At 3:11 PM on a Saturday in August 2009, I heard it.
That dreadful sound…that’s simultaneously a scrape and a POP.
Dreadful for two reasons:
First, because it makes me sad that I’ve hit the bottom.
Second, it makes me realize…
“Holy shit, I just ate an entire pint of ice cream.”
The negative thoughts start to bubble up — where the hell is my self-control? Talk about being a fraud. I should know better.
Why did I feel like a fraud? Well, for one, I had just graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and had been spending the afternoon writing articles about health (and had just bought two giant bags of vegetables at the farmer’s market).
Also, I mean, come on. Who does that?
At the time, I was working 12 hours a day in the financial services industry, Peter was away on a work trip, so I decided to take advantage of this lonely August weekend by working on my health coaching business…so I could get one step closer to getting out of this job that was giving me me daily heart palpitations and a frightening influx of gray hairs.
So how did I end up going from writing nutrition articles to horsing down a container of mint chocolate chip? Did I lack knowledge of how to feed myself properly?
Doubtful – I could tell you about chlorophyll in a leaf of kale all the live long day (and no I will not make out with you!). So it had to be something else…
Then it hit me: I had scheduled myself into an ice cream binge.
After working 10+ hours a day, studying after work, and now spending all weekend working, I had given myself NO recovery time.
Too guilty to take an afternoon swim. Too guilty to call up a friend for a drink. Too guilty to go for a walk or hell, just lay out on a blanket and stare at the clouds for even 30 minutes.
Since I didn’t give my body and brain a break, it decided to TAKE that break by absent-mindedly pulling that mint-chocolate chip gelato out of the freezer and digging in until that spoon smacked the bottom.
Is there anything wrong with having ice cream now and then? Of course not.
But let it be a choice — a choice to indulge, treat yourself, take some pleasure. Not a guilty, mindless 10 minutes of weakness…followed by bloating and crankiness.
Because of course, after all that sugar coursing through my system, my productivity went down the drain. Along with my dignity.
Each time I find myself desperate for sweets (omg who put this jar of Nutella in my hand?!), I think about how I have structured my day…or my week. Do I need a wee nap? Have I taken a break? When was the last time I hung out with a friend?
Sometimes doing nothing is the healthiest thing you can do.
So next time you find yourself mindlessly rushing to Shake Shack or dipping your hand into that bag of peanut-chocolate chunk gluten-free cookies, ask yourself “when was the last time I did nothing?”.
Now I want to hear from you: do you notice your cravings get louder when you don’t treat yourself with non-foodlike treats? Does your willpower weaken with the more pressure you put on yourself?
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