Monday, April 7, 2014

Losing the Dieter Mentality

After a week long splurge of being "off plan", not tracking in My Fitness Pal, and consuming large amounts of sugar through chocolate cake, cookies, and Easter candy, I finally had an epiphany Saturday evening.  Yes it took the whole week, and in fact you could say it took a year and two months for me to finally arrive at this one thought that is about to change everything.  I finally realized that although I professed to have made a lifestyle change, and I was eating healthier; I still had a "dieter mentality".

What do I mean by that?  I mean that when I would eat healthy food, and track my calories (or my points when I was doing Weight Watchers) I considered myself "on plan" and I would not eat sugary foods.  I would not eat foods that I loved such as popping popcorn and smothering it in butter and salt, or hamburgers and french fries, or cookies, or cake, or brownies, and the list goes on.  After about 5-6 days of staying "on plan" I would have a free day where I could eat anything and everything I wanted.  I have no idea how much I consumed on my free days because I never tracked them, but I am sure it was well far beyond anything that I should have been consuming, even with the weekly points factored in. 

This idea of being "on plan" vs"off plan" or "on my diet" vs"off my diet" or "I am doing good today" vs. "I am splurging today" is at the core of the dieter mentality, and I fit that to a tee.  If I was supposed to be "on plan" that day, and I ate a cookie or two, I figured "Well, I've already messed up this day, might as well just throw away this day and start again tomorrow".  And I would proceed to search and consume any and all items in my house that were unhealthy.  I would actually want to eat foods that would be considered, maybe not 'off limits' since there was no off technically 'off limits' on Weight Watchers, but maybe less than preferable.  So instead of stopping at two or three cookies, I would then proceed to eat seven cookies, and then I wouldn't want to eat anything healthy for dinner that night because I had already blown my day and I might as well go all the way and start over tomorrow.

The dieter mentality.... a dangerous and deadly place to be.  The dieter mentality has almost beaten me three times on this journey.  Once in June/July of 2013 I was "off plan" for about a month and I had to re discover my motivation and determination to continue... I almost didn't.  Once when I hurt my foot in January I was "off plan" for another month and I couldn't rediscover the power within me to stop my dangerous spiral back down the path of eating unhealthy food (I'm talking pizza, and cookies, and buttery popcorn every single day... and not just a little bit either).  Fortunately, I was able to pull myself out of that when I started Chalean Extreme.  It gave me something new to focus on and so I was able to get back on track.... but still with the dieter mentality that now I was "back on plan."  Lastly was last week. 

I'm not going to lie.  Last week was HARD.  I ate poorly, I was tired all week and I felt like crap.  Not just physically but emotionally.  My weigh in on the previous Sunday where it said I gained 5 pounds hit me like a sack of bricks.  I had been doing SOOO good!  I had been eating healthy foods, I hadn't missed a single workout, and I was striving towards that elusive number of 145 and I thought I might be close at that weigh in.  My mind set was all wrong, I was striving for a number on the scale instead of overall health (that is another topic for another day).  So all week I ate the worst I have since January and day after day I thought "is this where it ends?  Do I stop losing weight now?  Have I finally been pushed off the cliff and now I am just going to stop?  What happens when I stop?  Will I gain all the weight back now?  Do I keep going?  How do I keep going?  I was searching through dozens of weight loss blogs trying to figure out where I had gone wrong.  Looking at people's success stories, their struggles, and how they overcame their challenges. 

Finally I found a blog called  And amidst all of her amazing posts, I found her mention over and over again the dieters mentality and how detrimental it is to think about being "on plan" and "off plan".  And I realized I still have this mentality.  Also in several people's success stories they talked about making the plan their own, and how they would have dessert every single day.  If they deprived themselves of something they wanted, inevitably they would splurge on that desired food in massive quantities.... exactly as I was doing. Whether on the weekend, or in a one month or one week long splurge.  

Another example: The whole week I had been planning on doing another 30 day challenge of not eating any sugar in the last 30 day phase of Chalean Extreme.  So what did I do?  I realized that Easter was coming up within the next 30 days and I wasn't going to be able to eat my favorite Easter candy during the challenge and I thought "Well, I had better go get the candy I like now and eat it now since I won't be able to eat it later"  Half a bag of sweet tart jelly beans and a whole bag of Reeses peanut butter eggs later........ You get the idea?  That kind of thinking leads to no where.  Instead of developing healthy habits, I look to where I can sneak in the things that I want and have it be "ok" because I am getting back on track tomorrow. 

So I am ditching the dieter's mentality and fully embracing the idea that in reality there is no off limits foods.  I have to allow myself the foods I desire and work them into my life.  I thought about signing back up for Weight watchers, but then decided that I would rather save the money and use My Fitness Pal instead.  So I am giving myself 1,500 weekly calories to spend on whatever I want to simulate the 45 or so weekly points you get from Weight Watchers to spend on whatever you want.  I figured if you got about 26 points in one day and that was similar to 1,200 calories then 45 points should be at least 1,500 if not 2,000 calories for the week.  So this week I changed my calorie limit from 1,200 to 1,400 and I am also incorporating my 1,500 weekly calories and I plan on creating something that works for me.  Something that I can live with day in and day out.  No more free days, no more splurge days, no more off plan or on plan.  I am creating a new lifestyle.  For Real. 

I feel so liberated!  Now that FOR REAL cookies are available. FOR REAL I can eat Pizza if I want to.  FOR REAL I can have some of my favorite candies.  FOR REAL I can go out to a restaurant and order what I want.  I just have to understand portions and moderation and make sure not to deprive myself so I don't binge on something later. Just last night, after my first day of being on my new lifestyle, I was thinking about summer coming up and camping and the thought came into my mind as it always does of smores!  The first thing I thought was "I can't eat smores, they will ruin my diet" and then almost immediately after that came the happier thought "oh wait!  I can eat smores!  I could eat just one and make sure to count the calories in the gram cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow and just factor that into my new lifestyle!"  Now it is important to note that I'm not creating something like "eat whatever and whenever I want".  That mentality got me to weighing 211 pounds.  I want to really create a new healthy lifestyle that works for me and that I can live with that will not leave me feeling deprived or unhappy.  If I find this doesn't work well for me, I will change it.  Maybe I will go back on weight watchers until I get it figured out, but I want to give this a try first since we, as usual, have to be very careful with the money we spend.

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