Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Discipline vs. Deprivation

With the new bare bones approach to weight loss I have adopted, I've begun to think a bit about the difference between discipline and deprivation. I mean, at what point does the restriction we place upon ourselves turn from something good into something bad? Let me explain.

Telling yourself you cannot eat a bag of potato chips even though you want them is an act of self discipline.
Telling yourself you can NEVER have ANYTHING salty, crunchy, or with empty calories *may* be deprivation, depending on how stressed out that makes you.

Setting a calorie goal of 1500 calories per day may be a positive act of self discipline, if that is a suitable level for your body and mind.
Setting a calorie goal of 500 calories per day is, most likely, negative deprivation.

Deprivation can be a form of self abuse, too.

Putting your preschooler on time out for 3 minutes is discipline.
Locking them in a closet is abuse.

Are you disciplining yourself, or abusing yourself? It's a lot to think about. We have to be strict but not cross the line. We might 'take away' some treat we really like for ourselves, and that might be a good thing. Or we might take away *too many* things and suffer from the deprivation.

When is it enough? When is it too much?

It's kind of the inverse of binge eating. Eating a ham sandwich might be fine. Eating five ham sandwiches is not fine. Enjoying one piece of chocolate may be okay. Eating 6 candy bars in 5 minutes is really not okay. But somewhere in between one and five ham sandwiches... between one piece of chocolate and six candy bars... there is a point or an area where it goes from being good/positive to being bad/negative. It is up to each of us to figure that point out.

Binge eating is a form of self-abuse. Crash dieting is a form of self-abuse, too. Both are ways to punish ourselves for some hard-to-define wrongs or badness we feel internally about ourselves, even if it is subconscious. Shoving a whole pizza down one's throat even when one is no longer enjoying it and is, in fact, getting sick from it, is abuse and a violation. Starving one's self such as occurs in anorexia is also abuse and a violation. We have to be careful not to unwittingly foster and continue that pattern of self-hatred, self-abuse, self-punishment in our weight loss efforts.

I have to be careful about this myself. I know when I used to eat and eat and eat until I was sick, I was hurting myself and it somehow felt justified. And now, when I am 'dieting,' I have to find that balance where I am not being *so strict* that I am depriving myself the simple, natural pleasures of food and the true nutritional *needs* of my body as well as my emotional needs. There is no reason to torture one's self with eating. Losing weight does not have to be a punishment. It is hard, yes. It takes discipline, yes. But it takes the kind of loving discipline one would give to a child. You don't beat a child or scream at them because they spilled their juice, or even because they willfully *dumped* their juice on the carpet. You love them. You teach them. And if they need a consequence for their actions, you dish that out lovingly: guide them to clean up the mess they made, and, if their attitude requires it, give them a time out with a hug afterwards. Do the same for yourself. Yes, you make mistakes, but you don't need to be berated or deprived of all pleasure just because you got fat. Be kind to yourself, and even allow some wiggle room while being strict with your eating. The two are not mutually exclusive.

For me, eating a plain chicken breast with salad every night would be deprivation.
Eating spaghetti squash with homemade tomato sauce and turkey meatballs WITHOUT garlic bread, Parmesan cheese, and real pasta is DISCIPLINE.
Both accomplish the same purpose... but one is far less painful for me.

That's all my thoughts for today... have to get going for now!


Change4yourself said...

this is exactly what i was dealing with today. thanks for this post, its put a spot light on it for me.

Kajun Gumbo (Dee) said...

Good Post! I use my 1100 calories as a bank account, nothing is off limits, but the account is empty, its empty. That is easier to say than to do :)

Desert Singer said...

Yep Yep. Retraining myself to look upon discipline as freedom... the results of discipline I impose on myself will give me so much more freedom in all of my life... not just within this little "battle" between food choices and menus.

Discipline is NOT a four-letter word. Embracing the habits, the routines... within these will be freedom I don't think I've ever really experienced.

What an exciting time to be me ;-)

FatAngryBlog said...

Excellent post!

I try to find that line in my life too!

Ice Queen said...

Well said, Lady. Well said.

A New Dawn For Me said...

This is very true. I'm working out in my mind at the moment how I am going factor in some dieting days that are easier to balance out the days I work really hard - I am trying to find the right balance. I think it stems from food being good v bad

bbubblyb said...

Great post Lyn! I think now that I've lost the weight I've wanted to I've let more things sneak in because I'm comfortable. But I also know when I need to put some discipline back into my life. For me it really is about not feeling deprived yet not giving myself to much permission either.

Michele said...

You have given me a lot to think about, thank you!! I also stopped by to tell you that I gave you a Stylish Blogger award. Come on by and pick it up. :-)

Anonymous said...

Have you read 'Women, Food and God' by Geneen Roth? A lot of your reflections (in this post & others) remind me of the points in that book. (Don't be scared away by the 'God' part of the's not what you think! Would be great to hear your commentary on that book if/when you read it. Always appreciate hearing your insights!

Bringing Pretty Back said...

I love how you put this into words. Perfectly put.
Have a pretty day

beerab said...

Great post as usual Lyn. I definitely am making sure to discipline though at times I feel deprived! lol.

Diandra said...

For some people food deprivation is all about controlling their own life. One of the BF's female friends is like that... the only person I have ever met who would get sick after eating "soooooo much green salad" (without dressing, of course).

I think that food should still be fun. Eating vegetables you don't like because they are healthy or low in calories is not good for you. Binge eating is not good for you. Both are not fun. We spend so much time telling ourselves we should give our senses something positive to experience, and food is such a sensual experience...

Where was I? Ah. Eating a piece of chocolate, for me, is fun. I enjoy it. Eating a whole chocolate bar - not so much. That's more like hiding behind chocolate.

Hanlie said...

Funny, I was also thinking about this yesterday. And I seem to be getting the hang of it suddenly.

Great post!

MizFit said...

I love this.
its the partner to (in a way. is this prideful to say? :)) my WILLPOWER/WILLINGNESS post.

Sheri - The Motivational Girl said...

I couldn't agree more, the hardest thing to do is to find your comfort zone because to sustain your weight loss you can't be too strict or lack of.

Lisa said...

Love how this post makes me think about my journey. Thank you!

Elizabeth Dean said...

I find that what works for me is to schedule days that I can eat both a) foods I normally avoid and b) a larger than normal quantity.

Then I have something to look forward to and I feel like the discipline the rest of the days is worth it because I know some cut-loose time is coming.

Carrie said...

Good stuff, Lyn!

Last week I had a particularly hard day and didn't do so well on my eating plan. I talked about it on my blog. I was quickly berated by a woman who posted on her own blog that she had no time for people who weren't going to stick to plan. She said that there were foods that were 100% off limits for her for the rest of her life because she would not reside in the 95% of the people who gain their weight back. I absolutely applaud her for her determination but I personally could not live like this.

However, I know some that actually do. 20 years ago my sister lost 175 lbs. She has kept it off to this day. But she is terrified to eat. She eats salads, no meat and NO sweets, carbs, etc... Basically, she lives on salads and the occasional piece of fruit and black coffee. She is an amazing inspiration but, again, I cannot live like this.

I so enjoy my lean and greens and I truly feel confident that I will be able to maintain afterwards but I think total deprivation is such a bad thing. Yes, very much abusive. I used to live there myself 20 years ago and I don't want to ever go back. Nor do I want to swing the other way.

Thanks, Lyn, for such a great post.

Losing 100 said...

Wow! Great post. I struggle with being an all or nothing girl. If I have one cookie, I've screwed up, and I eat the rest of the dozen. Learning to have moderation and not deprivation is what I am working on. Spot on.

anna said...

Good reminder. I used to be of the deprivation camp in my teens and out of that I gained 80 pounds. It took over 20+ years to realize that and learn to find balance.

Great post!

Claire said...

"Both are ways to punish ourselves for some hard-to-define wrongs or badness we feel internally about ourselves, even if it is subconscious." This is where I struggle. I know I am eating to punish myself for my shortcomings. I just don't know how to break the cycle. Eating more healthfully is seems to clear my head, and make me less likely to abuse myself. I am becoming an expert on all things diet, because I keep reading everything I can get my hands on. I figure when all is said and done, I will FINALLY decide that I am worth good health.

Post-it Notes said...

Just found your blog. LOVE it!! Thanks for all the inspiration!

Anne H said...

I do this all.the.time.
I think: "what if" I never go to taste this,
do that, see her, blah blah blah one time.
Then it's One MORE time.
Then it's: "who are you to take this
away from me? Who are you to tell me NO!"
Silly stuff, really.