About 4 months ago my day went something like this: it was my free carb day, a day I increase my carb intake in contrast to the other days when it’s lower (think Paleo tendency). Eating this way has been perfect for my particular body chemistry. This free day serves two purposes: to let myself feel unrestricted (woo hoo!!) and to stoke the fire of my metabolism. One of the purposes is physiologically based and the other is completely emotional. As life would have it, I was feeling quite well on this particular day.
I decide one (there are often several) of my free carb treats will be potato sticks which I LOVE because they are just the right combination of crunchy and salty and just thinking about them can make my mouth water. My love for potato sticks is the reason I started eating a more Paleo way in the first place because eating a few cans a week, along with all the other processed carbs, seemed to have put an extra 20+ pounds on my naturally petite frame and, I was pretty sure I was on a slippery slope to type 2 diabetes. Imagine that?
I excitedly buy the can of crunchy yumminess and eat them while driving to H&R Block to have my taxes done. No way am I able to do my own taxes and I have great admiration for those who do so. I’m munching on my treat while driving and they taste divine. I know eating while driving is not very mindful, or safe for that matter, but this post isn’t exactly about that kind of mindfulness. You’ll see where I’m going in a minute. The potato sticks taste delicious with a capital D!!!! Zero nutritional value but chock full of satisfaction. Have you noticed when you take away something you’ve eaten with regularity, it suddenly becomes the MOST DELICIOUS THING YOU’VE EVER EATEN? Can you relate????
I get my taxes done and it’s revealed that my return will be quite a bit less than the amount I had imagined. Great. My previous good mood is now down the toilet. Fear has set in and it is the kind of feeling I am quite familiar with. Fear of not having enough. A big one for me especially when I’m trying to make a go of being self-employed.
I find myself back at the grocery store in the frozen foods department standing in front of the freezer cases that hold Pepperidge Farm cakes. Vanilla Confetti, to be exact. I know, again, zero nutritional value plus crappy ingredients but the taste is quite yummy for crap cake. I buy it and head home to let it thaw. You know where this is going right? Later that day and into the evening I ate half the cake. I ATE HALF THE CAKE!!!!
The first few, small pieces taste yummy then the inevitable hypoglycemic crash occurs and, if I remember correctly, I was passed out on the couch as if I’d drunk a liter of Stolichnaya vodka.
The way this amount and type of sugar works in my body looks like this: I feel excited at first, especially with the taste, then the fatigue sets in, then a bad mood starts to take me over. The next day I’ll feel quite groggy and tired. Right about now you might be asking yourself: “What is her problem? Why would she do that if it makes her feel so bad?” Well, exactly.
I’m writing this as an example of what can happen to us from time to time when we veer off our intended paths. It could be food, smoking, drinking too much or shopping when you don’t need anything. It doesn’t matter WHAT the behavior is. It can be whatever it is you perceive as taking you over, your “go to” behavior when your insides feel out of balance from something that’s occurred in your life or you’ve had a thought that may have gotten your mind spinning downward into the dark spiral of negativity.
My story has happened to me more times than would be possible to count. I’ve felt all the feelings you might imagine would accompany that kind of behavior: guilt, shame, sadness, anger. You name it, I’ve felt it and yet I keep moving forward using each time as a learning experience. And, remember the Seinfeld episode where George gets the cake or pastry out of the garbage and eats it? Yep, me too. This is not something I’m proud of but it’s true. I imagine you might have some version of this in your own history. I’ve come a long way the last few months and what a difference I feel these days. What a relief actually.
I’m not the kind of person who responds well to “I’m never going to do ___________ (fill in the blank for yourself) again.” Whenever I’ve done this, I’m immediately flooded with cravings so strong I am back in the thick of it. What works for me is to deepen into what it is my body or my heart is really asking for, to try to find some meaning and understanding of what is happening to me. I’m committed to living with kindness and compassion toward myself and the behaviors I sometimes have that feel, perhaps, not the healthiest. I decided this a few years ago when I realized that I was holding myself to a ridiculous standard that didn’t feel tender or forgiving and I am a BIG forgiver. Why then, wasn’t I allowing myself the same forgiving standards I had for others?
Living with this intention feels much more loving, kind and gentle. All good, positive things I want to cultivate more and more with regard to how I treat myself and how I want to live my life.
You will tumble off your intended path. It’s inevitable and it’s not about using those times to think “screw this. I’m just going to let it all go.” Instead, try to think of it as changing lanes for a bit until you get back to where you were heading, back in the lane that leads to your intended destination. Don’t let it be a big deal. It isn’t a big deal unless you think it is. It’s not about that thing that you’re doing or not doing. It is, however, about how you deal with yourself in the midst of it all.
Think about how you’d treat your child? Would you scold her when she falls down while attempting to walk for the first time? Would you punish her as she is learning to talk and says words in her own unique, but grammatically incorrect, way? You wouldn’t do either of those things.
Try to see yourself through those eyes and you might find that you are feeling more accepting of your journey, even all the bumps and stumbles.
Along with self-acceptance comes an increase in self-love and this, my dear ones, is what is the most important thing. When you start feeling an increase in loving yourself, you become softer and more open to your life. The judgment begins to fall away and in it’s place trust will land.
Be patient with yourself and believe that you are learning as you go, that you will fall off your path and then you can get right back on. Do your best to use that “off the path” time to know yourself a bit better and deeper so when you decide it’s time to proceed forward again, you won’t be too far from where you stepped off. Let go of criticizing yourself and the harshness that goes with it. Attempt to find a way that is filled with compassion. The more compassion you have for yourself, the more you will have for others and this is something that is needed in the world.
I can see a difference since doing this in my life. I’ve broken habits that I never thought I’d be separated from and I find that I feel happier and healthier than I ever have.
Kindness is always the best way. ALWAYS. And patience. You can’t go wrong when you have both of those things in large supply. Do your best to increase them for yourself and I’m pretty sure you will be happy with what you find. You are so amazing. Do you know that? Do you see what we see in you??? The wonder that is you????????
Dedicated to A.S., who is courageous enough to know that change is ALWAYS possible and is dedicated to doing just that.