Comes the inevitable low…
So I’ve been very open about how I love my training, how it’s all going swimmingly and I’m rocking PB after PB…
I’ve been less open about the downs. But I get them too… So I’m sharing it today because there are some good lessons in it for everyone…
So, Saturday was the very best day, in case you haven’t heard. I smashed a brilliant competition and got 3 PBs.
But by Sunday morning things had already started to change… (Although I didn’t know it at the time…)
“I don’t know if I’ll ever have that kind of day again” I had said to a friend. It should have been a warning sign.
Then I ate a bagful of marshmallows.
And polished off 1/2 of a box of biscuits.
And ate 2/3 of a large Dominos pizza.
“But surely you can treat yourself after a good performance” someone said…
But this was no treat. I had pushed the self-sabotage button. Big style.
It continued for another 3 days: eating rubbish, not training, too many coffees, too much cake. A treat doesn’t end with you bent over double as your guts struggle to process the vast amount of sh!te you have devoured. A treat is a new pair of spike shoes. Or leggings. A treat doesn’t hurt you. It doesn’t set you 10 steps back from your objective…
I’ve written about self sabotage before here. It’s worth a re-read, I think.
I see episodes of self sabotage quite a lot with some of my clients.
- Like someone who eats well all week but then overeats and makes poor choices over the weekend.
- Like someone who loses lots of weight but then stalls when approaching a big weight milestone.
- Like someone who exercises 4 times in the first week and then fails to show up for a session in the next 10 days
In every single case, the problem is in our head. You see, we deploy self-sabotaging behaviours in order to short-circuit an emotional cascade. In general, something is going on in our emotions or in our sense of self-worth that isn’t getting dealt with.
So we pursue self destructive behaviour in the hope that physical sensations from these behaviours (the taste of food, pain from self-injury) will distract from the upsetting thoughts.
If I analyse what’s going (hindsight is always good)… I’m afraid. I afraid that that competition was a fluke, that I won’t be able to go any further this year, or even repeat that performance.
And if I extend this to some of my weight-loss clients the emotional cascade is often similar: Can I lose the weight? Can I keep it off? I’ve been here before, what if I don’t make it? What if I put it all back on again?
So many of us go through this… The key to nipping it in the bud is and working through it… before it is too late.
Here’s the strategy I’m using just now.
Understand What’s Going On!
This is pretty key. You need to understand what the warning signs are when you’re in a cycle of self destruction…
Start From a Position of Self-Love
This is something I’m changing in myself. I’d normally try to beat myself up into submission and back onto the plan with motivational slogans like “Fatso’s Can’t Jump” (true story).
I realised I wouldn’t talk to my clients this way, so why do I talk to myself this way?
So instead I’m trying to be more supportive.
- Understand that this is normal response to an emotion.
- Understand that there isn’t anything wrong with you.
- You’re not stupid or weak.
- Your response is actually a normal, human response designed to keep you safe and comfortable.
Deal with the Underlying Emotion
So once you’ve identified what’s going on and you’re being nice to yourself, identify the real issue. It’s normally going to be fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or even fear of success (recognise it in England in the semi final anyone?)
Articulate it. Be honest.
I am feeling a whole load of fear and uncertainty that last Saturday’s competition might have been the peak, the pinnacle. I am in unknown territory with still 6-7 weeks to go in the season. I fear I might not get another perfect jump, or another PB. I don’t know if I’m capable of anything more. What if this is it?
Or for a weight loss client this might be:
I have lost some weight but I am feeling a whole load of fear and uncertainty that I will put it all back on again. I feel I might want to cave in to having lots of treats. I miss ice cream and can’t imagine a life without it! I don’t know if I can keep going.
Apply Logic and Reason to the Emotion
Once you articulate the fear, it becomes easy to to see that it’s not based in logic. You should apply facts, figures (this is where training logs come in super handy) to break down this fear.
So I’m telling myself:
Last weekend was brilliant! You should celebrate that. You delivered everything that had been expected from you at this stage. This means that the training IS working. You still have 6-7 weeks of training until Malaga. All you need to do is rinse and repeat. Hill sprints, work. Weights, work. Trampoline jumps, work. All of this is repeatable. Just continue what you’re doing to get Stronger. Faster. Lighter.
And for a weight-loss client:
You have lost weight. That’s brilliant, you should celebrate that! You have stuck to the plan for x weeks. You can certainly do it for a bit longer. There’s no need to imagine a life without ever having treats / ice cream. You can have the occasional treat without putting back all the weight you lost. All of this is repeatable. Just continue doing what you’re doing…
And then finally…
Revert Back to the Plan or Behaviour that Alight to your Goals
So for me this meant binning all the junk food, stocking up on the meals that I enjoy (rotisserie chicken and veg!), going back to my breakfasts routine and starting training again…
And be nice to yourself. Strive for progress not perfection. So for example, today I’ve missed training because my tummy still hurts. I could have probably done it, if I’m honest. But I’m not going to beat myself up. I’m going to be nice to myself and celebrate my small wins: a fridge full of good food and no junk eaten today…
Build on this until you’re back in the game…
And you head is back in the right place…