patrick star burgers

(GIF: Gifrific)

When I first started writing this column, I made a promise to be completely honest about my progress, my methods, and my opinions. So, in the spirit of keeping that promise so you all don’t think of me as totally untrustworthy and start to resent me every week, I’ll confess: I haven’t been as diligent about going to the gym as I used to be. Blame the changing weather, Seasonal Affective Disorder, plain old laziness, whatever—the point is, I haven’t been working out that often, and I’ve been beating myself up about it.

The gym is literally three blocks away from my office, and every day I find myself leaving the apartment without a gym bag, silently scolding myself all the while. That said, even when I don’t work out as often as I’d like, I still eat relatively well, more out of habit and fear of putting on too much weight than actually wanting to be healthy.

This past week, though, I chose to make a change: I wasn’t going to go to the gym more, I wasn’t going to eat as carefully as normal, and, perhaps the biggest change of all, I wasn’t going to beat myself about it. And you know what? This cheat week has made me more determined than before to turn things around, health-wise.

(Related: How to Have a Non-Boring Vegan and Vegetarian Thanksgiving, With No Tofurky in Sight)

Maybe my rejuvenated motivation is due to the fact that, at the end of the week, I feel not entirely unlike a beached manatee, but I like to think it has more to do with the fact that my actions (or inactions, as such they were) were no longer taking such an emotional and psychological toll. I’m a naturally negative person, and it doesn’t exactly help that the last couple of weeks have been a little bit weird for me. Other than getting the normal, brief bout of what I call the “sads” around my period, I was dumped via text, haven’t been sleeping all that well, and have just found myself in a general funk.

I’ve struggled with self-esteem and emotional issues for my entire life, so even when there aren’t other factors coming into play, taking a day where I only think positive thoughts and treat myself nicely is a huge task, and one that I rarely successfully complete. But a week? Only this GIF can adequately describe how I feel:

fat and lazy

(GIF: Wifflegif)

I don’t want to speak for other people, but I think it’s safe to say that the large majority of people, myself included, allow their emotional state to affect their behavior. For some, feeling a little down or stressed drives people to exercise or discussion, and for others, it leads to an almost crippling inability to move or express anything even slightly related to their emotions. I fall somewhere in between those two poles, leaning more toward the latter.

Those closest to me will tell you that I have a tendency to bottle things up and wallow, and as you might imagine, that means I find it easier to sit around and do nothing but eat Goldfish and watch Grey’s Anatomy than actually take action, and that behavior, in turn, exacerbates the problem. I feel shitty about my shitty behavior, which only makes me feel shittier. It’s a vicious cycle, and I fully acknowledge that it’s not a healthy way to live. But habits, as I’m sure you all know, can be hard to break.

(Related: Why It’s Okay to Struggle With ‘Grandma Syndrome’ When You’re in Your 20s)

But needing new content for this column every week is as close as I’m ever going to get to literally lighting a fire under my ass, and it’s probably the best thing that could’ve happened to my emotional and physical health in a long time. Taking a break for the sake seeing how it would affect my desire to up my game gave me both enough to write about this week and a second wind. I feel like I can take on the world of ellipticals now without wanting to cry all over them. And, what’s more, I know that I can successfully get through a week of bad habits without letting them take me down. I’ll let you all decide which is the bigger accomplishment.