I had a huge light bulb moment last night as I was reading this thread on the "3 Fat Chicks" website (GREAT place for support, by the way!) It's a thread about "cheat days," which is what some people call it when you plan a day to go off your eating plan and eat whatever you want. The theory is that if you PLAN a day like that every so often, it makes it easier to stay on plan the rest of the time. Whenever you are craving something, you just tell yourself that you can have it on your cheat day, but you have to wait until then to have it. The problem is that for some people (like me), a cheat day turns into a cheat week or a cheat month and it's really hard to get back on track. Or if you have problems with bingeing, it isn't any hardship to ingest upwards of 4 or 5 thousand calories on a cheat day (yes I have done that), and it really messes up all your hard work you did eating right all week.
Anyway, reading through that thread, it hit me. Every bite counts. EVERY. Now, maybe this sounds obvious, but how many times have I gotten up, started a healthy eating day, and then at lunch "slipped up" and had pizza? Then I would tell myself, "oh well, I ruined my day, so I may as well have candy bars and burgers and fries for dinner and start over fresh tomorrow." Isn't that something a LOT of people are in the habit of doing? We look at our eating aka "diet" in terms of a UNIT. One good day (eating the right number of points or calories or whatever your plan is) is a Unit of Success, and a Bad Day (eating over your limit, not counting calories, eating junk) is a Unit of Failure. Sometimes we even try to string days together, as in "I will start on Monday" or the first of the month or after Christmas or whatever, which is an excuse to eat badly and not count anything until we "start again" on that special date.
WHO came up with this idea??? Why is a "DAY" the unit of success or failure?? Who decided that if you eat badly for lunch, you can just eat whatever you want for the rest of the day and start over in the morning? It's as if we think that "one bad day" is a single unit of failure, whether we ate 2000 or 5000 calories, it's the same because it is just ONE bad day. It makes no sense!! EVERY BITE COUNTS, people, whether you eat a Hershey bar on a "bad" day because you are bingeing or eat it on a "good" day and add it into your calorie count, it is STILL 210 calories going into your body. You HAVE to stop looking at it as good and bad days. It is your LIFE.
What I mean is this. Say you are aiming to eat 1500 calories per day to lose weight (substitute WW points or whatever other unit or plan you are using). Now, say your week looks like this:
You slipped up on Saturday and told yourself you would start over on Monday. You had only 2 bad days. But now you have eaten 13,510 calories for the week which averages out to 1910 per day... way over your limit. And you wonder why you haven't lost weight. Because every bite counts, and the unit is not a day, or even a week. It is a lifetime. When you eat something you shouldn't have, it's over. Stop, and eat right from that very moment on. Have a healthy dinner. Keep going. A bad meal is way better than a whole bad weekend.
You want a cheat day? Every bite you take counts, because it still goes into your body, counted or not. Every bite either helps you get closer to your goal or slows you down from reaching it. So the question becomes, how badly do you want it? Do you want to lose weight more than you want that cookie? Then put it down. Every time you eat something unhealthy or go over your calorie limit, you are effectively putting a speed bump... or even a roadblock... in between you and your goal. Every bite you take determines whether you will reach your goal weight in 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, or never. What do you REALLY want?
Most of this, I am saying to myself. I have been acting like I have all the time in the world, and one more day eating poorly won't matter. I can always start over. But I spent a decade of my life doing that, and I wasted a lot of years being fat and tired. I missed out and I can never get my 20's and 30's back. Never. I am certainly not going to miss out on my 40's too, just because I want some cheese right now.
EVERY calorie counts, and I am going to treat this Escape from Obesity with the attention and determination it deserves. I want progress, and I don't want to eat one more bite that is going to hinder that progress.
As that thread stated, we all have favorite foods that bring us enjoyment in life, and we don't have to ban them all. But is an Oreo REALLY your favorite thing? Is a greasy Pizza Hut pizza your favorite thing? Think about it. Pick your favorites that you REALLY enjoy, and then say no to the other junk. And fit your indulgences into your plan if you like. But remember that IT COUNTS. And if you eat a bunch of junk today, it counts, and if you add up all the calories you eat in a year, that determines your weight loss or gain for the year. Just remember that, and take a second to decide if that bite is really worth it or not.
Breakfast: oatmeal with walnuts and pumpkin butter, 2 mugs of hot tea
Snack: 3 oz chicken breast, hot white tea
Lunch: cup of curried red lentil soup, baked Carnival squash with a tsp of butter and cinnamon
Snack: hot tea, Kashi flax pumpkin bar
Dinner: still figuring this out! Something warm that the kids will like. Maybe chili mac, or tuna noodle casserole, or skillet lasagna.
I really want this weight off. I think I lost my vision a bit over the summer, but I am ready now.