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Help me! I have been suffering from "diet mentality"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Recently I tried a team challenge where I followed a strict eating plan. It worked fine at first, but then I had a day where I completely went “off” the plan. I felt guilty and the next thing you know I figured “oh well. Today is shot I may as well REALLY cheat” and I ate everything I could. It was a slippery slope and suddenly I was “off track” for several WEEKS! I will spare you the details but suffice it to say it involved binging on foods, neglecting my exercising and gaining weight. How much? I don’t know—I am still scared to weigh, but I do know my clothes are tighter so I am guessing 5-10 lbs—YIKES! Where did that come from? I thought I had this healthy lifestyle thing down pat.

After much pondering and some very sad moments of facing myself I think I have it figured out. I fell back into the trap that had stopped me from losing weight in the past—when I tried following this (for me) very restrictive eating plan I fell back into the diet mentality. I began thinking in terms of "good" foods and "bad" foods, and that if I was not 100% perfect in my eating I was a failure.

I set myself up for failure. I forgot that I do not deal with very strict plans (in food or in life) very well. I very quickly fall into an “all or nothing” mindset. This strict plan left me once again labeling foods as “good” or “bad”. I forgot the idea that has worked for me for the last 2+ years--- there are no good or bad foods. There are just foods which should be consumed here and there as a treat, and foods which should make up the majority of our diet. Once we assign the “good” and “bad” label to foods, it’s easy to think of ourselves as “good” or “bad” for consuming them. How many times have I said WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? WHY CAN’T I JUST SAY NO??!! What I need to realize is there is nothing wrong with me. It is simply not that complicated. It is just food.

Expecting perfection with my eating is diet mentality because it’s thinking short-term. Am I expecting perfection every day for the rest of my life? Am I never ever going to eat another slice of birthday cake? Am I never ever going to have a beer with friends? Doesn’t that sound like a terrible way to live? This mentality could (and did) make me give up!

I remember a few months back there was a popular blog on spark that talked about “falling off the wagon” and the idea that there is no wagon. I found that idea very freeing----THERE IS NO WAGON! No wagon to be on, no wagon to fall off, just as there is no “failing” and no “starting AGAIN”. We’re on a journey to better health, a journey to a better life. That new life starts NOW, not when we’ve reached a certain weight/size. I don’t remember who wrote that blog, but they are SO RIGHT. I can’t believe that I allowed myself to fall into the trap of feeling I had to be perfect and follow all sorts of rules rather than continuing to do what had made me successful in the past two years! For goodness sake I even have as one of the top 10 tools for my weight loss success listed on my sparkpage “no 100% food restrictions”—WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Today I recommit to my healthy lifestyle. I recommit to following a system that works for me. Eat (mostly) healthy. Move my body. Track and blog my journey. Rinse and repeat-lol.

Each step I make is a step closer to my goals. “Failing” or “cheating” are words full of negativity and have no part in the new life I am living—a not-so-healthy item isn’t going to erase all the hard work I have already done, whether for a month, a week, or a day. It’s time to put my foot down and STOP the madness.

So, dear spark friends I encourage you to look at yourself. Take the time to really think. Do you still have diet mentality? If you do, what can you do to stop "diet mentality" and change gears to "lifestyle change"?

PS-------Here is a very interesting article from Sparkpeople on the “diet mentality”:

PS-----In NO WAY do I blame or hold the team members of the challenge I was participating in responsible for my behavior. Many people had great success with the challenge. What is restrictive for me may not be restrictive for others. This blog is simply about MY experience and what works for me
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    what a fantastic blog! your are thinking this completely correct!
    2318 days ago
    "THERE IS NO WAGON" I carry index cards with me... to read for inspiration/goals, etc. This is my new one. Thank you!
    2320 days ago
    I have the same "all or nothing" mentality. I'm still adjusting to the fact that I can eat anything I want in moderation. I am also asking myself the question - "can I make a healthier choice and still feel the same way?"..which helps! Great blog. emoticon
    2320 days ago
  • CHIFANG130
    Great blog! Yes... there is NO WAGON. I used to really think that I am off the wagon and trying real hard to get back onto it. Moderation is something I struggle daily, but it's getting better at. Thanks so much for posting this blog!
    2321 days ago
  • LOT01784
    You just described me to a "T". I'm still struggling with this though. I can see it, but I can't seem to deal with it. Once I eat a "bad" food, it seems I can't stop.
    2321 days ago
  • ANNE7X7
    I think you hit the nail on the head: it's not working for you!! It took a few weeks and a few pounds to realize that, but you're at that point and now you can go back to they way that has worked for you in the past! Sometimes we need to try different things, and it looks like deprivation is NOT working for you (it doesn't for me either... in fact, I just had a piece of cake and I LOVED it.).

    PS: KARVY wrote that wagon blog! That was a turning point in my journey! So true!
    2321 days ago
    Great insights...! We have to live our lives and weave our healthy choices into our day to day experiences in a way that feels like "this is just they way I live!"

    2324 days ago
  • DOODIE59
    Excellent blog because it is an important reminder that this is a lifestyle we are choosing, not a challenge, not a diet, not anything temporary. We are moving to a healthier way of living. Yay us!

    2324 days ago
  • CANNIE50
    I love this blog - the honesty and the willingness to sort this out in a very articulate fashion, which in turn will help others of us in our on-going process of reshaping our bodies and our lives. Early on in my Sparkjourney I told a Sparkfriend that I would join her in a challenge to eat "no sugar" and then I remembered: by completely eliminating sugar, it triggers an old response to "eat around it" and justify eating lots of other type foods (especially salty and fatty) because at least "it's not sugar". I immediately sent her a message that I would not be able to join the challenge and explained why. She was very understanding. Just today someone complimented me on looking better and asked about my "diet". I explained that yes, I have lost 27 pounds in the last 4+ months but I have not dieted. I showed her SP and explained that it is all about people encouraging each other to have healthier habits, as well as holding myself accountable by logging my food and exercise and other good habits. Anyway, that is my long way of saying I really relate to what you wrote, and I really appreciate you writing it. You will move forward on this Sparkjourney armed with valuable information that will help you, and other Sparklers. emoticon
    2325 days ago
    Very much understand your points... Becoming more aware of what works for each of us is a significant key to our long-lasting successes.
    2325 days ago
    This is a really great blog. Sometimes I'll try to just shift my thinking a bit. Like instead of eating something and reacting with panic because it feels like I'm "falling off the wagon" or whatever, I'll tell myself that I chose to eat it. There's just a sort of acceptance and peace to it, rather than a chaotic confusion of emotions/projections/thoughts. I just put myself in a different mental place. It's something that I'm slowly integrating into my eating, and it seems to help. It's been important for me to do this because I also followed a strict diet through a support group for a few years. It was a type of Overeaters Anonymous, but it had very strict guidelines. I turned to it because I was grieving over my dad's death and developed an incredible dependence on sugar. What I really needed was some therapy - which I eventually found - but I thought the root of the problem was my eating, and not my dad's death. Anyhow, the program helped me because it gave me so much support and I wrote in a journal and did that kind of good stuff, but the restrictions really messed with my mind. It took a long time to move beyond that.

    Anyhow, congratulations on today. One day at a time, and today you've got it down.
    2325 days ago
    I know what you mean. I really do. Not everything works for me either. This month I joined a challenge to lose 6 lbs, and will see how that goes, but I usually never do that because once I put that pressure on myself then something in me wants to eat everything in sight. I'm not realling thinking about that challenge now, and if I do it I do it and if I don't lose 6 lbs this month, oh well. I've tried to restrict my diets before too and that definitely throws me out of whack. Yet it really does work for others. You learned something through this experience. A challenge may be very very good but may not work for everyone, regardless of what the challenge. But we are living and growing and we are learning in the process what we can do and what we can't. Just follow what you know has worked for you and you'll be back on the path you want to be on. There is no right or wrong, or on wagon/off wagon. You are right, it is a journey.
    2325 days ago
    I struggled with this last year too, where I trained so hard and ate perfect and then after the marathon, I indulged and then I felt bad and then and then, and then 20 lbs later I am finding balance. You will too.
    2325 days ago
    It's all about balance. I shoot for 80/20. It's definitely not about perfection but about works best for you in your life and that will be different for everyone. Good luck on your continued journey!
    2325 days ago
    Excellent blog! You are so right about all or nothing. I can't do the restrictive thing either. I have to have some leeway. So that is why I'm loosing very slowly! You will be fine because you recognize the "problem"!! emoticon
    2325 days ago
    I know that you are right, but it sure is easier to say than live!!!!:-) I will keep trying though.....
    Thanks for the blog!!!!
    2325 days ago
    2325 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/12/2011 2:22:03 PM
    Yesterday I actually had a "cheat meal" then remembered I can eat anything I want as long as it is in moderation. So know where you are coming from on this one.
    2325 days ago
    I am so proud of you! Most people wouldn't admit any thing like this, and this is helpful to many others! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2325 days ago
    Love love LOVE this blog!!! I have been somewhat frustrated at the sloooowness of my weight loss, and at times I think, "Gee, it would go faster if I went on some kind of diet..." but have refused to do so. I am just like you in that whenever I try one, I rebel BIG TIME and end up so much worse off than if I'd just stuck to the "slow and steady" program that is not so restrictive.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    PS-Added you as friend :)
    2325 days ago
    How true! I think this is one of the ideas that I really struggle with. After almost 2 years I'm still having a hard time letting go of "diet". Reading blogs like yours help me stay on track with the right attitude and approach to eating (and life!). Thanks!
    2325 days ago
  • DISP715
    You are right. Diets don't work. I cringe when I read blogs about people "dieting" or "restricting" their intake. I have learned over the years, from about a million failed attempts, that diets don't work. What does work is making good food choices, drinking water, exercising and FORGIVING ourselves. I hear people say "worse day ever!" or "I'm a complete failure" for eating over their calories or having a piece of cake. This is silly. It doesn't define them or minimize what they have accomplished. We all have to believe that we deserve health and figure out WHY we are eating when we are not hungry. Anyway, sounds like you are doing great. Keep up the positive attitude.
    2325 days ago
  • ERIKO1908
    Excellent blog!! I wish more people would come to this way of thinking!! Good luck on your continued journey...I wish you much success!! Happy Sparking!!
    2325 days ago
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