I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day who was telling me that she really wanted to lose some weight. She told me about her plan to do a little Master Cleanse, cut out certain foods most days, and allow some cheat meals/days.
I’m listening…I’m biting my tongue…I’m longing for her to ask for my opinion or advice, but she doesn’t, so I don’t offer.
I’ve learned that my friends and family are not big fans of my unsolicited advice, lol.
Sigh. Will this be the diet that works? I don’t know, maybe.
I’m not a fan of diets.
As someone who tried about a billion different diets between the ages of 10 and 32, let me offer my perspective: Don’t go on another diet. Do something else.
In my experience, diets almost always have a boomerang effect. After a few days, or a few weeks, we reach a certain point of *total diet rebellion*, say “f*ck it!”, and then rapidly—remarkably rapidly--undo any progress we might have made.
I can vividly remember many occasions when I hit that tipping point and realized “oh my god, I am the only one holding myself to these stupid limits. I’m going to eat whatever I want. No one can stop me.”
That kind of internal struggle is not enjoyable and it’s not productive.
To me what makes sense—like really-good-no-nonsense-sense—is finding a way of eating that involves having a plan (I like plans!), but also includes a ton of freedom and flexibility within that plan.
The goal is to find the *least restrictive* way of eating that works for you, meaning a way of eating that you can sustain 24/7/365.
A plan that’s sustainable doesn’t involve having any foods that are totally off-limits. It doesn’t involve consuming only “good” foods, and it doesn’t even involve labeling foods as “good” or “bad”.
True, the least restrictive way of eating that will work for you will not be a free-for-all.
Sorry about that! Eating whatever you want whenever you want and effortlessly maintaining a healthy weight…sure, that is appealing, but it’s not realistic for most of us.
So there’s give and take.
You want wine and chocolate and breadsticks and frappucinos—cool! You can have any one of those things every single day, but probably not all of those things unless you are ridiculously active and/or supremely genetically blessed.
Give and take is different than all or nothing. It truly is about moderation and self-negotiation. If I am giving myself a choice between wine and chocolate, I don’t need to feel deprived. I can have wine tonight and chocolate tomorrow. Or maybe I want a little wine and a little chocolate, which can work, too…this way of eating is flexible, it’s even friendly!
Think about the word “friendly”…it means kind and pleasant. What would it be like for you to nourish yourself in a kind and pleasant manner? You know, like you would nourish a cherished friend or maybe your child.
Is that different than the way you currently nourish yourself? Sadly, for many of us it is very different—the way we treat ourselves is not the way we would treat our loved ones...or even strangers or mere acquaintances. Are you kinder and more pleasant to the checker at the grocery store than you are to yourself?
Wouldn't it be nice if you could extend that same degree of friendliness to yourself?
So that is your assignment this week, if you are willing to take it on, to nourish yourself like someone you love—no punishing rules, no mean judgments, etc. Practice being kind and gentle with yourself and see what happens…just a little experiment in self-love.
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