I Got A Case Of The Easter Guilt... But Not Because Of The Food I Ate


When it comes to Easter the message was clear this year: enjoy yourself and don't feel guilty for letting yourself indulge. The message was spread all over social media, it was concreted into us" "Eat the food and don't feel guilty for it." I found myself with a different type of guilt this Easter. The guilt and disappointment of falling into old habits.

I was ready for Easter, I was ready for a day of tracking my macros and eating all the chocolate in the house- I was SO ready. The deal was I would track and eat like normal on Good Friday and Easter Saturday because I had no plans, but on Sunday I was not even going to look at My Fitness Pal.

You see, my past few Easters have been tainted with restrictive eating and punishment in the form of over-zealous exercise. I was determined that the healthy mindset I was in, that was going to continue all through Easter. I was sure that I was mentally strong enough to enjoy Easter without restriction.

Did I succeed in my hopes of having a guilt-free, non-restrctive Easter? Kind of. let me explain.

Elyssa circa Easter 2018

Ah, Easter 2018- a time of very little food and chocolate consumption, but a fair few alcoholic beverages and a whole load of guilt about it all. 
Around the time of Easter last year, I was in a very unhealthy relationship with food: I was consuming around only 1000 calories per day, I was cutting out whole food groups, following fad diets and I was strict on it all. I was in the mindset that restrictive eating was how I was going to feel good about myself.

We spend Easter break at the beach. Being away from home meant that I wasn't working out but that I was getting up early and going for very long walks and checking my Fitbit for calories burnt every few minutes. I would eat one-two very small meals, probably breakfast and lunch and then the rest of the time I would drink my vodka and sugar-free lemonade. I was in a terrible headspace when it came to food and exercise, I was hell-bent on losing weight and if not eating enough was how I was going to do it then so be it.  

I would go to bed most nights feeling guilty for consuming too many calories in the form of alcohol. I would be bloated and sore and I would force myself to get up in the morning for another long walk that burnt as many calories as possible. 

When we got home on the Easter Monday, I remember unpacking and then going straight to do a HIIT workout to burn as many calories as possible. I was beating myself up about all the alcohol and the few bits of chocolate and I was looking at that HIIT session as a punishment for not eating as restrictive as normal. 


Elyssa circa Easter 2019

As soon as I saw Easter coming up on the calendar I knew it was going to be a real test to how strong I was mentally, but you know me- always up for being competitive, even better if it is with myself. I am in such a good mindset when it comes to food now, I do track but only because I was not eating enough on a daily basis without it, I don't beat myself up for eating something that I once would have considered "bad". I stick by the 80:20 rule and I feel so much better for it. I was sure that this Easter was going to be a good one. 

Good Friday and Easter Saturday were just like normal days for me, I trained and ate like normal because I was still working like normal, for me it was just another day. On Saturday night I gave myself a little pat on the back as I realised I hadn't felt the need to "prepare" for Easter. I hadn't consumed fewer calories on Saturday to indulge on Sunday, I hadn't trained twice so I could not feel guilty about not training on Sunday. I was proud that I was going into Easter in a good mindset. 

Sunday

Sunday started off like any other Sunday- I went for my morning walk, it is my favourite day to do this, fewer people and fewer trucks to nearly run you over, as they race around the corners. I didn't walk any further than normal, I didn't check the calories I was burning, I didn't give it a second thought- it was just Easter. 

Here is where I started to slip.

Usually, on a Sunday I will do one of two things when I get home from my walk. 
Option A: I'll go back to bed and watch TV with Brodie. 
Option B: I watch Youtube in the lounge room while foam rolling my sore muscles and yelping when I hit a really sore spot. 

Instead, I told myself I had so much energy and that a quick HIIT workout wouldn't hurt anyone. Rest day- what rest day? I did the workout, purposely not putting too much thought into it. Once I finished I say on the bench and thought to myself "why did I just do that? It's Sunday, its rest day." I felt disappointed in myself for working out because subconsciously I knew I was going to eat unhealthily today. I was doing so well up until this point, why did I have to mess it up? 

I didn't want to spend the day beating myself up about it because hello it was Easter and the workout was already done now, so it was best to just get on with it, right? I gave myself a bit of a pep talk in the shower and assured myself that I would switch my rest day for a different day this week and there would be no harm done. It was time to get on with Easter. 

And then I skipped breakfast. I am now a breakfast person, not the actual breakfast types of food but I will eat it every day of the week. Except for Sunday. I told myself that I would eat enough at lunch and dinner to fill me up and that breakfast was pointless. If you had asked at the time I probably would have told you that I was too busy cooking food to take to lunch to eat breakfast. In reality, I was skipping a meal so I had less to feel guilty about during the day. Another old habit coming back to haunt me. 

I go to my parent's house and was disappointed again in myself for slipping so far back. Had I not made any actual progress? Instead of continuing the guilt, I shook my head and internally groaned. I was so much better than this. I picked myself up and told myself that I had to stop this behaviour but I also had to stop beating myself up for it and face the fact that there is going to be times I fall back into old habits, but I need to know how to pull myself back up as well. 

There are two types of guilt here:
1. The actual guilt of eating the food. 
2. The guilt you feel having guilt.

All of the guilt and disappointment I was feeling on Monday- that was in myself for letting myself slip back into old habits. I wasn't guilty of eating the chocolate, I was guilty of eating and letting myself feel bad for it. 

However, what's done is done. I skipped breakfast but I ate a million Easter eggs. I did a HIIT session in preparation for all the calories but I have myself time to rest and relax after it. I restricted my alcohol but I woke up on Monday feeling fresh as a daisy. 

I think it was naive of me to think that those habits wouldn't slip back in at all, and I need to accept that I am can't really get rid of them forever. I am grateful that they only come back in dribs and drabs and that's a huge improvement on Easter 2018. Now, for Easter 2020 I'll aim to improve on those habits and not give it all a second thought.

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