What do I mean by “get control of your life and get control of eating”? There are many reasons people under or over eat, but in my opinion a big component of it is feeling out of control over some part (or all) of their life. In this article I discuss how I was able to get control and start living a happier life in moderation.
How being too strict meant I lost control
I love a challenge and I also love the feeling of battling against you inner voice, knowing you are flexing your will power above and beyond. However, being too strict with yourself can, ironically, mean you lose control. No one, or very few, can maintain a strict lifestyle for too long before they break.
What do I mean by strict? This can be in any part of your life. Maybe you are making yourself get up at 5am, do a perfect workout, get ready and look perfect for work, then you work as hard as you can going over your hours at the office, then you need to make your friends dinner party and be the perfect guest, but you need to be perfect with your diet, and you also need to have the perfect amount of sleep…….
Does this sound familiar? This was how I lived nearly every day for 10 years and inevitably you get to a point where you break. You cannot remain consistent. You then feel like a failure. You haven’t got control. I lived this pattern through my entire 20’s and it effected my approach to work, health and relationships.
Essentially I added in no room for human error. If it wasn’t perfect I mentally broke.
How setting rules meant I lost control
I love routine, planning goals and the steps to achieve them. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with this behaviour. In fact I think it is a great skill of mine and why I work in Strategy. However, a key component of achieving goals is understanding that situations can change and therefore flexibility is key.
Whenever I gave myself a fitness related goal for example, such as gaining muscle or losing fat, I would write down my end goal, give myself an end date and plan backward. My problem is I left no room for life, or human error (that mistake again!) So, when I became ill (which can happen a lot when you put yourself under so much pressure) and I didn’t eat to plan or complete my workouts perfectly I felt I had failed. I would essentially give up, eat whatever I wanted and drink whatever I wanted with the mentality of self destruction.
This would last for a few days before I planned my next goal, and began the cycle all over again.
Be flexible and get control of life
I always believed that being flexible was the equivalent to being weak. I always believed that if you cannot do it 100% then don’t do it at all. Well, I was completely wrong!
If I am ‘perfect’ for two days in a row and then become tired, unmotivated or feel too deprived I may break and then not do anything I need to do in order to reach my goals for the next five days.
However, if I am flexible I may one day decide to sleep in longer rather than get up at 5am for the gym. OK so I missed the gym session, but I listened to my body and let it rest. I can make today my rest day and reallocate the workout. This in turn means I have a more productive day at work because I am not tired. I then go to my friends dinner party and decide I want to have two glasses of red wine with my steak and veg. Because I am enjoying my wine I say I don’t feel like dessert. Because I slept well I do not have hunger pangs. I get to sleep having done well at work, feeling rested and having had fun at my friend’s without eating or drinking out of control.
Consistency is key for control of life
It may sound so basic, and so simple. If you want anything in this life you need to be consistent with the steps you take to get there. However, consistent does not mean perfect! And it took me 10 years to realise this distinction.
So how does consistency work with the example I have given above?
Let’s say every day I am flexible in some way. Maybe one day I decide to have a three course meal, but I workout hard at the gym and feel good because I get all my priority tasks done at work. I am heading towards all my goals and one three course meal wont set me back.
If every day I allow myself to be flexible in some way, in order to make everything else more productive, and I am consistent in this behaviour then I will progress toward my goals.
What has consistency given me? Control.
So what am I trying to say about control of life and control of eating?
When we are not feeling in control it is usually when we give ourselves strict rules to follow in the hope it will provide the structure we need. The point of this article is to say that this strict approach to life actually meant I was never able to reach my goals. It made me feel I had failed and then I would start a process of self destruction in some way, before the strict goal setting starting all over again.
By allowing myself to be flexible and keeping to this consistently I have managed to meet so many of my goals:
My weight never fluctuates the way it used to and so I always feel happy with how I am looking.
I am progressing with the career I want rather than wanting to start fresh elsewhere.
I can enjoy eating out with my friends and family instead of worrying about dining out and eating too much.
I never feel deprived or restricted.
So the take away? Progress not perfection.
Follow me on Instagram and see how I live a flexible, moderate, happy life and that helps me reach my goals.