There is something I have noticed talking to people about weight loss, are you curious to know what it is? Well it is the all or nothing mentality. I speak to people who have been eating sensibly for several months and have had great results and then something happens. For whatever reason they have a “relapse”, they go back to eating unhealthily and the weight starts to creep back on. Sadly when this happens people with an all or nothing mentality often give up altogether. They say to themselves “what’s the point? I’ve lost it!”
It is time to change that thinking from all or nothing to all and everything. Here are some thoughts about how important this change in thinking style is.
I was recently reading “Sobriety Demystified” an interesting book on addiction written by Byron Lewis. According to Byron “relapse” or more appropriately “lapse” is a natural stage in recovery from addiction. It is how we handle the “lapse” that counts. This is true when applied to weight loss too, for many people there are aspects of addiction in their behaviour. With food we cannot abstain completely so it is in some ways trickier even than alcohol or substance addiction.
With this in mind I plan to share my holiday season experience with you. Remember the choices I suggested last week? Well I chose option two, relax for the week …. and then get back with the programme afterwards. Accept any over indulgences and return to healthy eating.
Originally I had planned to do option one! Option two crept up on me unexpectedly! Now important step for me to make here. I need to own this, it was still a choice. I knew I was eating stuff that was not good for me. And I kept on going. I gained six pounds in the week of over indulgence!
Now for the interesting bit. I only enjoyed some of the over indulging. Some of it was unsatisfying and left me feeling uncomfortable and bloated. Some of it tasted greasy and unpleasant while I was eating it. I acknowledge that I kept eating during two family meals despite this. I was mildly stressed as I was the host and had cooked everything and wanted the meal to go well. An old pattern of behaviour kicked in and eating fulfilled an emotional need rather than a taste or nutritional need.
Reflecting on that now I can see this is progress, in previous years I have no recollection of not enjoying the rich and fatty foods I was eating. In fact I’m sure I did enjoy at least the idea of what I was eating. I was certainly not aware of my emotional state during the eating ritual! This year I was more mindful and so noticed what I was not enjoying. I also noticed what I did enjoy and many of the sugary things were still tasty for me.
My choices now are to learn from the experience by reflecting on the changes in my thinking, feeling and the level of physical association I had with my body. The second choice, and this is important, is to be forgiving of myself. The third choice to remember the second part of the option I followed, accept any over indulgences and return to healthy eating. Get back with the programme!
A further reflection for me is how I can use this experience to help others, to understand that sometimes things happen that cause us to step off the path for a while. When that happens treat it as a detour and return to the path as soon as you can. Changing the way you relate to food is more of a marathon than a sprint. A deviation is just that a deviation, we have the ability to notice and readjust our course.
Take a few minutes to reflect on your experience not just in terms of your eating habits but also in terms of your relationships, feelings and motivation:
What went well?
What went less well?
What have you learnt about yourself?
What changes have you made in your thinking style as a result of this reflection?
Next week I will talk about my thoughts on changing habits for life, are there any quick fixes and what about motivation.
For those of you wanting a bit of support in getting back on track you might want to download my free self esteem audio from the link below to my website
Let me know how you got on over the holiday season.
Happy New Year! Let’s make 2013 the best yet!