Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Benefits of Temporary Blindness

What do you do when reality threatens to derail your progress?

Yesterday was an unbelievably gorgeous day here in the Northeast. It's not too often you see the temperature hit 65 degrees on January 7th. As I raced around completing errands in the morning I mentally calculated that I had exactly 75 minutes to fit in a walk outside and a shower before taking my oldest son to a birthday party. After grocery shopping I burst through the door, rapidly told my husband the plan and was dressed and out the door within five minutes.

Forty five minutes later my lungs were full of fresh air, my head was clear and I felt  really happy. I was proud of myself that I had made the time to exercise  - something that is easily pushed off the agenda when life becomes busy.

The smile was quickly smacked off my face, however, as I caught an unexpected glimpse of myself in the mirror while climbing into the shower. I sucked in my breath as I remembered "Oh that's right, I'm still 50 pounds overweight." I felt the air leave my lungs, my stomach lurch and tears rise in my throat. Two seconds ago I had felt so good! My body felt strong and healthy. How could there be such a huge disconnect between perception and reality?

I was suffering from what I call "Dieter Dementia" - that unrealistic voice in my head that says "I've eaten vegetables, resisted the siren call of sugar and exercised for four whole days - shouldn't I be a size six by now?" It's easy to forget that it took me thirty years to get my body into this state. It's not going to magically morph in a few days' time.

Normally this frustrating moment would turn into a death spiral of emotional eating. But this time I decided that the best thing I could do for myself would be to pretend I was a racehorse and put some temporary blinders on. If my body felt strong, than I was going to stop looking in the mirror and focus on the fact that I was feeling physically stronger than I've felt in a long time.

I'm not advocating for ignoring reality, that's not healthy either. We need to be honest with ourselves about the state of our health. But if the image in the mirror is going to destroy a groove of healthy eating and exercise, than it's better to put some blinders on until the moment passes.


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    1. Thanks David! I try to post a few times a month, but only when I have something useful to say :D