Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Spike Theory: Vices to Virtues

Do you ever find that when you "trim the fat from life" that you're trimming the fun from it too?

If the answer is yes, then you're doing it wrong. If you aren't enjoying the life you live then what's the point of all the hard work you're putting into your nutrition and exercise? You have to take what you love in life and exorcise the bad until only the redeemable qualities are left behind. Sound familiar?

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer would think so. This is a guy who went from Big Bad to big damn hero all because he was able to change his point of view on how he wanted to "live" his unlife. You can do the same thing with the way you think about the "vices" in your life that prohibit you from reaching your health goals.

I used to spend my free time playing video games for 4-7 hours a day and eating whole pizzas, thai food, cheese fries, snacks, candy, and regular soda along the way. When I hung out with my friends, we'd always have some sort of over the top treat and I would go back for seconds or even thirds. When  I went to conventions, I would eat whatever was around and spend way too much money on crappy food that wasn't good for me followed by indulging in a big dinner when we got back to the hotel in the evening. I was in my Spike "slayer of slayers" phase. I didn't care what I was doing as long as I could do what I wanted, when I wanted to. That felt good to me.

Now taken alone, video games, socializing, and trips were not bad for me! It's the inactivity and overeating that accompanied these activities that made them toxic. Side note: This is why it drives me crazy when people like Bob Harper on The Biggest Loser equate the war on childhood obesity to a war on video games. That's a topic for another day. While temptation does tend to strike when I engage in these activities, the more you practice willpower, the more you strengthen that mental muscle and make it possible to view these these things as rewards for sticking one hundred percent to your diet and fitness regime.

When I first started my diet, I made a rule that I couldn't play video games and I would stick 100% to Nutrisystem food with no exceptions for the first month. I just wanted to break the patterns that I'd gotten used to. It was sort of like detoxing. I found myself CRAVING the games like crazy- more than I ever craved the food- especially MMOs. I took my diet food with me to group outings and it was great, but I did miss the ability to go out to dinner every once in a while. This was my "Spike with the chip" phase. My redeemable life of good health wasn't exactly natural yet. It was a little agonizing but when I figured out how to direct my energy so that I could still enjoy doing things I loved, it got a lot better.

In month two, I allowed myself to play video games, but only after I'd been to the gym for the day. I also allotted myself one meal "out" a week. That meal was never a splurge. It always met with the guidelines of my diet plan and I would research the menus ahead of time to make sure I was prepared to order healthy selections and set myself up for success. 

Then along came the holidays. I thought long and hard about how I'd handle all the tempting treats I knew would surround me. Did I need them to make me feel like I was a part of the festive holiday? I think that answer is different for everyone, but I determined that they were. Therefore, I decided that if the treats were about the holidays then they should only be allowed ON the day itself. Every other day of the season I stuck to my plan. I stuck to my guidelines for all the social outings in between and when those festive days came, I felt like I was completely deserving of a little reward. 

Conventions have turned into great rewards now that I cosplay because I work really hard on a costume and on my physique for months so that when I get to wear it, the whole event is a celebration of my hard work. I bring food with me so I'm not snacking on things I shouldn't be eating all day and in the evening I do the best I can to eat healthy while still enjoying a little vacation time with my friends. I like to think I'm in my "Spike gets his soul back" phase. I'm actively seeking out better health. Sometimes it's still a struggle, but it's one I chose and one I know I want to see the other side of. The only way I was able to push myself past the point where I normally would have given up was to accept the vices in my life and turn them in to virtues and rewards for pursuing my goals. If I keep at it, who knows? Maybe one day I'll have the power to run a marathon and destroy the hell mouth. I'm just taking it one baby vampire step at a time.

What can you do to "Spike-ify" your fitness and nutrition goals? If you have any tips or experiences to share, please leave them in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment