Yesterday I came across a new Mama Laughlin post on Facebook where she shared one of her before and after photo comparisons. Brandi has shared similar photos and status before, but her words really connected with something I’ve been working on. “The only thing holding you back is YOU”.
During my second visit with my Behavioral Nutritionist, after she looked through the food journal she asked me to keep, I walked her through an average day for me. I shared that:
-I almost always eat a wholesome breakfast before the day gets going.
-Rarely take a lunch break at work.
-Often struggle to find a time to eat lunch at work, eating around 2PM or 3PM some days.
-I strive to eat when I am hungry and stop when I am satisfied.
-Don’t always have foods on hand for when I’m hungry, so by the time I eat I’m starving.
-Am almost always ready for dinner when I get home at 6PM, but don’t usually eat until after my daughter goes to bed at 8/8:30PM.
-Struggle to listen to my hunger cues when I am that hungry.
-Have gotten in a bad habit of having a sweet before bed (ice cream, Popsicle, square of dark chocolate), even if I’m not hungry.
I was prepared for her to dig into what I was eating, but what she said surprised me. She looked at me and said, “You don’t take a lunch break at work because you choose not to take a lunch break”. I sat there for a second, confused by her initial reaction. After repeating herself I explained, “No, seriously, I am so busy at work that I can rarely take a lunch break”. She stopped me and again said, “Ashley, you don’t take a lunch break because you choose not to take a lunch break. Sure you might need to say ‘No’, block some time off on your calendar, delegate certain projects, and physically leave your office, but YOU are the one who is choosing not to take a lunch break”.
Internally I was upset that she wasn’t understanding just how spread thin I am at work and how I strive to be available for my students, but she was right. It might be hard to take a lunch break, but the only thing holding me back from taking a lunch break was me.
I’ve had some time to think about why my doctor chose to focus on my lunch break first instead of on my actual food intake, and I think I’m realizing just how important our habits, routine, self care, and well-being are to reaching a healthy weight/lifestyle without dieting. Every morning I wake up ready for a new day and a fresh start. I workout at 5AM, get ready for the work day, enjoy a wholesome breakfast, and settle into work by 8:30AM each day.
As of 8:30AM each day, I’ve almost always done everything “right” according to my books in order to live a healthy life. I’ve worked out, I’ve had a filling breakfast, and I’ve taken some time to refect and listen to audiobooks during my commute (self care). Sure I have mornings that I miss my workout, forget breakfast, and sit in traffic for 2 hours (hello anger, anxiety, stress, you name it), but I almost always start the day with the promise of a new beginning and an opportunity to have a successful day.
So what happens? Why do I end so many days no feeling as great as I did when they started? The truth is, I get in my own way. With a 5AM workout and a 7AM breakfast, I am almost always ready for a snack by 10AM, but did I mention a snack in my “average day” above? Nope! Already I’m putting my body in a position to feel deprived and desperate. I do a good job of packing my lunch each day, but with 5-7 hours between breakfast and my lunch most days, a salad with light dressing or riced cauliflower and turkey meatballs just doesn’t cut it. I’m again depriving myself without realizing it. Yes, my salad and cauliflower dish are healthy, but I am not fueling my body the way it deserves and I’m definitely not helping my mind by depriving myself so much.
My doctor was right. I’ve been choosing not to make my health a priority through my actions for many years (my words) and it’s time I get out of my own way (my words). It isn’t hard to pack a morning snack, a more substantial lunch, and a protein packed snack for my drive home, but I’m realizing that all those moments of desperation are what lead to me overeating. On top of that, not taking a lunch break was not helping me to eat said food and to focus on my own self care. Even if I was going to eat some lunch at my desk while working, I still needed to take my lunch break in order to focus on myself.
I almost always go into a day with the best of intentions and I want to get back to a place where my choices leave me feeling just as great when I reach the end of a day! “The only think holding you back is YOU”. I’m holding myself back and I’m grateful my doctor made me accept that the only thing/person keeping me from x, y, and z is me.