Earlier this month, I slid off the game plan a little bit. Not in the sense that I ate donuts, pizza, and chips all day errrrrday but I started to get sugar cravings at night and gave in to them with a glass or two of red wine one night, a bowl of ice cream another night, and the pita bread half that comes with my salad. I even paused on posting on here until now because I wasn’t going to be honest about what was going on behind closed doors of my home.
Two things helped me flip the switch. The first was reflecting on how my body felt the morning after indulging a little bit. I physically felt bloated and mentally I felt ashamed, which is an emotion that has driven me to continued poor eating habits in the past. There is a system called “The Cognitive Triangle” that basically describes that all actions or behaviors we enact in are driven by emotions. We flip someone the bird when they cut us off in traffic because they pissed us off. We are pissed off because some sort of thought has crossed our mind about this person cutting us off. It could be “This idiot is getting in my way” or maybe it goes back to when you woke up this morning twenty minutes late because your alarm didn’t go off and you told yourself “This day is going to suck”. I had to ponder what thought was driving my emotion of shame. I actually am still pondering what the thought it that drives this emotion for me because I think it is a thought that is buried in me from 25-ish years ago. It may even be a thought that someone else put into my brain that I chose to believe. Maybe it was a doctor, a peer, a parent? It may even be all three.
A few of the thoughts I tend to initially tell myself include: “You’ve done great all day”, “Just a little won’t hurt”, “You worked out today”. These thoughts all lead to me feeling accomplished, and this feeling of accomplished gives me permission to follow through with my action of consuming my “little” (another thought I tell myself) cheat. After the cheat, I circle back to the Thoughts category, which starts a chain of
“You have no self-control”, “You can’t stick with anything”, “You’ll never achieve your goals”. These thoughts spiral into emotions of disappointment, embarrassment, shame and I respond with actions of eating again because food doesn’t judge you and that sugar rush that makes your brain happy feels oh so good.
AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Stop right there missy!
What terrible thoughts, right? Who would want to put themselves through that, right? UGH. That has been the triangle I have been living in for years. YEARS PEOPLE. How gross. I decided that is a triangle of thoughts, emotions, actions that I want OUT of. Smell ya lata! But how??
I made the decision to change my thoughts. None of those thoughts are actually true, they are just stories I have been telling myself for years. I have the power to change my thoughts to whatever I want, and I want is to be kind to myself. Now, I try to practice mindfulness over my thoughts. I pay attention to what I am telling myself, and when I catch myself having those “You did a great job following the nutrition plan, you worked out, you can have just a little” thoughts, I catch myself before I get to that last part and modify it. Now it goes more like “You did a great job following the nutrition plan, you worked out, you are one step closer to your goals” or “Don’t let short-term pleasure interfere with your long-term goals” or “Don’t eat that shit because you know damn well you won’t feel good after. That last one is the angry bull thought when my cravings are on overdrive and a need a strong thought-slap upside the head.
The moral of the story? You control the story that you tell yourself. You want to tell yourself that you deserve that cheat meal and then feel like shit both mentally and physically after? Do you girl, but I’m on Team Feel Good and our train is a-rolling!