Cheesecake versus Kale-Salad
Why is it so hard to stick to something? If you decide its really time start a new diet or a fitness schedule and your intention is you would like nothing more than to stick to it, over time you would find yourself just letting go of it with great pain, disappointment and shame. ‘What a failure, I am’, is probably a repeated phrase in the back of your mind. This seems to be the standard operating procedure. We often think it’s all about willpower which can be obtained by self-discipline which means self-denial. How did this end up being the formula we usually go about things? The first thing we should realize though is that willpower is like a muscle that needs to be trained in a proper way. If you go at it too strong it will collapse. So, like any muscle in your body, in the beginning one needs to slowly and lightly build up the strength.
The thing is though that eventually you would not be able to continue if it feels bad. If you are suffering by trying to stick to some diet and tell yourself regularly that you do not deserve a piece of cheesecake because you’re fat and out of shape, you’re going start to feel really bad about that. You will feel totally deprived. Eventually you would give in and eat that cheesecake and tell yourself: ‘you are so weak for not sticking to your diet, what an embarrassment, you failed again!’. Sound familiar? When we feel deprived, we feel bad. This bad feeling is accompanied by a nice dose of shame. And so, we just indulge over and over in ‘bad’ things and can’t get out of this vicious cycle. It’s our feelings that decide in the end not logic and rational. Of course, your head knows a kale-salad would be the better choice, but your feelings say: ‘give me the cheesecake’ and so the choice is made. As a human being at times we feel pain, we feel frustrated, we feel upset. If in these moments we can say to ourselves: ‘you deserve that piece of cheese-cake because you had a tough day and you feel really lousy today and having cheese-cake will bring you some temporary pleasure, so go for it and enjoy it!’. I bet you anything that most probably you would realize that you lost that strong craving on the spot. Work with your emotions instead of denying them. No need to punish yourself, you’re human and we all have emotions that come and go. Sometimes we just need a hug and sometimes a cheese-cake seems like it could help get rid of our bad feelings. There’s nothing wrong with realizing and feeling that. It might even start to feel good to be nice and take care of yourself and you might even recognize that having a kale-salad will leave you feeling more energized than cheese-cake. And then something crazy would happen: you would realize you actually like kale-salad.
Bottom line: Be kind to yourself, be loving. Nothing good came out of shame. Because shame drags you down a negative spiral you would never get yourself out.