For the longest time, the return trip from vacation has involved more than my body traveling from here to there. My mindset goes on a trip too: from carefree to regimented and from joyous to guilty. The joy I experienced indulging in more wine and decadent food than usual turns into an overpriced souvenir called guilt. And my carefree vacation attitude transforms into a mental prison guard that says I must be “good” for at least a week post-vacay.
For me, being “good” has meant not eating sweets, not drinking alcohol, eating clean, working out every day, etc. I don’t know about you, but putting those types of restrictions on myself and feeling guilty about my amazing culinary vacation not only sucks; it’s exhausting. It consumes my mind space from the minute I wake up in my own bed to the time I crawl into my non-turned-down sheets at night.
Last year on our return flight from Bali, the mental transformation outlined above occurred, and I remember feeling a deep sense of dread my first morning home. (I just went to Bali and I’m feeling dreadful?!?! OK, that’s ridiculous!) Dread from the guilt and restrictions I’d be reminded of every time I had to make a decision of what to eat during the day. But then, I made a different kind of decision. A decision to not restrict anything. Immediately, I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me. (I make the decision sound like a snap of the fingers, but I’ll admit I’d been working with my therapist on this one 😉 ) And here’s the thing: when those restrictions went away, I didn’t run straight to the closest all-you-can-eat buffet. I just ate what sounded good, when it sounded good. I found myself WANTING to get back into my daily routine and filling my body with nutritious foods that fuel me. But if chocolate or cereal at night (yes, cereal at night) sounded good, I ate it. Guilt sometimes snuck back in, but I had to practice grace with myself and tell myself it was OK. And guess what, I turned out OK.
In my Beloved Body journey, I’ve been learning how restriction doesn’t work the way it’s intended, and it often has the opposite effect – binging or causing negative obsessions that suck the joy out of life. So, as I’m writing this on my flight home from my husband’s 40th birthday trip to Germany and London, I’m going to fight the urge to let guilt slip into the seat next to me, & I’m going to toss restrictions out the airplane window. And if this week I want to eat a piece of Halloween candy my daughter saved me, by golly, I’m going to eat & enjoy it.
Amy (@belovedbody on Instagram)