Losing weight can be a very lonely process. Some of us do it in secrecy, protecting ourselves against embarrassment if we fail, while some of us join a program, like Weight Watchers, where we can be a part of a community with the same goals and struggles. Regardless of how we pursue loss, we still have to continue to exist in the life we’ve built over many years. We’re still members of a family (or two, or three), still have friends, co-workers, and social obligations. The challenge, inevitably, is maintaining focus and resolve while engaging in daily life as well as the battle of the bulge.
I have friends whose tastes run to burgers, fries, and shakes. As much as simply the thought of those foods, especially in combination, makes me drool like Odie at an Alpo convention, seeing it across the table from me is far worse. I envision lunging across the table and inhaling it, leaving behind a crime scene that even CSI would find horrifying. I think that’s a pretty typical difficult situation, but what makes it more challenging is being “out” with the same friend.
Once you’re out of the closet where your weight loss effort is concerned, you often feel like you’re denying your friends or family the things that they want because you want to make healthy choices…this is the beginning of the story of every backslide I’ve had in the past five years. The first time my friend suggests going to one of our favorite haunts, heavy on ice cream, burgers, and fries, but then adds “Oh, but you’re on a diet.” I’m a little embarrassed and uncomfortable. I feel bad. I think “One meal won’t kill me.” I cave. Then the next meal gets easier, and the next easier still.
We want to say yes. We want to see our friends and family. We want to please people – make it easy for them. We want to sit down for a meal without worrying about the fat, carb, and calorie content of our meals. We feel bad and eat emotionally. In the end, isn’t that what has gotten to us to this very moment? Didn’t not wanting to inconvenience other people or think about what we’re putting in our bodies get us here?
In the end, it’s a choice; a choice that requires us to put value on ourselves. Isn’t it time that our health, happiness, and self-esteem matter as much, if not more, than our friends getting to eat a burger and fries? I’ve talked about backsliding before, and while weight loss is about choice, backsliding is about not making a choice in your own favor. It’s about grabbing the immediate gratification and letting go of the long-term payoff.
What I’m finding, day by day, is that I can give myself some short-term gratification AND make the right choices daily. What works for me is having one “easy day” – in my case Saturday. I weigh in at Weight Watchers at 9am, go to the meeting and then ask myself “What do I want? What have I been craving?” If it’s pizza, I have pizza for dinner, if it’s a cookie, I get myself a cookie at my favorite bakery. I still count the points, but I don’t worry about it as much as I would every other day. Knowing that there’s a day in my week when I can indulge (though not in excess) makes it easier to make good choices every other day. What’s more, it takes away the taboo on certain foods – there’s nothing I CAN’T have.
The most important thing is that I’m making a choice here – not abdicating responsibility. In the end, when I sit down with my friend The Hamburglar it’s not as hard to make a healthy choice, because I know, come Saturday, that if I still really want a hamburger or fries I’ll eat them. What works for you in these situations?
Have a great, healthy weekend!