Have you ever started your day thinking that today is the day you are going to exercise and how much control you are going to have over what you eat today?
If you have had this dream and have not changed anything in your life, your daily schedule, the way you process your thoughts and self-regard since yesterday; then you are setting yourself up to take a brutal beating from your biggest critic, you, when you crawl into bed at the end of the day.
Why would today be any different if you were not able to find the time or the energy or the positive self-regard to make honouring choices about what you ate, how much you exercised, and whom you spent time with?
You must change your schedule and set reasonable goals based on the reality of how much energy you will have at the end of the day; learn to set boundaries about what you do and with whom (both at work and at home); commit to and gain skills for eating naturally (eat when hungry, stop when comfortably full) in order for today to be different than yesterday.
Yesterday you wanted to be healthier. Yesterday you wanted to exercise. Yesterday you wanted to talk to a certain person. Nothing has changed in your goals from yesterday to today. So if nothing has changed in your expectations of yourself but you were not able to honour them yesterday, you really are beating your head against a brick wall to continue to expect that of yourself today. It is self-harm on a major scale to continue to expect something of yourself that you are not yet able to do consistently without changing your approach and gaining some new skills.
If this sounds like you, it is time to stop having fantasies. It is time to find a solution that works.
Take the time to look at what you are expecting of yourself on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis in all areas of your life: primary relationship, kids, family, friends, work, volunteer, school (classes/crafts, etc.), and your relationship with yourself. What does your inner self tell you to do in each of those areas in order to finally be acceptable, loved, safe, and happy (oh, and don’t forget drop-dead sexy!). Write it down.
Now stop for a moment and look at what you’ve written. How many hours in a day would you need to fulfill those commitments? Now stop and look at what you have written. Notice what you are telling yourself right here in this moment about yourself, about your expectations, about how there’s no point doing this exercise…etc.
Now, at the end of each story add the words “and that means.” Now see what pops into your head. Keep adding “and that means” to the end of each statement until you feel like there really is no further to go. Chances are you’ve just hit the jackpot of all-or-nothing thinking. Go on, try it. If you’re reading this article it is because you recognize you need a hand in getting to a peaceful and easy relationship with food and with your body. You have already decided that you want to overcome your emotional eating, binging, restricting, overeating, or bulimia disorder.
Nothing changes when you keep doing the same old same old. If you’re tired of the morning fantasy that turns to evening self-abuse, start now to write out the process above and give yourself the gift of seeing firsthand what you’re expecting of yourself. Then ask yourself: Within the context of a balanced life, where I have time for my self-care (and energy to follow through on eating well and exercising moderately), what is reasonable to expect of myself in each of the key areas of my life?
Always remember, this process isn’t hard. It’s simple. The difficulty is overcoming all the time you have spent shaming and berating yourself for not being perfect and the automatic default to bad body thoughts and the use of food to cope that ensues when we feel criticized and “not good enough.” Now is the time to learn how to step free of the inner power struggle and start living.