Janine here, and I am taking over the blog this week! I know, I know, it has been a little bit since there has been new content HERE but, I promise, the 2 Health Nuts have a lot up their sleeve! Anyho, I wanted to share with you a story.
I have a client who decided to give up ALL THE SWEETS for Lent. Here is a little "behind the scenes" convo we had back in March..."JANINE, I am giving up all SWEETS for Lent. That's right, you heard me say it. You name it, I am giving them up. I just can't do THIS anymore."
As we continued to chat, she gave me a breakdown of some her weaknesses, and I helped her implement some strategies and workarounds:
- The daily Dunkin' Donuts breakfast at the office; "Well, I will need to take a different route to bypass the lunch room. You know what, this may be a good time to break out the Fitbit I have yet to use."
- M&M's; "I love ya but we need to take a break." Starbursts and Skittles; "Sorry vending machine, I will put my money saved towards more personal training and health coaching." My favorite marshmallow peeps that only come around this time of year; "Yup, I will look at them from a afar. I mean really, though, how long have they been sitting on the shelves anyway?
- A scoop, or two, or three, of mint chocolate chip ice cream post dinner; "I am currently testing out a couple different mint flavored herbal teas to replace instead. You never know, maybe this will help to de-stress me in the evening." "To be perfectly honest, I don't even know if I really want or even like sweets. By the end of the day, I could not even tell you that I actually enjoyed or what they tasted like."
As we are nearing the end of Lent, we discussed what the journey has been like for her thus far. "This has been a huge deal for me. Through your guidance, I have learned a lot about myself & my food related behaviors over these (almost) 40 days. I have to tell you, though, I am SOOO nervous; I am nervous about what is going to happen come Sunday. The dang Easter Bunny SCARES Me!"
Next came the barrage of questions with an undertone of sheer panic and anxiety...
Will I be raiding the candy aisle at o'dark-thirty Easter morning to get my fix? Will the candy not make it into the Easter baskets because I will have already consumed? My Mom makes this awesome dessert for Easter dinner. Will I be able to stop at just one piece, or even a few bites? Will I find myself hiding under the covers with my hand in the bag of jelly beans?
Here is where it gets juicy, and, guess what?! I TOTALLY GET IT and totally understand how this can feel terrifying (kind of like the life-sized Easter Bunny at the mall, lol). For some, it is sweets; for others it's food in general. It can even be something completely out of the nutrition realm. Bottom line, so many of us can relate on some level.
There were many reasons why this client decided to give up sweets for Lent. Beyond wanting to make some physique changes, she knew that they were starting to CONTROL her life. She admitted that, most of the time, she woke up in the morning, immediately thinking about what kind of donuts were being brought into the office that day. She knew this was not healthy, and that it was a behavior she had learned.
She knew she had to do something about it! This was getting out of control. She could not do it anymore!
As a high-school and collegiate athlete, she had an excellent nutrition regime and practiced moderation when it came to her "fun foods" and "treats." Upon entering the work world, and trying to keep up with the day-to-day activities of her growing family, she found herself in a "situation" that was very foreign to her. She was fed up. She needed this push to help her make a change. So, what was my response to her "Easter Bunny nightmare?" TRUST YOURSELF...plain and simple. See how it plays out. It is time to start living life in that "gray area." Break down those walls that suggest everything is "black or white;" "all or nothing." It is time to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Believe it or not, you are comfortable with something that is not bringing you any happiness!
A healthy mindset, and having the skill-power, needed, in those "difficult" times is KEY to making a lifestyle change (or, in this case, habit) realistic and sustainable. Today I wanted to share with you the 2 Health Nuts top 5 strategies to start employing, TODAY, that offer valuable tools towards letting go of this "all or nothing" mindset.
1.Be more trusting and less controlling. Trust in the fact that you know what to do, for you. There is no right or wrong; there is only you. I say this because we are constantly searching for that "perfect" solution or "diet" to help us fight the urge to eat sweets, or potato chips, or that big slice of ooey, gooey pizza. In this client's situation, it is about preparing her to be in a room with a vending machine, or a box full of donuts, or even the Easter basket, and not feeling that it has to be consumed all at once. The last time I checked, Dunkin Donuts was open 24/7 - EVERY DAY - and everything you can purchase in a vending machine is ALWAYS available at your local grocery or convenience store. Get my drift?
2. Eliminate labeling foods as "good" or "bad." The moment we start labeling foods this way is the moment we start judging our actions and behaviors. "I ate a piece of fruit today; this is on the "good" list so I am doing "good." "I had a small piece of cake for a co-worker's birthday. This is definitely "bad" and, therefore, I am weak." Hello, what about moderation? Do you eat cake every day or every week for that matter? Why does a few bites make you "bad" or "weak?" In fact, this may be the very element as to why you are feeling the need to consistently binge all at once. There is no "gray!"
3. Ask yourself the question..."What would happen if I didn't continue to (daily) binge on all the sweets? What would I be missing out on, honestly? Truly, what would happen if you decided to not have that donut or two for breakfast, or the few scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream at night? Would you, possibly, have more focus throughout your day if you starting eating breakfast at home? Maybe swapping the ice cream for fresh fruit would help you sleep a little better and not have you waking up starving in the middle of the night? Maybe, just maybe, you would start to achieve the physique goals you have been trying to achieve with little to no success. Care enough to know that just because you ate donuts for breakfast, and a bag full of M&M's in the afternoon, doesn't mean that the rest of your day is ruined. Be bigger than the candy bar you so desperately "need to have" or that bag of sour patch kids that is calling your name in the checkout aisle of the grocery store. They will always be there and there will ALWAYS be a place for them within your daily nutrition. This is about practicing mindfulness. This is another key element that will always allow for you to taste everything and binge (or devour) nothing!
4. Get to "IT" first before "IT" gets to you. Okay, we have all been there. You know that feeling where you are SO HUNGRY that you don't even remember what you ate (or how it tasted) because it was consumed so quickly. Not to mention the feeling you get afterwards - bloated, uncomfortable, and downright stuffed. This is a practice in learning to understand what it feels like to be both hungry and satisfied. Adding in some "preemptive cheats" throughout your day will help you in "taking the edge off" and never allowing yourself to go completely overboard. Think of it as a way to stabilize your nutrition, working through your highs and lows. In the case of this client, the "preemptive cheats" we used were (clean) protein bars that mirrored her favorite sweet treats, a few pieces of good quality dark chocolate, and even homemade, clean donuts. Any time she felt an urge, or started to think she was getting hungry, I had her consume a few bites of one of her "go-to's." Post 40 days, she can utilize this strategy if she feels a sweet tooth come on. If after 20-30 minutes she is still not satisfied, I encourage her to have a couple pieces of her favorite candy as she chooses. The goal, though, is to really enjoy and savor...then put the bag away and MOVE ON!
5. It will always be about consistency - not perfection - to keep you on point and your nutrition in check ("don't let perfect be the enemy of good"). These 40 days were the initial stepping stones (i.e. "jumpstart") to next week, next month, next year, and forever. Embrace, and expect, those days when you feel that you need ALL THE SWEETS. Investigate, learn, and navigate. You got this! Trust yourself and your process. Find that middle ground approach. Have a piece or two of your favorite Easter candy. Savor each piece, without guilt or shame. Move on with your day.
AND stop being SO SCARED of the Easter Bunny! :)