By Keiyia J. George
The year has drawn to an end. You’ve met some health goals and as a result, achieved some weight loss goals, so it’s time to let your hair down! NOT! Unfortunately, the worst thing you could do right now is going back to what you have come from. ‘Why?’ you may wonder. Well, let’s start with an example.
Let’s say you used to drink. You were a heavy drinker. You decided enough was enough. That wasn’t the life you wanted for yourself. Plus, your health was deteriorating fast. So you took the first step and admitted that you were wrong. You spent the year disciplining yourself. You achieved much. Your hair grew back. Your skin is clearer. The white of your eyes is actually white. You are off 70% of the meds you were on. You even lost some weight. Life couldn’t be better. Along come the year-end holidays and New Year’s parties. Everywhere you turn, there is someone offering you a drink. Eggnog here, champagne there, a glass everywhere. You have two choices: abstain and maintain or give in and enjoy. What do you do?
If you decide to take the drink, one year is completely wiped away. You are starting again at day one. While many will tell you it’s not a failure (in hopes of positive affirmations as opposed to negative ones), your body won’t see it that way. One sip and your body and mind will quickly go down a spiraling tunnel of memories of what it used to be like in an alcoholic stupor. It will aim to hold onto this causing it harder for you to reach your new day one.
This is the same for food addictions. Sugar has been shown to be more addictive than any drug out there. Rats in a lab were given cocaine over a period of time. When they were given sugar, they opted to have the sugar over the cocaine. It has also been proven that your brain reacts to processed sugars in a similar manner that it reacts to opioids. Having been disciplined for the year, one night can have you on a spiral that’s harder to get off of the second time around. Why is it harder? Because the brain and body have missed the food you decided to abstain from. It missed it, but it definitely did not forget it. It will want to hold onto that feeling as long as possible. It will want to will you to never leave it again. It will beg for it because you have had that feeling WAY longer than you have had your healthier feelings. So just don’t do it. You may never return to a healthy lifestyle. Further, one undisciplined night renders you back to being undisciplined (yes, one time does matter). You will remain undisciplined until you find discipline again (whether it’s tomorrow or next month).
What causes a relapse into unhealthy habits?
Not making health your top priority. Without an unchanged commitment to long-term health, you will most likely relapse. It may not happen when you are surrounded by food this season, but it will happen. To be successful, you have to make disciplined eating a lifestyle. You have to decide that this is what you want to do for the rest of your life and remind yourself of this as often as needed.
No support system. When fasting, not everyone will be onboard or understanding. Sometimes it’s best not even to disclose it to people. Who needs the negativity, right? Some will persecute you. Others will shame you. And yet more will try to stuff food down your throat. If you have to attend parties, attend with someone who supports you. Let them in on your fears. Shoot, ask them to join in on your goal with you.
Not wanting this for yourself. Living a disciplined is something you have to want for yourself. You can’t do it for someone else. It’s your body, not theirs. If you can’t want to be healthy for you, then why attempt it at all. The relapse that will definitely happen will cause you more harm.
Being unprepared. This is the biggest cause of relapse. Unfortunately, you are one of the few people in the world who has decided to put their health first. To remain this way, you have to be prepared. Think about these words from John 16:32-33: 32Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. When Jesus was preparing his students, he wanted them to know that they were in this pretty much on their own in this world. There wasn’t going to be many like them. He wanted them to be prepared for what was to come. He wanted them to understand that this world was not theirs. They were like oddballs here. That’s what you have become: the odd healthy one amongst so many unhealthy ones. This isn’t a bad thing but be prepared. Take healthy options with you. Drag health-conscious friends with you. Be prepared. Plan ahead and try to know what’s coming. They will have various unhealthy options for you to gorge in. Offer to bring a dish (or two or three) of something you can munch on. PREPARE!
Relapsing is not an option. You have done so well. You have a new lifestyle that suits you and your closet. You have a vibrant outlook on life. Your skin is glowing. Your nails are healthy. The dimples in your thighs are nearly gone. Your breath doesn’t stink. Do you really want to give that all up for a night of junk and processed food? Erase the memory of it because it won’t taste like how you once knew. Just delete the thoughts. Remind yourself that you are a new creature with new taste buds. Turn away and let year one successfully end at the start of year two.