I feel it’s my duty as an advice-giving fitness professional to be authentic. I’m not going to sit high atop my blogging throne and claim perfectionism in my own fitness & health pursuits. And I’m certainly not going to wag my finger at you with condescending pity when I hear that you’ve made some not-so-healthy choices.
What good would that do? No one walks the straight and narrow 100% of the time. Even those well-intentioned folks (like me!) who strive to help others improve their journey toward better health.
Nah, I’d rather divulge my mistakes and imperfections to you. So that you can feel like you’re not alone! And so that you can feel supported in picking yourself up again and again.
Those agonizing thuds that happen when you fall down from your high points WILL happen again and again. Because you can’t always be motivated and inspired and devoted and flawless. Life happens. Your internal drive ebbs and flows. You find absolute joy from all aspects of life – and then sometimes you feel so heavy and lethargic. Stress leads you down forbidden pathways. You make a couple unfortunate choices and ‘POOF!’, you become addicted to a bad habit.
Yeah, ‘addicted’ is a strong word. But that’s how I feel when I’m stuck in a rut. When there seems to be no way to control my actions, I feel compulsive. I feel addicted to a pattern.
Lately, I’ve been stuck in a perpetual pattern of eating sweets. It started after I had my daughter. For some reason, chocolate and pastries sounded like just what the doctor ordered. Here we are a few months later, and I feel like I need that sweet fix every night. Sometimes in the middle of the day. I feel like I can’t stop it. One of my clients has slid into that same predicament as well. We always nod knowingly at the other when describing yet another weak moment…
In another example, I tend to stay up way too late. I’m just a night owl by nature. But every so often, I go on a sort of binge of repeated late night bedtimes. Productivity takes a hold of me and before I know it, the clock says 2am. Or later. Crap… Josie will be up in about 5 hours… Why am I sleep deprived when I don’t need to be? It’s a horrible cycle. I spend the day in a bit of a daze, grabbing naps whenever I can (and being pretty ineffective at every task). But as soon as darkness sets in, I push my limits yet again. Ugh.
Lack of sleep and gobbling down sugary treats are not awful on a sporadic basis. But when they accumulate, they can do a number on your health and well being. They start to break you down. All addictions do. We all know this… yet it’s sometimes hard to escape from a habitual cycle. Even when it’s clear as day that you need to stop, it’s difficult to kick an addiction.
So… how can we extinguish those addictions? How can we face our demons and right the path again?
Well, some addictions involve hormonal shifts and nutrient deficiencies (like my sugar issue). So, there’s a physical reason for your compulsion. Those are the hardest to kick. But no matter what the issue, my advice is simple…
I would advocate small steps. Give yourself small, progressive ways in which to move out of addiction. Being realistic with what you can accomplish is key. I can set a midnight bedtime for myself to follow at least 3 nights out of the week, make a rule to only watch one show (or 2 short shows) on Netflix, turn off the computer by a certain time – or better yet, ask my husband to drag me to bed at 10:30p! I can stock my kitchen with sweet, fresh fruits – and then eat them every other night in place of my splurges (of course, keeping the sweet treats out of the house on those nights would be a must as well). Once I am successful at that first step, I can take another small step. And I can always enlist the help of a supportive friend. Outside help is priceless when we’re trying to fight our demons.
Just remember… Ingrained habits and addictions are too fragile to be put under the stress of big leaps or plain ole’ willpower. Never rely on willpower. Plus, going cold turkey will only ensure that you’ll slip back into your addiction in no time. Small steps, my friend. And if you fall down again, just pick yourself back up and continue treading on.
Yeah, my advice isn’t magical or brilliant. But when you’re trapped by a compulsive behavior, it’s always helpful to feel like you’re not alone.
Your weaknesses will give way many times in this life. Expect it. Don’t beat yourself up. Take your small steps – get some support – and know that you’ll be flying high in the rafters again soon. Cheers