My week was going well. I had an organized exercise schedule and my healthy habits were right on track. New friends of ours had actually moved in next door and I was beyond excited to see them and catch up on lost time. By the time we called it a night, I was crawling into bed a few hours past my normal routine. I didn’t regret one minutes staying up with our friends, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the recoil effect that lack of sleep had on my health.
The following morning, I did my best to compensate for staying up late by sleeping in an extra hour. I usually have a pretty hefty morning buffer before I need to leave for work, so I was okay with utilizing some of this time to catch up on a few extra ZZzzs. Despite building in some extra sleep, I still felt sleep deprived.
I had also been out of town the weekend prior and unfortunately was behind on my food prep and groceries for the week. On my way out the door to work, I found myself grabbing calorically dense pantry/fridge items such as toast, homemade banana bread, popcorn, and leftover tortilla chips…
So much for a balanced breakfast!
I didn’t have enough groceries to put together a lunch, so I left for the day with the intention of “winging-it” at work. I essentially continued to eat quick and easy carbs throughout the day. My sugar spikes were all over the place. I’d eat, get a rush of energy, and then quickly crash and need to re-caffeinate with coffee.
By the end of the work day, my body was exhausted from trying to keep up. I felt like I was driving a car in stop-and-go traffic. Gas, brake, gas, brake, gas, brake. Despite trying to keep my normal exercise routine (I try to trick myself by keeping my gym bag in my trunk so I hit the gym before driving home from work), all my body wanted to do was plop on the couch at home and recharge.
As I walked in the door to my apartment, my attention to my body quickly became distracted.
Rather than checking in with myself and taking a moment to PAUSE and attempt to pinpoint exactly what my physical needs were, I allowed my mind to go blank and my hands to find the refrigerator door.
I’m sure you know where this is going….
I swung open the fridge and pantry and made a hodge-podge dinner out of grab-and-go carbs. I was mindlessly consuming calories. It wasn’t until after I finished my late-night binge that I truly allowed myself to sit still and STOP. Mostly because I felt defeated and as full as a stuffed turkey.
What did I just eat?
Why did I eat so much?
What’s going on here?
This isn’t usual behavior for me.
In the past, if something along these lines were to happen, I would launch into a full-on guilt trip;
Kate… you should be ashamed of yourself! How could you lose so much control over food? You ate so much and now you feel stuffed and disgusting.”
However, here’s what I’ve learned about giving myself these kind of guilt trips…
- I hate it.
- It doesn’t fix ANYTHING.
- The only thing a guilt trip is good for, is sabotaging my efforts at establishing healthier habits.
So instead, I have been practicing replacing my guilt with CURIOSITY.
I ask myself;
- What’s going on here?
It helps to just STOP in order to get to the bottom of this question. I’m not a huge journaler, so I instead find a private space without distractions to let my mind wander and process my stream of thoughts. I usually start by thinking of the last scene in my head, and rewinding each step that led me there in order to get to the root of the problem.
Here’s an example of how I let me mind run through the events and how I reflected on my overall experience:
Alright. I over did it on dinner. Dinner wasn’t a planned meal, but rather a quick and dirty, “kitchen sink” kind of meal. Oh, and it was essentially carbs. Processed carbs. I ate mindlessly because I was exhausted and wanted to relax and be cozy in the apartment. The constant intake of food also made me feel like I was giving myself constant fuel- not the “up/down” energy spikes I was battling with all day at work. I was tired and partially sleep deprived. I was using food to fill me up and help soothe me to sleep. I bet my lack of sleep was the ultimate cause of all of this because normally when I wake up feeling rested, my energy is better controlled. Oh- I also need to make sure I have enough groceries stocked in the house and food prepped for the week. That way I can have easy access to more balanced meals with healthy fats and protein in my diet rather than just carbs. When I eat more balanced meals, my energy is stable and I don’t come home after work feeling like I’ve been in stop-and-go traffic all day. Not to mention I usually feel motivated to hit the gym on my way home from work. I love the fresh feeling of endorphins after a good workout. It inspires me to stick to healthy food, appropriate portion sizes, and more nutrient dense meals that really nourish me. I also like feeling strong and proud of myself for doing a tough class at the gym. It helps me sleep more soundly and I love waking up feeling a little sore knowing that I pushed myself and challenged my body. It convinces me that I’m getting stronger and it helps empower me to start another day on a healthy note.”
Once I process my thoughts, I like to summarize the take-away points.
Through this experience, I recognized:
- Getting enough sleep keeps me on track of my healthy habits
- Keeping the kitchen stocked with healthy groceries that are prepped and grab-and-go ensures my diet is well rounded and nutrient dense
- Exercise empowers me and keeps me motivated
- When all of these things are in order, I feel healthy, inspired, and in control of my health
I encourage you to reflect on your own week. Did you slip-up? If so, rather than beat yourself up for it, hit PAUSE and bring curiosity to that moment. Spend some time reflecting on it. Back-track the course of events. Get to the root of what started the slip-up in the first place. Identify the key take-away points. Use this information to FORGIVE yourself. Recognize which factors drive you down the “slip-up” road, and which ones keep you on track of your healthy habits and goals.
How can use this information to become successful this week?
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