Forget the fact that I was only able to do 10 yesterday, or any other day before, for that matter! I think 15 was my best day. Maybe 2 sets of 15 once or twice….
But today I’m going to do 100! Guaranteed! And you know why? Because I’m tired of having weak arms. I’m tired of wishing I could do 100 and only ever doing 10 and then feeling crappy about myself for not being able to do 100 and then going days and days without doing a single one. Something’s got to change. I’m tired of this measly little 10-push-up self. No pain no gain, right!?
So, today is the day. I’m going to put my mind to it. I’m going to get down on my fancy little mauve yoga mat and push, push, push up!
It’ll work, don’t you think? How could it fail?
Ummm…Well….What do you think? Do I have a hope in hell? Is there any sane reason whatsoever for me to make this claim or even have an expectation that I could do 100 push ups in one sitting, let alone 50?
No, not really. In fact, you can all comfortably bet the ranch that I’m not going to succeed. And on the off chance that I did manage to push myself to 100 in one sitting, I’m going to be so sore and so tired and so repulsed by push ups, I’ll be damned lucky if I ever do another one as long as I live.
Either way, I’m doomed to fail in this approach to feeling good about myself before I begin.
But why? I want it. I want to do the push ups. I want strong arms. I want to show myself that I can do what I put my mind to and that I have willpower and commitment and all that good stuff. So why can’t it work?
They say it’s mind over matter and that if I want something I just have to do it. Heck, Nike made an entire ad campaign out of that notion, “Just Do It!” So why can’t I just do it!!!!???
I’ll bet you’ve got lots of really great answers for me. I’ll bet you know just why it won’t work and I’ll even bet you’ve got a suggestion for me of how I could ultimately achieve my goal of 100 push ups if I were just willing to be patient, put in a little effort each day, and work towards that goal at a reasonable pace.
I’ll bet you’d even be able to reassure me that there’s no way I could fail if I did it in that balanced and self-respecting way. It’s a given that I’ll succeed because it’s possible to do 100 pushups in one workout (if I were so inclined and fit enough), it just takes some consistent effort and reasonable expectations and time lines.
I’ll bet some of you are even thinking you’d want to ask me what’s important about being able to do 100 push ups and to invite me to look at my overall intention in setting that goal. If I want strong arms and to feel that I’m following through on my commitments to myself maybe there’s another way, an even better way, I could achieve that goal.
I’ll bet that’s what you’d tell me.
Now, let’s apply the same great advice to your approach to having a natural and easy relationship with food, shall we?
For the same reason that I’m doomed to fail in my “100 push ups today no matter what” plan, you’re doomed to fail every time you wake up in the morning and tell yourself today will absolutely, guaranteed, be the day you don’t binge.
Well, for starters, there’s a reason you haven’t been able to go an hour, or a day or two or three (whatever your individual situation might be) without focusing on food or on your body in a stressful way.
It’s because you have unhealed situations in your past; stress in your present-day life; and/or you’re imagining stressful situations in your future and those thoughts and experiences trigger you to feel anxious (as they do every human on the planet by the way) and your automatic default to feeling unsettled or anxious, from your life experience, modeling and training is to run as fast and as far as you can from any uncomfortable feelings, even if they’re arising from old experiences or misunderstandings. You run to food and body focus. It’s a good distraction, even if it doesn’t solve anything and just makes you feel bad about yourself.
Until you are able to answer the questions “Why do I do what I do with food?” and “What can I do to start responding to my inner signals of stress and concern in a mature, respectful way?” you can expect that you will need to check out quickly and often throughout your day with the old, tried and true method of food and body focus.
It’s unrealistic to assume that just because you’re tired of old patterns and want to change you’ll be able to change. That would have worked a long time ago if it was going to work at all.
Your fatigue with the old ways of being, and your commitment to change are two key pieces of the complete and lasting recovery puzzle, but they’re just the pieces that get you started. They are not the cure in and of themselves.
For complete and lasting recovery you need:
- New information on why you do what you do;
- A reasonable timeline and plan for you to achieve your goals of self-care, balance, self-respect and life-enhancing coping strategies;
- New tools and the support to put them in to action effectively;
- Gentle and loving reminders, from a supportive presence in your life to help you to see more clearly when you’ve been unwittingly sucked back into old ways of thinking and behaving and why.
The process of achieving any goal is simple and straightforward. And regardless of how long you’ve been telling yourself you’re going to change, once you put yourself in a situation where you can gain new tools and the support and education to use them, you have given yourself everything you need to achieve your goals.
I’ll never be successful with my 100 push-up plan as I was speaking of it. No one could. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would need to work up to a certain amount of exercise or weight lifting before trying it. Even the most dedicated, smart, capable human being needs to work up to mastery of anything they want to do, and both Arnie and that most dedicated, capable human recognize the need for support and education from outside of themselves to achieve their goals. In fact, the more support you have the faster your process goes!
The truth is:
If you knew what to do and how to do it you’d be doing it.
Unfortunately because of your past experiences your story sounds more like:
“I should know what to do. I shouldn’t need any help. If I need help or have to admit I have a problem with my relationship with food it means I’m weak. It means I’ve failed, and if I fail it means I’m stupid and bad and unlovable and therefore I can’t admit I need help. I just have to figure it out myself, but I can’t, so, I’m screwed! Let’s go eat!”
And so goes another day, or two or 365.
That was my story, too, for quite some time. It only made me feel like a total failure and completely stuck and hopeless, depressed, anxious and insecure. And it was totally false, a total pile of crap.
How often do you set yourself up like I was suggesting I would with my push-ups analogy? (And just in case it’s not clear to those of you who are new to me and The CEDRIC Method – that was just an analogy – It has been a very long time since I have even thought of motivating myself in that old all or nothing way let alone actually done so. That’s the gift of this method, complete and lasting freedom from that old all or nothing approach to life.)
The only thing that can happen when you set yourself up with expectations like that without any new information or tools to have sound reason to expect that change is that you feel worse about yourself when you fail at your goal and need to use your coping strategy even more to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings.
The process of change is simple and it will work every single time if you avail yourself of the support to learn why you do what you do, why you think how you think and some simple, straightforward tools to change those old ways of thinking and behaving.
You can do it! X my heart.