If you would have told me back in October that I would be 61 pounds down by the following May, I would never have believed it. In fact, it probably would have put me into a spin. That wasn’t a real possibility for me. I have a track record miles long that points to 25 pounds off, then a gain of even more.
Last night, I was out with a former colleague, after a stressful day at work, and I chose to have wine. In fact, I chose to have three glasses, with no dinner, just some cheese and a few pieces of asparagus. When I arrived home, I was very hungry. I had broken my lines with the wine, and now I was absolutely famished. I hadn’t planned my dinner, and my family had eaten. It was 10pm and I opened the freezer. Stress and hunger took hold and I took out a frozen pot pie. This was the healthy kind, I told myself. Natural ingredients. I haven’t had one of these in months. Whatever. I’m having it. I took it out of the packaging, plopped it in the microwave and waited. 9 minutes. Done. I sat down in front of the tv and promptly ate the entire thing. Afterwards, I felt worse. Angry. I thought about the milestone I’d reached. Why was I sabotaging myself this far down the road? Did I not want to get to my goal? How would this look to all of you? How can I preach the merits of this food plan and the fact that I don’t get cravings anymore when I just completely trashed all of the rules? Hypocrite am I.
This morning, in the light of day, I am reflecting on what happened. At the very least I needed to figure out exactly why this anger and sabotage was bubbling up. My stressful day came as a result of a colleague who had done something inappropriate, had, in a very low level way, thrown me under a bus. Given this person’s track record, I shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, it’s typical behavior for her. What’s more, it wasn’t even that big of a deal. But my defenses were up. I was tired of having to put energy into managing the bullshit. I was angry that I had to do this dance over minutia. And yet, it was growing into a large ball of stress that led to me going off the rails, comforting myself with wine and cheese and a pot pie. Why did it eat away at me to the point where I essentially amplified the negative interaction? Why does my anger bubble up and cause me to lash out at myself? Why is it that any time I feel embarrassed or angry I do this?
I don’t have the exact answer and it’s scaring me. I’ve gotten down to a number on the scale that I’ve gotten to before. I’ve created this blog, a food plan, and a support group to insure this time would be different. I have had many moments along the way where I’ve had a minor slip, where I’ve not done it perfectly. And yet, this time is sticking a bit more than the others. It is leading to lots of those old voices in my head. The rats chewing on the wires. You will never get to goal because you’re not disciplined enough, they say. You are a failure, they say. This is so typical, they say. You get almost to the top of the ladder and you bail.
This is what self-recrimination looks like. I’m staring it in the face. The blaming, the lack of confidence, the derailment of positive efforts. I want to lash out. I am angry because I allowed it to happen. I could blame that poor soul who felt she needed to lash out in her own way. I could blame the circumstances of having more work to do and less time to do it in. I can complain about how everyone else is doing it wrong. I am wronged. And yet, the blame circles right back. There’s no satisfaction in blame. No resolve.
One of the things I know about self-blame is that it is actually rooted in the fight or flight response. When we feel vulnerable or embarrassed or made wrong, cortisol levels rise, adrenaline spikes, we feel that pit in our stomach. The body reacts as though our life is on the line. When I think about it, in those moments, I do feel the urge to run. I want to run away from those feelings. And I promptly begin to blame myself, to get angry, to hear voices accusing me of doing wrong. I could have chosen to stop and breathe. To allow myself to feel the wave of the emotions rise and move over me. But I didn’t. And now, I have another choice. I can make this day about more self-recrimination or I can move into letting it go. It’s the thing I preach with my A-Team: Reset. The slip is now in the past. It’s time to forgive, and more importantly, to practice self-compassion versus self-recrimination.
We often think of success as an arrow going straight up. It’s easy to think of weight loss as an all-or-nothing endeavor. MBL has its rules. MBL has a structure that requires focus and practice. But I am not perfect. And to think of bailing on this endeavor when I’ve gotten so much out of it, when I’m here on this public forum cheering on those of you who are here with me… I can’t bail. I also can’t expect perfection. And if I’m going to get to my goal, it’s clear I need to get better at forgiveness. Forgive myself, and forgive those who may lash out from their own pain and insecurity. THIS is worth fighting for. As I write this, I can actually feel the release. I am not perfect. But I am worthy of my own forgiveness, at the very least I can fake it ’til I make it. I am worthy of feeling good about all that I’ve done. I’m riding this wave, and sometimes the waves will kick my ass. Sometimes it will be tough to get back up. I’m getting back up. Forgiveness, just like making these big changes, requires practice. So today, with you all in my corner, I practice. And I wish for you all to be kinder to yourselves. I wish for you the ability to be gentle with yourself. To practice compassion with the one person you’re often the least kindest to: You.