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Letting go of guilt on your wellness journey is essential. Your personal health journey is yours. Use resources and guidelines to help you form a path, but don’t set your path in stone. You may have to change it to suit your own terrain, your own experiences and your own balance between staying on your wellness journey and enjoying some simple pleasures. Enjoying simple pleasures IS PART OF THE JOURNEY. Letting go of the guilt of enjoying the pleasures is also part of the journey.
My Book Addiction
This blog is not about my book addiction, but I figure I should mention it. Because in time, I’ll probably mention quite a few of them (books I mean – not necessarily addictions…but there’s those too- like sugar – ugh!). I may even create a page here just on the books I’d like to recommend (I’ll keep it to the books related to wellness though- no need to talk about my latest Agatha Christie read or the young adult books I’m thrilled to be rereading with my soon to be teenage son). Not only do I read a lot of books, but I tend to read quite a few at one time. I seriously have about ten books on my Goodreads book list right now as I type this…only four of which I believe are homeschool related (books I read with my homeschooled son). There’s a few that’s not even on that list.
So one of the many I’m reading includes one I picked up at Ollie’s just a couple weeks ago. I just started it, so I can’t really review the book here yet but I’m sure it will be good and it’s what prompted this post. It’s by one of the authors of It Starts With Food – which was the beginnings of the Whole30 ‘diet’. This one, however, is titled Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food by Melissa Hartwig.
Food Freedom Forever
The inside book cover states that this book is a “detailed 3-part guide to creating and sustaining your own version of a healthy, balanced diet for the rest of your life.” When I first saw the book at Ollies, I said aloud to my husband, “The last thing we need is ANOTHER book on the Whole30.”
We have It Starts With Food, which I highly recommend to everyone. It’s just so good at laying out in layman’s terms why some foods that are thought to be healthy really are not or that could be seriously preventing you from optimal health. I said this because not only do we have It Starts With Food, but I had (on that day) two Whole30 cookbooks at home and 2 or 3 that were Whole30 Approved not to mention several other paleo cookbooks. Well, now I have this one AND 3 more cookbooks. Yeah…I’m an addict.
So Food Freedom Forever discusses sustaining your own version of a healthy, balanced diet for life, right? Now I haven’t read the book yet (only about 3 pages of chapter one) but I can clearly see that Melissa Hartwig is very understanding that it is unlikely that anyone can completely follow, without any slips or intentional discretions, the Whole30 ‘diet’ or lifestyle perfectly for forever. But this book is about letting go of the anxiety over those ‘slips’ and having a mindset that those ‘slips’ are not bad and should not cause you guilt or cause you to sabotage all that you worked for.
That got me thinking about YOU and YOUR Wellness Basket. My Wellness Basket isn’t just about food. It’s about food, sure, because nutrition and saying goodbye to toxins in our food sources is indeed a big part of wellness. But My Wellness Basket (and yours) is not just about nourishment by food, it’s also about mindset, rest (physical and spiritual), movement and simplicity. And with all of that, I like to emphasize imperfect progress. That’s a term I learned a long time ago (from yet another book!) . That book is about dealing with strong, raw emotions, but I firmly believe the term ‘imperfect progress’ relates to not just emotions but everything we do to progress in life.
Guilt & Little Red Riding Hood
There’s very few of us, if any, that go about learning new things or applying new skills perfectly. We are bound to make mistakes, slip, and fall. Sometimes we abandon the path altogether, get lost and perhaps stuck in the woods with a wolf and hoping a woodcutter comes along. Hey if it happened to a sweet little girl in a red riding hood, it can happen to us. Metaphorically speaking of course.
I’m betting Little Red Riding Hood felt guilt. I mean there she was doing a great thing and let her temptations by flowers derail her from a perfectly good path and now she’s put herself and her grandmother in danger. Isn’t that what happens to all of us? There we are on our path – this time our wellness journey- eating well, taking walks, going to bed on time and then, Oh! Cake!
Suddenly it’s cake and pasta, and too cold to walk and staying up to watch Friends or Criminal Minds…
We got off our path.
But guess what? It’s OKAY!!! No guilt. It’s part of the process. It’s all part of the journey. Luckily for Little Red Riding Hood that woodsman came along and saved the day. And lucky for us, we can still have vegetables with our dinner tonight and we can still take another walk today or tomorrow. It’s okay if you find yourself off the path, to start again. It’s still progress.
It is NOT the end of the world and it’s not the end of your wellness journey. It’s PART of the journey.
Letting Go of Guilt
Over the course of our lives, we all do things we regret. I have. I’m sure you have. It’s part of the journey.
Guilt has a lot of power. It can really bring you down. It can turn one brownie into the whole pan. Or a second pan…
But if we develop our growth mindset, we can use that guilt to turn ourselves around. Guilt can help you acknowledge whatever actions led you off the path , and then fuel your motivation to get back on the path. Here’s a few tips on how to let go of the guilt, so you can get back to your wellness journey.
Acknowledge the Incident
Just acknowledging the incident or incidents can help set you on the right path again. Figure out when you got sidetracked. Was it Christmas and all the cookies? Was it winter and the cold and ice? Were you sidetracked with a smaller budget and couldn’t afford the extra supplements? Did something happen that caused you great stress or grief? It’s okay. Just acknowledge it and forgive yourself! I guarantee you are not the first to get off the path and you won’t be the last. Just acknowledge what it was, acknowledge that you are human, and keep working at it. Remember, acknowledgement is not criticism. Don’t sit there and hold a pity party or call yourself names. You’re just acknowledging you got off the path you wanted to be on.
I mentioned this above but I want to explore it a little more. You’ve acknowledged getting off track. Time to move on. But do be sure you have forgiven yourself for the slip or whatever you want to call it first. Don’t hold onto feeling bad or it’s likely to drag you down again. Acknowledge AND forgive. Remember you are just as human as anyone else. It’s okay.
Learn From The Slip
Some slips may take longer to fix than others. One piece of cake is a lot easier to recover from than the several pieces or one time incidents that turn into daily habits. But you can still forgive, learn and move on.
What can you learn from wandering off the path of your wellness journey? Well most of the time we wander off because of stress. So we can learn what things stress us out, how we typically respond to the stress and learn new patterns of dealing with it. Consider the following:
- What led you off the path to begin with? What were the stress or event triggers?
- Are there healthy ways to avoid that trigger? There may not be, but think about this.
- What would you do differently if the same thing happend right now?
- What support systems do you have in place to help you with this?
It honestly is that simple. Just start again. You make progress every time you do something healthy. Every time you choose to drink water or herbal tea you are making progress with hydration. Each time you take a flight of stairs instead of an elevator you are making progress. Every time you have a piece of fruit instead of the cake, you are making progress. And you know what? If you have the cake but you ALSO have a piece of fruit, some extra vegetables or a handful of nuts? That’s progress.
Acknowledge what’s going on, forgive yourself, learn from the event, and start again. Even if you have to start again every day, that’s what you do. Every time you start again it will get easier.
Change Your Mindset
The last thing you need to address is your mindset. I think part of the problem we all have is actually seeing every variance from the wellness path we have chosen as a slip or abandonment of the path. I said above, it’s PART of the journey. Not every slice of cake or brownie or lazy afternoon or even a week off of your wellness goals are a bad thing.
Why do we beat ourselves up for enjoying some simple pleasures? Why are they always considered bad? We only think that eating the cake or laying around watching TV all afternoon is bad because we listen to others tell us so. But if we’re just doing that once in awhile- is it really all that bad? Or is it giving our bodies a chance to rest? Is it giving our minds a chance to just enjoy something delicious because it’s a short moment in time? Unless you are allergic to something in the cake or have severe gluten sensitivity, one piece of cake is not going to break you. And if you are allergic, find a cake you are not allergic to. Have the cake. Watch the movie. Enjoy some simple pleasures. LET GO of the anxiety surrounding these things!
Enjoy them because they are part of your process. Don’t make them your habit. Make them your once in a while special treat because you deserve special treats. Let go of the guilt. ENJOY them. That doesn’t destroy your ability to walk your wellness path and stay on the journey.
What simple pleasures bring you anxiety or guilt? What’s something you can do to simply enjoy the pleasure, not feel the guilt, and maintain your wellness journey?