3.5lb gain; 35lb total; 13lb in 2014 (ouch!)
I was flicking through this months edition of Paleo Magazine on Sunday when an article caught my eye. Drawn in, I started reading and found myself nodding consistently as point after point struck a chord with how I’ve been feeling lately.
The article was the fourth in a series about depression, particularly focussing on recognising common behavioural aggressors and looking at how to heal those negative behaviours holistically. This edition focused on spiralling behaviour linked to that dreaded word we often use to beat ourselves up…’should’.
I’d noticed that recently ‘should’ had been cropping up in my vocabulary more often. I ‘should’ really go swimming, I ‘should’ stop eating sweet potatoes, I ‘should’ get out for a run, I ‘shouldn’t just sit here and watch television. I’d effectively ‘shoulded’ myself into ambivalence and inertia. It was a warning sign that things were sliding. I just hadn’t realised how much I’d let it go until I got on the scales this week.
‘If all you have is a long list of “shoulds” about eating, sleeping, training and living and you’re not able to put them into context and act on them consistently and reliably, you’ll just feel worse about yourself, and your mood problems will likely deepen. As a psychiatrist I’ve worked with once told me: “You’re ‘shoulding’ all over yourself.’
Adam Farrah, Paleo Magazine Aug-Sept 2014
Exactly. ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ was becoming a way of life.
The article continued…
‘To my example above, one night of no yoga isn’t that big a deal, but a few nights will start to lead me to more anxious and negative thinking. The anxiety may lead to a Margarita or few at the end of the workday and then, “all of a sudden,” my digestion isn’t so great and my mood is down and depressed. Then, the depression makes it harder to make good choices and I move a little deeper into depression and bad decisions.’
Sub margarita with wine and chocolate and ‘Iron Girl’ pie and ice cream and I was there. The paragraph that really leaped out at me was this…
‘Even if you think you can get away with some sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol or a skipped workout or two, you really can’t if you’re dealing with depression or any other chronic health problem. In fact, you might be surprised to find out that the indiscretions you think you’re getting away with are the cause of the depression and other health issues you’re struggling with. Negative thoughts, habits and behaviors repeated over and over for long enough will compound into chronically feeling bad, one way or another, sooner or later.’
I recognised the sentiment immediately. People who are overweight are rarely fat because they eat too much. Often it is the reason WHY they are eating that is the real problem. But what I’d forgotten was how WHAT you ate often exacerbates the thoughts and moods causing emotional eating. It was indeed an ever decreasing circle.
I have found that my responses to stress has triggered the slipping back into bad habits. But, I suspect that part of this stress is an emotional response to my relaxed approach to the primal life post Outlaw. Endurance athletes will certainly recognise the, ‘I’ve just done an Ironman, I deserve this while I’m recovering’ sentiment.
These behaviours, have been slipping in since Outlaw so unobtrusively I genuinely thought I was getting away with it until a) I read the article and realised why I had been feeling so rubbish recently and b) the consistent weight gain in the last couple of weeks.
So this week, I’ve been focusing on getting lots of sleep primarily and making time to go out in the garden and onto Ashtead Common. I’ve settling down to a routine of work and exercise with a focus on regularity rather than maximum heart rates and thresholds. After all, consistency is king, even is the kingdom is short and done at a rate of perceived exertion of 5 instead of 8.
I’ve re-eliminated all sugars, diet coke and artificial sweeteners. And instead, am treating myself to listening to music and quiet time and scenic runs with no time pressures and yet more sleep. But most importantly of all, I’ve eliminated the ‘shoulds’.