You know the world sometimes likes to laugh at you? Like when you write a blog post about how your diet is generally pretty good and here’s my food diary if you want to see it and blah blah like I did yesterday? And then you proceed to have a day of DEFINITELY not optimal food choices. The universe likes to laugh at us. Or me at least. I’m good with that. 😉
I’m in Memphis for work this week. My flight from Omaha yesterday was at 5:13 am, which means I left my house at 3:30 am and woke up even earlier than that. Of course, because I was worried I’d oversleep and miss my flight, I slept horribly. I headed into the world of travel and temptation on a few hours of fractured sleep and hoped for the best. In the old days, I’d use that as an excuse to eat thousands upon thousands of calories. I’d get a frou frou coffee drink before the first flight because I’d earned it by getting up early, and a pastry of course. I’d get breakfast again between the two flights in Chicago because I was tired and needed the energy and hey, expense report! I’d buy candy bars and other snacks for the plane and end up eating a couple of days of calories all before noon.
Do you ever have the experience that you feel like you’ve seen your old self? I had that experience as I walked past some generic restaurant in O’Hare yesterday and realized that a few years ago, I’d be sitting in there in the midst of the food I described above. It’s good to be reminded how far we’ve come.
I didn’t go the food fest route entirely. Yes, I had a cookie on my first flight, but then I restocked with healthy snacks so I was better prepared for the rest of my flight. I know being sleepy makes me hungry, so having good choices to feed that hunger is definitely the better. I thought I was doing okay.
Then I got to Memphis, exhausted and with no hotel room yet because it was too early. That meant who knew if I’d be able to get to my workout gear to do my 8 mile run that afternoon like I’d planned and thus, I made the mistake of asking the lovely lady at the check in desk what she’d recommend for lunch. She suggested a place with the charming name of the Blues City Cafe and the fried catfish. I traipsed off to that cafe and proceeded to get gumbo (yummy but not as spicy as they proclaimed), fried catfish and fries. Don’t get me wrong – it was good, but emotionally I regretted it halfway through eating (yes I kept eating after the bad feeling started), with tinges of that binge-colored shame. Gastrointestinally, I seriously regretted it for the rest of the day.
How could I have handled this better? I would have been perfectly satisfied with the indulgence of the little cup of gumbo and then made a healthier choice thereafter. Making good choices doesn’t mean that you have to say NO to everything – just make the things you indulge on worth it.
I’ll confess that at this point I was tempted to toss the whole healthy eating thing out the window and just spend the weekend in Memphis indulging (this was before my stomach tried to kill me – ugh!). I was already worried about how I was going to stick to my plan to avoid night shade plants since almost everything here has some kind of paprika or peppers in it. Might as well just not worry about it and start over on Monday? We always love Monday.
You don’t have to wait until Monday. You don’t have to wait until the right moment or the easier moment because frankly, it may never come. Pick the NEXT moment and make the best choice you can when it gets there. For me, that meant taking a nap for an hour and a half when my room was ready, because my fatigue was feeding my bad choices. I woke up and hit the treadmill for my run. It was lovely weather, but I was still tired and it is so important that you’re alert and paying attention when you run alone in a new city. I couldn’t pay enough attention to be safe outside in Memphis, so treadmill it was. I set up Captain America: The Winter Soldier and took it a quarter mile at a time until I was done with all 8 miles (around 13:30 pace). So glad I had Cap and the people watching down below me to keep me entertained!
That nap and that run were definitely the next best choices. Not only did the run get me out of my calorie hole (a minor perk, but a perk), it set my brain back on a path to make the best choices I can for the rest of the trip. Best choices will be relative, because I have to contend with conference food and lots of sitting, but now I feel like I can do it.
You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to let a bad choice or even a string of bad choices derail you completely. You don’t have to wait until Monday or any other magical time to stop, pick yourself up and do better. Any time is the right time. It doesn’t have to be a perfect choice, just make the next best choice.