I was sitting with my friend at a coffee shop, bewildered at how she was putting herself down again.
She thought that she had failed at her new attempt to change her life around.
She just couldn’t do it, she said. It was too hard.
The funny thing? She didn’t fail. She wasn’t even close to failing.
We were having the usual conversation of weight, exercise and diet. It’s a frequent conversation that I find myself having with the women in my life. I am usually a magnet for many of my friends on this issue. I am, after all, a yoga instructor who has successfully managed to maintain a diet and fitness regime that nourishes my body, mind and soul.
I managed to kick my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), crippling anxiety and acid reflux disease to the curb years ago and continue to feel the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. I have what is considered by our society to be a healthy weight. I can be seen coming into my workplace with salads and green smoothies and have been doing so for years.
But before you exit out of this page because I am tooting my own horn far too much, please hear me out.
I wasn’t always like this.
I was a bit of a party girl in my university days.
I could be caught getting incredibly intoxicated on a Saturday night and folding clothes a few hours later at my Sunday morning gig. I was very, very sick and would suffer many anxious breakdowns because I just wouldn’t give myself a break.
I would study, work and party to the point of physical exhaustion.
It wasn’t long before I would have a major breakdown. And I did, multiple times.
And after each one of those times, I picked myself up off of the ground and told myself that I needed to change. Only to do the same thing again in a different way.
You might think I was setting myself up for failure every time I did this. Yet each time I implemented something new I saw a tiny ounce of difference.
I did this until I gradually started to get better. After each time I realized I was overworking myself, I made changes. After each week of feeling terrible for how I just treated myself, either with stuffing my face with way too much food or telling myself that I wasn’t good enough, I made changes.
Do I still stuff my face with pizza and chocolate today? Absolutely! And I still overwork myself. I just do these things infrequently, a practice that I have built up over time, and that’s what makes a difference.
You see, I think we’ve been sold on the wrong idea of health and fitness.
Change very rarely happens, and stays, overnight. By now we know that shortcuts don’t actually work, yet we blame ourselves when we try anyways.
Health isn’t going to come our way with one simple diet, but it can with a simple mindset.
We need to work hard at it every single day. And for the days where we crash again, we must forgive ourselves and start over. Forgive and start over. I didn’t get a healthy body and mind overnight. It took me many years, struggles and tears to get where I am today. That’s what the road to recovery, weight loss and healing is all about.
So back to my friend. She was feeling down because she felt like she was on a really good path to eating healthy and exercising, but then just last week she found herself back in her old ways. She was beginning to think that she couldn’t “do” the whole healthy “thing” because she was lazy/weak/not motivated enough, not strong enough, not _____ enough.
Really, though, she was doing enough. She was doing exactly what she should be doing.
And having a week of eating pizza and sitting on her couch isn’t going to change that.
She already proved to herself that she can be consistent and that she can feel better. She just needs to believe it herself.
And so she picked herself up again and started eating better, again and again.
She believed she could, so she did.