“Real transformation requires real honesty. If you want to move forward – get real with yourself.” Bryant McGill
My worst bad habit has always centred around food. Binge eating and junk food. And in the last three years, I went from 200 pounds to 142 pounds. As I started to shed weight, I realized, I could not keep eating the way I used to eat when I was 200 pounds. The math is simple. If you want to lose weight you have to eat less and burn more calories.
So I went from eating out three or four times a week to having cheat days on Fridays. Man do I look forward to cheat days! I go crazy! Typically, when I wake up on Friday morning, I’m at 142 pounds. But for breakfast I have pastries. Lunch and dinner are things like fried hotdogs and hamburgers with apple pie for dessert. And I get to snack on chips throughout the day. Sometimes I even treat myself to a beer.
But there are consequences. On Saturday mornings I wake up with a food hangover. I’m usually hovering around 150 pounds. I gain eight pounds in one day! So I do my morning yoga and try to do downward dog but the burger isn’t sitting well. I’m nauseated and I feel gross and guilty.
And then from Saturday to Thursday, I work out and count my calories. I stay diligent and by Friday I’m back down to 142 pounds. It is exhausting! I did that for two years. But recently, I realized that I’m so tired. I’m tired on Tuesday. I can have four spoonfuls of peanut butter. But I start negotiating with myself. “Let me have the fifth spoonful of peanut butter…I can’t have the fifth spoonful, there are too many calories.”
And then I got angry. I’m done with cheat days. And it lasted about two and a half weeks. And so I remember on Thursday night, I started negotiating again. This inner voice comes out and says “Hey man, you’ve been working hard. You deserve a reward.”
And I’m like, “Nah, Nah, man. I don’t.”
“But you’ve done so well. What about a cheat day once a month?”
This was starting to make sense. “Okay, keep talking.” But then I had a moment of clarity. “It hasn’t even been 15 days. I can’t do a cheat day already.”
“It starts after tomorrow. But it will only be once a month. I promise.”
That made sense to me. So Friday morning I got up and went to get my pastries. I ate the first pastry and I realized how overly sweet it was. But I thought, I’m not going to have another pastry for 30 days, so I ate the second pastry. I had the fried hotdog for lunch and it was greasy and gave me heartburn. I thought; “Wow, that never used to happen. But again, it will be 30 days until you can do this again. Go enjoy the rest of your day.”
So I kept eating and eating. And by the end of the day, everything tasted delicious. Everything was perfectly salty, perfectly fried, and perfectly sweet.
And Saturday I woke up eight pounds heavier and nauseated again. So yes, this Friday, I didn’t do a cheat day. And I’m done. Here’s why. I’m tired of undoing all the work.
The inner voice can be the worst influence. Our inner voice knows all our triggers and how to convince us that eating the food, calling the ex, overspending or whatever your bad habit is, is okay.
And so what I realized on that Friday morning when the pastry tasted bad, was that with bad habits there is no gray zone. There is no single donut, no ifs, ands or buts. Only black and white, no compromises. We all need to find the strength and mindfulness to catch the inner voice. To tell that inner voice “NO!” To stop overeating, to delete your ex’s phone number, to cut up your credit card. Whatever it takes to break your bad habit.
It is hard! I’m there with you. But on the other side is self-love. And I want us all to get there.
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