"Remind yourself that forgiveness is the opposite of weakness, and a sign of strength and progress." These words are written by a dear friend and fellow blogger, Lory Levitt, of Peninsula Family Coaching. These words have stayed with me as I've attempted to truly understand them and apply them to my own practice of "everything in moderation," or as some people like to call it, "the 80/20 rule." These two terms are both used rampantly in the nutrition world, both in positive and negative ways. But either way you slice it, they are both tied to a guilt or shame state of mind. After all, the point of these two phrases is to help us not feel shame or guilt about eating foods outside the parameters of the eating plan we are on. (No, I will not use the word "diet" very often. It's a personal pet peeve of mine and you can read more about it here.). Whether you follow Paleo, AIP, KETO, Whole 30 or any other eating plan there will always be times when we slip up. We can then say to ourselves, "Oh well, it's OK, everything in moderation, right?" Or maybe you don't follow any specific eating plan, but want to make yourself feel better about the choices you are making (or not really making, i.e. just eating on the run). You could easily tell yourself, "It's fine. 80% of the time I eat well. 20% of the time I eat... well, not so well." See what I mean? We use these two sayings to help us feel better and cover up any shame or guilt we carry.
The question then, is how, if forgiveness is a strength and not a sign of weakness, can we turn these phrases into ones of empowerment? Let's start with the notion that this has nothing to do with forgiving others, as Lory may have intended, but is about having forgiveness for ourselves. Next, for our purposes, we are going to focus on any guilt or shame we feel about how we nourish our own bodies and those we are responsible for (think spouses & children). Lastly, we will spin that guilt into empowerment by acknowledging it and tackling it.
So... what do I feel guilty about? Lots of things, if I'm being honest. However, this past week I learned a few lessons while my husband was out of town for work. Most importantly, I didn't feel guilty about anything I did this past week. What did bring me a sense of guilt was how I responded the moment Daddy WiseBites walked in the door; my mind and body shut down and habitual behavior patterns ensued. All week I'd been highly productive (5 or 6 Instagram posts from which I gained more followers than I had in the previous month, 3 fully balanced meals for our children and myself, plus fully balanced snacks to help them make it from school, to tutoring to 3 hours of gymnastics, dishes done, beds made, etc., etc.), I now just wanted to crawl into bed and turn the world off around me. The result being that I did not have breakfast or a lunch prepped for myself and the WiseBites kiddos did not have well-balanced, nourishing snacks prepped for after school/before gymnastics. Guilt riddled me. I had given in to fatigue. I'd let Daddy WiseBites be in charge. I'd given up my own power/voice. I'm sure a therapist would jump all over this. But, what I did next was new. I thought back to Lory's post. One option was to feel defeated by my inability to just keep going. Another choice was to use a phrase like, "everything in moderation" to help me feel better about the fact that after 5 days of going, going, going I deserved some rest. Or I could find a way to acknowledge that it felt really good to be so on top of everything. And, yet, it was something that I may need to build up endurance for. Maybe it's OK that Daddy WiseBites is so involved and helpful on a daily basis. I just need to communicate more clearly about what the kids and I need for food (especially after school). Now to empower myself, Mamma WiseBites.
I give myself permission to crash upon the return of Daddy WiseBites from a business trip. Next time, however, I will be prepped for the next day before crashing. Lesson learned.
I release any guilt felt from not being prepared. A break was needed and I learned a valuable lesson.
Forgiveness, personal forgiveness in particular, is a process that needs to be practiced. It's about learning from experience and mistakes. It's about finding the strength to make changes and make progress towards goals without feeling shame or regret. And, most certainly without the need of using any phrases to cover up shame or guilt.
What forgiveness can you extend to yourself?