I’ve never been to a BC lake (the ocean is more than enough water for me) but we’re in the mood for some warmer waters, and are headed to Lake Alouette for the day.
When I woke up, I thought, eh… a lake day is an excuse not to run.
Peanut butter & honey sandwiches and warm water and tan skin, here we come.
Look, it’s the return of Over-Analyze Ben Davis time!! But I can’t help it. It’s like he goes that extra mile to provide really good examples of mental traps. Can you see it there?
“When I woke up, I thought, eh… a lake day is an excuse not to run. “
What the heck? Why would you even be looking for an excuse not to run? Why would you do that? And also, a lake day? I mean, a sore ankle or foot, a messed-up hip or hamstring — these are excuses not to run. Exhaustion, dehydration, illness — good reasons not to run. Visitors from out of town who are arriving or departing at odd hours, okay, maybe an obstacle to getting in your run. But a lake day? Come on, man. You just didn’t want to run. ‘Cause that is no excuse at all. You just didn’t want to run.
So what’s the trap here? The trap is not being honest with yourself about what you really want. If it’s beautiful weather out and conditions are really perfect and you just don’t want to run, then maybe you don’t really love running. Maybe running is not the right thing for you. And that would be completely okay! But only you know the honest answer to that. And you have to tell yourself the truth.
I think people get these ideas in their heads, like, “I have to do the elliptical,” or “I have to run,” or “I have to do squats.” No. There’s no “have to.” You can do whatever you like to build muscle and work your heart and burn some calories and make your blood move. And whatever it is, you should like it. You should like it enough that if someone says, “hey, let’s go get a slice of cheesecake,” you answer without hesitation, “I’d love to but I gotta go to my slack-lining class.” (Hey, let’s go to the lake today? I’d love to; why don’t I go get my run in while you pack the cooler, sweetie!) Maybe Ben and Brooke should be doing Salsa dancing. Maybe Ben secretly wants to do rock climbing or jujitsu. I don’t know the right answer. But if, on a beautiful sunny day, his first thought is, hey, what a great day to skip my run, then he needs to take a closer look at his own mental situation.
And in conclusion, I will say this: thanks so much to the great Ben Davis for sharing his journey so honestly with us. It is really helpful to us all to have such great material to work with. And I hope if we ever meet, you don’t punch me in the face.
I always struggle with transition periods. Like anytime I either A: go on a trip somewhere or B: come home from a trip, for the first two or three days (weeks) I’ll justify my terrible eating using the whole “I just got home, I’m too tired to eat right and run” or “vacation just started, I’m going to relax and order a pizza.”
Buckled down today though and knocked out the run followed by this incredible meal made mostly by Brooke (chicken, asparagus and rice) but a little by me (I made the broccoli and cauliflower).
Packed the vegetables on—extra filling.
As long as it’s “let’s over-analyze Ben Davis week,” I say, why not over-do it like I typically do? This post is a picture-perfect example of mental progress-blockers in action. It does happen to be from the famous Ben (hi dude) but in fact, I’m sure you will agree, it could have been written by any one of us.
So let’s look at that pithy first paragraph now. I always struggle with transition periods. So he observes a pattern in his own behavior. This is excellent. But he ignores this golden opportunity to learn something about himself and doesn’t dig into it at all. Why do you struggle with transition periods? What is it about those moments that makes you want to eat bad shit/stop paying attention to your body? Is there some anxiety associated with it? Did you learn this pattern from someone in your life? There’s seriously multiple blog posts’ worth of material right in that one little sentence. Also, in passing, let’s note that classic little problem many of us struggle with - black and white thinking. “I always… ” Is that ever really true? Absolute-ist thinking is a great way to trap yourself mentally. So that’s actually, now, 3 great problems in one short sentence. One, the problem with transitions, two, the not digging into problem one, and three, black-and-white thinking.
But there’s more! Like anytime I either A: go on a trip somewhere or B: come home from a trip, for the first two or three days (weeks) I’ll justify my terrible eating using the whole “I just got home, I’m too tired to eat right and run” or “vacation just started, I’m going to relax and order a pizza.” So he observes the problem a bit further. He has this problem both when he enters a vacation-y sort of setting AND when he returns home. Most of us have the first problem. The second’s more unusual and hence a bit more interesting to me. He clearly understands that he’s eating badly and he also understands that he’s justifying/rationalizing this behavior with bullshitty excuses. He provides excellent examples of these excuses, too.
“I just got home, I’m too tired to eat right and run” Huh, it sounds almost reasonable. Except for the way it reveals an underlying problem: if you have done your homework properly, when you are home there is no other way to eat but the right way. Because your pantry will have NO crap in it, your fridge will have NO crap in it, and your freezer will have NO crap in it. You will go in your kitchen and all you will see is almond butter, carrot sticks, beef jerky, etc. Or perhaps you have to go to the grocery because there’s nothing left? Then guess what? It is not faster to buy garbage than it is to buy good food. Even if you are starving and need to eat right now, well, again, almond butter and carrot sticks are actually just as fast as ice cream or chips. So that is one mental issue there. “I’m too tired to cook” is really not a good reason to eat poorly. Part of the work you do in planning to succeed at weight loss is to fix up your environment and keep it fixed. “I’m too tired to eat right” is really just a way of saying, “I prefer to eat crap right now.” Which, okay, I suppose we all want to eat crap sometimes and maybe it’s okay to just go ahead and do that once in a while. But again: crap food is not really tastier than good food. It’s false thinking. It’s just not true. Homemade food is better than crap food. Fresh, unprocessed, healthy food is delicious. Letting go of attachments to things that no longer serve us is an important part of making progress. (Also one last thing: too tired to run does not mean it’s time to slump on the couch. It means it’s time to do yoga. Just sayin.’)
So now we’re practically into TL;DR territory, aren’t we? But there is still more! “vacation just started, I’m going to relax and order a pizza.” Again, it almost is reasonable on the surface. On my rare vacations, I don’t cook either. I love to relax! But I don’t order a pizza. Because grains and dairy are not on my eating plan, so there is simply NO situation in which I will eat them. There is always something on the menu that you can order which is on your eating plan. Order the damn salmon and broccoli, dude. Order a steak. Order sashimi and seaweed salad. Relaxing is not code for “abandon all standards.” This idea revealed here, that standards of self care may be set aside at moments when we are relaxing, is deeply destructive! There is NO moment when a sick person can relax and not take her medicine. I am not saying that Ben can never have pizza again. I am saying that Ben clearly defines “relaxing” as “a time when I don’t have to pay attention to the rules that I chose for myself.” That’s not what relaxing means, dude. If a person wants to choose to have a slice of pizza, that’s one thing. If a person has a false and destructive idea lodged in his head, that’s a classic progress-blocker. Unless Ben confronts and gets rid of this idea, he literally can not relax because every time he does he will do this same thing to himself.
And yet I am still not done. There’s also some technical issues on view in the photo. Ben says he packed on the vegetables. But in fact, the whole center of the plate is occupied by white rice. The veggies are sadly squeezed to the sides. Come on, man. You know perfectly well you should have, like, 4 times that many vegetables on your plate. Also the chicken seems to make up the smallest portion of the meal. Why? You are a big, young, muscle-y man. You should be chowing down on protein like a beast and you know it.
So there you have it. This simple post, upon analysis, reveals at least 6 serious progress-blockers on display. If you are having trouble making progress, take a look at your thinking. The answer is there, 100%. (And if you really love public embarrassment I am always happy to take you on for shits and giggles.)
And my sincere thanks to Ben. I apologize for doing this to you. But seriously, I couldn’t have created a better example post from scratch. So thank you for generously and honestly sharing yourself with us.
Ok people I need some honest opinions here. I started this blog after reading Ben Davis’ story of weight loss and his journey to strength. He is the whole reason I started to do life. If he lost weight. I could lose weight (shut up, I’m still working on it)
Now forgive me. But… is it just me or is Ben getting fat again?
Here’s the thing about Ben Davis, as far as I can make out. I mean, I haven’t tumblr-stalked him back to the first post. So maybe I missed it. But in my experience, and I have been working on it for more than 6 years, weight loss is really a mental game. I don’t mean that you lose weight via the power of your mind. Obviously not! But it’s more that if your mind is not on board for any reason, you won’t lose weight, or else you will re-gain it.
Ben has done an insane amount of exercise. But I’ve not noticed a whole heck of a lot of posts about the psychological work involved. Just at the top, there’s the part where one must dig deep to understand what drove the overweight process in the first place: why did you seek comfort/love/protection/whatever in the pantry? Then learning to heal those issues without recourse to food. Forgiving anybody who might have contributed to those issues. (Hello, Pa Davis.) Just these steps can block most people’s progress. But there’s plenty more. Mourning the old lifestyle that must remain dead forever. Mourning the old self and also forgiving the old self for everything. (That one’s a tough one, the forgiving.) Letting go of self-loathing so that all of your actions can now come from a place of self-love. Learning to actually see the new self, another very tough step. (I’m obviously working on this one myself right now.) Learning to understand and accept one’s new position in society. Accepting the way that one’s relationships with close family and friends may be impacted by all these changes. Working through any ambivalence or outright prejudices that one might be harboring about fatness or thin-ness. And of course on a technical level, one must learn how to eat for maintenance which is not a negligible challenge.
This is just what I can think of off the cuff right now. I’m sure there’s more. Particularly since I have not gotten all the way down the path myself, so there’s bound to be some things I have not even gotten a glimpse of yet.
Ben’s only human, and he’s young, too. Doing all this emotional work is extremely difficult and there’s really not a lot of good instruction on it out there. Believe me, I have been looking. I mean, there are a few books. But not much. And very few people have written memoirs detailing the psychological journey of weight loss. They really gloss it over. So the whole thing is quite isolating. It seems as though nobody can understand or relate to it at all. So it’s quite a challenge to get appropriate support, when you don’t need someone to say, “get your ass out there and run,” but rather you need someone to say, “what is really bothering you right now? You need to face it and release it.”
So that is my take on the Ben situation. My take is: it’s really not at all surprising he has gained some weight, because he still has a crap ton of personal work to dig through. Good luck, Mr. Davis! I’m rooting for you.