We all have different reasons and motivations for eating better and exercising. Like I said before, my many other attempts have been for superficial reasons; weddings, outfits, events, vacations, or just wanting to look better. There is not a damn thing wrong with that. Do your thing. If you aren’t happy with any part of yourself, it can poison how you view yourself and the things around you. Whatever your motivation is to be better/healthier/happier is a good enough reason. This time, for me, it’s for health reasons. I am tired of being sick and tired, as the old saying goes.
You’re aware of how toxic added sugar, chemicals and antibiotics are to your food and to you. You know this and you do your best to avoid it. You try to buy foods that don’t have these things in them but there is way more to getting healthier. It’s more than watching what you eat and getting more exercise. You have to deal with the people around you, your old haunts and habits and how you handle situations. It’s a struggle every minute of everyday and it’s exhausting. It’s not forever, but it’s part of the process.
One thing that people don’t like to talk about is how toxic EVERYTHING around you can be. You don’t notice it until you start to make changes and then you suddenly realize how many of the things in your life that need to change. It starts with, “I want to eat better and exercise more for x, y or z.” It’s depressing and overwhelming as you navigate this new world. You realize what really is good for you and what is not and there is more bad than good.
It’s especially horrifying when you realize how many people just trudge along and follow the same path because it’s well worn and easy. Not to mention, you want to kick yourself for waiting so long to make the changes you’re making. When you start moving away from the herd, they become angry with you. They think you’re being snobby or uppity or trying to act better than everyone else. Suddenly, people you love and respect are telling you that you are being difficult and unreasonable and that your efforts are causing problems in your relationships with them. It’s your fault.
I am telling you now to get ready for it. Have a plan. Get a library card and fill up on books or get online and learn a new hobby. You’re going to need distractions. You will go to your friends and family for support and they won’t be there. This is not 100% of the people 100% of the time but it’s a lot higher than you think it will be. Don’t let this derail your goals. You are worth your effort and nothing worth doing is easy, anyway. This too will be hard. You just need to find something to take your mind off the hurt. It’s temporary and it will pass.
Alcoholics can’t go to bars and you probably shouldn’t go to all your old favorite restaurants, bars, and hang outs. If you can and can be strong, more power to you but I find it easier to avoid those places at first. Alcohol is detrimental to any healthier eating lifestyle, so you’ll want to limit that which means staying out of bars. Your old favorite restaurants are probably out because of the added sugars, bread, pasta, and creams you can’t have now. I don’t know about you but I can’t avoid my old favorite comfort foods.
The new places you find will be more expensive and you’ll probably want to eat at home more just to save money. The parties you get invited to will be rife with things you can’t eat or drink. (If you’re like me, you take your own snacks but that’s a whole other post). Family will try to make you believe that you are nothing but an insult upon your ancestors because you can’t eat grandma’s award winning ‘fatten you up like a baby cow’ what-ever-the-dish she makes.
No one will want to do exercise based activities with you. They’d rather sit at a bar and spend money there but can’t afford to go do something active. If money isn’t the issue, there will be plenty of excuses why no one can or will go do new activities with you. You’ll eventually bow out of so many things that you will quit getting invites. It sucks. Big time.
You’re going to feel like you’re pushing your friends and family away. In a way, you are. They’ll eventually get used to your new habits and if they really want to be your friend or be with you as a person, they’ll make efforts to accommodate your life style. You’ll eventually be able to go around the bad stuff and say no to it all but you’ll need to shore up your convictions to your new lifestyle first. Those that can’t accept it or won’t accept it or won’t help you be a better you is not a friend. Most of the time it’s because they were getting something out of you that you aren’t providing anymore. That is definitely a relationship that is not worth saving anyway.
Be strong. Find online or local support groups. Get books on tape through a streaming service and go for walks. It can be very calming and purifying. Entertain yourself and learn to love yourself and your own time with yourself.
If you absolutely MUST go to a party or event, unapologetically take your baggies of carrots, almonds, berries and your own favorite drinks. If you go to a restaurant you can’t really eat at, eat before you go, take your own salad dressing and order a plain salad and an unsweetened tea or lemon and water. Throw one of your diet approved snack bars or pre-made desserts in a bag and have that at the restaurant. If the restaurant says you can’t have it, ask if they have a diabetic menu. That usually shuts them right up.
Embarrass your friends and family and if anyone complains, tell them you’re working on your health. Ask them, in all seriousness, “Do you want me to die prematurely?” Be selfish and keep working towards your goals. In the end, you have to look you in the eye in the morning. You have to get yourself to work or school. You have to be there for your children and your spouse. You can’t do any of those things if you’re dead. And that’s the meat and bones of it, really. You’re trying not to die early and you’re trying not to be so incapacitated and bogged down that you can’t be anything but a burden on those around you. Self-care is important because if you’re down, you can’t do anything that needs to be done.