Breaking the cycle of “deserving” or “earning” food
As often as I can, I try to spend some quality time with some of my favorite people in Rome. Even though Milan and Rome are only 3 hours apart on the fast train, I don’t get to Rome as often as I’d like. On a trip there during the fall, many hadn’t seen me since the summer prior, and I was happy they noticed a difference.
We stopped by a Sicilian pastry place I like; they have a delicious cassatina, a ricotta, sugar and almond paste cake from Sicily. I like them a lot (see exhibit A to the right).
A friend, probably trying to encourage me despite my weight loss progress to order one, said, “Get one. You’ve earned it!”
While she meant well, inside I was saying, No. No. I haven’t earned anything, and that’s not why I’ll get one. (spoiler: I did order one, and it was delicious).
I’m not immune to the feeling of “being good” and wanting to reward myself. But as I talked about in other posts about non-food rewards, it’s really important that we break the cycle of thinking that exercising is being “good” -> reward self with food -> exercising the calories “off” because you were “bad.”
Muscles also require more calories to be maintained rather than just eating a deprivation diet. But that’s not why I work out. I work out because I want to keep my mobility and strength.
Muscles help me do practical things like climb stairs instead of standing still on the escalator, walk around for hours without getting tired, and lift that suitcase over my head easily which I’ve stuffed with gifts and treats. Eating less will help you lose weight but it won’t make you strong.
So I’m working hard on breaking that cycle in myself and in friends, too. When I’m hungry or craving something, I don’t think about if I’ve just worked out that day, or if I will tomorrow. I think first about how I’m going to eat differently to balance things out. I’m working hard on keeping eating and exercising on two different mental tracks.
Exercising !=(is not) burning what I eat. Exercising == strength and health.
and Eating != a reward because of my workouts (though this is an important thing to make sure I get enough fuel pre-and-post-workout), but rather Eating == pleasure and fuel, and a continual and conscious balancing of the two.
What do you think about earning or deserving food?