Reaching Your Peak: Guidance to Keep You Moving Forward

My favorite place to hike: Franconia Ridge, NH
I love to hike, but I need to tackle hikes that are achievable. Hike Everest next Friday? That’s crazy! It’s so out of reach for my fitness level, for this time frame, and for my psyche, that I think, “why should I even bother to start training? I’m just not gonna make it”. But if I set realistic goals—attainable heights allowing for modest changes in elevation, I’m golden. Yes, small steps forward really work.

Now if I’m getting a bit fatigued on a hike or even a bit fearful, and I just feel like stopping, I’ve got to consider my options. Is it safe to hover, unprotected, unsupported, ¾ of the way there? Will I be left feeling like a failure because I turned back? Or can I pace myself as I continue up, perhaps accepting less change in elevation each hour, staying the course until I reach my goal? Of course, I have to continue to refuel to enable me to think sensibly about my options!

Gorgeous below, winter conditions at the peak.
Even successful recovery has its surprises.
As I near the peak my pace quickens. And then, at last, I reach it. I can survey the beauty at the top, shifting my perspective. And I can appreciate my achievement.

As for the descent—there are rocky times, to take this analogy further. And for me at least, there are plenty of slips. Truly, I struggle more with the downhill part of my hikes, perhaps due to my fear of falling. But experience proves I can do it. That I can pick myself up and keep moving. 

The view and the feeling from the top make it all worth it all.

“And what does this have to do with me”, you’re wondering?

Stopping Midway On the Weekends

You worked so hard all week, Monday through Friday, staying on track with your eating. For some, this means sticking, more or less, to a meal plan. For others it requires respecting hunger and responding appropriately, distinguishing hunger from a range of other eating triggers.  You pushed past the challenges of social eating. And you countered your unhealthy thinking which leads you astray. You know, the thoughts of “I’ll just get back on track tomorrow” or “So I skip a meal—so what?” Or “What the heck, I’ve already messed up—I may as well keep going since I’ve already blown it!”

So you cut yourself some slack on the weekends. You deserve it, right? What’s a couple of day’s offgoing to matter? Or maybe you’re just tired of working on your eating, or controlling your activity or your behaviors. As one teen patient expressed, “I’m not about to have this take over my life”, with “this” referring to his time-consuming recovery.

I hated to tell him, but that is absolutely what he needed to do—to have recovery take over his life. Yes, for right now, eating needs to be elevated to the number one priority. In addition to medical appointments, there is nothing more important than focusing on meeting your body’s needs.

You want to be present to assist your kids or an ailing parent? You’ve got to nourish yourself first. You want to feel well physically and take control of your health—to have more energy, to regain your fitness, to prevent a wealth of consequences from a poor diet? (Regardless of what side of the scale you weigh in at). Then you’ve got to shift priorities.

Sure, I know it’s more challenging for most of you on weekends. There’s the lack of structure, the shift in sleep schedule, and the need to be flexible. There’s the social eating, and perhaps drinking. And the fact that everyone’s needs may come first on your days off. Slips will, of course, happen.

But consider the consequence of a bigger slide. Recurring slips on the weekends mean you’ve got to work even harder to get back on track on Monday. View Saturday and Sunday as opportunities to check out, and you will slip into viewing your week in black and white terms; you’ll be eating in two phases—“on track” or “off track”, “in recovery mode” versus “off recovery mode”—far from the moderate sensibility we are striving for.

You’ll feel more discouraged with this repeated process, taking one step forward and two steps back. You’ll continuing to think you’re working so hard, while failing to acknowledge that you’ve lost a lot of ground on your day’s off.

It's a lot easier with support along the way!
There’s no checking out for the weekends. There’s no stopping half way toward recovery, or toward normalizing your relationship with food. It can’t be a 9-5 job. And if you give in to this downward pull, it will only make things more challenging. You’ll have to psyche yourself to start the process again, to begin the climb from the start. You’ll be investing a lot more resources—both time and mental energy. And ultimately, you’ll have a lot more ground to cover!

Really, it’s a lot easier to move slowly to the top, with a few supports along the way.

Thoughts? Please do share!

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