“I will start day one again on Monday.”
“I blew it! It’s back to day one tomorrow.”
“I am ready to get back to eating healthy. Day one starts today!”
I hear those words often in recovery circles, and I try as hard as I can to help members understand that continuously starting over and over and over again can actually hamper their recovery. Here are some of my reasons for arguing against the tyranny of Day One, despite its ever-burgeoning popularity.
1. Day One is a leftover from dieting mentality. A diet starts and stops. We begin a diet on Day One. We start a new diet on Monday or on New Year’s Day on our 4oth birthday. Recovery, though, is something we do every single day. This is not a diet, it is your life. Live it. If you fall down, get right back up again. There is no need to start over.
2. The continuous act of starting over again can be dispiriting and lead to apathy. How many times have you thought or said, “Well, I am back to Day One AGAIN?” After awhile it can make us feel like we will never get it right. We will always fail and have to start over.
3. Knowing that tomorrow is Day One can lead us to bingeing today. In dieting mentality, if you “blow it,” you have ruined your day. That is, you have gone over your total number of carbs or calories or fat grams or whatever you are counting. This way of thinking can lead to a “what the heck!” mentality and promote bingeing for the rest of the day, which easily add up to days, weeks, and longer. Instead, if you slip, make the right choice at your very next meal or snack. One bad choice does not deserve another.
4. The idea of Day One suggests that every day that isn’t a perfect day is a bad day. In reality, we are all striving to do the best we can one day at a time. Every single day is different. If we lived each day like we hope to live Day One, we would not be human.
5. Day One is a myth. In truth, the Day One we plan for and hope for and believe in is really just a fable. It is a day full of sunshine and roses and perfect food choices and exercise and meditation and love and …. You get the idea. Don’t fall into that trap. High expectations almost always lead to big-time letdowns. Don’t do that to yourself.
So, if we throw the idea of Day One out the proverbial window, then how to we voice our need for a fresh start? Easy. Each day, the first thing I do before getting out of bed is count my list of blessings (or things for which I am grateful). I then take a deep breath and say a little mantra for a good day. Then, I go out into the world and live my very best life.
I do keep track of the day I entered recovery. I don’t think of it as Day One, but rather, I think of it is the day I started loving myself. The day I finally accepted that I could not go on non-living my life. The day I woke up from 28 years of suffering from binge eating and food addiction and decided to love myself just as I was THAT very day. Not when I arrived at my goal weight. Not when I looked beautiful in a size whatever dress. But right then.
I have stumbled. I have fallen. I have even slipped right off the cliff during my recovery, but to start over at Day One? Never. Day One is for dieters. It is for people who want to shock and impress others with before-and-after photos that often hide the misery that still lurks inside. Day One is for people who think that one day they will be able to live a “normal” life when it comes to food. Day One is for people who think that perfection is the only route to the good life.
I prefer to live today as it is. Good, bad, ugly, and everything in between. There will be no other day like today, and it is the only day that is a given. I am living it. I am not wasting it away planning for the perfect me to show up and live out Day One over and over again for the rest of my life. Come out of the shadows of dieting culture. It is nicer over here.
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