Kevin Bell

Why I Eat Pizza For My Mental Health

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Kevin Bell

Let me cover this right off the bat; I am a head case with food sometimes. And it’s not the way most might experience being a head case with food.

I’ve been actively involved in the fitness industry as a coach in one way or another for almost two decades and a competitive athlete for most of that time.

With a college degree, multiple certifications and years of experience working with others, I STILL battle my own demons with food.

The pendulum DOES swing both ways.

On one end of the swing, food becomes your comfort. It’s your emotional regulator and the equivalent of the blanket you used to carry around when you were a baby.

It ties to your emotions, your feelings and memories.

It’s your friend in times of pain AND in times of joy.

It becomes a vice and an unhealthy attachment that takes a lot of internal work to even begin breaking the attachment.

On the other end of the swing, this is where I like to live. Still, not ideal. This is where there is an obsession around the types of foods that I’m eating, the quantity of the food, the break down of the macros, the weighing of every meal.

On this end of the pendulum, I go out with co-workers to a bar and order a large club soda with lime. I’m THAT guy out at a restaurant that gets the chicken breast and rice even if that isn’t an actual combination on the menu… because I tell myself that one cheat will snowball into the next and the next and the next and soon enough all my hard work will be gone…

See, that’s ALSO not a great end of the pendulum to be.

Over the years, as I’ve lived a little life, had a couple kids, grown up and grown out of my obsessions a bit, I’ve been able to find balance.

But let’s talk about balance a bit before I bring this around to my pizza story.

Balance is a tricky word. Balance is used in a way to mean homeostasis. Or reaching an equilibrium rather than being too extreme in one way or another.

But for most, the search for balance leads to being mediocre, average and boring. I dont want to be any of those. I’d rather be unbalanced, uncommon, and in ridiculous shape than balanced with a dadbod.

I’m okay with the unbalance. I’m okay being THAT guy at the bar with a club soda or at the restaurant with chicken and rice. I’m okay weighing my food and obsessing over the quantity of it to make sure I hit my macros and stay on target. I welcome all of that uncommon, unbalanced behavior.

But what I DON’T accept is my mind getting the best of me and becoming a head case about eating pizza. My favorite food in the whole world… Tied with donuts of course.

My Awakening

It was a family vacation to Palm Springs in the blazing hot summer, just the way we like it. And the perfect opportunity to do a mini cut the month before to look SHREDDED. Not to impress anyone (I’ve already got the girl), but just for fun and because we can.

The excitement for me was that I would stay SUPER strict the month before and then give myself the freedom to eat my little heart away over the vacation. I would allow myself to “refeed”, eat whatever I wanted and let loose. This included pizza.

Pizza for me is my all time favorite food, but I rarely let myself have it. Because honestly, it totally blows up my macros for the day and I feel guilty about it Every. Single. Time.

Prior to this vacation I would have pizza every few months. It would be my first meal after I went through a cut and I would always make it into a big thing. I’d get it from the same pizza place, I’d barely eat the whole day to justify the large pizza I was about to devour, I’d workout extra hard… all silly things that I would tell myself in order to make it OKAY that I’m having pizza.

On this vacation, that crack in my mental game became a gaping hole.

My cut ended a couple days before we went and truthfully, I should have just had the dang pizza then. I could have avoided this whole thing. BUT I wanted to wait and make it perfect on vacation, relaxing without a worry in the world.

We get out there and things are just different on vacation.

Outside variables that I didn’t account for came into play started to ruin my perfect pizza party. I didn’t scout out local pizza places beforehand, I have young kids with opinions, we’re at a resort that has its own food on the compound, my wife doesn’t want pizza, etc.

The days of the vacation start to go by and still, no pizza has been had.

At this point I’m also already eating other things that aren’t my norm (because I’m trying to let loose), and I’m feeling like I don’t deserve the pizza anymore.

But I really want it and I’ve been looking forward to it for a month.

“Screw it” I told my wife, “I’m having pizza tonight.”

“Sure babe, you do you”

I spend the next hour trying to find the perfect place, read all the yelp reviews and look at all the pictures online to make sure I don’t mess this up.

Nothing seems to satisfy me. Noting is as perfect as I wanted it to be. I’m spiraling now and the kids are getting hungry. Time is running out.

Last second, I cancelled the DoorDash order I had for the local pizza joint and hopped on the Dominoes app.

$35 and an hour and fifteen minutes later, I ordered it.

Was it the best pizza in the world? No.

But it hit the spot.

More than anything though, this situation made me aware of what I needed to change.

I put far too much weight on that whole pizza experience and I couldn’t let that happen again.

My solution

This is MY solution. You can adapt this to your needs, but in the end we are all different and we all have to approach our relationships with food differently.

After the dust settled and we got back home and back on the maintenance nutrition grind, I went to work to figure out how to NOT have this pizza predicament happen again.

What I came up with was that I would eat pizza once a month, every month.

It could be from anywhere. Dominoes, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, “that hole in the wall spot”, anywhere. Just eat it.

I know that eating one large pizza isn’t going to do a darn thing negative to my performance or body, but I needed to physically prove it to myself and to take away the power that I have been giving the almighty pizza.

I had been putting it on a pedestal and psyching myself out about it, leading myself into a mental breakdown and a weakness holding me back from being the best version of myself.

Eating pizza monthly has a purpose. It is not “willy nilly”. It is a calculated action for me to have something I enjoy without it being all consuming.

Eating pizza monthly shows me that I DO put in the work and enjoying myself for one meal won’t take that away.

Eating pizza monthly allows me to look forward to something special each month without it being TOO special and falling into the obsession category. That’s not ok.

This article is not for everyone. If you are on the other end of the pendulum swing, you have your own unique battles to go through.

But for those who fall more on this side; those who obsess a little too much about their workouts; those who know the hotels and vacation spots with the best gyms, those who can eyeball the macros of any given meal they’re eating, those that might have a sizable Lululemon and Vuori collection… this article is for you.

It’s ok to be unbalanced, but don’t be too balanced that you find cracks in your mental game.

Find those cracks and close them.

#Health #fitness #pizza