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November 16, 2012

How Giving Yourself the Win Makes You MORE Motivated

With the 10 Week Mindset Makeover starting on Monday October 14th, 2013, it’s got me thinking about gratitude and how to actively CHOOSE to find the bright spots in my story. Without my struggles, I would never have gotten the lessons, and as a result gotten better. I can’t regret any of my fumbling.

The Eating Games

As badly as I binged and ate crap at times since having started to compete and model (when I was 24), I never eaten nearly as terribly as I did before I adopted this lifestyle. I oftentimes like to remember back to when I was 22 years old, newly graduated and working full-time as a fitness specialist. I loved exercise, and worked out 1-2 hours a day, taught up to 4 group classes a day and had a blast. I also had a blast eating and drinking…

If you have never caught this in any of my prior blogs hinting at this, I would like to share with you what I ate and drank on a weekly basis at this time in my life. I never had any interest in nutrition. Not only did I not care, really, about food, but I ate whatever I wanted and exercised like crazy to stay “thin”–though I still had that group-fitness-instructor-puffy look.
I distinctly remember trying to “eat healthy” during the week, but I would still eat at least some sort of candy every single day, 3 Diet Pepsi’s and “low-fat” ice cream after dinner. Then, come Friday night, I distinctly remember going directly to the grocery store at 5pm and buying the following:
  • One chip item
  • One chocolate item (usually chocolate-covered pretzels)
  • Break-and-bake cookies
  • 2 frozen pizzas
  • 30 pack of Bud Light
  • Wheat Thins with cream cheese
  • Anything else I desired
Then it all began Friday night with my weekly Mexican dinner with my then-boyfriend–chips, salsa, quesadillas, etc. Then it was onto the bars–beer, getting drunk, only to come home to pop a frozen pizza in the over to eat at 2am. Get up Saturday morning and head to our favorite bagel bakery for TWO bagels each–one with sausage, egg & cheese, and the other with just cream cheese. Then it was the same Saturday night–beer, bars, pizza (or sometimes late-night Wendys), then repeat of bagel order Sunday morning, plus make cookies, finish up all snacks before Monday morning. Only to repeat again the next weekend.
Why am I telling you this?

Because…I’ve come a long way, baby :)

Last week, I went on a min-vacation with Jade to the NC mountains and in a moment of weakness, I ate a couple handfuls of homemade potato chips, and then a liquid truffle drink in downtown Asheville. I FELT AWFUL, super-guilty, stressed and upset that I had let my control lapse like that (considering I haven’t done anything like that in probably over a year, with the exception of my bi-weekly cheat meal).
When I contrast that small lapse in control with my old reality, I am struck with how far I have come. I am able to give myself the win because look how different my perception is now. I’ve done well!

Does practicing self-compassion let me off the hook?

In the moment when I can give myself the win, I am practicing self-compassion. Not because I want to give myself permission to eat crap every week (if I ever end up buying multiple frozen pizzas at one time again, we need to talk), but when I practice self-compassion, I CAN MOVE BEYOND THE LAPSE FASTER. It’s not about letting myself off the hook, but about acknowledging that it’s fine, and there’s nothing I can do about it now, so I might as well just MOVE ON. One of my favorite sayings is, “Yesterday was over last night” because it’s a reminder to me that if I don’t actively DECIDE to move on, I am still holding on to misery that I can do nothing about, EXCEPT what I CHOOSE to do moving forward. So I might as well just move forward with greater awareness and quit the guilt.

Self-compassion is a willingness to look at our own mistakes and shortcoming with kindness. It’s about giving up negative self-judgment, but also NOT about letting yourself off the hook.

This is a VERY important distinction, because I believe this is why many of us feel like we cannot afford to practice self-compassion, because we believe that somehow the guilt & negative-talk spurs us to action. Like, without it, we’d just give up and give in to every dietary whim. We think, “Aren’t people who are harder on themselves the ones who ultimately are most likely to succeed??” Not the case. In fact, new studies are coming out to show that practicing self-compassion ensures we are MORE LIKELY to achieve our goals. Hard to believe, but true. You can be self-compassionate while still striving to achieve challenging goals.

Does feeling guilty serve to keep us in line?

Maybe, but I would argue that any negative motivator will be short-lived. Eventually the negative self-talk will get old, and we will end up eating whatever we were going to eat anyway, whether guilt is there or not. In other words, feeling guilty doesn’t really change behavior or outcomes.
And in fact, I would argue that ditching guilt is the fastest way to release the hold that food has over us. It did for me. Once I stopped obsessing over how perfect (or not) I was being with my diet, honestly, food stopped having the same kind of control over me. How did I stop obsessing? I simply made a CHOICE to stop. And guess what? I didn’t blow up!! :)
Do you have a similar situation you can pull from to show you how far you’ve come? Can you take a second to recognize the power in that? To feel gratitude around that? It makes a huge difference, not only in your level of happiness and self-acceptance, but it spurs you to further action to reach your goals.

Learn, Grow,
Teach, Practice

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