Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Falling Off the Wagon"

There’s no more appropriate time to talk about “falling off the wagon” than as the weekend comes to a close and Monday nears. How many Mondays have you said, “Today is the day I am going to start my diet” or “today is the day I am going to get back on track?” Haven’t we all said these things? It’s probably because we had a great weekend with friends and family filled with dinning out, BBQs, family dinners, dessert, pizza and a movie, etc. Yep, you know what I’m talking about, those wonderful weekends that have you asking yourself Monday, “Why oh why did I eat all that food?” My question to you is, “Why oh why must we beat ourselves up so much over the foods we enjoy?”

What I am here to tell you is that it is ok to fall off the wagon. That’s probably not what you would expect me to say, but really, it is OK (for quite a few reasons in fact)! But, before you get too excited, let me just say this, when I say it is ok to fall off the wagon that means on occasion. I am not promoting that you should feel free to spend all weekend gorging on junk food without a care. What I am suggesting is that you allow yourself to eat something you really want (even if it's bad) every now and then without feeling bad about it.

So, let's get right to it. I’d be truly worried about you if you told me that you eat ‘perfect’ seven days a week and workout five days a week. Let me explain. If you suppress your desire to eat your favorite foods, whether its pizza, lasagna, or a double bacon cheeseburger, your restraint will only backfire on you. Think of it this way, if you always hold inside your true feelings when you’re feeling mad at your roommate or sad about something your partner did or didn’t do, what will happen? That’s right, sooner or later all those little things you hold inside are going to push you over the edge and you’re going to explode at that person. Wouldn’t it be better to just express how you feel once in a while and move on than hold it inside and then say things that are probably 10 times worse and more dramatic than need be? The same applies to food. If you tell yourself “I am going to be ‘perfect’ every day,” what do you think is going to happen? That’s right, one day you’re going to break down, and instead of just having two slices of pizza you craved a week ago, you’re going to have half a pizza pie, plus ice cream, and popcorn. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there!

I think my absolute favorite food is pizza. I haven’t had it in a few months (and not because I’ve been suppressing a craving, but because I haven’t really thought about it). Last night, I ordered a pizza and ate five amazingly delicious slices! My old self would probably beat myself up for that, think about it for hours, and make myself miserable over it. Then, you want to know what would happen? All that stress over what I ate would just make me eat even more!

Now, I don’t view eating the things I love as a bad thing or something worth stressing over. Instead, I enjoyed my delicious pizza, even had a little frozen yogurt for dessert and didn’t think twice about it (well except of course to write this blog). Why doesn’t it bother me anymore? Because I work hard! I workout five days a week, I eat healthy most of the time, and I’m consistent with both. I work hard, to play hard (i.e. eat pizza and frozen yogurt if I feel like it). What’s the point of working hard, if you don’t reap the fruits of your labor? I’m not suggesting that eating healthy and working out is all work and no fun and that I do it to eat more and eat bad. Not at all! I love working out, I love how it feels after I’ve ran three miles in under 30 minutes. And, I love eating healthy! I love salads, veggies, fruit, grilled chicken, etc. I don’t have to force these things down my throat at all. I’d gladly eat an apple with peanut butter over Oreos as a snack. I just love eating – I am weak for some things that aren’t so healthy for you like an In-N-Out animal-style cheeseburger and pizza, but I also crave cereal topped with fruit and turkey pita sandwiches with hummus.

The point is you can’t beat yourself up for enjoying the foods you love. This will only cause you to stress out and eat more. Instead, enjoy the foods you love, even if they’re bad, just don’t forget to love the foods that are good for you just as much and eat them more than the bad foods. The key is moderation and balance! If you remember those two things, you’ll honestly be just fine. Do you want to know the best part about enjoying the junk you love? It actually keeps your body guessing when you break up your routine, which in turn revs your metabolism. So go ahead, eat your cookie, but please wash it down with a fat-free glass of vitamin D and calcium-rich milk!

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