“I’m treating myself for surviving another week of deployment.” “We’re celebrating a promotion.” “She’s finally home! Time to go all out.”
Does this seem familiar to you? It’s almost way too easy to use military life as a reason to celebrate – and over indulge.
From fancy steak dinners to decadent chocolate cakes to booze, there is always a reason to treat yourself when you live the military life. Promotions, homecomings of all kinds or even just surviving another tough week separated from your spouse. Anything can become an excuse to over indulge.
Do You Use Military Life to Excuse Overindulgence?
I’ve been there with you. During my spouse’s year-long combat zone deployment, I found a reason to treat myself almost every single day.
Survived the week? Red wine. Handled something without crying? Spoonfuls of cookie dough, straight from the giant, family sized tub.
Every weekend was a great excuse to enjoy a night out with my girlfriends, make a sweet treat or sip on something alcoholic.
I felt pretty good about my choices. After all, my spouse was deployed and I needed to survive this with a shred of my sanity intact. Numbing my feelings with my “treats” was a great way to make that happen.
Until I looked in the mirror and stepped on the scale a few months into the year.
Over Indulging to Numb Feelings
I had packed on a few pounds in just a few months thanks to my overindulgence. Clothes weren’t fitting as well anymore. And I looked a little worse for wear.
I realized that I had been treating myself to avoid dealing with the emotions of deployment, of being truly alone for the first time. It was easier to eat or drink than to actually confront what I was feeling.
Stepping on the scale and really looking in the mirror forced me to confront what I was doing to my body. I didn’t like what I saw and resolved to change.
Which was great, until my spouse came back.
Celebrations to Treat Yourself
Numbing with food or booze is common during deployments, but it’s also an easy habit to slip into when your spouse is home.
It starts with the homecoming celebration, foods they haven’t enjoyed or drinks they’ve been craving. But that could bleed over to enjoying all the local restaurants they’ve missed, too. So you end up eating out more often than not, to treat yourselves.
Before you know it, there’s a promotion in the works, farewell parties, baby showers, holidays and other milestones. Every occasion requires celebrating, right? And that means rich dishes and freely flowing drinks.
You don’t want to be a party pooper, so it’s easier to just join in than take a pass or BYO anything.
Eventually, treating yourself becomes a habit and a lifestyle. And military life has become the reason.
Breaking the Treat Yo’Self Cycle
Do you recognize yourself? Are you treating yourself all the time, creating a lifestyle around indulgences?
Yeah, I was right there with you. And every so often, I find myself slipping back into those routines. Old habits die hard, right?
When I notice that I’m over indulging, I also know it’s time for a personal reckoning. The first step is to hold myself accountable with a food journal and exercise tracking.
When I actually write down everything I’m eating and drinking, the results usually surprise me. It’s easy to overlook those sneaky bites of brownie or comforting cookies when you’re not taking notes. When you see your eating habits in black and white, it’s not so simple to ignore anymore.
I also take a good look at my fitness habits. Am I making it a point to move every day? What am I doing to account for what I’m eating? Weight loss and maintenance is all about balancing calories in with calories out.
Finally, I look at my calendar and appointments. I’m looking for notes about nights out with friends or dinner dates with my spouse. How often am I making a reason to celebrate?
Find a Celebration Balance
Life is all about balance. That’s true for celebrations, too. You can and should celebrate the milestones and victories. And a few nights out with friends, just because, never hurt.
But celebrating and nights out shouldn’t become your lifestyle.
Finding a good balance and making a plan for celebrations is essential.
Try to make celebrations matter. Pick out the milestones that matter to your family most and prioritize those moments. Plan a party, go out to eat and enjoy some desserts.
For other occasions, make a plan to treat yourself within reason. At neighborhood BBQs or farewells (or whatever you’re celebrating), plan to bring a healthy dish and limit your drinking. Enjoy a good time with friends, but also commit to your lifestyle goals.