Going to extremes typically doesn’t work in the long run. And if you’re going to be around for a long time, which life permits of us humans, why do we have to think in some impatient, short term way to reaching a goal or changing our physiques or health?
Yes, reaching the goal sooner rather than later is exciting, but it’s not the end all. There’s the entire process and time it takes for us to get to these goals, and there are the actions we take to get there.
Taking extreme measures for some goal, like cutting way back on your calories, forbidding all carbs or favorite foods, sets you up to hate the process, and to revert back to eating those foods, and most likely overindulging in them when you do.
Do you really want to go through some phase or change to reach a goal and not enjoy it along the way, or reach it only to yo yo back to where you started?
I completely get it. I completely understand training, or eating for an event or date you want to do well or look amazing at. And I support these types of goals. But we need to be realistic in the process and time it takes to get there.
Over years, I’ve practice just this mentality, where I’d say I wouldn’t eat any of my favorite or trigger foods, I would skip meals, or eat way less than necessary. Nearly every time, I’d last about 1-3 days at most before binging.
Then, I tried a different approach. I was somewhat personally pushed into it as my schedule between college and work didn’t permit for me to not eat (I needed fuel) or to over eat (I didn’t have huge blocks of time to just binge). The shift I made for myself went something like this:
– I started taking or eating something for breakfast, I was scared to eat much because I was so used to back loading my calories, so breakfast was portion controlled, often prepared in advance.
– I also set aside maybe 20 min each evening to package some foods, leftovers or combinations of foods to eat the next day.
– I committed to eating one of those foods or meals every 3 hours from waking.
– I would remind myself that I was still going to eat something else in a few hours, and if it was my last meal I would remember I had breakfast to wake up to
– breakfast and breakfast type of foods became my favorite meal because I ate them more consciously and carefully than all the others, I enjoyed them more!
– I would take small cut up portions of my favorite food (whole foods scones in my hometown were the best) which I cut into 4-5 pieces as they were ginormous. I would eat these either before or after my morning gym time, when I would have a few minutes to truly savor them. I allowed myself this nearly daily weekdays.
– In evening I would factor in either some fruit, ocassions ply a single scoop of light vanilla ice cream
– The rest of the day I’d eat lots of produce, protein, leftover salads, or such. I came to crave these foods
– By the weekend, I just wanted a tasty favorite meal out, so I’d go to one of my fav restaurants. But since I was use to eating less, and less rich foods, I was satisfied on fewer bites and flavor rich but pretty good food.
Guess what happened? I lost those last stubborn pounds, created a new mindset and habits, and enjoyed the process.
I was able to stick to this more or less for a while.
Fast forward a year or two, and I began having friends or random people suggest I do this or that differently, compete, or eat more. I let this get the better of me and began taking what worked and trying to ‘perfect’ it.
Trying to be perfect is HARD! And it’s only short lived. I tried doing it, relentlessly, and in time I damaged my hormones and health. From slow or damaged metabolism, to thyroid trouble, to estrogen progesterone imbalance. Then what I did stopped working.
I began gaining weight, constantly tired or blah, not well rested, and because of the slump I’d eat foods I wasn’t eating regularly. And I didn’t realize to pay attention to my body, I’d eat more, not knowing when or if to stop.
A middle ground went from one extreme to the other. All the while hearing others around me suggest this or that or push one thing or another. So frustrating.
Now today, I am practicing how to pay attention to my body, pay less attention to others and others comments in regards to mine, and striving to do the best I can while keeping some sort of middle ground. The middle shifts here and there based on my goals, when I am, and what’s going on in life. But I don’t throw n the towel and I don’t completely restrict myself.
This all takes conscious practice, and huge mindset shift. It takes TIME and PATIENCE! It also takes knowing the right people and things, and avoiding the others. Choices you and only you can make.
There are very few things that you really shouldn’t take the middle ground in. Those that are detrimental to your health or wellbeing, like eating a food your allergic to or eating gluten if you have diagnosed celiac, or smoking; these require abstinence. But many other things are perfectly fine as a middle. You need to determine where on the spectrum to be.