When You Fall Off the Self-Care Wagon

Written By: Erin Bach

I talk a good game about self-care and listening to my body, but the day-to-day reality is that this shit is hard, and old habits of judgement, comparison, and doubt do not die easily.

No matter how many books I read, journals I fill, or hours I spend meditating, when I’m tired, overwhelmed, and hormonal, sometimes my wise self gets drowned out by my screaming need for chocolate. And when leftover Halloween candy is in the house, it is not a pretty picture. Basically, that was me last week.

Don’t get wrong, I’m all for dessert. But dessert should be delicious and savored and make you feel good, not scarfed down mechanically while half-watching old episodes of “How to Get Away with Murder.”

So there I was, still tired, still overwhelmed, still hormonal, and now stuffed with sugar that only made me feel bloated and disgusting, and in the back of my mind I kept hearing my bitchy inner critic saying, “You know better.”

Yes, I do know better. I know what feeds my soul and what feeds my insecurities. I know that emotional eating usually leaves me feeling shittier than before. I know it’s a coping mechanism that I (as well as millions of other women) have deep shame around. I also know that beating myself up over it is only going to make the toxic cycle continue. So I won’t. Not this time.

I’m not going to be mad at myself for eating candy that made me feel gross. I’m not going to research or commit to a new diet to punish myself. I’m not going to get upset that my jeans felt a little tight for a few days. I will notice and note all of these feelings, but I will not use them against myself.

Because all of those actions will only lead to lower self-esteem, lower self-trust, and ultimately more emotional eating when I inevitably don’t live up my perfectionist standards (don’t get me started, that’s a whole other article).

Last week, I wrote about giving yourself permission to do what you need to do. Today, I’m giving myself permission to be gentle with myself.

Many of us have diet culture mentality so ingrained in us that even if we’ve seen the light and given up dieting, we still subconsciously hold on to the ideas like “slipping up” or “falling off the wagon.” But what if there was no wagon? What if we just noticed how it made us feel, and then moved forward, holding ourselves a little softer for awhile?

Kindness is the only way back to trusting ourselves and treating our bodies with love. And when we move forward from a place of love instead of fear, we move toward a place of deep nourishment and fulfillment that can’t be undone, not even by a bowl of bite-size Twix bars.