As you can imagine, my willpower would run out eventually and I'd go to the other extreme of bingeing on everything I had restricted. No matter how guilty I felt about the 'excess' part of that cycle, what I loved was the incredible feeling I got from my 2-3 weeks of discipline. I got quick results and I felt strong and confident in my stick-to-it-tiveness. In the times when I would be eating anything and everything I wanted, I held on to this discipline as a crutch, knowing it was there to dial into when I needed it.
I had these two different personas for a long time. The one who ate salads in her office at lunch, ordered everything sans carbs and for whom people had to make special, healthy baked goods for on my Birthday or the one who ate a bags of chips and jelly beans for lunch while finishing up client proposals at my desk. There was a very long time in my life where I was these two women - no in-between.
It was on or off, good or bad. To the point where I'd walk into a friend's house and to pre-empt my eating the pizza, I'd let people know that I was being bad that night. Seriously, what am I, 3 years old getting ready to put myself in time-out? I look back at that stuff now and laugh but it was a real cycle that had me trapped.
Here's how this relates to moderation. When we live this crash/yo-yo diet cycle which so many of us do, we become accustomed to "good" and "bad" food and choices. Everything is black or white, and when it isn't, we get a little uncomfortable. So, if have a pancake (from our bad list) we feel like we can't possibly take ourselves and our goal to lose weight seriously. And when we attempt to eat treats in moderation like a handful of chips and guacamole at a restaurant with friends, we eat them, then have a few more, and maybe a few more, until we think "Whelp, I might as well be "off" tonight and go for the burrito grande for my entree!". If those chips were usually off limits, they become a trigger for us as they represent our bad behavior persona.
Or, maybe it doesn't go that far and we order a salad for our entree instead. We did pretty well, but having some chips makes us crave a little more carbohydrates later, so we go home and have a candy bar or bowl of ice cream. Then, of course, we tell ourselves we've failed the moderation test because we 'can't just have a few' or we 'can't control our cravings', when really, we're not quite done with the science experiment yet.
See, it feels like failure the first time, the second time, over and over again until we allow ourselves the gift of introspection, of self-awareness. When we try to make a food choice in moderation but take things a little too far but THEN, we stop to reflect later on why...that's where the good stuff happens. That's the science experiment part, where we learn more about ourselves, the assessment of what tricks or tools we can use to make it go a little smoother next time. How could we better prepare for a situation like it? Was the indulgence really about food or just wanting to relax? Could we take care of ourself and relax in another way? If we eat a piece of cake at a party what can we do later to make a good choice rather than go completely off the wagon?
Sound like a lot of work? It is. Until it isn't. Each situation we feel we've failed, but we take a lesson from, makes us better and more prepared for the next. We attack it differently the next time and we get a different result. That gives us some confidence. And then when we have some wins under our belt in our moderation lifestyle, we start to take on more situations and more opportunities to test out our theories about staying on track even while eating what we love.
I was a rule follower, I wanted to know the formula to get maximum results and my ideal physique, so I hopped plan to plan to plan, looking for the one that would stick. We all do this, right? We hear of something new that worked for a few women in the office or our friend down the street and we launch into it full steam ahead with no question of, "is this right for me?".
See, eating in moderation IS right for everyone but, there is no moderation lifestyle that is the same. We vary so wildly in our tastes, triggers, motivations, lifestyle, hormones, mindset, etc. There is no moderation rulebook you can find on the shelf at Barnes & Noble or in your Amazon search that will give you the steps to become a professional at eating in moderation consistently. But, there are tricks and tools and theories and it's up each of us to sample them, keep some, toss the others and continue on our paths to building our very own strategy.
I resisted this way of living for so long because I didn't think I had it in me to become as successful with eating in moderation as I was with crash dieting. But, now, I know I can have my chips and eat them too.
To eating what we love AND reaching our goals,
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