She is definitely one of the nicest people I have met online and always willing to help out and answer questions. It is women like Pat that give all of us who are still working on it hope. Thank you so much Pat for sharing your expertise with us today.
Please enjoy the following guest post by Pat Barone:
Diet Mentality's Affect on Holidays
By Pat Barone, CPCC, PCC, "America's Weight Loss Catalyst"
In exactly 3 months, I will celebrate 10 years at my current weight. After losing over 70 lbs. and diligently taking care of that new weight, I've made my weight loss permanent. The medical profession defines "permanent weight loss" as weight loss sustained for over 5 years.
Those years have reinforced what research studies taught me when I first approached weight loss:
1. Diets perpetuate certain thought patterns – we are either "on" or "off", "good" or "bad", "with the program" or "banished to the dark side." We fight eating when true, unmanageable instinct tells us we need food. It's like fighting a perpetual losing battle.
2. The more diets we try, the more diets fail – they fail because we can't eat the same way forever. Eventually, we either get tired of the restricted eating style, or our rebellious internal 4-year-old hits the road in search of self-determination. That may sound like "I'm outa here" or "I'm entering a free food zone for 13 days" or "Gotta have sugar."
3. When we fail at some task, we tend to blame ourselves and attach the "failure label" to ourselves.
4. The longer we diet and yo-yo the number on the scale, the more engrained these beliefs become.
5. Repeated dieting destroys the metabolism. No matter what your age, ending the diet game now (today!) means better health and a lower weight in the future. If I had just gotten some great feedback in high school about my size and shape, and stayed that weight, I would have avoided tons of pain, psychological damage, illness, disease, deprivation, and depression.
The stringent diets I tried (and I tried them all) did NOTHING for me or my weight. Diets make us fatter. Plain and simple. They lower your body's ability to burn fat in the future.
So, why talk about "diet mentality" now?
Because "diet mentality" can drive us crazy during the holidays. And, eventually, that destructive 4-year-old appears and throws all good efforts away.
Diet mentality infuses the holidays with stress, guilt and useless self-flogging. It destroys the enjoyment of the season by creating a negative relationship with food and actually forcing us to focus MORE on food. We may even redefine "enjoyment" as food, definitely not a positive redefinition.
Just think about it. If we'd never encountered a diet, food would just be food. It wouldn't be reward or emotional soother. Just food. Simple energy.
Life doesn't start or stop, based on whether we're complying with a diet. And we deserve love and complete respect, no matter what we ate a minute ago, a month ago, or years ago. We must first give ourselves love and respect, then others will follow.
So, what does diet mentality look like at holiday time?
1. Wild "food" swings: For a party invitation, we starve beforehand, promise ourselves we'll only have a certain amount of food, throw our promises out the window, overindulge, feel terrible, chastise ourselves, bark at our family members in disgust, become moody and depressed. Or we follow the supposedly smart diet suggestions and eat something healthy before a party, then resent the fact we don't have room for something unique and yummy once we're at the party. Or eat it anyway and feel totally stuffed, confused or defeated.
2. Excuse Victim: We use the excuse of "It's the holidays" or "I'll fast tomorrow" or "I'll get right back on the diet after New Year's" to give ourselves free reign at every party, family gathering and celebration for a full three-six weeks. This leads to a January of regret and depression.
3. Body as Garbage Can: Another diet mentality trap is the excuse of "I only get this treat at Christmas" or "Aunt Ellie makes the best Hanukkah cookies." In other words, there's a sudden scarcity of food in America!
Do we really think we can't find a cookie in America if and when we want one again?
This diet blunder completely disregards one truth about the body.
If the body isn't hungry, really physically hungry, it doesn't need food and it has no place to put the excess food you eat. It doesn't need to make energy, or store blood sugar or glycogen. So it makes fat of it. That's the bottom line. Stomach full or body not hungry? You've just become a highly efficient fat-making machine.
There's no such thing as "one more won't hurt" at this point! We just give ourselves a longer road to travel in releasing the weight later.
So, if you really want another treat and you're not hungry, arrange to take it home for later. You can even freeze many holiday treats and enjoy them in February or March!
As I often tell my weight loss clients, "you can waste food or you can waist it – it's a choice. If you're not hungry, really physically hungry, it's garbage. The only difference is, when you waist the excess food, you carry your garbage around for everyone to see!"
So, I'm issuing a challenge this holiday season:
1. Live like a human being. Be kind to yourself and others. No stuffing your poor body. No relentless self-punishing inner dialog.
2. Make your food choices as reasonable and healthy as you possibly can. Every time you're in charge of a meal, make it the healthiest you can. There will be many other meals you can't control during this time of year.
Don’t eat when you are not physically hungry. Physical desire isn't reason to eat. We all want that donut, so what? Remember, when you eat when you're hungry, at least your body has the ability to convert that food to energy. Challenge yourself in this area. It won't hurt and it could be the healthiest habit you ever make!
Most of all, enjoy the people, places, sights and feelings of the holidays. All of these things are more important than food.
Years from now, you'll look back and remember the sweet time you talked with your grandmother, or the fun you had with your nephew and his new fire truck – you won't remember that 14th bite of anything. In terms of importance, it's not even on the radar screen!
Pat Barone, CPCC, PCC earned her title "America's Weight Loss Catalyst" by coaching thousands of clients toward permanent weight loss. Her status as an expert is heightened by her own personal weight loss success. This discussion came out of the December Catalyst Community call. Join the catalyst community at Pat's blog, www.stoprentingweightloss.com, and you will receive her free monthly newsletter and exclusive invitations to the Catalyst Community calls every month.