Okay, so, self-control has not always been my forte. This health journey has challenged me in so many ways, and one of those areas has been changing my diet and lifestyle and sticking to it. In the past I have had trouble committing to a new dietary change, workout routine, bedtime, or breaking free from toxic relationships, etc. But when you have an autoimmune disease, self-control, discipline, and at times, restriction, are necessary in order to feel better.
I'm sure we all have tried to adhere to some sort of change in our lives that fell by the wayside in a matter of weeks, days, or even hours. While I don't think we as humans should be perfectionists, I do get upset with myself when I get all rebellious and then wonder why I have a pimple the size of a quarter (okay, I'm being hyperbolic, but I'm a bit dramatic at times) on my face, or why the bags under my eyes seemingly stretch past my cheek bones, or why I'm cranky for a stretch of three days.
Yes, I think it's important to give ourselves some freedom to "slip up" here and there, but it's also important to get back on track ASAP so as to not undo our hard work. I have found myself stretching one bad day into a week and then some. In the past it has been too easy for me to justify a string of cheat days, but thankfully, I have learned from my mistakes :-) Therefore, I'm going to talk about my most recent fall off the wagon, the result of these actions, and how I plan to move forward.
Recently, I have had a lot of exciting things going on in my life: I passed my thesis defense, I got a new job, I met someone who makes me happy, and I've just been in a really stable space mentally and physically. Whenever I have a culmination of good fortune I start to feel invincible. I do believe this emotion to be a good one, but it can be easy to get wrapped up in it all and lose that voice in my head that keeps me on track.
I find that celebrations and hanging out with loved ones especially trigger my need to dissent. After all, I am a rebel at heart, but I just seemingly have grown out of my binge-drinking, rule-breaking, unhealthy behaviors of the past. But, the past couple of weeks have been some of the happiest of my life and I wanted to celebrate.
As such, I've been a bit more lax with my diet and lifestyle habits, which has resulted in both negative mental and physical effects: bouts of bad moods, increased anxiety, crankiness, a bloated belly, cystic acne, and an overall lack of energy. I have eaten two jars of almond butter, munched on some rice from Chipotle (and ate their chicken and guac which probably aren't cooked in AIP approved oils...) , and also had some wine (and proceeded to feel buzzed/drunk after half a glass... oh okay!).
In addition, I have not been getting to bed at a decent hour, and at times, I have forgotten to take crucial supplements. While this doesn't seem like anything crazy, as it's not like I ate an entire package of Oreos and washed it down with milk, (Lord help my poor toilet if that were to ever happen...) I experienced immediate deleterious effects after each and every detour. But, I will say, that almond butter was worth the pimples ;-)
Anyway, now I am trying to recover from the damage, and it's been a tad annoying. I hate when I get cysts, and they really mess with my self-esteem. I don't like feeling bloated, and it makes me very grumpy. I also had some really weird itchiness and lock-jaw-esque symptoms after drinking two glasses of wine. Needless to say, it is apparent that I need to stick to the AIP protocol 100% and try proper reintroductions instead of consuming a whole jar of almond butter in one sitting.
Okay, so enough of wallowing in self-pity. I'm now going to discuss how I plan to move forward, as this certainly isn't the first time I've had an "oopsies" on my health journey.
1) If you're going to deviate from your diet, health plan, exercise routine, etc. do it with pride and happiness, not guilt and shame. There is no point in having a "cheat" day or the like if you're going to insult and berate yourself the entire time. Enjoy the moment. I know I savored every bite of my almond butter :-)
2) Don't punish yourself after the fact. It happened and there is nothing you can do about it now. Instead of beating yourself up about the slip-up, look forward and create a plan for how to avoid this situation in the future if it is something you wish to avoid.
3) Avoid restarting your countdown or tally the next day. If you went 30 days without eating gluten or dairy and had one little piece of cheese, why start the count all over again? To me, framing a health goal in this light can be negative and not affirming. It makes me view myself as a failure instead of a normal human being. Maybe try using percentages instead if you have to assign a number to it. I myself don't formally track my progress anymore because I found it to be counteractive to my lifestyle goals (acceptance, living in the moment, forgiveness), but of course, do as you please :-) (not that you need permission from me!!!)
4) Empower yourself with information and facts as to why your health goals and habit changes are going to help you in the long run. For me, I know that every time I eat or drink something that isn't approved on the AIP protocol that I am ruining all of my hard work. I know this because I have spent countless hours researching correlations and connections between a certain food, supplement imbalance, substance, and effects.
Previously stated, this can result in deleterious physical and mental symptoms, which really put me on my behind and overwhelm me. Sometimes I'm willing to stomach (no pun intended...) these symptoms, as was the case the past two weeks. 99% of the time, the fear of a cyst, inflammation, a sleepless night, and/or a major mood imbalance keep me on the straight and narrow.
5) Don't get discouraged if you find yourself continuously making "mistakes." We are all human. When it comes to food and substances, there can be addictive properties at play which make it hard to simply stop eating gluten, dairy, or sugar cold turkey. When I first tried quitting gluten and dairy I would continuously find myself shoving sleeves of cookies and tubs of ice cream into my face thanks to candida die-off and side effects from antidepressants (seriously though, SSRIs are NOT my friend and made me have the appetite of a bear getting ready for hibernation.) It took me a very long time to break free from my emotional addiction to food, and sometimes I regress and regress hard.
So, I am now back to toting my pill box with me everywhere, eating a 100% AIP protocol diet, and making sure my tushy get's to bed at a decent hour! It's not easy, especially as the weather gets nicer and I have more time to be social, but I know better because I have fallen time and time again and it truly messes with my identity and pride. What's most important though is that I pick myself up each and every time!
I would love to hear from you all about any difficulties or triumphs you have had enacting health behaviors! What has worked for you? What hasn't?
Thanks for tuning in and putting up with my hiatus! I hope you all enjoyed this post :-)
Until next time!