Do you find yourself struggling to eat well and exercise on the weekends? Are you “on” all week nutritionally and fitness-wise only to fall “off” on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday (and maybe even look forward to Monday so you can be “on” again)?
I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot lately, because I hear it all the time.
“I was so bad this weekend. I need to hit the gym really hard to make up for it. ”
“I can’t wait for Monday so my eating can go back to normal.”
This WAS me. I was this way for a super long time. I know other people who used to think like this too. I know people who still do think like this. I think…..anyone who has ever dieted or watched what they ate probably has, right?
I think I’m super sensitive to it now because I’m NOT that way anymore. And I know how I feel now. And how icky I used to feel when I was “on” or “off,” depending on which day of the week it was. How not in control I felt on the weekends. Because one french fry would lead to the whole plate of fries, which would lead to a sweet treat after dinner, which probably was on Friday or Saturday, which made the next day, and possibly the day after…..a day where I just “gave up” because I was powerless and would just wait until Monday to start “on” again.
For me, there are a few things that went into this “on” and “off” business. For starters, my weekdays were tight. I mean, probably pretty strict. No wiggle room. Probably not even a whole lot of flavor going on. Or, basically I was eating solely to lose something. So, by the time the weekend rolled around, or a social event, all bets were off, man. I felt so “deprived” all week, that once I got a taste of something, I would just go balls to the walls on it, and feel very, VERY out of control. If alcohol happened to be in the mix, then this just was all very amplified. I mean, who DOESN’T want a Totino’s pizza after the bar?
The second big thing that went into all this was that I deemed some foods “good” and some foods “bad.” I labeled things, and only ate “good” things. Or tried to only eat “good” things. And then when a “bad” thing slipped in, I felt like a failure. I failed. I ate the “bad” stuff. Why couldn’t I just eat “good” things? Why did I suck so bad?
……which only leads to…….
The third biggie. FOOD GUILT. When I ate “bad” things, I felt guilty, and like a failure. I attached my food choices to how I felt about myself. I kept score on how good at life I was by how I ate.
Do either of these things – strict, strict eating, labeling foods as “good” and “bad” and then feeling guilt – do any of them sound like things you have dealt with? And then one more question…..do any of them sound like they really WORK? You know, shooting for perfection, with an approved list of foods, and then feeling guilty for failing? Recipe for disaster, isn’t it? Because immediately upon failing and feeling guilty…..don’t you just start the whole cycle again? It is the worst constant loop you can find yourself in.
I’ll share with you how I ended up finding myself out of this icky loop. I will also put a big fat note here…….THIS TOOK ME A LONG TIME, AND A LOT OF MISTAKES AND LEARNING ALONG THE WAY. So, what I’m trying to say here is that I had to learn to keep trying, and not worry about making mistakes. So in YOUR journey, whatever steps you decide to take…..always give yourself the benefit of the doubt, and always, ALWAYS give yourself compassion freely.
So, here they are:
Remember super strict during the week me? And then binge out of control on the weekends me? I was not eating nearly enough during the week. So, by the weekends, I wanted food because my body was like “Hey YOU….YOU need to FEED ME” and then gave me cravings and such because it was trying to get more food. Duh, my body wasn’t an idiot. It wanted AND NEEDED more food! I just wasn’t paying attention. Der. So, the me right now has learned how to eat enough ALL THE TIME. Which doesn’t make me feel like I need to go crazy on the weekends, you know?
Alright, let’s move on to food labeler me. The me who deemed foods “good” and “bad?” Yup, I had to learn how to throw away the labels. I decided to not label things anymore. I decided that every food was a possibility for me, and that I could eat it if I wanted. This might sound TERRIFYING to you. But guess what? I didn’t balloon up a bajillion kazillion pounds. Because this allowed me to TRUST myself. I learned to trust myself and my food decisions. Which was empowering.
……….which of course, you can imagine, led to…….
DITCHING FOOD GUILT. I decided to remove judgement about how I ate. I no longer spend energy feeling guilty about my food choices. I CHOOSE my foods. I TRUST my choices. Within those two things, there really isn’t room left for guilt, is there?
So, for all of those peeps out there “on” during the week and “off” on the weekends – I feel you. I do. I know that cycle. I’ve lived that cycle. It is NOT a fun cycle.
However, you need to start paying attention to how much you are eating. For chronic dieters, we don’t eat enough normally. Not intentionally, but because we’ve jacked up our ability to feel real hunger or eat according to what our body tells us and what a normal size meal looks, tastes, and feels like. This takes some time to sort out, it doesn’t happen overnight. I can tell you that if your workouts are in the tank, and you have no drive to do them, even though they are usually something you love, making sure you are getting ENOUGH food or enough protein or ENOUGH of something is very much worth looking in to. This isn’t going to come in the form of an online calorie calculator or My Fitness Pal if you are leaving it up to a website to calculate your calories. You actually need to spend a few weeks/months getting in some food and decent meals, and getting your energy back up where it needs to be. This will be a MIND GAME if you are a chronic dieter, so I’d recommend you’d find yourself a coach to help you wade through it. The last thing you need is another 21 day fatloss program, you NEED food. MORE not LESS. Constant cravings, at least for me…..are a sign that I’m not eating enough (or over-tired, but that’s a story for another day).
Learn to trust your decisions and learn to eat at a level of feeling good. Like satisfied, and good. Not satisfied for an hour and then looking for another meal. Satisfied for a good couple hours so you don’t have to spend your days thinking about food. Play around with different food groups and get them to a level that makes YOU feel good, not mimic what your best friend is doing because that’s what makes HER feel good.
You can eat 2000 calories of just orange and still not be nourished because you ate JUST oranges. The same is true if all you do is eat Twinkies. A GREAT diet (and by diet I don’t mean restrict, I mean what you eat on the regular) is balanced with many choices from all the food groups. There aren’t “good” foods or “clean” foods or “bad” foods or “dirty” foods. There are JUST different types of food.
Throw away the useless guilt trip. It will not serve you. Guilt is like that crazy ex-boyfriend that you got rid of years ago – the one that is good for no one. Guilt is the same way. Ditch it.
Practice these things for awhile. Add steps that YOU need to add. Subtract steps that YOU need to subtract. Take your time. Give yourself compassion. If you have been on the diet roller coaster for far too long….it’s time to get off.