Looks like spring, smells like spring, . . . is it spring yet? We never really know in Wisconsin. Spring is a time for new beginnings, for fresh starts. When it comes to eating, people love to “start fresh.” I think the phrase has lost its true meaning for many dieters. Consider this. If you really start fresh, you will not do it every Monday, every day, every . . . A true fresh start implies a dramatic leap in wisdom. We do not get those kinds of moments often, and when we do, they are life changing moments.
When we experience everyday types of disappointment in ourselves, I think it is better to look at it, release the judgment and guilt, and move on. The way I define it, “moving on” is the process of observing, noting any helpful conclusions – “I see myself eating when I am stressed. I think it might help to find a new stress management technique. Maybe I will try a yoga class” – and then continuing on with life.
I would argue that when we “start fresh” frequently, all we really are doing is pretending to move on, but really there is nothing fresh about it. Truly starting fresh would mean that you are actually doing something different in the long run. In other words, you are not repeating the pattern, be it a week-long pattern (behave all week, explode on the weekend) or some other stuck rhythm that continues. You may even want to jot down some notes to yourself about what you are trying to do differently to support better eating. Yes, put it behind you (that’s where it belongs!), but move forward with extra insight. That way there is actual MOVEMENT forward.
A fake fresh start just keeps you stuck. It is more of a denial, with a heavy dose of guilt and judgment. “I should never have eaten so much. I have no self control. Tomorrow I will start fresh and stop eating sweets (again!).” What is often the true observation is “I have absolutely no idea why that happened because I am not really looking for insight, so I really don’t trust myself not to do it again.” That is what the gut is saying, but it is often unconscious. If it became a conscious thought, it would naturally lead into a curiousity about what is going on, and some possible insight. Instead, a typical outward reaction to the guilt feeling is “I will just forget that happened and never do it again. Period!” There is no insight if the potentially helpful observation is never consciously acknowledged. Do you see the huge disconnect? How can that work?!
True fresh starts are dramatic and positive, but moving on with insight is not too shabby either. All of those little insights add up over time, creating real change. It just isn’t always obvious while it’s happening.