Last weekend my Instagram feed was flooded with photos of people finishing the Whole 30 Challenge. It really is an amazing accomplishment. Going 30 days without dairy, grains, alcohol, and sweets is a true physical and mental shift for a lot of people. But what happens on day 31?
As I’ve continued listening to Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin talks a lot about this concept of there being no finish line. And you know what, she’s right. There is no finish line. What happens when your diet challenge ends? What happens when you reach your goal weight? What happens when you achieve your PR goal during a race? It’s not really over afterwards, is it? We create new goals and new steps to achieve our new goals. We’re never really finished.
Maybe this is what made me think twice about dieting. As much as I’d like to reach my goal weight, what would life be like after reaching the perceived finish line? I realized that it will never really be over. It’s not like I could reduce my food intake, sacrifice favorites, push myself in workouts, and then go back to my original lifestyle after I reached my goal. No, I’d need to make permanent and lasting changes in order to maintain or improve.
Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to maintain weight or endurance. Maybe that’s why a lot of people regain the weight they’ve lost. Maybe that’s why a lot of us lose heart and stop believing in ourselves (or the program we’re on). Maybe we’re all working towards the wrong finish line. There is no finish line.
I’ve been there a gazillion times. I work tirelessly, striving towards a finish line, but fail to build true habits. I would train for the 10 mile race, run the race, and then stop training after the race was over. Only to have to rebuild my endurance 6 months later for the next race. What would have happened if I would have continued running? I’m sure it’d make my next training round a lot easier and my race times would be a lot faster.
I haven’t done the best job explaining why I stopped dieting or even what that means for me. Of course, I still make sacrifices and am still working towards losing weight and living a healthier life, but I’m not following a plan that I can not turn into a life long habit. I want to change my habits and I want to find the balance between my body weight, fitness level, and how I have to live in order to maintain those two.
It’s hard to wrap your head around, but I think it’s really important that we all accept that there is no finish line. We’ll always work towards improving. I think that’s just human nature. Gretchen Rubin encourages readers to focus on habit changes and how those habits can lead to improvements each day.
Working out is not a habit I struggle with. I love working out. Honestly, it’s a treat for me. Eating however is a challenge. That’s why I can’t do moderation. I’m an abstainer. Would I love to have a jar of Nutella in my house at all times? Heck yes, but I know that I’ll never be able to control myself. I won’t just have a tablespoon. I’ll have eight tablespoons.
I’ve accepted who I am and am working to create habits that are livable and fulfilling. I’m focusing on eating more produce, protein, and healthy fats. I’m still enjoy treats, but I am striving to limit them. I’m working out at OrangeTheory 2-3 times a week and running a few times a month outside of OrangeTheory. I’m happy with the lifestyle I have created over the past year and know it’s important to recognize that there is no finish line. Instead of spending the next 50 years dieting, I want to spend the next 5 years creating habits that will last a life time. Sure I’ll have seasons where I need to create new habits, but I want everything to be livable.
I’m tired of setting myself up for failure. It feels great to live in true freedom and to know that the journey we all talk about is life long. It doesn’t just end when you reach your goal, because you know what, there is no finish line.