Thursday, June 27, 2013

No More Guilt

Guilt can be a good thing.  When one does something bad, then guilt is what makes one realize the error of his or her ways, and also what usually prompts them to apologize and make things right.

It's an important emotion for kids.  When this happens so many times, a child will realize that guilt sucks, and that the best way to avoid guilt is to always try your best to do the right thing.  Guilt can help make people do the right thing;  it can be a powerful motivator towards goodness.

Mom was the queen of guilt.  (She was great at reminding me about how guilty I would feel if I didn't go visit my grandparents, for example.)  I used to resent Mom's guilt tactics.  Now I'm thankful for them, because I often choose to be selfless because of her instilling that behavior in me when I was young.  

Two things that Mom never guilted me or my brother about:  Food or exercise.

She never once told us that we would really regret eating that cookie, or really regret not getting on the bike for an hour.

Nope.  Not once.

You know what gave me the stupid idea that I should feel guilty about how much I eat and exercise?  The dieting industry.  And whose advice would I rather take, Mom's or the dieting industry?  I'm going to go with Mom.

So for my first step in getting over my diet addiction, I am going to work to end the guilt.  No more guilt about eating or exercising.

I have no food rules right now.  I am not focusing on anything other than "no guilt".  I am trying to not overeat, and also trying to eat  healthy foods every day, but those are not my primary focus right now.  On the occasions that I overeat, or eat junk food, or on the days that I skip the gym and heath food completely, I am trying to not feel any guilt.

It may seem stupid to give up the guilt, because I'm quite overweight right now.  If I don't have guilt urging me to put down the donut, won't I eat all 12?  If I don't have guilt urging me to go to the gym, won't I stop exercising for weeks at a time?  If I don't have guilt telling me to track every single calorie I eat and exercise, won't I gain even more weight, and won't I definitely never lose weight again?  

Honest, I don't know.  It scares me to give up the guilt, because I can't remember how it felt to live in a world without food and exercise guilt.  I know that I didn't have this guilt until age 11.  I'm trying to listen to my inner child.  And also, asking myself this question: 

Where has guilt over food and exercise gotten me?  

It has brought me to where I am today in regards to food, exercise, and my body.  It has made me unrecognizable in pictures every 6-12 months, constantly ballooning up and shrinking down.  It gave me an eating disorder (or three...).  It made me hate my body.  It made me think that there is nothing more important in this world than getting smaller.  It made me crazy...  and that ain't right.

I'm ready to move beyond the guilt and to learn to truly trust myself to make my own decisions about food and exercise, based on anything other than guilt.  Maybe deciding to eat oatmeal for breakfast because I like it, and because it makes me feel good.  Maybe deciding to go to the gym because I like the way running makes me feel.  Maybe deciding to eat a bag of chips because they taste good.  Or an ice cream cone because it is so freaking hot outside.  Or broccoli because I am hungry and it's about to go bad.

How does guilt affect your eating and exercise?


Asia K. said...

Oh, I think this is huge ... I've been doing this amazing thing lately where I actually don't feel guilty if I overeat (or any other food behaviors that aren't ideal). There might be an initial seed of guilt, but I nip it in the bud right away and replace it with positive (realistic) thoughts. I start to think about how great it feels to NOT put myself down and feel guilty, and then I become really, really happy. And then there are no thoughts of wanting to binge later, no thoughts of "I might as well go crazy because I've already blown it." It's almost kind of euphoric to have that realization that I don't have to feel that way anymore. :)

Asia K. said...

Oh, same with exercise. I still kinda hate strength training, but I think a little bit of it is good for runners, so I try to do it sometimes (and there might be a little guilt when I don't). But running is another story. I sometimes feel bummed when I can't do it but not guilty. And I never think about burning calories - it doesn't even register anymore. Seriously, if my body suddenly decided it wasn't going to burn any calories from running AT ALL anymore, I am pretty sure I'd still want to do it. And best of all, when I feel a possible injury coming on (I've had recurring ones here and there), I don't FREAK OUT and start frantically worrying about my next scheduled run and use it as an excuse to binge, like I used to. :) Thanks for another great blog post. Btw, I found your page from Kate's "This is not a diet" page, and I am super excited to find someone else who's ready to declare diets and weight loss as yesterday's news. :)

Leah: Not Otherwise Specified said...

Great thoughts here! You are so right, with the guilt gone, there is no reason to binge later. Even when I do binge, I am able to move on more quickly now. And without the guilt, I may even still go to the gym after a binge, because I'm not "giving up" because I've "already blown it". Thanks for the comment, you are so right!

MW said...

As a mom, I think "I need to lose the weight for my kids" but then I think I'm a horrible person for having a 3 year old and currently weighing what I did when I had my first kid. Then I eat. Then I feel guilty. Then I eat again. It's horrible!! I wish I could end the guilt but I don't know how to- other than just trying one day at a time. :(

Leah: Not Otherwise Specified said...

Your kids do not care about your weight. They just want to love their mom! "Doing it for your kids" sounds like definite guilt. And they want you to love yourself as much as you love them. At least that's how I felt about my mom. (((hugs))) to you. And I agree about one day at a time.

Shannon Tatlock said...

That is probably the hardest part of the weight loss battle and it's the one tactic that the enemy uses daily. I struggle with guilt as well, but I've really working on it. Yes, today I had a McDonald's McFlurry, but that's okay! Will I have one tomorrow? No, so I refuse to feel guilty about having it every once in awhile.

You can do it. I'm sure you can get over this hurdle, after that skies the limits.

Leah: Not Otherwise Specified said...

It's so true about "the enemy"! Good for you not feeling guilty over a McFlurry. Thanks for the support. :-)

Mariebop said...

Great post! I think this is one of the hardest things to do. Though, I think I'm almost there thanks to the work I did with IE. Mostly when I overeat now, I just feel like "UGH!! Why did I do that? I feel like crap!" Kind of like how you feel after a night of heavy drinking. LOL!!

And if you remember my WW blog, you'll know that I rarely track on weekends and I never feel guilty about that. :P Not feeling guilty about food and exercise gives you the ability to enjoy life more because you aren't constantly worrying about what you're eating or how much you need to exercise to make up for what you ate.

Leah: Not Otherwise Specified said...

I do remember your WW blog! Oh, memories... ;-) Yes, overeating makes me feel like crap afterwards, too, and I'm hoping that eventually I will feel about overeating how I feel about getting drunk - something that is fun to do occasionally but not worth doing all the time because of the consequences. Great analogy, Marie! I may have to use it in a blog post...