Hope everyone is having a wonderful Saturday so far. Today, I wanted to talk about something a lot of us do. This doesn’t just apply to dieters – people trying to lose weight, get fit, eat healthier – but also those of us who are planners, achievers, and just regular ol’ folk. Many of us have dealt with the emotion. The guilt, the regret, the disappointment – feeling close to giving up. But what we really need to do is learn that beating ourselves up over certain things (or all things, for that matter) will not get us anywhere. In fact, it can have quite the opposite effect. Trust me, I know.
I used to beat myself up a lot. The past couple of years were the years where I’ve experienced the peak of this emotional roller-coaster. When I was 19 and went off to college, my eating behaviors have worsened and I became increasingly obsessed with the way I looked – I would restrict how much I ate and I would work out obsessively, sometimes twice a day. Having gained 15 lbs my freshman year of college, I hated the way I looked. I gained weight much too quickly, due to excessive amounts of beer and junk food consumed with the silly thought that I wouldn’t gain weight – after all, I got skinny my junior year of high school without much struggle (due to self-hypnosis) and I was already thinking of myself as a natural-born “skinny girl.” Wrong. I gained weight much too quickly. I didn’t even realize when it crept up until I saw photos of myself and, bam, I was right back where I was. Chubby girl.
I got obsessed. I downloaded P90x and committed to the program. I restricted my calories and included some additional cardio on strength days to lose weight quicker. It worked. After the 90 days were over, the 15 lbs were gone and I was happily fitting in my old skinny jeans once again. Unfortunately, the restriction isn’t an end of itself. The restriction caught up with me and I eventually started randomly binging. My body wanted food so much – sometimes my binges lasted a week at a time. Those were some of my most depressing and miserable times of my life. I hated myself. I truly hated myself. I was desolate. Alone. Lonely. I was eating away the feelings of loneliness and the contempt I felt only grew stronger. With each day, I beat myself up more and more, hating the way I looked – hating that I had no control over myself, that I was giving up. I beat myself up all the time. Then I would randomly snap out of it, and get back on the restricting/workout mode and get back on “track”. Granted, the “track” wasn’t healthy – it was obsessive. But it was a track. This course has repeated itself about 2 or 3 times now.
I have come a long way since then. I don’t exactly know when or where I had my breaking point and realization that restriction isn’t the way to be and that it will only lead me to binge and hate myself in the end. I have realized this though, and for that, I pat myself on the back. Yes, I don’t want to punch myself in the face anymore, I patted myself on the back. Because I deserve it. It has really taken a lot for me to realize that I am a human being. I am a real person. I am not merely just an existing being, I am a human. I am more than what I eat, what I look like. I have feelings and emotions which control the way I think of myself and those emotions can therefore control how I act around others and how my life turns out. Do I want to be sullen and depressed every day? Do I really want to sit alone in my room every day because I am too ashamed and filled with regret and contempt to go outside and see my friends? Is my diet obsession truly worth me losing relationships and friendships I could instead be fostering and making stronger?
It’s difficult to grasp the fact that there are all kinds of people in the world. Being skinny is not the only way to be. Being skinny does not always equal happy. What is more important- is being happy – exploring the world, not taking life for granted. Seeing the world for what is it, with all of its natural beauty and seeing the wonders of life – this is what is most important. I won’t lie. This is easier said than done. But realizing this is an important part of getting there.
It is not worth it to beat ourselves up over our misfortunes and our failures. I have learned that not beating myself up has allowed me to remain happy(ish) and it has provided me with a clearer lens of life. Whenever I would beat myself up, my lens would get clouded with inner judgments and struggles. That is all I would see and think about. “I am a horrible person. No one will ever love me. I don’t deserve to find happiness or love, look at me, I just ate all this food! How can anyone love me?” It’s not easy to admit to ourselves these things. It’s not even easy to write them out, because we realize then how real it is – but also (at least for myself) I realize how ridiculous these things sound. There is more to life and a person than what they eat, what they look like. One failure does NOT equal a lifetime of failures unless we let it. We just have to get right back up – don’t pout, don’t get sad. We must see that this is just one of life’s obstacles and that we are strong and we are able. We are able to have control of our lives. We have the right to be happy. One bad day, or week, or month does NOT define who we are. It is merely a limited amount of time. It is not indefinite. If we stop, and we dwell, and we beat ourselves up over it, we only elongate the time where we feel badly. Beating ourselves up over something only makes it harder to get back on our feet and keep going.
So don’t beat yourself up. Stand on your feet, firmly on the ground. There’s more to life than a single day, week, or month. There is a lifetime of happiness that lies ahead, potentially, as long as we welcome it with open arms and smile at it like we’d smile at seeing something beautiful.
Stay happy. Keep your chin up. Don’t give up.