When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I took a class, read all the best blogs, and joined a bunch of mommy groups on Facebook. Then he was born, and I realized that all the education in the world could never have prepared me for nursing an infant with colic, acid reflux and weird allergies. There were days where I felt like a dairy farm, and all I really wanted was to sleep for 6 hours straight without my boobs leaking.
I got all kinds of advice (some I actually asked for, and a whole lot more that I didn’t), but here’s the one piece of advice that stuck with me:
Never quit on a bad day.
One day as I was bemoaning my overall state of exhaustion in a Facebook group, a veteran mama told me that if switching to formula was ultimately the best thing for my baby and me, we would both be fine. However, she urged me not to quit on a day when my judgment was clouded by sleep deprivation, baby puke, and post-partum hormones gone haywire.
She turned out to be right. I didn’t REALLY want to quit; I just wanted the the struggle to go away. So on the hard days, when I wanted to quit, I promised myself that I would wait until the next day, or maybe the day after that, before I made a decision.
Those next days turned into weeks, then months, and things did eventually get easier. I ended up nursing my son for 19 months and I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing for both of us.
Every weight loss journey has its fair share of bad days, too.
Some days are just harder than others, and our choices in food, fitness and self-care will reflect that. It’s whether or not we choose to quit on the bad days that matters.
For example, I went on vacation last week and had big fluffy buttermilk biscuits for breakfast every day. (I also had a green smoothie and a big green salad every day, too.) Despite my good intentions, I gained 3 pounds.
When I got home, I spent the better part of 24 hours feeling angry at myself, frustrated with my body and desperately longing to drown my sorrows in brownies and buttercream frosting.
Don’t quit your health goals just because of one bad day.
No doubt if you’ve dieted for ANY length of time, you have experienced what health/nutrition expert Linda Bacon calls the “what the hell” effect.
In my case, it went something like this:
“I ate two biscuits with sausage and gravy for breakfast so I’ve already blown it. What the hell, I might as well go ahead and eat this ice cream and a cookie while I’m at it.”
This kind of wrong thinking leads to chronic self-sabotage, and before you know it, we’ve gained not just 3 lbs, but 30.
So, I gained 3 lbs. Big freakin’ deal.
Instead of embracing the “what the hell” affect and giving up on healthy eating altogether, I am choosing not to quit on a bad day. I had a GREAT time with my family on vacation and guess what, I’ve prepped healthy, nourishing meals for my family this week that will move me closer to my goals.
When it comes to weight loss, you’ve got to be in it for the long game.
Honey, before you spend all your money on that 10 day miracle you saw on tv, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s going to take a whole lot more than 10 days to change the way you think and ultimately live with food.
However, are you willing to do whatever you did to lose that weight EVERY DAY for the rest of your life? Because if not, you’ve got about a 90% chance of gaining it all back. And then some.
That’s what happened to me. I created a diet and fitness routine that I couldn’t live with for the long haul, and when I got married and had a baby, I gained it all back.
This time around, I am dealing with the inside stuff first, and addressing the mental and emotional baggage that motivates my unhealthy choices. I’m going to group therapy every week, setting goals for each day, and taking time to practice good self-care.
I’m also implementing small, sustainable changes in the way that I eat and move, such as working with a registered dietitian and joining a gym that offers childcare. I drink a green smoothie most days and I’m trying to incorporate more nutrient-rich foods in my diet.
These are changes I can live with forever.
Is it taking longer this time?
Um, yes. This process is painful and I’ll be honest, I’d really rather just go on a diet.
There are LOTS of days when I want to quit with the whole wellness thing and abandon myself to being fat forever.
However, just like with breastfeeding my son, deep in my heart I know that I don’t REALLY want to quit. Most of the time, I just want the struggle to go away, and that’s okay. That’s when I’m learning to reach out, pray, write in my journal, read a book or do something that helps me make it till tomorrow.
I can’t guarantee tomorrow will be any easier, but one thing I know: I’m not quitting today.