August 14, 2013 by mybattlebuddyfitness
Back On the Wagon
Written by Elisabeth Meany
Every once in a while it happens to the best of us. Something happens that sends us over the proverbial edge and suddenly all we want to do is disappear, become someone else, or hide in our bed under the covers until it all goes away. Sadly, this is the mental place where I have been for a solid three weeks now. Life backed up on me, and when I got news that we had 14 days to find a house, pack up, and move across town, I almost officially lost my mind. And then I got news that my husband would be leaving for a minimum of 8 weeks at a date that is yet to be determined. After already being exhausted from a schedule that had me running myself ragged, it was the icing on the cake. I had to check out of life for a while….and that’s where I’ve been—totally checked out and totally off the wagon.
Anyone who has ever suffered from bouts of depression and/or anxiety can relate with this, I am sure. All of the things that normally would make you happy and excited suddenly hold no appeal. My normal zeal for all things fitness and nutrition related completely disappeared. I’ve been fighting these feelings since right after my figure competition in May, but I was able to keep them at bay until they recently came roaring back with a vengeance. Working out is medicine for me, and I KNOW that, but in the last four weeks, I have taken more rest days than I’ve taken in the past year. I just haven’t been able to summon the effort on some days to even get my cardio done. I found myself reciting the same advice that I give to my clients, “Something is always better than nothing.” So there have been a few days where a long walk is all I can bring myself to do.
I knew I was burnt out, but I had no idea that it was quite so bad until it recently smacked me in the face. I was frustrated because I didn’t want to return to my pre-competition diet (too restrictive to live on), but it seemed like I couldn’t eat a bowl of steel cut oats without putting on another pound. Admittedly, I have a weakness for alcohol at times, and after going 12 weeks without a drop, I have been indulging far too frequently…adding to the pounds on my waistline and the melancholy that I’ve been feeling.
Ugh! The melancholy! If any of you out there know what it’s like to want to cry almost every minute of the day, then you can agree that it’s the WORST. I’ve spent very little time with my family in the past two years and it’s finally backing up on me. I am so homesick. Even right now I sit here with a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach.
All of this is not to make you feel sorry for me. It’s more to serve as at least a partial explanation to some of you as to why I literally just disappeared for a while. In addition, it seemed totally unauthentic to not give you all an idea of where I’m coming from right now. I would feel like a total hypocrite to dish out a bunch of advice that I’m not living by.
Currently, I’m trying my hardest to look on the bright side and start doing the things that I know will make me feel better—mentally and physically. At the end of the day, I have a pretty great life. I have a wonderful husband (my only wish is that I could see him more than I currently do), a loving family (I also wish I could see them more than I do), a hilarious dog who helps keep me company when I am missing everyone else, and wonderful friends who are kind enough to spend their time coming to visit me in the middle of nowhere. I have a roof over my head, we are financially stable, and healthy. So, what the heck is going on with me?
That’s a question that I don’t have the full answer to yet. I do know that I am ready to start slowly re-engaging in life again. Sunday I officially “vacationed myself out,” so I am finally (after three solid weeks of bad nutritional behavior) ready to start back in with my normal clean-eating way of living. I know it can be really hard to get back on track, especially after being off for so long. So I spent part of yesterday preparing a list of things that are typically helpful when trying to get back on the health and fitness wagon.
1. SEEK OUT A HEALTHY CLEANSE—there are a million of them out there, and not all of them are good for you. But some of them are safe, healthy, and a great way to push yourself back into clean eating. For me, the best ones I have tried have cut my sugar and sodium cravings and reminded me how much better I feel when I am feeding my body properly. The two that I have enjoyed in the past are: (1) Prevention’s Four-Day Flat Belly Jumpstart (2) Dr. Oz’s Three-Day Detox Cleanse. Did I lose a ton of weight? Of course not. But they both helped jumpstart me.
2. GET OUT YOUR READING MATERIALS—if you’re anything like me, I know you’ve got a whole row on your bookshelf filled with fitness and nutrition reading. Yesterday I busted out my Oxygen magazines and my Bob Harper book and started reading. A lot of the material may just be a review, but I know that after avoiding all things health and fitness related for almost a month, it’s good for me to dust those materials off and dive in again. One book that I am particularly finding helpful this time around is Bob Harper’s The Skinny Rules. His advice is super reasonable and most importantly, it’s a long-term sustainable way to eat.
3. REMIND YOURSELF THAT ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY—I know, I know. You want results in 24 hours. You want to go for a run, eat well, go to sleep, and wake up toned and healthy. I’m sorry. It’s not going to happen. You have to mentally prepare yourself for the fact that it’s going to take time to start feeling and looking your best again. Sadly, my body is stubborn. So for me, if I am off the wagon for 4 weeks, it usually takes me at least 6 to feel like I am back to where I was. Hopefully you’re luckier than I am in that respect.
4. RESIST THE URGE TO GET ON THE SCALE- I’m so guilty of this one. I guess I like to torture myself. I already know that I’m over my “happy-place” weight, so why do I have to rub salt in the wound? Step on the scale ONCE to see what the damage is, and then try, try, TRY to give yourself a couple of weeks before you step on the scale again. And if you do step on the scale and don’t see the results you were hoping for, see tip #3 above and tip #6 below.
5. IT’S NOT A DIET!!—I’ve said this over and over, and it’s especially important to follow this piece of advice when you’re getting back on the wagon. Remind yourself that it’s not as if you will never eat a cookie again or be able to drink a cocktail or cold beer. You WILL do all of those things again. Just not for a while…When I remind myself that those things are not permanently being eliminated from my life, just temporarily, I feel much better.
6. DON’T BERATE YOURSELF FOR FALLING OFF THE WAGON—this is, in my opinion, the hardest tip to take to heart. You look in the mirror and see a reflection that is an unhealthier version of the one you saw a month ago (or two months or six months), which can be INCREDIBLY depressing and frustrating. It’s important to praise yourself every day for taking the steps that you need to get back to the best version of you. Berating yourself only leads to more self-destructive behavior—TRUST ME.
It’s not the first time that I have fallen off the wagon, and I’m sure it’s not the last. All I can do is move forward and hope that each day gets easier.