Monday, October 12, 2009

The art of moderation

I promised I would blog on moderation and here we go!

Moderation is probably one of the most difficult parts of being healthy for me. That seems weird, because in reality moderation is easy - ESPECIALLY the concept. People make it sound sooooo easy. You hear people all the time say, "Have a few bites of whatever you really want, then stop and move on to something healthier." OR "You can have any food you want, you just can't have it all." OR "If you don't want to exercise, just get to the gym and start your workout and if you really want to stop, then stop but at least you did something."  I'm sure there are a lot of people that would tell you that practicing moderation in their lives is easier than running, or easier than learning to cook, etc. etc. And for some, IT IS - but for people like me, it's not. You can't tell an alcoholic to have just ONE drink and expect them to be able to control themselves. Same thing for someone like me with a self-proclaimed food addiction and definite tendencies to eat when emotional - I can't just stop. I've never been able to figure out how to stop. So, I've avoided.

Avoiding has been key for me since I changed my life. I have been avoiding the areas of my life I don't feel like I control. Eating is the big one for me, so I have been avoiding the foods I know will "trigger" me to bad behavior. I try not to eat out. I try to only drink on nights where I don't have to work the next day. I avoid sweets and treats that are brought into the office for birthdays, holidays, etc. And sometimes, avoiding is a great tool. Some days, I just really don't need to eat that cookie and avoiding it was the right thing to do (this was me on Friday FYI). But other times, I get upset because I feel like a hermit. I feel like I can never go out when invited and my social life is lacking and sometimes, I just feel defeated because I can't have all the things I used to love and eat constantly. So on those days, I go and I try to control myself. I try to moderate myself. Some days I do well and other days I don't. But I can guarantee you that almost every time that I've gone out and tried to control myself, I've felt guilty afterward. Why? Because even though I tried, I still overdid it. Even if I was in my calorie range for the day and had a great day, I still feel like I'm just slowing down the process of losing weight. Well, that's just not fair to myself now is it?

As I've been reading more and more entries on several healthy lifestyle blogs, I see the bloggers practice moderation. Some days these girls, who are maintaining weight losses and no longer counting all those calories, eat and drink things that I'm shocked to see. Other days, they have the most perfect food day and I feel like they might be starving themselves! I see some of them limit themselves to one glass of wine, or one cookie, or one half a cookie even! And every time I see someone else do it, I wonder, "How??? How can they be satisfied from that? How can they not want more? And even if they want more, how do they keep themselves from eating more?"

And then, it kind of hit me. The scariest part about what I'm about to tell you is I'VE TOLD THIS TO PEOPLE. I'VE SAID THESE WORDS. And yet, they still didn't latch on in my brain and stick around for the next situation I needed to hear these words. I finally told myself, "You don't need it." Think about it, do you really need a large french fry? Or would you be satisfied with a small? Think about the law of diminishing returns (I realize I'm just showing off my inner economics geek, but go with me here). The law of diminishing returns states that the return (satisfaction) on that second french fry is going to be slightly lower than the return on the first french fry. You really really wanted the first french fry. Now you've had one, so the second is still good - but not AS good. By the time you get to the 25th fry, you're just eating them because they are there. Your return is so low at this point, you would be fine just stopping - but most of us can't because they are sitting there.

So more light bulbs started going off in my head. I've realized that what these girls are doing that I'm not doing is completely mental (really, you can't be that surprised. I've said it before - most of this game is mental). They are eating half that cookie and drinking that one glass of wine and telling themselves, "Wow, that was great." They realize they don't need more than what they've given themselves and they say, "Brain.. we're done here." Because they have a completely positive attitude towards the experience, they are able to practice moderation. Contrasted to me, who is bitter because I can't have another cookie - or sad because that wine tastes SO good and I want another glass. The entire time I'm indulging myself instead of savoring the food and enjoying how the food tastes, I'm sad because I can't have more. Next thing you know, the cookie is gone and I forgot to enjoy it and want another - whoops.

I've played with this idea of needing/not needing the food for a while now, but it wasn't until this weekend that I felt completely in control of moderation. Friday I really wanted a glass of wine and I had one bottle in my house. I asked Matt if he would split it with me. We did and it was great. Now the old me would have said, "lets go buy another" or "I'll switch to beer" to keep that buzz going. But I didn't - I told myself that was great, switched to water and went to bed when I got "hungry" and couldn't find anything decent to satisfy myself with.

Saturday I met a friend for lunch. I really wanted to eat thai food at a restaurant in my old hometown, so I suggested we meet there. I felt bad though because I really knew exactly what I wanted to eat, and while it wasn't that bad - the chicken egg roll I also wanted was. I considered not getting it. But then I'd feel sad. I considered asking my friend to split it with me. Then I started remembering how much food is served at this restaurant and the last time I was there I estimated my meal was over 1200 calories. Yikes! So, I decided to do something I never do - I asked for a to-go box and boxed up half of everything (except the veggie) that I was served. I had half a chicken egg roll, chicken satay skewers with peanut sauce, brown rice and garlic sautéed green beans. I ate all of the green beans and asked for another order to go for the next day. It was fabulous, both days I had it!

After lunch Saturday, my friend and I were talking and I started craving frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles. My friend told me about a new frozen yogurt place in Denton that was like coldstone for yogurt - you serve yourself, you pick the toppings and they weigh your yogurt and you pay for it. That's reallllly want I wanted. So we went. These containers were HUGE. No lie, they probably would have fit about 4 cups of frozen yogurt and there was only one size available. Since you serve yourself, I was careful to put a lot of yogurt in my cup and eyeballed about 3/4 cup(145 calories) of froyo in my container. I went to the toppings bar and was struck by everything they had! It all looked SO good! I could very easily have put everything on my fro yo, but I stuck with my rainbow sprinkles and savored the entire thing. It hit the spot. About half way through, I was sad I didn't have much left. I wanted more. Then I told myself, eat what you have left! After I finished eating it, I drank water and listened to the radio while driving home and didn't think about more fro yo and was totally happy with what I'd had.

Saturday night I really wanted a beer. We had bought some Sam Adams Imperial White (soooo good) but it's very strong. I was careful to wait until I was done with dinner, wait until I had finished a lot of water and chilled my beer glass. Then I poured one beer into my glass and slowly drank it. I didn't even finish the entire beer! It felt wonderful! I felt empowered! And most of all, I felt satisfied.

It's amazing what a little mental shift can do for you. I had never felt in control because no one had every taught me how to. But, I'm so thankful that I figured it out on my own. Sure, I'll have days where I don't control myself but realizing everything I just shared has been an eye opener for me. I can have anything I want, I just have to be happy with my choices. I'll probably always want more, but I'll make the choice to not have more, just like I make the choice to work out and drink water and count calories.

Next time I'm feeling off about something, instead of telling myself, "I can't" or "I'm out of control", I'll just stop and disect what my brain is really thinking about. I'll evaluate the mental aspect first, because I'm learning that the mental aspect of being healthy is far more hard and scary than the physical aspects. You can do anything you put your mind to do - so start trying it!

1 comment:

  1. are you talking about yogurt story? gah, that place is fabulous but dangerous if your not careful! My fav is the cookies and cream. And I love all the fresh fruit that they have on their topping bar!