A few years ago, I remember arguing with a friend about whether ketchup needed to be refrigerated after the bottle is opened. He asserted that it does, I argued that it does not. My basis for this was that ketchup sits around on restaurant tables all the time without being refrigerated, it tastes fine, and I have never gotten sick from unrefrigerated ketchup. I also told him there is nothing on the bottle that says it should be refrigerated after opening, but my friend disagreed.
Anxious to prove him wrong, I searched my kitchen cabinets for a bottle of ketchup and found none. I ran down to the basement and finally found a large unopened bottle of ketchup from Costco. It had been stowed in a deep storage cabinet for future summer cook-outs. Rushing back upstairs I shoved the bottle at my friend, confident that he would find nothing on it that says it needed to be refrigerated.
He scoured the bottle and after few minutes, began to read, “Best if kept refrigerated after opening.” I was floored. Desperate to save face, I advised that this meant that it didn’t need to be refrigerated, it was only ‘best if refrigerated.’ More like a suggestion…right? His only comment was “Why wouldn’t you do the best thing?” -To that, I didn’t have an answer, but it was a question I was all too familiar with.
What is best?
Being our best is subjective. By that I mean we subject ourselves to what we think is best based on our perceived capabilities and the information we have at the time. When we don’t value ourselves sufficiently, we can get skewed ideas of what our best is.
I used to think being my best was being thin and eating salad every day. When I didn’t live up to my idea of this ‘best’, I felt guilty and chastised myself to the point of self-hatred. For years, I vacillated between being too thin and donning extra weight. I put my health in danger to be my ‘best’ as I thought it should be.
There were times I used to look in the mirror and ask -Why am I doing this to myself? I felt out of control with disordered eating. I knew I needed to make a change but kept waiting for a ‘sign’ or something to happen outside of me that would make that change take place. All the time telling myself what a loser I was for not being my best.
Of course, it wasn’t the eating behavior or the size of my body that was not my best. It was the way I thought about and spoke to myself. Berating myself for overeating and for being overweight only served to lock my psyche into that behavior. After all, why would I want to help myself if I was such a pathetic loser? With this attitude, I perpetuated the behavior and guaranteed that I would never really be my best.
It took a few years to figure out that being my best wasn’t about weight loss or eating. It was more about how I valued myself. As long as I felt guilty for eating and berated myself, it was a battle to change the eating behavior. But when I stopped the guilt and self-criticism and learned to appreciate who I was, my eating behavior began to normalize.
To me, this seemed miraculous. Appreciating and loving myself despite what I looked like or how I ate was the “sign” I had been searching for to bring about the change I needed to make. And I don’t ask myself why I don’t do my best anymore. My life is not always pretty and perfect, but I know it’s usually my best and I’m okay with that.
Begin Your journey-Binge Free Start Here
Accept and love yourself no matter what, and you will do your best.