Haters, Temptations, & You
You want to start working out regularly and change your diet. Not go on a diet, but change your food intake for the long haul. You make the decision to finally do it. You join a gym, get rid of the salty and sweet snacks in the cupboard, and go grocery shopping for greens and grains and fruits and all that good stuff. You’re feeling really great about your dedication and your progress so far. And then you go out to dinner with your friends and you’re the only one who doesn’t order a cocktail or dip into the nachos. And then the comments start.
“Oooo I forgot, somebody’s on a diet”
“I would be miserable if I were you!”
“Are you ever gonna let loose again?!”
It’s discouraging and honestly downright annoying. First of all, you’re not on a diet. You are trying to make positive long-term changes in your life, starting with your health. This doesn’t mean you’re never going to indulge in a fruity cocktail or a plate of nachos ever again, but it might mean you are learning to say no to indulgences as they pop up at every turn.
I know that for me personally temptations are everywhere. In the office, someone brings in 2 dozen donuts for breakfast. At a lunch meeting, there’s salad, but also a tray of cookies. When I get home, I open the freezer to cook a turkey burger and there are 5 gallons of ice cream staring back at me. (That’s not an exaggeration btw, there was a sale and my dad bought FIVE GALLONS).
If I said “sure why not” to all of these opportunities I would be taking in thousands of extra calories A DAY and going to bed with a sick stomach. It’s about self-control, but also self-preservation. I know that eating too many sugary treats in a day means a lot more than just “giving in.” It makes me sick, it affects the way that I sleep, and I often wake up with a pounding headache. That feeling then affects my workout the next day, and it sparks a vicious cycle.
All of that said, I definitely still indulge. Just this past Sunday I HOUSED an entire plate of pancakes, and bacon, and fries. Because I spend the whole week packing healthy meals and being mindful about what I eat, I can spend a Sunday brunch eating like a caveman and not really think twice about it. This is a much healthier relationship for me than constantly indulging, feeling sick, feeling guilty, and then doing it all over again.
And because I know, from trial-and-error, that this is what works best for my physical and mental well being, it makes it easier to tune people out when they’re heckling me for the way that I eat. I don’t care if you think it’s crazy for me to eat this burger without a bun. I think it’s crazy that you eat white bread every day. I guess we’re even.
It can be harder to tune people out when it’s your friends or family. When I first started working out consistently my mom would often tell me that I was going overboard, that I didn’t need to work out so much, that I didn’t need to cut out all junk food, etc. I’m sure that it was coming from a place of genuine concern, because she’s my mom, but it still drove me nuts. I would do my at-home workouts when no one was home so that I wouldn’t have to hear any of their commentary. Fast forward a little bit, and now they’re used to it. Actually, my mom realized how different I was (in a good way) when I was consistently working out to the point that she actually started paying for my gym membership (this was before I was a personal trainer). A Helen full of post-workout endorphins is a much easier Helen to be around. She picked up on that. Everyone slowly realized it wasn’t a fad, that I wasn’t being crazy, and that this was what was best for me.
My friends know that I’ll meet them for happy hour but I’ll probably stick with water, because drinking during the week doesn’t work well for my workouts, my goals, etc. They’re used to it, and there is no ridicule. The weekends are my time to let loose a lil. That way it actually feels like an indulgence, or a special occasion, and not just another day.
If you let people’s misunderstandings or comments get to you, then they win. Instead, focus on proving them wrong. Laugh it off, ignore it, tune it out, etc. until they realize that this is just a part of who you are. That you still love cake and cookies and cocktails but you prefer them at birthday parties or Sunday brunch rather than every night of the week. That your 6am appointment with your personal trainer means you have to go home a little bit early but that you’ll take it over being hungover at work the next day. Those people making comments about your salad when you go out to dinner would probably be the first people to point it out if you gained 10 pounds.
psssttt: I have a secret.
Maybe it is a little crazy to buy healthy groceries and meal prep and bring homemade lunches to work every day and to say no to the pastry platter in the conference room and carry my gym clothes everywhere.
But it’s also a little crazy to eat foods that make you feel sick, or have so many drinks at happy hour that you’re miserable at work, or not ever know what it feels like to exercise and get stronger.
Figure out where you fall on the crazy continuum, and don't let anybody hold you back.