Healthier You 101: Back to Basics
After being in the fitness industry for close to 15 years, I take so much of my journey for granted.
I forget the days when I had no clue which exercise worked which muscle and I forget how little I knew about nutrition. I remember when I thought “carbs” only meant white bread and white rice. Now, about 4 years after practicing a more “flexible approach” in my “off-season”, it’s easy to forget the all too common approach to dieting of “all-or-nothing”.
But, I want to remember and I want to be sure I help you understand too. Here’s an example….
Understanding the dieting – overeating cycle
A friend reached out to me a few weeks ago and told me that she’s struggling with depriving herself all week and then overeating on the weekend. She gets what I’m saying about moderation and being intentional with choices…. in theory it makes sense, but that she can’t seem to break this cycle.
She totally falls off on the weekends and then feels terrible, physically and mentally, which leads her to deprive and restrain her eating even more when the week begins again.
This is common. Do not feel alone. There is hope.
One of my favorite people who speak on this topic is Jill Coleman. She explains, “we kind of like the deprive-then-binge.” (Weird, right? Stay with me…) She says there’s something indulgent about just giving up all effort and giving in to the overeating.
Overeating feels good in the moment….in those moments, it’s difficult to care about the consequences. It’s hard to anticipate the disappointment in yourself. Even when you do remember, you ignore those thoughts and just “deal” with them later.
The diet-then-overeat cycle is just like anything else—we choose short-term, instant gratification over the long-term effort.
Moderation is much harder than extremes. It takes trusting yourself, trusting the process and practicing mindfulness…being INTENTIONAL with our choices. When we are depriving, then overeating, there’s no mindfulness taking place. We only have 2 speeds: obsessive awareness (aka counting every morsel we consume) or blackout mode where we’re blindly eating and pretending it’s not happening.
An all-or-nothing approach to eating is so common.
In fact, I would agree with Jill when she explains that most people just arrive there naturally. It’s what our society instills and what the marketing messages in our industry perpetuate. If you are going through life relatively asleep, not practicing mindfulness (which is a conscious practice that takes effort), it’s pretty much inevitable that most people will adopt a black-and-white approach to eating. I’ve certainly caught myself doing this at times as well.
So what do you do about it?
When you reach a point where you recognize and admit that you’re stuck in this weekly diet-then-overeating cycle, how do you stop and gain control?
How do you avoid the feelings of guilt, disappointment and restriction? How can you overcome the need for control that these strict meal plans and calorie restrictive diets seem to provide?
I’m with you, we like being in control. For a few days a week or the first couple weeks of a new diet, a strict meal plan can help us feel in control. Until … we run out of “will power” and eat whatever we can get our hands on.
The answer is to become a beginner again.
I want you to challenge yourself to start keep it simple. Go back and practice the basics. Even if you are a seasoned competitor, personal trainer or just consider yourself comfortable with exercise, you may have lost your way in the never-ending quest for “the perfect body,” and I want you to bring it back to the start.
In order for a rocket to leave the earth, it has to fire extra-hard against gravity. It needs a boost. We can start—and usually stay moving—on our own. But, it definitely helps when someone gives us a bit of encouragement and pushes us in the right direction. Someone who can hold us accountable when we are procrastinating or when we are limiting our progress because we are trying to be perfect. Someone who can get us out of that all-or-nothing trance with a friendly nudge and encouraging reminder.
Want some help getting started?
For most people, getting started is the hardest thing. Figuring out what to do first can be paralyzing.
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