I knew they weren’t healthy, but I did it anyway


About 8 years ago I was teaching a Spinning class and feeling extremely nauseous. I thought I was going to vomit in front of the class. I hesitated to let the class know how I was feeling, but I decided to share what was going on.


Even though I was deeply ashamed, I told the class that I had eaten three doughnuts that day and thought I might vomit. Most of my students looked at me like I was crazy. Several of them told me that doughnuts aren’t healthy and that I shouldn’t eat them.


I felt like a complete idiot. Here I was a fitness teacher who “should” be a role model for health, but instead I thought I was a complete fraud. Of course I knew that doughnuts weren’t healthy.


Many of us eat foods we know aren’t good for us. It doesn’t matter how much we know about the nutritional value of food if we are using food for a non-food need.


What do I mean by a non-food need?


I can tell you for sure that when I ate those three doughnuts it wasn’t because I was hungry.


* The doughnuts gave me a temporary escape from the exhaustion of being a full-time mom.

* They gave me a chance to “be naughty” and break free of my restrictive dieting behaviors.

* They gave me satisfaction in the moment. A band-aid for my real issues.


What could I have done instead?


* Take a nap. I was seriously exhausted at this stage in my life. I never gave myself permission to nap because I thought napping was lazy. I have since learned the beauty of a 15 minute power nap.


* Sit down and slowly eat one doughnut at a time. I guarantee if I would have done this I would not have made it past the first one. The weird thing is I never really liked doughnuts. If I would have slowed down and paid attention, it would have been so easy for me to stop.


* Find another activity that would give me long lasting satisfaction such as calling a friend or going for a walk in nature.


Over the past few years I have dramatically changed my relationship to food. Yes, I went back to school and learned more about nutrition. But more importantly, I learned how to listen to my body. No matter how much I learned at school, if I still chose to ignore my bodies messages, I know I would still be stuck in a diet-and-binge cycle.


Two great things happened after my Spinning class that day. One, I didn’t vomit. I have to say I am incredibly grateful that I was able to hold it together for class.

Two, one of my students came up and thanked me for my honesty. He assumed all fitness instructors were always healthy eaters and was relieved to hear we are all on this journey to better health together.


A lot has changed since my doughnut days. My kids sleep through the night and I learned that getting enough sleep keeps my sugar cravings away. I left the gym to become a full time Health Coach. I have transformed my relationship with my body and food and no longer struggle with the diet-and-binge cycle.


I share this story with you in hopes that you realize that no matter where you are in your relationship with food and your body, you have the ability to make a change. It all starts with letting go of judgement and getting curious about why you are making the choices you are making.


Be gentle with yourself. You are not stuck. I believe in you.

One Response to I knew they weren’t healthy, but I did it anyway

  • Stephanie says:

    Your 3 reasons totally could have been written by me. I do find that being tired increases my likelihood to eat off the charts.
    Could you go a bit more in detail of how you take care of yourself so you don’t end up at the doughnut stand?

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The way you stressed making small measurable changes, made the goal appear a lot more attainable. The way you stressed making small measurable changes, made the goal appear a lot more attainable.

Michele Potter
Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture City of Gaithersburg