How often do you finish up a holiday or long weekend feeling guilty and weak from overeating? Rather than letting your guilt overwhelm you, why not grab a cuppa and settle down because we are about to share some surprising benefits of overindulgence as well as some key lessons that eating too much can teach.
Throughout the year, as coaches, we regularly hear people return from holidays and long weekends feeling guilty and terrible about eating (and drinking) too much.
With a cocktail of regret, shame, and resolve to “do things better”, we’ll often hear how “bad” they’ve been. And how ready they are to shape up once and for all.
But rather than getting admonished and told to “drink water” or “get more fiber” or “focus on clean eating”.
What you might actually hear us say is:
Maybe you needed to overindulge.
Why would a health, fitness, or wellness coach ever say that?
Because overindulgence has several important — and vastly underrated — roles to play in the bigger picture of health, fitness, and nutrition.
We have four lessons to share about overindulging and the things it can teach us. We’ll be sharing one to two lessons a week so make sure you check back in to find out more as the week goes on!
Lesson #1. “Slipping up” is a necessary part of change, progress, and success.
We often imagine change or “progress” as a linear graph, like this:
Every day, we get better and better, until eventually we’re perfect, fit, godlike creatures who’ve Got Everything Together.
In reality, change and progress look more like this:
We wholeheartedly embrace better food choices for a bit, then eat potato gems and bacon for a week, then ace our new habits for a while, and then a business trip throws us off for a minute, then we’re back on the horse…
From week to week or month to month, our cycles and rhythms are like a Slinky that’s been stretched like this:
We try something new and move forward, or upward, bubbling with excitement and energy.
Then we cycle. Life throws us a situation that tests our new approach. Progress pauses, or dips downward, or goes backward.
Up, down, forward, back.
There are a number of perfectly good reasons for this:
- Maybe we need to go back to re-open or revisit something — to reconsider an idea that didn’t grab us right away, or address a question we avoided answering when first asked.
- Maybe we need downtime — to think, reflect, regroup, reboot, or incubate something new.
- Maybe we need to regress briefly — to dip into our old selves or old habits and remember why we are building new ones, like visiting an ex to remember why you left them.
- Maybe we need to repeat something — to practice, drill, and/or test our skills under different conditions.
Or maybe it’s that we simply don’t have the skills yet to reach the next level of our progression and, like everything else in life, we need to accept that doing things badly is a necessary precursor to doing them well.
Regardless of the reason, weight loss progress can stop or even go the opposite direction. And that usually happens on the tail end of a stretch where we’ve put our exercise regimen on hold, or dived into a week-long food orgy.
That’s why almost every weight loss graph looks like this:
The trend is headed in the right direction, but the day-to-day and week-to-week fluctuations feel turbulent.
But that’s not because every single person trying to lose weight sucks, has no discipline, and can’t do weight loss correctly.
Rather, dips, plateaus, and everything in between are actually necessary.
Both physiologically and psychologically.
Perhaps that’s why they’re so normal.
Which leads us to…
*If you’d like to find out more about this research or even educate yourself in how you can understand the role of food in people’s lives, you might like to head to Precision Nutrition.