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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

I've been Good

How often do I say ... I've been good today? Where does this phrase come from and what does it mean?

When I say it, I mean I have eaten healthy food and trained. But why does that mean I've been good?

Because I've followed my rules? Let's discuss this for a moment.

It is a strange expression that is seldom used outside of childhood and adolescence. I don't say my staff have been "good" today because they came to work and worked hard. I don't say my husband has been "good" today because he didn't beat me or swear at me. I don't think I've been "good" because I refrained from murdering someone today.

There is only "good" behaviour if there is also "bad" behaviour. And being "bad" doesn't always have negative connotations. It is sometimes sexy, rebellious or far more interesting than being "good" all the time.

Being bad is also the reward of being good - "I've been good for a week now, I can afford to be bad just once". Compare that thought to - "I haven't murdered anyone in a while now, so I could probably get away with doing it just this once. After all, I've been good ..."

Our fundamental values and beliefs do not have "good" and "bad" labels attached to them. We behave a certain way because that is who we are.

When I look closely at my beliefs around good and bad behaviour it doesn't seem to serve me very well.

For example, I believe that in order to have behaved good well, I have to go to the gym.

Therefore, if I don't go to the gym I am bad(ly behaved).

But there are many reason why going to the gym may not be a good choice. I could have severe DOMs from a previous session, I could have an important meeting early in the morning that I need to attend, I could have not had enough sleep because I chose to spend time with my husband the evening before, I could be sick or just plain 'over it' that day.

You would agree that if I were to choose the gym over physical wellness, career obligations, or my relationship with my husband, I would not be looking after my 'whole' self very well.

Thinking of myself in terms of "good" and "bad" doesn't do anything except remind me of being a child operating under someone else's rules. I'm not waiting for some reward for being good, or being good to avoid the punishment that follows being bad.

I can still hear my mother's voice in my head:
"Katie, I am so disappointed in you. You know the rules. You have to go to the gym at least every week day and today you slept in and never made it. When you are a big fat pig, don't come crying to me. I am only thinking of you after all. "

"But mum, I can barely move from Monday's workout and I feel like I need some rest today. And I stayed up late last night with Mr Katie watching a movie. I'm trying to listen to my body and find some balance in my life right now."

"You are always so quick to come up with the excuses, aren't you? I guess there is no point in trying with you anyway, you'll just do what you like as usual. I'm sorry if I care about you too much. You obviously know better than me so you may as well get on with it."

(can you say "passive aggressive"?)

So from this moment I am acknowledging that I my behaviour is neither "good" or "bad". I make decisions based on what is rational, logical and will nurture my whole self given the circumstances. I am empowered to choose whatever I need.

I recognise that will be situations where my old definition of bad behaviour is actually the best choice. I can choose to eat a mars bar because I am very sad, or because a child gave it to me as a present, or because I'm half way through a 100km charity walk, or because I only have a week to live, or because I need to demonstrate that I can eat it without starting a binge or simply because it makes sense in that moment. If I make conscious considered reasoned choices in every moment of my day, I will know and trust myself. My soul is beyond good.

And so is yours ...


  1. It's interesting how much we talk about being good or bad in relation to food - you rarely hear guys talk like that.

  2. "You would agree that if I were to choose the gym over physical wellness, career obligations, or my relationship with my husband, I would not be looking after my 'whole' self very well." Well said Kaite. Great post.

  3. In the moment, here and now, today is all that matters!

  4. What a fantastic post. I am trying to not think of myself as good or bad either and you feel so much happier with yourself by treating each day as a day....

  5. grounded fitness8:15 am

    good post, i hate the words "good" and "bad" when it comes to health (mainly food and workouts.) I always get questions on my blog about whats better or whats good and is this should never ever have a negative connotation to it: it should just be a part of your life. People need to think big picture instead of day to day.