I know that broccoli is healthier than French fries.
I know that grilled chicken has fewer calories than pizza.
Yet I eat Reese Cups, French fries and pizza.
I have gone to the grocery store and filled my cart with fresh, whole foods. Then on the way home, I’ve gone through the Taco Bell drive thru.
I’ve gone out to eat and taken half of my meal home in a to-go box, only to eat the rest of it while standing at the kitchen counter thinking how I should put it in the fridge or throw it away.
I have gone out to eat and ordered a grilled chicken salad with the dressing on the side, only to eat two or three rolls or pieces of bread while waiting for my salad to come.
I ate eight Reese Cups the day after Halloween all the while telling myself that I would only have one more and that it was better to get rid of them this way than to have them in the back of my freezer.
I order the same thing every time I go to a Mexican restaurant so I don’t get tempted by the high calorie platters on the menu, and then mindlessly devour half a basket of chips.
I know what to do. Sometimes, I just don’t do it.
To me, as a trainer and as a seeker of Truth, this has always been the interesting place to work. Why don’t I do it?
I can work on what to do forever and not get anywhere. I can buy fitness equipment and join gyms. I can hire a personal trainer and read a book on nutrition. I can learn form and progression in strength training. I can get a heart rate monitor and calculate or measure my zones. I can buy whole foods at the grocery store.
I do all those things. But what good is all that if I stop at Taco Bell on the way home? I’ll let that be my personal metaphor for I know what to do, I just don’t do it. (Since this one annoys me the most.)
I believe there is a small group of people who are overweight or out of shape because they really just aren’t aware of how many calories are in certain foods. These are the people who, when they learn to track calories, have a light go on regarding how much they have been eating and how much a high calorie meal costs them, and they change and lose their excess weight. I believe that is a very small group.
The rest of us learned to track calories but it didn’t stop us from making high calorie choices. We came to look at calorie or point counting as a means to gain some control over the compulsion we have to eat more than we need. We didn’t become aware and therefore suddenly change into healthy eaters. We may have started exercising, but mostly what we do is use exercise to hang onto where we are. We never get anywhere. We don’t move forward and we don’t break free of the compulsive eating. I am in that group.
What took me a long time to own was there were emotional reasons underneath my desire for too much food that no amount of awareness about exercise and nutrition was going to fix. I am a user. I use food for comfort. I use food for love. I use food for loneliness. I use food to calm my fear.
That is not easy to own.
But when I owned it, I brought it into the light. When I owned it, it lost its power over me. When I owned it, I no longer felt out of control. I felt empowered. I had a choice!
I never would have guessed that my fitness journey would lead me to that. Turns out it wasn’t about fitness at all. It was about healing. It was about bringing what was buried into the light.
If you have been struggling for any amount of time with your weight or how you feel about yourself, I understand completely. Please don’t buy the madness that is out there. You will not feel better about yourself once you reach your goal weight. That is backwards. You will reach your goal weight once you feel better about yourself, and the irony is you will be so happy to be free from the emotional baggage that your weight won’t mean much to you at all.