Strategic Thinking

“I can stop this right now”, that’s what I’m thinking as I dig my spoon into the almond butter in the dead of night. It’s a thought I often have, whether lighting a cigarette, pouring a glass of wine or stopping myself from saying something I might regret.

I spend all day writing down the reasons I don’t want to: smoke, eat too much, drink too much, eat the wrong thing, be physically inactive, fill in the blank–you get the idea. Then my exhaustion sets in, my emotions, my “fuck it” button is pressed and all the mantras in the world seem to disappear.

I thought I had it handled! I thought I could buy food and keep it in my house, but something happens and I’m so tired that my will is completely gone. The Internet says you can always stop a binge before it starts, or even in the middle, you don’t have to keep doing it. I’ve gotten better–I know that. It used to be the craving for something extravagant that might drive me into the spiral of a binge, then it was a sandwich, then my favorite nut butter calling to me from the grocery store shelf. Now, it’s guilt over a late night nibble of stolen cashews from the bar where I work.

One must strategize escaping the rapturous urge. Success comes when you are mindful enough to follow the emergency exit plan. If I can pause long enough to think about all the work I’ve done, If I stop and think loving thoughts about myself, willpower ceases to be a struggle. If I can change the way I feel about it for a moment, if I stop telling myself that it’s “hard”; then it isn’t.

Losing weight has sometimes felt like punishment, like I’m paying my dues for the many times I’ve had too much fun. Yet, it is so much easier to do good things for yourself when you believe you are deserving of them. It’s not punishment to eat real food, it’s not punishment to feel the rush of exercise. It’s a gift. I’d rather feel that way than shame over something sweet melting on my tongue and disappearing from my memory but not from my thighs.

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