I used to have a very black & white mentality about fitness and nutrition.
In my mind, it was always either a good day with an hour-long workout and perfect eating, or it was a bad day where I sleuthed around and ate everything in sight. I never just had normal days where I'd eat a donut for breakfast, not beat myself up for it, and balance things out with a spinach salad for lunch or dinner. It was all or nothing, and it was obnoxious.
As an adult, I've always been pretty good at staying fit. I'm able to get up every morning and work out before most people rise, I've read a million books about nutrition, and I know just what to put in my pantry and order from restaurants to keep my clothes fitting comfortably.
But when I met Joe, I stopped working out for a bit.
One of the reasons was because I had been taking the whole thing too far, and I knew it. I was way too focused on my fitness and was letting other things slip. The other reason was because I didn't know what my body looked like with a healthy diet but without exercise. At least, not since I was about 17 years old. I didn't know what my adult woman legs would look like without excessive squats, cardio, and butt lifts. The third reason is because I was really serious about Joe and wanted to put the time and energy into our blossoming romance. His apartment was a 30-45 minute drive from where I lived and since there are only so many hours in the day, I knew I had to make a choice about what current hobbies I would keep up with and which ones I would drop. I chose Joe, of course. And I chose to stop working out for a while.
At first, I remained pretty slim and slender, just with less muscle definition. This was easy because helloooooo new relationship. But after the first year or so, I gained a little love chub. We both did, okay!?
After a while—and especially after we moved in together—I started working out again. Unfortunately, I quickly went back to my old black & white ways of either having a perfectly fit day or completely hating myself. It was a vicious cycle of extremities, and although I (luckily) wouldn't say it took too much of a toll on my physical health, it was certainly tough on my psyche.
I knew it was dumb and I knew that I shouldn't be so polar about the whole thing, but I just couldn't help it.
If I was stressed at 10:00am on a Tuesday, I'd start thinking about getting Thai food for lunch. Then I'd get the Thai food, but I wouldn't stop there! No, I'd follow lunch with a plethora of office snacks, a cookie (or 3) from a coffee shop, something insane for dinner, and then probably some Ben & Jerry's The Tonight Dough ice cream to top it all off.
Conversely, here's what a "good" day would look like: I'd wake up at 5:00am, make whatever healthy coffee recipe I was currently brewing, work out for an hour or more, have a smoothie, head to work and drink 8 ounces of water every 60 minutes per my hydration app, for lunch I'd have some whole grain spinach pasta that I pre-made in a big batch, then I'd ignore my afternoon snack cravings, go home and have a perfect little dinner, and head to bed a wee bit hungry.
Can you see what a god damn wack job I was?
I was usually able to keep up with the crazy restrictive lifestyle for a little while or until a special event, but then sometimes a "bad" day would turn into a bad week of eating my feelings and Netflixing all the things.
Fortunately, the Cookie Monster days of gluttony and the super strict days averaged out, allowing me to remain at a relatively normal weight. But the whole system was pretty nutty.
In August of this year, I started taking early morning boutique workout classes on a regular basis and it has completely changed my mentality. Here's why:
- Most of these boutique studios have a $15 "motivation fee" that they charge you for not showing up. It's obviously a good money maker for them, but it's also a great tool for me because I will make damn sure to get to the class no matter how much non-dairy chocolate sorbet I ate the night before to avoid the fee.
- Sometimes I get my sweat on, come home, have a stressful day, and eat a mother fucking cookie. Then I go about my day like a normal person, eat healthy foods to balance things out, and lay out my workout clothes for the next day's class.
- Since I'm committed to the classes, I won't follow a food binge with 3 weeks of a sedentary lifestyle. I'll just brush myself off, stop acting like a little baby, and go to the next class I'm signed up for.
So you see, my new habit has helped me turn my black & white bullshit into a healthy gray lifestyle and I'm much happier for it.
The other thing that's helped me to not be such a two-faced Cruella de Vil is our Sun Basket meal deliveries. Why? Because even if I have Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast—Joe and I did that this week for nostalgia purposes—I will eat whatever mouthwatering diet-friendly paleo recipe they sent us and call it a day.
As skinny girl Bethany Frankel and other diet gurus have noted, fitness and nutrition should be like balancing a checkbook. If you have a chocolate chip pastry or a humungo Starbucks holiday bev for breakfast, balance that shit out with some leafy greens and no sugar for the rest of the day! If your friends wanna go to a boozy brunch on the weekend, maybe suggest that you go after hitting up a workout class together. Your whole day doesn't have to be ruined over one unhealthy choice. Equate your days and your overall health by the average of your behaviors and decisions. Know what I'm saying?
Side tangent on gray areas: People like to use the term gray area when referring to cheating or sexual assault, and I would argue that if you you need to be calling it a gray area, it's probably something you shouldn't be doing. Just be good. Not gray, good. Like Hannah Horvath said in regards to sexual predators, date rape, and abuses of power, "I'm tired of gray areas." Me too, girl. Me too.
Okay babes, I gotta get back to the grind so I can have a work-free week starting Friday. You'll see a newsletter from me this Thursday, but then I'm gonna get my lazy on and won't send the next one out until after the New Year.
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