At 29, I was diagnosed with a genetic kidney disease. At the time, I was living a fast-paced life working in an international advertising agency that was anything but healthy.
After freaking out, I decided I needed to get my act together and start making healthy changes. I envisioned myself eating perfectly, completely banishing sugar, gluten and dairy from my diet! I saw myself going to the gym and exercising religiously every day! I believed that all my efforts would stave off this disease.
I didn't get very far. I would start the week eating well... only to completely let myself go and eat anything I could find a few days later. On days I was motivated, I would exercise vigorously... only to flop on the couch, unable to do anything the following days.
I was stuck in a Boot Camp or Club Med way of thinking.
In Boot Camp mode, my thoughts sounded like this:
If it isn't hard, I'm not doing it right.
I have to deprive myself.
I am never good enough.
I have to eat/exercise perfectly otherwise I am flawed.
No pain, no gain.
I can only move forward when I am hard on myself.
The problem with Boot Camp is it isn't very pleasant to be there. So when I couldn't take it any longer, I would swing over to the other extreme and go into Club Med mode.
In Club Med mode, my thoughts sounded like this:
It shouldn't be so hard.
I don't feel like making an effort.
I deserve a treat.
Who cares if I don't achieve my health goal -- I just want to feel good right now.
I realized that Boot Camp mode helped me step out of my comfort zone and move towards my health goals... but it is often motivated by fear and is tough, if not impossible, to keep up in the long-term.
Club Med mode felt good in the short term and kept me safely ensconced in my comfort zone... but didn't move me closer to my health goals.
This wild swinging from one extreme to the other was exhausting and did not even bring me closer to the changes I wanted to make.
I then discovered a third, much healthier way of making change through my Kundalini Yoga teacher, Ana Maria. Thanks to her tough yet loving approach, I realized I could push myself past my comfort zone AND I could do this from a place of kindness. I could make changes out of love for myself and my body rather than a fear of disease.
I call this way of being Yoga Retreat mode.
Through Yoga Retreat mode, I realized that a certain amount of discomfort is necessary for moving forward in life... and that this doesn't have to be extreme and painful (Boot Camp) or something to avoid altogether (Club Med). I started becoming a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable when I realized a craving or workout wouldn't kill me and could even help me move in the direction I wanted.
Stepping into Yoga Retreat mode has completely changed my way of eating. I no longer force myself to eat food I consider "healthy" but dislike, like seaweed, nor do I ban whole food groups like gluten or dairy anymore. In Yoga Retreat mode, I simply make decisions from a place of love and respect for myself and my body, even if this means the occasional cupcake. When I do eat something "unhealthy," I do so without guilt, savoring every bite and taking true pleasure in the experience.
Most importantly, Yoga Retreat mode is motivated by self-compassion even when there are set-backs -- even when I forget to eat mindfully 10 times and remember once. Yoga Retreat mode is about picking myself up, dusting myself off, reminding myself why I am doing this and taking action towards what is important to me.
Can you relate to this? What way of thinking do you find yourself in most of the time? How can you move more towards Yoga Retreat mode?
Hiba Giacoletto is a psychologist and health coach passionate about helping people create healthier habits through mindfulness, intuition and pleasure. She uses a unique blend of nutrition and psychology to help her clients lose weight, take control of cravings or simply have a healthier relationship to food -- without diets or deprivation.