“I’ve had a hard day, I deserve a stiff drink tonight!”
“I’m tired, better have a sugar hit.”
“It’s Mars Bar Monday/donut Tuesday/cupcake Wednesday/TIm Tim Thursday/scotch on the rocks Friday!”
Any of these one-liners sound familiar?
Just over a year ago, I wrote about my journey from struggling with my weight to becoming a total fitness fanatic and a total gym cliché – Lorna Jane outfits and all. (If you tried to count the number of times I’ve started sentences with “When I ran my half marathon…” you’d run out of fingers and toes.)
I’m still that person. I’m probably more of that person now than when I wrote that post. I wake up before 6am most mornings to fit in my morning walk, spend a large percentage of my lunch breaks at the gym and have spent a small fortune on sports clothes because I actually wear fitness attire so often I can’t keep up with the washing.
Exercise – got that part nailed. Healthy eating however? Um yeah…about that. I like to think I eat fairly healthily. I mean, I don’t weigh my food, separate my yolks from my whites or swear off carbs Monday through Friday, but I also don’t live off a diet of soft drink and frozen pizzas. I drink green smoothies almost daily, can whip up protein pancakes in the blink of an eye and am certainly no stranger to a good, fresh salad.
But (there’s always a but!) my eating isn’t all kale and chia seeds. In the same way I sometimes use exercise as a outlet or coping mechanism when I’m having a rough day, I rely on food on a very regular basis to help cheer me up no matter the situation; if I’m having a frustrating day at work, didn’t sleep well the night before or am just generally down in the dumps.
Chocolate. Bread. Pasta. Chocolate. Biscuits and cheese. Chocolate. You name the unhealthy food and chances are I’ve relied on it to make me feel better. What’s worse is that I acknowledged it’s a bit of a problem many months ago, but did I stop? Nope. Treated myself to a Kit Kat just this afternoon because I knew I had to work late tonight, despite discussing this exact issue with my workmate only hours beforehand. I guess you could say my self-control could use a little self-improvement.
Recently, this meme showed up on my Facebook feed and it’s been haunting me ever since.
It is so true. So true. Why do I revert to food as a treat? Why do I think something that is unhealthy for my body and that disappears almost as quickly as it appeared (and often I wolf it down so quickly that I don’t even really get a chance to enjoy it) is going to completely turn my day around and melt away every negative feeling I have as though it was a block of Cadbury’s sitting in the sun on a particularly hot afternoon?
I completely understand that for some people, food is a hobby and passion, and something worth putting their time, money and effort into. Let me clarify – I am not one of those people. I’m not interested in fancy food, ingredients I can’t pronounce or exclusive restaurants you have to win a ballot for to even book a table.
So why use food as a treat? It’s quick and convenient. I can eat it from my desk while I work, drop by the supermarket at short notice and don’t need a change of clothes, unlike going to the gym or for a run. It’s a lazy fix that rarely actually fixes the problem – and therein lies my problem.
There’s a bunch of activities I enjoy more than eating and maybe it’s about time I focussed on making myself feel better with those things; experiences that are a longer lasting, don’t make me feel like I’m six months pregnant or cause my skin to break out like a hormonal teenager, and actually complement my fitness regime – not fight against it.
If I think I need a break or deserve something nice, I could sit in a quiet place and enjoy a cup of my favourite herbal tea. Promise myself that once I get home, I can spend an hour reading that book I’ve been itching to start before getting stuck into housework. Set aside some time for yoga or swimming, or simply spend my lunchtime browsing home wares (my favourite past time) instead of sniffing out where my next dose of carbs is coming from.
It will be a work in progress. I can’t promise you I’ll swear off charity chocolates for the rest of the year or never go near a cheese and bacon twist from Baker’s Delight again – but I’m going to make a conscious effort to try.
I’d love to hear from anyone else who has felt or thought the same way about treating themselves and what they’ve done (or maybe haven’t done!) to change their ways!