The Vicious Cycle of Bad Health Decisions


Last Wednesday I went out for Mexican with some friends for one of my lifetime friend’s going away dinner (she moved to sunny Springdale, AR).

In the grand scheme of things Mexican food is actually a semi-easy cuisine in which to find a healthy option. If you can will yourself to forego the cheese sauces, piles of sour cream and guacamole, and limit your pre-dinner chip and salsa snacking to a reasonable amount, there are actually quite a few options that are grilled, veggie packed and not totally calorie laden.

My problem with Mexican actually doesn’t lie in making a smart dinner decision. Numerous dinners of practice has helped me gain control on the chip front, and my stomach hates me if I try to go for much of anything other than vegetable fajitas (although sometimes, like this night, even those fail me). No, my problem with Mexican involves the accompaniments. I’m talking liter sized cervesas.

A beer that size does two things for me. One, it provides a refreshing beverage that perfectly complements my delicious Mexican feast. And two, it gets me just to the point where I really want “just one more”. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had the will power to stop myself when reaching that precipice. And thus begins the vicious cycle of bad health decisions.

We have a term in our family, which may not be unique to us I don’t know, but it’s called “feeding the beast”. It’s that feeling after a night of drinking (unrelated to the amount really), that leaves you starving the entire next day in spite of your best efforts to rehydrate, treat it with greasy food, treat it with healthy food or treat it with a good long nap.

Having tested out New Belgium’s winter ale, five times (just to be sure I liked it you know), and enjoying my Mexican cervesa at dinner, I awoke this morning feeling exhausted, and with the tell tale signs that the beast was in me. I tried sipping on soda water, then coffee, then made eggs and toast, then ate leftover broccoli and cauliflower mac ‘n cheese and a big lettuce salad, and STILL by 2:00 my stomach was growling for more, and my plans to get back to the gym started to slip away.

It’s in moments like these that I get very agitated with myself. We are constantly given new chances to make smart healthy decisions. You make the decision to stop eating the chips. You make the decision to peel yourself away from cheese and bean filled burritos and opt for grilled vegetable fajitas. You enjoy a mug or two of beer…and then you stop. Because I made a bad decision it has now snowballed into additional bad decisions. Instead of waking up refreshed, looking forward to my daily juice and hitting up the gym for a much needed sweat sesh, I gobbled down eggs and white bread, noshed on lots of cheese and cheesy foods to try to satisfy my hunger, and as I sit here now I know I will not be going to the gym. On top of all of it, all I want is a nap, which I refuse to allow because if I am not going to work out I at least need to be productive.

Being unhealthy is really just a slippery slope. It’s understandable that so many fall off the wagon so easily because with each poor decision it becomes easier and easier to make another one. Without the momentum of a build up of smart choices, stopping that runaway train and trying to turn back can be very difficult, especially if it the actual first healthy decision you are making in a very long time.

I’ve reached a point in my health journey where my body has become very sensitive to being mistreated. Well that or I have become more aware of how my eating habits affect me. I’m thankful for this constant alarm system because it helps me get back on track, if for no other reason than I don’t want to feel like crap anymore.

A bad health decision doesn’t have to become a permanent one. <– my new hangover mantra 🙂

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