I spent last weekend at the Time Millionaires event in Asheville, NC presenting on internet business for health and fitness pros. Just like last year, it was a weekend full of insights, education and camaraderie.
I was also lucky enough to hang with some of my fav fitness pros: Danny-J and lifestyle fitness expert Liz DiAlto were also speaking there. Rebecca Borucki (BexLife) was there too, and it was a blast connecting with other female entrepreneurs in this space.
Friday night, the group of us girls went to dinner at a pubby-type place where they give you a big glass of pretzels instead of a bread basket. I ordered a glass of Malbec, as is my usual, along with a salad, also my usual. I practice moderation and resisting the pretzels is not hard at all.
We finished eating, ordered no dessert and sat without any food or drinks in front of us and chatted for a long while. Eventually, my hand moved to the pretzels. I took a couple. Chatted some more. A few more minutes went by. I grabbed another couple. No more drinks… No more salad… I start picking at the pretzels, chatting, laughing.
After a few minutes, I start to feel this undercurrent of anxiety. And I know why. It’s because I honestly can’t remember the last time I ate pretzels, I don’t really even care for them, and here I am eating close to a dozen little pretzels. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things at all, but so outside my usual M.O. that I’m stressed.
So I say out loud, “Ok, I’m eating pretzels, time to go.” Liz bursts out laughing. And I laugh too, because, what? who says that? :) But seriously. I need to go. And I know why. I don’t eat mindlessly. Ever. I’m practiced at this, right? I don’t like letting my circumstances dictate my behaviors. I need to get back in control of what I put in my mouth. Byyyyyyeeeee.
I also realize this is a huge opportunity for me to learn about myself and also, as always, a lesson I’d like to share with you. So, here.
Two things about this scenario:
1) I did not implement my usual 2-pronged approach to avoiding after-dinner munchies.
My usual defense is to:
a) place a napkin over any leftover food on my plate so that the server will know it’s ready to be taken, and also–out of sight, out of mind. I always eat to 70-80% fullness so I normally *do* have room left in my stomach for more food, so I try to remove any temptation as soon as I decide I’m done eating. And…
b) I always slip a piece of sugar-free gum in my mouth after I finish eating and it helps get me through temptations that may linger on the table and gives me time to feel the sensations of fullness and get home and get to bed.
These may seem like weirdo things to do. Call me “obsessed” or a control freak, but I know that the alternative–sitting at the table hungry and trying to exclusively use willpower to keep myself from eating more–only gets me so far. I have learned to find shortcuts and tactics that help me in these situations. So, on the contrary, I don’t find it obsessive. I find it smart and strategic because I know that willpower is exhaustible and without strategies in place, I’ll cave and eat more than I want to. And these tactics work 99% of the time. I normally leave a restaurant feeling satisfied, satiated and not stuffed into my pants. This is what I call a “moderate approach” in practice :)
2) Staying conscious and becoming aware of what I was doing (eating mindlessly) allowed me to pull myself back from a potential binge. And this is a complete 180 from what I might have done 5 years ago.
When I was deep into the deprive-then-binge cycle, I would have seen eating a couple handfuls of pretzels as the tip of the iceberg–the sign that I was now “off plan” and should commence pig-out, because “If I can’t be perfect, I might as well go all the way!”, right??
This is the mindset of a crash dieter. Someone who only sees an all-or-nothing approach. In the old days, I would have polished off the pretzels, ordered a dessert, ate that and then munched on other stuff ’til bedtime and then probably would have woken up the next morning waaaaaaay less motivated to eat clean and I would’ve said, “What the hell” and continued to eat to my heart’s desire throughout the weekend. That is a black-and-white approach. It’s the “I’ll start on Monday” approach.
And so, I let this be a huge win! I gave myself the benefit of the doubt, and I owe those pretzels because they signified my ability to implement self-compassion. I’m not talking about guilt around eating a few pretzels. That’s fine, I didn’t even give them a second thought once we left. Instead, I’m talking about the fact that in that moment, I was able to see what was going on, stay MINDFUL and then consciously make the choice to not go down the binging-rabbithole. Big win!
Self-compassion is about acknowledging how far you’ve come. Realizing that even when things are not “ideal” that you did a lot better than you may have in the past. It’s about learning, growing and looking forward. It’s about deciding that regardless of your mess-ups, you can always choose to show yourself kindness.
And aren’t we always more motivated to stay the course when we feel empowered? It’s in the moments of helplessness, like mindless eating or mindless binging, when we feel like we have nowhere to go, no outs. Mindfulness is a practice, and the more you do it, the easier it gets until before you know it, eating a few pretzels will be the biggest indulgence you’ll experience :)
So ask yourself, what practices do you have now that may not be perfect, but are a big jump from where you may have been in the past? And then give yourself the win. Acknowledge your awesomeness and then move forward. Ox, Jill