eating habits

An Excuse to Eat

You should hear the kind of rationalization that goes on in my head sometimes. You may read my blog and think I have this weight loss and maintenance thing down! Most of the time I do. But I’m not perfect and I can be just as bad as the next guy who struggles with their weight. Trust me.

One example I can give comes from the time period where I was trying to lose weight. I was probably at 60-70 pounds lost so far and not far from reaching my goal weight. I don’t know what was really going on during this time period that triggered this but I went through a phase of midnight eating. I’m not proud of it. I’m glad I lived alone at the time so I didn’t have to justify to my partner why I was stuffing my face with rice krispie treats at 1 a.m. but maybe that would have been a deterrent. Anyway, I went through this phase and for some reason THOSE CALORIES DIDN’T COUNT. Don’t ask me how I rationalized that. For some reason, anything I ate between midnight and 2 a.m. didn’t count and I didn’t record it in my food journal. Totally bad. I was sabotaging myself (and this is probably one of the reasons I had such a long plateau around this weight).

Think about the last time you ate something and didn’t lot it in your food journal. Why didn’t it “count” for you?

Justified

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I use the word justified?

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Sorry, I’m not talking about Raylon Givens when I used the word “justified.”  I’m talking about all those times we ate something that self-sabotaged our progress and justified our reason for doing so. I am not immune to this! I do it all the time. When I’m cooking dinner with Michael and I nibble and snack and bite on random things while we cook. I’m much better now at including those calories because you BET they count!

“I ran an extra mile today.”

“Work sucked today.”

“I’ve eaten so good all week long!” <–So why don’t we KEEP eating good?!?!

“Swimming in the pool actually burns MORE calories than I think it does because of the temperature!”

The list can go on and on and on as to why we make allowances for the extra snacking. The question to ask ourselves is this: why am I keeping myself from being successful? That damn handful of Reeses’s Pieces don’t taste nearly as good for the 20 seconds I’ll eat them, as reaching my goal will feel!

Entitled

I think this is the biggest trap we all fall into and I think a lot of it has to do with our culture and rituals as a family. How many times have you felt entitled to eat? What I mean by this is the Christmas cookies, the pumpkin pie and extra stuffing at Thanksgiving, the chocolate on Valentine’s Day…what about Superbowl? Or the 4th of July? There are excuses year round we can use to make ourselves feel entitled to overeating.

Check out this post: Emotional Eating: Do You Feel Entitled to Eat? Emotional eating opens up a whole bigger can of worms.

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It’s a vicious cycle. I can’t tell you how many times I got sucked into this cycle when I was a binge eater. Eating half a pizza by myself followed with a carton of ice cream and then wondering why I feel sick and miserable…only to feel even more discouraged and disgusted with myself which leads to more comfort eating.

BREAK THE CYCLE! Instead of focusing on the foods I couldn’t eat or beating myself up for mistakes I made, I focused on my goal and my timeline and I changed my thinking to the positive: I CAN DO THIS. I can lose weight. I can resist the temptation of junk food. I KNOW I CAN. I said it over and over until I believed it and it got easier to resist the junk food.

I’ll Start on Monday

I have a friend that falls into this category. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been starting a new diet on Monday. As a result of this, she often binges before the diet starts. This is a hard habit to get into because not only does it imply that we’ll be starting a super restrictive diet that we’re most likely going to fail at, we’re probably packing on extra pounds before we even start!

What worked for me to stop this mentality was to realize that I was not on a diet, I was changing my life and creating a new lifestyle. This wasn’t temporary and I wasn’t looking for a quick fix. I was changing EVERYTHING. That helped me stay “on the wagon” when I was tempted to fall off and just start over again. And you know what? Once I started losing a lot of weight, I realized that I had worked really really hard for that success and I didn’t want to mess up and fail! I wanted to keep moving forward.

Don’t wait til Monday. Start today. You’re worth it!

Change

Why not have the reason to eat be “I’m hungry”?

Simple, isn’t it? It’s a hard thing to retrain our minds to listen to what our bodies are telling us. What helped me was eating more whole, natural foods. Also, running and biking helped me look at food as FUEL. Once I changed my mindset to wanting to eat the RIGHT fuel for my body to succeed in athletics, it became super easy to recognize the right signals.

It’s not going to become easy overnight, and it will certainly be something you have to work at. But isn’t it worth it? I thought it was!

QUESTION: Do you make excuses for your eating?

Why Wednesday – Why I Don’t Have a Cheat Day

I do NOT believe in Cheat Days.

But before anyone zones out or gets angry let me explain my point.

Recently I talked about the “4-Hour Body” book I was reading and how I did not agree with his statement that everyone should have a Binge Day each week. Not only do I thoroughly disagree with the phrase BINGE DAY, I also don’t agree with the concept of Cheat Days.

Lots of diet plans have a “cheat day.” It’s my understanding that Weight Watchers has a Cheat Day as well. Maybe they work for you. Maybe having a Cheat Day keeps you more motivated to lose weight the other 6 days of the week. But for me I’ve never liked the terms.

1. CHEAT DAY implies that I’m on a diet.

I am NOT on a diet. I’m not doing a fad diet or starvation diet in order to lose weight fast. I am changing my entire lifestyle. With changing my lifestyle that means I am changing all of my bad habits–like BINGEING.

I think the one thing I’ve been consistent with portraying on my blog is the fact that I live my life in a balanced way. I eat pizza, I eat dessert but I also exercise 5 days a week and I eat quality food most of the time. I think my life has changed for the better because of these things.

2. Cheat Day implies that I’m doing something NAUGHTY.

Like 6 days a week I deny myself food I want, eating carrots and celery and then one day a week I get SNEAK food and “cheat” on my diet (see statement #1), right?

I don’t think my healthy living lifestyle should have at it’s core SHAME or GUILT. And that’s exactly how I would feel if one day a week I binged on everything in sight just because I could.

3. I don’t want to live my life longing for my Cheat Day.

The most important part of the way I live my life at 144 pounds is eating the things I LOVE whenever I want. I balance those treats, snacks and splurges with regular, vigorous exercise and moderate eating throughout the day.

For example: I know that I will almost always eat more calories on a Saturday night than I will on a Tuesday night. So Saturdays are my days for a long workout. I have zero guilt about anything I eat on Saturdays because I know I worked out and I made healthy choices throughout the day before indulging in the Saturday Night Dinner.

4. I make healthy choices every day in order to “cheat” every day.

For example: I know that I will want dessert most nights. Instead of having a string cheese or extra handful of chips with lunch, or candy at work, I’d much rather save those 200 calories and eat them for dessert after dinner.


5. I don’t want to live my life where certain foods are FORBIDDEN.

That concept will just make me want that forbidden food more. Then I’ll obsess about it, crave it, think about how I can get that food. How is that a healthy, balanced way to live my life? I would much rather eat whatever food I want, in smaller portions, to satisfy a craving AND if I am truly hungry.

I suppose there are inherent “Cheat Days” already in the calender year: Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Thanksgiving…I could make an excuse to overeat almost every day if I wanted to. “It’s New Year’s Eve! Eat!” or “It’s the 4th of July! BBQ Time!” One burger on the grill with some fruit salad, a serving of potato chips and maybe some pickles tastes just as good as a BINGE event on a holiday. In fact, it probably tastes better eaten in moderation because I haven’t made myself feel sick overeating.

One argument FOR a cheat day by a lot of sources is that having one cheat day a week changes your metabolism because you shake up the caloric intake and confuse your body into losing more weight. I think this is accurate. I’ve seen it many times every time I’ve hit a plateau in my weight loss journey.

My response to that? My caloric intake is different every single day, so I’m already “confusing” my body. Bingeing won’t give me any added benefits (and it will damage my self-esteem). I eat more calories on the days that I work out.  And even on days I work out, I eat varying calories depending on the activity I am doing. If it’s a Saturday and I’ve spent over an hour in the gym and burned 700+ calories, I’m going to eat almost 700+ calories more. But on days I swim and only burn 350 calories? I don’t always eat those 350 calories back.

In the end it’s a personal decision. If Weight Watchers works for people and they advocate “Cheat Days”, follow the program. I don’t do WW but I think they are a good program to lose weight the real way.

For me, I’d rather have a little bit of a treat every day instead.

QUESTION: How do you feel about “Cheat Days/Binge Days”? Do practice it?