I've been ponding the excuses I usually use to avoid eating healthy and exercising. I came up with three main ones straight away which stem from real reasons but fade into lame excuses, and later thought of another one which I find a bit weirder.
1) "It's a special occasion, like my birthday." I do think I should be able to have cake and my favourite dinner on my birthday. Or relax the rules at Christmas. It's both a social/cultural thing and also a personal break from constant vigilance. Problem is "special occasions" can happen a lot more often than twice a year. You start with birthday and Christmas. Add Easter, because I love chocolate. Valentine's Day, well that's a special day. My husband's birthday. My kids' birthdays. Other family members and friends' birthdays. Weddings. Engagement parties. Baby showers. Once a week afternoon tea with a friend. Sunday morning brunch. Supper on games night. It never ends. When I worked in a big office and ran the tea club for more than 80 members, we had a birthday morning tea at least once a week and often twice.
I struggle with this one because I'm not sure where to draw the line. Sean Anderson chose two days a year on his original weight loss plan when he could add 1000 calories to his usual 1500 plan, and that was it. Two days - Christmas and Thanksgiving (I think). But on the other hand, he ate whatever he wanted within those daily 1500 calories so he didn't have to give up less healthy options. He eats a little differently now. I don't think I could face saying "no junk except two days a year". That is too restrictive for me. So do I just count calories and fit in a treat whenever I want? Do I have one treat meal or free day a week and be strict the rest of the time? I go back and forth.
2) "I am sad/stressed." Sometimes I feel like I somehow deserve bad food, or don't need to make an effort to exercise, because I am having a bad day. Again, at one end of the spectrum I think this excuse has some validity. When my mother died, I had about a month where losing weight wasn't a priority for me. I wasn't binging or gaining weight, but I wasn't making an effort to get healthier either. It just wasn't the most important thing to me for a while. But really traumatic things don't happen that often, thank goodness. Mostly a bad day comes from something much smaller. At what point to you say "that is not a good enough reason"? Actually I don't really need help to sort this one out. I know that I am just being slack! But I do it anyway. I feel bad therefore I get to do whatever I want.
3) "I am too sick." I have a genuine problem with this one. I think some people exercise when they shouldn't, when their body needs rest to recover from or fight off illness. But I know I go too far the other way. Since I am overweight and unfit, and have sleep apnoea so I don't get enough sleep and am always tired, I feel a bit sick all the time anyway and I can't always tell if it's something I should be pushing through. I've been too sick to exercise the past few days but when do I go back to the gym? When I am "completely better"? How will I know when I am? When I can go for a walk without wheezing and coughing? Actually I wouldn't go to the gym while I am still snotty or coughing, I try not to infect others, but I could exercise at home. Would I make myself sicker again if I start too soon? I worry a lot about this excuse because I genuinely don't know.
So those are my three main excuses, I think, but today I realised I have another one. It's the excuse of anticipation.
4) "I can't wait." If I am anticipating eating something bad soon, I give in and eat something bad now. Most years in the lead-up to Easter (not this year as I've been unwell and mostly uninterested) I would eat a lot of Easter chocolate before the day. And it's not just big celebrations like that. If I start thinking "Saturday is my cheat day and I can eat x and y" then I really really want x and y now! I am not good at delayed gratification. Apparently that is a key problem for general happiness in life - they've done studies. Maybe the answer here is to just not think about it? Is that possible? Or maybe I need to consider this and point 1 together. Daily strictness with occasional splurges leads to thinking about the splurges with leads to anticipatory extra splurges. So maybe I should go with a basic calorie count and I can fit whatever I want into that, to avoid the deprive/binge cycle. It feels like a beginners diet option, but maybe that is the stage I am in. I like the idea of structure, but I fail at diets pretty quickly. Keep it simple.
Anyway, Fogdog went for a walk today even though he was feeling sick, so that guilted me into doing the same. My legs ached pretty badly afterwards but otherwise I was ok.
Diet: Ok. Ate too much in the afternoon.
Exercise: Good start.
Sleep: I've spent a lot of time in bed but without my CPAP (nose pillows) due to very runny nose, so I don't feel very rested. I don't think I can use it tonight, but hopefully tomorrow night.
Mental health: Ok.
Teacher's note: Natalie needs to stop making excuses. Her dog did not eat her homework. She does not even own a dog. She can achieve anything if she applies herself and works hard.