By Amy Sullivan
I start out with the best of intentions. I really do. But on a Friday night, one cheat meal turns into a weekend of binge eating and … exercise what? So, it’s no wonder I am a glutton for punishment when Monday rolls around in the gym.
I carefully calculate what I ate and what I should be doing to “balance” the calories-in-calories-out. That mocha latte? Forty-five minutes of running. That Big Mac at lunch? An hour on the bike. Those three beers during happy hour? 1500 burpees. And that’s just Saturday….
It was a constant cycle of trying to cancel out what I ate with how I exercised. And instead of empowering me into that vacation swimsuit, it kept me feeling guilty and counting calories like a villian.
There had to be a better way to view my food and fitness. They needed a divorce — and fast. In my mind, they need to stand alone in their singledom if I were to ever get ahead in my health journey.
Good vs. bad food
From an early age, I was taught to categorize food into two groups — some is good, some is bad, some is “junk,” some is broccoli. Because of this, I’m conditioned to feel good about eating broccoli and bad about eating ice cream. And when I feel bad, I need to balance out the guilt I feel.
Fitness as food “currency”
So, it was no coincidence I faithfully attended Monday gym class. I saw “bad” food in terms of calories burned. So if I indulged in that piece of birthday cake on Saturday, I want to make sure I work out “extra hard” in hopes to balance out the calorie intake come Monday. The same is true in reverse. If I’ve experienced a difficult workout, I claim that as a green light to order dessert at dinner.
WHY THIS DOESN’T WORK
I’m always guilty
So I’ve realized my food and fitness became dependent on the other. They were no longer separate entities to improvement but a depressed state of trying to balance (or cancel) each other. I can never move forward when I was constantly playing the game of make up.
I take my eyes off my gym goals
Instead of working out to build PRs, crush WOD times or just improve fitness overall, I’ve learned to focus excessively on burning calories. “Only 550 more double-unders and I’ll burn off that piece of toast I had for breakfast.” And once those double-unders were done, then what? No growth.
I can’t outtrain my diet
My husband will be the first to tell me, I canNOT outtrain a bad diet. Ten minutes eating a 600-calorie snack will put me in the gym for more than an hour trying to burn it off. And, unless I want to spend the entire day working out, I don’t have time to burn off the calorie intake of consistent bad eating.
Now in knowing what I think and why, how can I turn this revelation into lasting change? Stay tuned for Part Two.