In today’s love letter, I’m covering a question that came up when I asked our readers about challenges they’re having with their fitness.
The challenge is this:
How can I come out of a self-sabotaging nutrition spiral after I over-indulge and feel guilty and disappointed in myself?
First off, let’s acknowledge there’s nothing wrong with indulging a bit. The goal is never perfection. My hope is you enjoy the occasional ice cream and/or martini with zero guilt (but maybe not together, cuz that’d taste kinda weird, but you do you). But I don’t think that’s the real question being asked here…
Sometimes we over-indulge and feel kinda crummy after the fact.
The difference between an “enjoyable, satisfying, indulgence” and “Dammit, why’d-I-do-that!, over-indulgence” is different for everyone. It’s based on your personal goals and values.
However, after doing this for years, I know all too well that beyond any fitness impact, there’s a powerful (negative) emotional impact. And this can lead to a self-sabotaging spiral.
So what should you do when you’re kicking yourself for over-indulging?
Step 1: Accept it happened. You don’t have to be perfect.
None of us are.
It’s appropriate to make plans to avoid behaving in ways that make you feel crummy (see below). The first step is to remember that a life of health and hotness and happiness never hinges on a single meal or day. While it’s ok to feel the feels, remember, a single meal or day is never that big of a deal.
You don’t have to live your life like you’re on probation. You’re good enough, I promise!
(I struggle with this too sometimes. We can remind each other. *hug*)
Step 2: Identify any triggers that led to over-indulging.
The past is past. And we’re going to move on with an open heart.
However, we CAN leverage the past as data. We can mine it for patterns that help us learn and grow.
In this case, it will be valuable to get curious about any factors that facilitated the behaviors that have left you feeling yucky.
Was it an event?
A group of people?
A physical space?
One you’ve identified a possible trigger, we’re ready for step 3.
Step 3: Create an “If-Then” for how you’ll behave next time.
This strategy is well-known to long time MFF readers.
Now that you’ve identified a theory (or theories) as to what led you to over-indulge, it’s time to create some strategies for how to handle it next time.
For instance, IF you found the trigger was …
THEN, next time you’re , you’ll .
Step 4: Be intentional with your next meal.
At the risk of being overly-reductionist/ annoying, the best way to get back on the train is… well… get back on the train.
There’s usually a crucial moment before we spiral out where we have a decision.
When we’re being tough on ourselves, sometimes it feels like we may toss in the towel. You may even feel like you’re “ruined everything.”
And while that’s a TOTALLY valid way to feel, as your friendly fitness pal, I have to tell you I don’t share that perspective.
See if you can notice and name the specific emotions you’re feeling. Remind yourself that each and every moment is an opportunity to start again. Then see if you can gently nudge yourself to have a meal that aligns with your values and goals.
Remember, this is all an experiment. You’re always growing and always evolving. There’s no rush to get this “done.”
It’s perfectly normal to experience some emotional fallout from over-indulging. It just means that you have standards for how you want to show up in the world. It means you care! And that’s beautiful.
The more we become practiced at not holding this all too tightly…
The more we can wear it lightly, with a sense of ease and playfulness and curiosity…
The better outcomes we’ll get.
And as important, the more we’ll enjoy the process.
Doesn’t that make you feel better already?
I love ya. A lot.
PS Anytime you’re hankering to give MFF a proper whirl, here are two ways to get started: