“There’s no problem so awful that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.” -Calvin and Hobbes
Ah, welcome to the new year.
‘Tis a time for a quick refresh. A resolve to be better, look better, and feel better. If you’ve started off strong, congrats! That’s awesome. Sometimes, our resolutions are made realistically with sustainability in mind. Sometimes, those resolutions work until February when we realize what we set out to do isn’t quite working. Most of the time, those moments of defeat are premature. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day; what makes you think that you’re any different? You’re a lot more complex when it comes down to it. You’re human, for one.
Me? I didn’t have any resolutions. My year started on a slightly tragic note that I won’t delve too deep into for now, but it overshadowed the whole spirit of the “new year, new me” thing. That’s all right though. Even before tragedy struck, I was pretty anti-resolution. Not because I don’t like them, but because I make them daily.
I’ve written about my struggles with health and particularly food and body image on the blog before. I have tried everything that might be a “magic cure” all while spreading the message that there is no such thing. It might be hypocritical, but I think a lot of women (and men) who write about health from a personal perspective have run into the same problem. It all boils down to this pit in the stomach otherwise known as guilt.
You know, the kind of feeling that you wake up with and can’t quite shake. Knowing you’ve done something wrong or deceived someone is hard to swallow, unless of course you are a sociopath. The sort of guilt I’m talking about is nothing criminalizing, it’s merely a burden. Turns out, carrying that weight on your shoulders can really bring ya down.
January has this notion attached to it that we must make radical change. Overnight, we resolve to quit this, this, this, AND that all at once. Been there, done that. I mean, my entire identity professionally and even personally at one point had become my very restrictive diet.
The more I became attached to the idea of this perfectionism that seemed necessary to maintain, the more I resented that attachment. In turn, I began to resent my career path, my meals, and myself. I think you might know where this lead me; the dreaded feeling of guilt.
If you work in the health, diet, and/or fitness industry, you might know this struggle quite well. I’ve learned two important things in the past year that helped me form my unofficial 2016 resolution:
- Be patient. You won’t always feel this way.
- Nobody is asking you to be perfect, so when you aren’t perfect, you don’t have to be guilty.
Yep. It took me a whole year to grasp that concept. It took me one episode of crippling anxiety paired with guilt to reach the conclusion that maybe, just MAYBE, I ought to get down to the root of my guilt once and for all.
Enough about me for now; let’s talk about you for a minute. Hands down, the most common resolution that people set out to make in the new year is to lose weight. If this is your goal, chances are, it was a goal long before the new year hit.
In that case, you’ve probably attempted to do so in the past and failed. With failure comes guilt, huh? This cycle is so familiar to me.
Think of some things you might be doing wrong that cause the guilty reaction:
- Eliminating so many foods that you leave yourself with no choice but to stray.
- Creating such a low calorie deficit that you end up going over it regularly.
- Not eating enough throughout the week that you inevitably binge on the weekends.
- Setting up a workout routine that you don’t enjoy so you give it up before you can even see results.
- Comparing yourself to others so that when you don’t see the same results, you automatically assume that nothing works.
I’ve done all of these things. I’ve done them all more than once. I’ve attributed my guilt to everything besides these things. I’ve broken down in total frustration because of these things. These things are the bane of my existence.
The only solution? Giving up the guilt for good.
While we have good days, good weeks, and good months, things aren’t always so stellar. During times of total chaos and stress are shiny little revelations of the most glorious clarity that you can grasp. Hold onto ’em.
The past few months have gone a lot like that. If you’re in the midst of a 21 Day Sugar Detox at Primal Fitness Pittsburgh or you’ve begun some sort of elimination diet, ask yourself what your reasoning is.
When I began a paleo diet, I did it for one reason only: it was a known way to lose weight. Truth be told, I didn’t lose any weight. That isn’t because of the foods I was eating, it was due to my unrealistic expectations and my relationship with food that needed some serious healing. Unfortunately, my healing process was not going to happen by denying myself five different food groups.
While elimination diets are amazing tools for weight loss, healing autoimmune disease, managing chronic pain, and maintaining overall health, they can cause adverse reactions in many individuals who are missing the root of all evil – the guilt.
I love eating healthy foods and working out hard, but the true results show when I embrace balance rather than restriction. True results come when I rest despite that voice in my head that tells me, “You have to go work out!” True results happen when I eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast because that’s what I want instead of eating a whole box of it later because my eggs just didn’t cut it.
You know what’s missing in the equation to my true results? Guilt. Like the quote above from our favorite comic duo, guilt turns something bad into something worse. That means feeling so bad about your “cheat day” turns it into a “cheat week,” yet another classic example of how we manage to crash and burn.
Before you get too attached to your resolutions, ask yourself, “Is there room for guilt?” If there is, be aware and adjust accordingly.
Master your instincts!
Alexandra Barone (aka Alex) is a healthy living aficionado residing in the lovely city of Pittsburgh, PA. She writes about all things real food with a focus on the paleo diet. Alex is free to discuss your fitness goals and schedule you for a 1-on-1 consultation on site at the studio. Please feel free to email her with any questions regarding Primal Fitness Pittsburgh at firstname.lastname@example.org