. Researchers found that women will commonly feel like they ate too much when they are eating in the intimate company of men, even if they didn’t. When emotions are involved exact proportions can become confusing.
These unrealistic notions of food servings or how your actions are actually affecting your progress can lead to eating disorders and improper exercises habits that will eventually collapse. Either way this way of thinking can have an adverse affect on your fitness goals.
According to experts in the fields of fitness and psychiatry this is a risky way of thinking because the individual can begin to tie their eating habits into their sense of self-worth. So rather than looking at their cravings as an important aspect of health and interfacing with the body, they become as symbol of something intrinsically wrong.
“If you can control your diet and exercise”, says the inner monologue, “and attain health and fitness you are a “good” or “worthy” individual, if you dare indulge in that double-pizza you are “bad“ and deserve your spot in the lake of deep frying donuts”.
But this is all wrong! What we see here in this mental torment that many fitness and health enthusiasts suffer is a simple case of disorganized thinking, or failing to see the forest for the trees, if you will. By adopting a larger perspective on your fitness routine as a whole, you will understand that a single batter dipped fish and shrimp meal is not going to undo two weeks of committed effort.
The big danger is that the guilt from such a treat can undo the progress you have made by exaggerating the consequences of an action. Of course, this can only be done with your permission.
On your way to better health you are bound to wake up some days looking and feeling like an Olympian Champ, then there will be days you wake up a little rough around the edges. Then there will be days, especially after packing on some needed carbs and sodium that the scale will indicate a move in the “wrong” direction, this is not a death sentence.
It is not the present actions, indications, feelings or even downright mistakes that matter in the end. It’s all about how you choose to get back on with your goals and dreams of fitness and feeling amazing.
How To Avoid These Perils on the Road to Fitness
The most important thing is to let it go and get back to your committed efforts be they dieting or exercise routines. While it will be a struggle to fight back the guilt and reclaim your dominance, there are some helpful practices that can be applied to your mental process that can help you gain a measure of control and release this guilt.
Guard your Inner Monologue - The way you talk about yourself in your mind WILL become your reality. This notion is a fact anyway you cut it. Be careful how you identify your foods and the way you eat them. If you decided that you are going to have the pizza, don’t think “oh well, there goes the last of my resolve, I am going to be BAD and enjoy this”. That’s wrong, how about “A salad is a healthy choice and I eat that plenty. But today, a pizza is really going to hit the spot and make my outlook on life a little better”, and it will.
Focus on the positive - Of course a chocolate cake is not “healthy” it's not supposed to be, it’s supposed to be delicious and epiphanic. Just like taking a day to play your favorite video game is neither educational nor healthy. But these treats provide another type of sustenance to the mind and enrich your life.These are mental foods and have their place in a well-rounded program for health and fitness, relish them for best results.
Forget Compensation - This means you can’t work off the guilt of eating tasty food by taking a few extra minutes on the stairmaster, and you shouldn’t even try. The tendency is that the feelings of guilt only worsen as you try to appease them and often these“compensatory” sessions are often extra intense and can throw off your carefully planned routine to better fitness and health.
Make Allowances - Don’t even begin your efforts for better health without fully understanding that you need your regular rest and mental nourishment that your favorite foods and activities have provided. These need to be carefully and appropriately included in your plan until they can be phased out in due course. Don’t plan on overeating, but don’t make your plan so rigid you will be suffering through guilt and self-loathing all the way.
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