Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Only Skill You Need: Forgiveness

Originally posted October 28, 2011

Are you one of those people who reads a blog about eating healthy and think, "That's easy for you, but for me in my real life that's just not practical?" Because I am. And I write a blog about better health. I hope that doesn't make me lose credibility in your eyes, but the truth is, this doesn't come naturally. I'm not someone who has always hated desserts anyway and wanted to be health (like my sister). No, I love me a big old chocolate bar. Every day if I could. Every meal if I could for that matter. French fries and other deep fried goodness? Why yes, please pass it my way. I love the taste of these foods. I also love eating out. It's so easy. I don't enjoy cooking all that much most of the time. I do enjoy baking desserts and then consuming them. I hate cleaning up after kitchen adventures. I admit to being an emotional eater. I eat when I'm bored too. No, eating a whole foods diet that is mainly homemade was never something I saw myself doing.
Sometimes when I read blogs with people and families who have given up processed food I'm a little down on myself. Why can't I be better?  The truth is I love the way I feel when I'm eating well all the time. I hate the way I feel when I eat processed food. Which is motivating, but then there are days like every day since I got pregnant. Days where you say I-just-need-to-eat-and-it-needs-to-be-fast-and-tasty-freezer-section-here-I-come. Days where you simply don't care. Days where you don't have time to care. Then I read those blogs and I think well all you perfect people leave me alone. Normal people are like me, not you.
But here is what I've learned: Forgiveness is key. Now I've written about this before, but the longer I strive to be healthy, live well, and eat good things the more I believe that the only skill we really need to master in order to move forward is the skill of forgiveness. As usual, let's paint a picture:
So you've decided you want to eat better. You're giving up processed foods. You feel a big difference and you love it. But then you have a bad day and decide that what you need is a day of eating junk. And you go for it. There are a few different things that could happen at this point:
  1. You feel horrible that night and beat yourself up about it.
  2. You feel fine, but the guilt of eating junk all day is killing you. How could you be so stupid and weak?
  3. You feel fine and decide that eating healthy is over rated. Maybe you keep eating horrible for a few weeks and then it catches up with you, but the guilt is too strong. If you couldn't do it right the first time what makes you think you could ever eat a healthy diet?
There are maybe other consequences, but let's just go with this for now, you get the idea right? What I am submitting to you is that all of these things are a recipe for failure. Instead in any of these situations what we need to learn to do is observe how we feel. Realize that we aren't happy when we eat poorly, overeat, or otherwise derail out health. Then we forgive ourselves and move on. Forgive and start fresh. If you can't forgive you can't move on and the truth is, you will never be able to live a healthier lifestyle.
Everyone makes mistakes. I know I do. Dwelling on them or feeling like we can't move on because we've screwed up our "perfect" record is not healthy. It does nothing for us. In fact, perhaps it is time to change the thinking all together. You didn't screw up because you weren't healthy today, no, there are no screw ups. Rather, tomorrow you aren't going to eat junk because you like it better. Beating ourselves up does nothing but hold us back.
So to all those of you who, like me, may never have a perfectly "healthy" diet please know that's okay. What we do most of the time is so much more important than the occasional McDonald's hamburger. Let go of the idea that you've been "bad," and learn to move on to a new day.