when backsliding is a good thing
When backsliding is a good thing by Sharon Linde
Last month, I met with Monica for the first time to talk about my food and exercise needs. I’m already relatively active, and my primary concern was maintaining my health as I age. I’m staring down the genetic barrel of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and joint issues. I want to make sure I’m taking care of what I need to now, so I don’t wake up in 20 years too unhealthy to go to the park with my grandkids.
I’d visited doctors last summer to determine this exact thing and left disappointed and dejected. One wanted me to keep two months of detailed food diaries (are there people out there capable of this?); the other dismissed my worries as something ‘all women my age’ fretted about. I answered all of Monica’s questions about what I ate and when, how I felt afterwards (almost always NOT GOOD), and spelled out my concerns. She asked me if I trusted her, and I did. Then she flipped my life.
Right off the bat, she zeroed in on two culprits – sugar and dairy – and ripped them right out of my world. I’d been off sugar years before, and knew the massive problems it caused in me. (More about that in The Sugar Series). I also knew the huge benefits of not consuming the stuff, so although it’s a super bummer to not eat it, I knew I could. But ice-cream? And cheese? Does the plan come with therapy?
I saw results immediately. Stomach aches, which I had daily, were gone within a week; lethargy, irritability and joint pain, two. As my physical symptoms decreased, though, I noticed something else immerging – being hyper vigilant about what I ate began bleeding over into other parts of my life. Being intentional with food, taking the specific time and energy necessary to control my health, started to become how I approached other things too. It caused me to slow down, in a way, to measure not just my food intake but my inertia towards living.
I sailed through the first month, feeling better every day. And then, last week struck.
It was one of ‘those weeks’; the car blew, I had big deadlines, my mom became seriously ill, and the holiday loomed. All that intention went right out the window as I was forced to eat on the run, if at all. Because one thing Monica taught me was that I tended to not eat enough calories, and therefore harm my body, I sought calorie dense, quick foods. In short, by Saturday it seemed like a great idea to have nachos from Qdoba.
The whole week was an otherworld experience. It seemed so completely out of my control, when in reality, it wasn’t. I was simply unprepared to not have the quantity of time and energy I needed to eat well. The fallout was my newfound intentional lifestyle was replaced by a chaotic one, topped off with several days of severe stomach pain, followed by a few days of general discomfort. Oy. Being bad did not, in any way, feel good.
I saw Monica at yoga Monday morning and relayed my week, expecting a firm talking to or at least a head whack. Instead, she asked me if I’d learned – how to do better, how to prepare better, and how much I truly wanted to feel better. Sometimes, she said, you just need to backslide to gain perspective. It was only from that spot, way down in belly-ache, cranky hell, that I fully experienced and recognized, again, how much being healthy meant to me.
I’d love to say I’ll never slip up again. I don’t plan to; in fact, I’ve made an emergency plan for the next hell week or vacation or whatever else throws me off. But I probably will, because I’m just a human, and humans are mistake monsters. Like all the other tools Monica gave me, I’ll keep this one belted for when that happens. And hopefully, I’ll be able to kick myself out of it a bit quicker, or at least before I pass Qdoba.