So. . .you did it again? You went into a holiday with the best of intentions. You woke up and ate a sensible breakfast. You drank a ton of water. You may even have gotten in a workout. (Kudos to you!) You walked out the door decked out in your red, white and blue with the salad you offered to bring in tow. The idea being that you would bring something healthy to help avoid what I like to call the Trifecta of D’s. . .dips, desserts and drinks (And I’m not talking about LaCroix.) You literally were setting yourself up for complete success. You were like a patriotically dressed ninja of self-control, good decision-making and you were prepared to battle any temptations that stood in your way with your stealth-like new healthy habit ways. I mean you were just short of wielding a sword and wearing a bandanna. . .or maybe you were wearing a bandanna, as they are totally on-trend this season. So, you were basically a fashionable salad wielding ninja whispering “Bring it, Fourth of July,” as you dramatically tied your bandanna around your head.
Then your ninja-ass got to the party and all that ninja crap went right out the window! You loosened your bandanna, set down your nutrient-rich salad and you PAR-TAYED!!! It may have started out slowly. A scoop of dip here, a little nibble of dessert there. “Okay, I’ll just have one glass of rose.” And, the next thing you know, you are in this wine-induced trance of eating ALL THE THINGS! French onion dip. Mini-weiners. Baked Brie. A cheese burger. . .with a hot dog. And chips, more chips. “How could you have forgotten how GOOD chips are?!” And, nothing compliments chips than more dip. Aaaaaall the cream cheese, all the processed meats, they are tasting divine now that you are on your fourth glass of wine. And, if you have already eaten jalapeno poppers and whatever those things were in the little wrapped up crescent rolls (I think they had bacon). . .why not indulge in dessert too! One brownie. Two brownies. Oooh, who brought stuff to make s’mores?! WOOO HOOOO!
And then you wake up the next morning.
You are slightly sick to your stomach. Okay, totally sick to your stomach. You don’t even know what really happened. And it’s not because of the rose. You were gonna be so good. . .how did things go so bad.? You feel bad. You feel awful, in fact. You are cursing the onion dip and you are cursing yourself for not having any self-control. What happened to that health ninja who was going to show off her new stealthy skills to her friends and family?! You are disgusted with yourself and ashamed and you have a feeling that you are going to spend most of the day, either on the toilet or on the couch. You feel like a total failure. You are a failure of a ninja!
Woah, woah, woah! Let me just stop you there! What you are experiencing is, not only a massive food hangover (and possibly a real hangover), this my friends, is what is called a shame spiral. And, let me be the one to tell you, you do NOT need to take a ride down that twisty turny little jerk. Shame spirals happen. But they only gain their strength if you decide to ride them long enough. Shame spirals are damaging little suckers. They tell you “you had one bad day, so maybe you should just screw the rest of the week” or “you thought you were over your food issues, but you are worse than ever” or (most damaging of all) “you can’t do anything right.” Shame keeps us stuck and is unproductive and toxic!
I propose a better solution to going rogue on a holiday and then beating yourself up afterwards. How about you use it as a learning experience? How about you ask yourself a difficult question? What about holidays and parties and birthdays and work happy hours, etc. makes you go completely off the rails? And truly answer this. Maybe it’s a bit of social anxiety. Maybe you are eating to please those around you. Maybe you are scared you will offend the host. Or, maybe just maybe, you don’t quite feel ready to step out as the new bad ass ninja of health that you are becoming. Maybe it is just too intimidating to say no in social situations. Maybe you are afraid that you will no longer be perceived as fun or laid-back or care-free.
This isn’t an exercise in self-criticism, this is a time for reflection and a new level of awareness. Just know, all of these feelings are completely normal, a part of the process and OKAY. What is not okay is staying in this place of mini-weiner dog hangover despair. So, what you’re gonna do is go dust off that red bandanna you wore on the Fourth. You’re going to, once again, dramatically tie it around your head and you are going to ninja your way to the kitchen and eat a healthy, balanced meal. You will NOT punish yourself by not eating or spending a day sweating out taco dip at the gym. Real ninjas get right back at it after they have had an off-day. Ninjas learn from their mistakes. And ninjas know that today is always another opportunity to start over and do better. Warrior on, my dear ninja friends, warrior on.