Once you have accepted whatever it is you have to accept, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, lupus, elevated blood pressure, that part doesn’t matter, but once you have made that commitment to do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, to save your health, save your life, there are few things that feel worse than failure. Backsliding, cheating, whatever you want to call it.
For me the other day, it was a very annoying inconvenience when a doctor failed to write the DEA number on a prescription for heavy duty narcotics, which I badly needed. As a result of the error, I did not get the medication for over 24 hours, and only after a lot of extra trips back and forth, and a lot of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo.
So when I finally got my pills, what did I do? Well, I took one of course, but I was still annoyed and stressed and feeling very put out, so I went straight to Burger Doodle and ordered, and ate, everything I should not have. All at once. Then I went home and ate four cookies. (Hershey’s chocolate mint) My meter reading that night was 169. That will teach them to inconvenience ME, I guess!
Obviously, that was an incredibly stupid thing to do. The doctor made a mistake, and so did I. None of the individuals involved in my troubles were affected at all by my junk food binge. Just me. So that’s the story of my most recent downfall.
For you, maybe it’s when you just can’t stand it any more and you fix yourself a big breakfast of eggs cooked in butter, sausage, pancakes, and eat it right after you dutifully take your cholesterol medicine.
Or if you’re a diabetic like me, and one day passing by that Baskin-Robbins on the way to work is just too much to ask of a human being, and next thing you know, there you are with a triple scoop cone of peanut butter and jelly, chocolate mint chip, and jamoca almond fudge.
Maybe you’re just overweight, and you’ve figured out your diet, and resolved to stick to it, but you have one of those days when nothing goes right, you get your gas bill in the mail, you have an argument with your brother, and then the phone rings, and a friend you haven’t seen in ages says, “Let’s go to Fuddruckers.”
Whatever form your mistake takes, it may taste good at the time, in fact, it may taste great. But later the remorse sets in. You kick yourself, call yourself names, talk to yourself in ways you would never talk to anyone else, or let anyone else talk to you. In a very short time, you start believing all these terrible things, and that is when you enter the danger zone!
Not that your “sin” was not dangerous. Especially if you have diabetes, eating a pound of ice cream at one sitting is very dangerous indeed, not to mention stupid.
But even more dangerous and stupid than that is allowing yourself to become so angry – at YOU – that you even subconciously decide that you are not worth saving, not worth caring about, and heading back to the Baskin Robbins, because you are so stupid and such a failure.
What you need at this point is perspective. No matter how stupid your binge was, it is not the end of the world, and it is certainly not an excuse to let it be the end of your commitment. Failure is not really the right word for it, because you have NOT failed. You have made a mistake, you have slipped up. The rest of your life is still there for you to succeed in. And succeed does not mean that you will never slip up again.
You must, as the pop-psychs like to say, “give yourself permission” to be a human being, which includes making mistakes.
So you forgive yourself. Stop beating yourself up, get over it, and get back on the camel.
Forgiving yourself, and recognizing that you will slip up sometimes, does not mean that the game is over and you can just say, OK cool, I forgive myself, now as a human who makes mistakes I will repair with all due haste once again to the Baskin Robbins to celebrate this forgiveness.
Getting back on the camel means you are still committed to taking care of yourself, to eating what you are supposed to eat when you are supposed to eat it. It does not mean you start over. It means you pick up where you left off.
Getting back on the camel means that you hop up a little wiser, with a little more recognition that what you are doing is not easy, especially if you are trying to suddenly break life-long habits, it is the hardest thing you will ever do. And it is something that you have to do, even though you stumble, even though you are not only not perfect, but not even good at it.
katiebird today has some good tips about planning treats. Do not underestimate the importance of this. Planning treats can help you stay on the camel, even when the sand is full of rocks and the camel decides he needs a good gallop. (And bear in mind that planning treats does not mean planning binges. The whole point of planning treats is to pre-emptively avoid binges.)
So however grave your error may have been, grant yourself a pardon, get back on the camel, even if you are a lousy rider, and when you fall on your nose, dust yourself off, and get right back on.