So last week I was out to lunch with a close friend, and fellow toddler mama. As we sat down and looked at our menus, my friend quickly blurted out “I am only ordering a salad, I’m trying to be ‘so good’ on my diet this week.” I looked up at her as she shared her struggled cloaked in triumphant assertiveness like by saying it outloud would make it feel easier. She suddenly let out a huge sigh. “God, I feel gross, this is terrible” as if confessing to a crime. “I am trying so hard!” “I try so hard from about Monday-Thurs but then Friday comes around and I am sick of salad and want to enjoy a glass of wine or go out to dinner. I always end up trying to be so good, then can’t figure out what to order or make and just end up eating the whole basket of french fries. I feel so bad about it, but it’s like I have no willpower! I just need to try harder, but I am just so tired all the time.”
God, who hasn’t been in these shoes?
I wore these shoes for years. The first time I was trying to lose 25 pounds, I felt like all I did was see-saw back and forth between being on my diet and then so far off my diet by the time the weekends came that I might as well have been eating deep fried oreos dipped in wine for every meal. Then Sunday would roll around and I would feel such shame, guilt, and well hopelessness. I’d look in the mirror and be so mad. And so, I would buckle down and get “strict” again to start my week because, damnit, this week I was going to stick to my diet and I was not going to mess this up. I was going to stay strong.
It never worked.
Why? How could this never work? For me, believing I had to go “ALL IN” with “NO EXCUSES” and follow this perfect freaking plan to see results- was actually creating the exact opposite. I was creating even more excuses, I was giving it all I had and getting nothing. What.. the… hell.
So, if no one has ever said this to you, you are not alone in this struggle diet-binge cycle. Even if all of those other moms want to make you feel like you are. Yes, even the ‘fit’ looking ones.
My feeling is–of course we keep ‘failing’ at these plans and diets, who possibly is successful at doing something so painful with zero return? Who wants to be rationed out food in tiny containers and told these are the ‘rules’-you better not blow it”
It is a set up!
As moms, we have almost zero spare energy to give to anything or anyone sometimes. We have HARD literally oozing out of our ears some days. So, on top of trying to brush your teeth while putting Claire’s lunch together and remembering to take the dog out, you are also supposed to only eat food you don’t like all day? Oh and have enough energy to then go to the gym for an hour, make dinner, do homework, and maybe take five seconds to breathe.
Yea, what could go wrong with that?
Maybe before you had kids this was a plan you could muscle or gut through, but after kids? Yea- put me down for no. It is exhausting and the little energy you have left can not be expended on the mental game of what is the ‘right’ thing for me to eat right now. The reality is, life is going to happen- a lot. I’d love to say you should always be prepared with containers of healthy meals to take with you, but sometimes, that just doesn’t happen or even fit your lifestyle when you are running out the door at 7am or going out to lunch with coworkers. But that doesn’t mean you suck. It also doesn’t mean you are doomed to failure. In fact, this struggle you’ve experienced might be the exact thing that leads you to break free and find your own kind of healthy.
So How Do You Break Free Without Battling Willpower?
- Relax- I know this is going to seem like advice that comes with an eye roll or maybe it feels too abstract for some of you who are used to the strict guidelines of diets. But stick with me. If you begin to relax the notion that weekdays and weekends are two different worlds, you may begin to see your lifestyle differently. If you just look at each day as a day where you want to eat enough to feel satisfied but not bloated and gross, then the diet trap wagon goes away. You are under no obligation to be ‘strict’ or fall off anything. You can lose weight and just feel better in general, without counting calories or having the perfect meal plan. And yes, you can even go out to eat and not stress about the menu when you have simple guidelines (not rules) to help you order. One of the ways I help the moms I work with, who still feel they need the framework of a plan, is by giving them a few simple game changer items to focus on. We may focus on protein or maybe getting more vegetables in during the day. Together, we focus more on learning to listen to how YOUR own body feels in response to the food you eat, not how someone else tells you you should feel.
- Be an Underachiever- I don’t know about you, but if I start a plan that hangs its hat on being extreme- there is a good chance three days in I am quitting. I really want to rock it out, but I am tired, sore, and now I am just plain afraid of the whole process psyching myself out because it is hard and I suck at this. So, instead- I want you to be an underachiever. Think of literally the easiest plan you feel you could follow (but a little harder than sitting on the couch and watching TV 😉 ) and just do that. Do it for as long as you feel it fits the season of life YOU are currently in. Maybe your whole plan for an entire month is to try to walk two days a week. Maybe it is to do two strength training exercises that are no more than twenty minutes. Whatever it is, make it be something that you don’t dread doing.
- Why Cheat once, when you can do it daily?– I personally am not a fan of the whole “cheat day” idea. Not because I think you shouldn’t enjoy yourself, but rather I don’t like the idea that the concept has a negative vibe to it. “Cheat” makes me feel like you are just stuffing your face full of everything in sight and hiding in the corner while doing it. Instead of looking at food from this cheat perspective, allow yourself the freedom to have a little bit of whatever you love more regularly. Maybe it is to have a few pieces of dark chocolate or a small bowl of ice cream or frozen yogurt each night if you crave it. Yes, I am saying you can have a small bowl if this keeps you from diving head first into a carton of ice cream every weekend. The idea here is to make yourself feel less deprivation and more success. If it isn’t off limits, you might be surprised that you don’t even want it some nights. Are you with me?
I know that all you want right now is this extra weight to just be gone. Feeling uncomfortable, lethargic, and overwhelmed by the idea of being trapped in this yo-yo cycle can make you want to search for quick fixes and shiny promises on google. But, if you are like me, you have tried those types of plans before-probably more than once. And, if you are like me, they left you feeling worse than when you started because you couldn’t ‘finish’ them or you lost some weight but gained it right back. This cycle is how and why I am now working exclusively with moms and moms to be who are tired of the in your face approach to living. Because after years of trying the “all or nothing” diet style, with a lot of burn out and misses, I finally found a way to create a hey- “Alil Something is Fantastic”- lifestyle that actually gets you results in the unpredictable world of being a mom.