In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently. – Tony Robbins
It’s been about a week and a half since I decided not to compete. I will sheepishly admit to going overboard a bit. I have pretty much been eating whatever I want and have only gone to the gym a handful of times. I guess a part of me felt entitled to it after feeling deprived and restricted for so long. I went out to dinner with an old friend who I haven’t seen in months and it felt so liberating to 1) have the time to go out to dinner during the week and 2) to enjoy a meal without obsessing over how to stick to my competition diet at a restaurant. I went out on a date on Friday night and it was nice to relax and enjoy good company without having to act like a control freak over what restaurant we went to or how my food was prepared and not worrying about how to schedule a date around my training schedule.
All of that being said, there is a downside. I have gained weight. The scale doesn’t lie, and neither does the mirror. My workout clothes are more snug. The few times I have gone to the gym, I wouldn’t be caught dead in anything other than my baggy workout tanks. I’m not fooling myself into thinking that there aren’t consequences to the “liberated life” I’ve been leading lately.
I always wondered how obese people become that way and why they don’t do something about it before their weight gets so out of control. I can kind of relate a little bit now. My free-for-all has already lasted longer than I intended. I’ve gained more weight than I wanted to. I made up my mind several times earlier this week to get back on track only to be derailed by a pizza craving, junk food at work, or even an extra helping or two of something I would consider clean (rice cakes and peanut butter – YUM).
We always talk about progress when it comes to health and fitness as being incremental and small over time in a positive direction, but the truth is, it works the other way too. It’s easy to dismiss a couple of pounds, then 5, then 10, then 20…you get the picture. It creeps up on you. I have always had an “upper limit” weight – 125 lbs. That is not an ideal or comfortable weight, but it represents the upper limit of what I consider to be a tolerable weight range for me. After weighing in this morning, I’m there. So, today I put my foot down.
I spent today trying to realign myself. I slept in (until 11!) and spent the day doing some chores around the house, watching Netflix, reading, and watching some TED talks. I ate healthy and have never felt better. I had plans to watch the UFC fights with some friends at a bar, but honestly really wanted to work out and didn’t want to jeopardize the momentum I had, so I went to the gym instead – because I genuinely wanted to. I feel positive and happy today, and I had not felt that way for the past week and a half. When you don’t live life according to your values, you experience cognitive dissonance. Although eating junk and skipping the gym made me feel good in some ways, it’s inconsistent with my core values. Living an aligned life is key to happiness. A week is about all I can justify to myself of not eating clean and not working out regularly. Think about it – what if this continued for another week? Another month? Another three months? At what point would I go from being a healthy/fit person who is taking a break and living a little to being an unhealthy/out-of-shape person who eats crap most of the time and skips the gym regularly? It’s a slippery slope.
Speaking of momentum, I came across this post from Adam Farrah a few months ago and thought the part about momentum was extremely insightful. When you are headed in a certain direction, let’s say, toward eating too much and not exercising, you have momentum going in the wrong direction. When you are trying to change direction, it’s not a matter of simply reversing course. First, it takes force and effort to slow your movement in the wrong direction to bring you to a stand still. Once you’ve finally stopped, then it requires additional effort and force to pick up momentum going in the right direction. When you are driving in reverse, you have to hit the brake to stop, shift, and then hit the gas to accelerate and move forward. It’s the same with life.
Today, I hit the brakes and stopped my movement in the wrong direction. Tomorrow, I take steps toward picking up momentum and moving in the right direction again.