Inner Demons. They are real.
I knew I’d hit a new low last week when I clicked on the FaceBook link advertising magic diet pills and actually bought the damn things. Last June I hit all of my weight-loss and athletic performance goals, and my biggest struggle was what to strive for next. Now, a year later, I find myself 10 pounds heavier wallowing in potato chips, chocolate and diet soda, and eating cookie dough ice cream straight out of the carton. What is wrong with me?
My journey as an athlete has been filled with many highs and lows and unexpected twists and turns. I’ve learned that I’m not unique in this respect; we all have inner demons. Mine center on mental toughness and poor nutritional choices.
Depression and self-esteem issues have plagued me most of my life. Even though I’ve overcome so much in the last four years, my thinking can still get in my way. I sometimes image my thoughts as the titles of “self-help” books: Crisis of Confidence ….. How to Sabotage Months of Gain in a Sort Time…… How to Convince Yourself You Can’t Do It……. etc., etc. Add a newly developed sleep disorder, a stressful job and the hormone surges of menopause to the mix and, well, I’m a mess.
Eating is tough, for all of us.
As for my nutritional choices, I’ve actually come a long way in terms of my ability to think of food as fuel and understand my body’s needs. But, alas, I don’t often make good choices. Intellectually, for some time I have connected my craving for potato chips in the afternoons with my body’s need for an energy boost. This, I felt, was fueled by my inability to sleep and get my stress level under control. I didn’t believe I was really going to be able to get my nutrition on point until I could successfully deal with my sleep and anxiety issues.
Did I figure it out?
Then suddenly it hit me. What if I had it backwards? What if poor nutritional choices were driving my mood and sleep disorders and not the other way around? Could changing my diet change my outlook? I’ve decided to test my theory; I trashed the magic weight-loss pills and bought a journal. For the next few months I plan to document my nutritional choices and chart my overall sense of wellbeing (based on sleep, mood and energy level) in order to see how the two are inner-connected.
I will be basing my nutritional choices on the following assumptions:
- The FDA food pyramid is probably upside down; I will focus on eating lean protein and lots of colorful vegetables and fruits.
- Processed sugar is every bit as dangerous to your body and as addictive as cocaine or heroin.
- Modern-day wheat is poison; it has many negative consequences for those that are sensitive to it – and many more are sensitive to it than know it.
- “Good” fat is good for me.
- Logging what I eat works for me; it holds me accountable. But, I will not obsess about calories.
- Some cheating is OK – even necessary at times.
Currently, I’m four days in. I’m sleeping a bit better and my depression/anxiety level is much improved. But, the cravings for candy and other processed carbohydrates are strong and at times overwhelming; I’ve already cheated. Yesterday I wanted to hurt somebody. This is going to be a fascinating and challenging journey and I hope you can relate along the way.
Karen Adler is…
An educator by trade, runner, hiker and adventure-seeking fitness enthusiast by passion. She explores what it means to be fit after fifty along with the multiple joys and trials that come with age. She is truly an Athlete On Fire!