We are social creatures. It is within our human selves to possess this desire, this need, to be around others. As we grow into adults, one of the most common things we learn to love doing together is eating. A guy takes you out for a date & you are most likely having dinner together. You're playing cards at a friend’s house…you’re having snacks and drinks. A new promotion at work? Let’s celebrate with a big dinner out! If you take a moment to think about all the times you gather with family, friends or co-workers; at the center of it all is food (and hopefully some drinks too).
Never was this as clear to me as it was back in 2006 when I did my first (and last) figure competition. Following a plan for healthy eating and exercising is one thing. However getting ready to strut my stuff in what my mom refers to as the “most scantily clad” swimsuit she had ever seen me in....that is another thing. Getting ready for a competition like this takes true understanding of how the body reacts to food and exercise. It is a science. Every nutrient is counted and every “feeding time” is planned. Food is fuel and nothing more. Taste? What’s that? It really doesn’t matter when training for a figure or body building competition. What matters is how it will make you as lean as possible.
Sound like a little bit of torture? It kinda was. Here’s why.
Eating is a very social thing. It isn’t until restricting my eating to that level do we truly understand just how social it is. Not being able to eat what I wanted when everyone else was really stunk! It made me a little irritable and cranky at times. Fun times weren’t as fun…all because of food! Eating became a major pain in the butt instead of something that is meant to be enjoyed. Not being able to eat like everyone else actually made me slightly obsess over it. When that competition was over, I immediately downed 3 huge chocolate chip cookies in the car. These weren’t any ol’ cookies. They were left-over from a school party. I volunteered to take them home that Friday because I knew by Saturday evening, I would be "allowed" to eat them. Crazy, I know. The interesting thing is that had I been “allowed” to eat them at the school party, one cookie would have been enough. Instead, it took 3 to satisfy my craving a day later.
So what to take from this whole experience? Here’s what I have learned…
• Eating is a social thing, meant to be enjoyed with friends and family.
• Restricting yourself too much leads to moments of extreme irritability, crankiness and overconsumption of chocolate chip cookies.
• Allowing myself to enjoy occasional treats keeps me happy...which keeps hubby happy.
• It’s OK to make eating a part of socializing, but there are other things to do that actually burn calories instead of cost calories (bowling, golf, dancing, shopping, etc.). Food AND activity can be the central focus.
• Extreme dieting is not for me. I prefer a lifestyle of healthy eating, with occasional splurges. People who compete, you are awesome!
Just for fun, think about your eating this week and take note of just how socially driven it is. You might be surprised. It’s not a bad thing. It just is what it is.
Have a fabulous Tuesday!