Which Day is It?
I recently read Jon Acuff’s book , Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done and it got me thinking about the most important day in your Bright Line Eating® journey. In this great book, Acuff poses the question of what is the most important day in the process of working toward your goal.
Is it the day you start?
Is it the day you finish?
Or is it the day you realize you need to make a change?
None of those are the right answer he concludes. Rather, the most important day in working towards your goal is what he calls “the day after perfect.” This is the day after you fail in your commitment to working towards your goals.
I think the same can be said about your Bright Line Eating® journey. Your most important day is not the day you started reading the book or your first day of boot camp. The day that becomes the most important day in your journey is the day you break your bright lines.
It is Not Inevitable
Now just to be clear, not everyone who does Bright Line Eating® will break their bright lines. Many have gone years in their journey and have never broken a bright line. It is very possible to achieve that. In fact, you can be one of those people. So don’t think that breaking your bright lines is inevitable. It is not.
And if you have never broken your bright lines, then your most important day very well may be the day you found Bright Line Eating®. Or it may be the day you signed up for boot camp. Or it may be the day you decided to make a change. I’ll let you decide.
Your Most Important Day
But if you do have a day when you break your bright lines, then this becomes your most important day. It is your most important day because this day more than any other will determine your success going forward. What you do from here could mean the difference between becoming a Bright Line Eating® rock star or continuing to struggle with obesity the rest of your life.
So what do you do if your break your bright lines?
Let me suggest that you Stop, Drop and Roll.
The first action step you should take if you break your bright lines is to stop as soon as possible. Yes, I know this is the most obvious advice you’ve ever received. But here’s the deal, when we break a bright line we tend to shatter that line. We don’t just have a bite or two of something we shouldn’t, we all out binge.
That is because when we break our bright lines our brains have a hard time focusing on the big picture.
Here’s what happens. When we break a bright line there are two prices we pay. We pay an emotional price and we pay a physical price. The emotional price, though temporary, is the most painful and immediate so that is what gets all of the attention. The physical price is not immediate so that tends to get ignored.
We start acting like a child who played in mud puddles on the way home from school. She knows she’s in trouble when she gets home, but she’s already soaking wet so she mine as well enjoy every mud puddle along the way. In other words, she knows that playing in five or ten more mud puddles will make no difference in the consequences she’ll face when she gets home.
This is exactly how we act when we break our bright lines. In the dieting literature, this is what is often referred to as the what-the-hell-effect. Once we break our bright lines we figure, “What the hell, I’ve already failed (emotional price) so I may as well enjoy binging while I can. I’ll get back on track later.”
But guess what?
There is a difference between that little girl who played in the mud and us after we break our bright lines. Her logic is impeccable, but ours sucks.
Once she was soaking wet and filthy her consequences weren’t going to get worse. But ours will. The longer we play in the mud the more calories were putting in our bodies and the more we are training our brain in the wrong direction. Our consequences (physical price) continue to get worse and worse the longer we play in the mud.
So if you do break your bright lines, stop playing in the mud as soon as possible. Although the emotional price may not get any worse, the physical damage will. Remind yourself that the sooner you stop, the better off you’ll be.
And, yes, I know that this is easier said than done. It is hard to focus on the long term physical consequences of our actions when our immediate emotional consequences are so painful. And that brings us to step number two.
The second action step it to drop the negative self-talk.
When we fail to live up to our own standards or commitments we can be very hard on ourselves. We say things and think things about ourselves that we would never say or think about a friend in the same situation.
And according to many experts, self-talk matters. It matters because we tend to believe what we tell ourselves (even when it may not be true) and then this effects our actual behavior. As Susan Peirce Thompson (SPT) explains in her book, Bright Line Eating®, when it comes to negative self-talk and food, “Shame over eating leads to overeating.”
So what should you do to drop the negative self-talk? The key seems to be self-distance and self-reflection.
First, you need to mentally distance yourself somehow from the negative self-talk. SPT suggests talking to yourself like you would a good friend who is in a crisis – with grace, compassion and understanding. Another strategy supported by research is to refer to yourself by your first name rather than the pronoun “I.” This creates some additional self-distance and makes it more likely that you’ll be able to think more objectively.
A strategy that I like to use (though I don’t remember where I picked it up) is to use the phrase, “I notice myself thinking…” For example, after breaking a bright line you might have the thought, “I’ll never be able to do this. I’m worthless.” So what you would do when you have that thought is to think to yourself, “I notice myself thinking that I’ll never be able to do this and that I’m worthless.”
By using the phrase, “I notice myself thinking…” you automatically put yourself in the position as an observer. And as an observer, you can more easily self-reflect on the accuracy of your negative self-talk.
The second step after self-distancing is to do some healthy and gracious self-reflection and correction. After noticing what you are saying to yourself, spend a moment and correct the negative self-talk. In this case you might say, “I may have some setbacks every now and then, but I CAN do this. I have a brain that struggles with food addiction, but I am worth the effort to overcome this addiction.”
By distancing yourself from the negative self-talk and allowing yourself some time for accurate self-reflection, you will be in a much better place. You will be able to more easily forgive yourself and get back to following your bright lines.
The final action step when we break our bright lines is to roll with others.
When we fail, we like to isolate ourselves and wallow in our shame. We need to fight this urge. Without the encouragement and support of others we will be slower and less likely to get back to our bright lines.
Reach out to your accountability partner or mastermind group. Hop onto your boot camp Facebook group and share your struggle. Bright Line Eating® works best in community.
Seize the Day
So if the day comes when you break your bright lines remember that that day is now the most important day in your Bright Line Eating® journey. Do not give up. Do not take a break. Instead, stop, drop and roll. By doing so you will more quickly get over this speedbump on the road to becoming the best version of yourself.