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