Are you on a diet? Losing weight? Kicking ass?
Good luck. You're going to need it.
Woah, woah, woah- before you accuse me of taking a turn to Negative Nancyville, hear me out... and, you know me- I'm not going to give you a problem without some kind of solution, or at least consolation. Read on:
Pizza is Permanent. Will power is not.
Cutting out the junk is good news. There are very few (if any) redeeming qualities of a Big Mac, and you're developing ideas on what foods do or do not belong in your life, and taking action. "OUT, pizza! You are BAD!", "Goodbye, ice cream! Your sugary smoothness has never added anything to my life, other than inches!". Here's the problem: Pizza will always exist. Just like the honeymoon phase of a new, dreamy relationship, diets have that too. It's easy to commit long-term, in the short term. You find "the one" and say "Yes, I do agree to this!". You clean out your fridge and your pantry and spend your paycheck at Whole Foods buying things you don't even know how to cook (who even knows what you're supposed to do with a beet?) because they're "super foods". You might even convince your buddies or your household to go along for the ride. But then it happens: It's a Friday and you're wondering how the heck you could have spent hundreds of dollars on groceries and be left with only unsweetened almond milk and a beet you don't know how to cook. Or, your best friend hangs up on you and your nuclear fight leaves you wanting only the sweet embrace of Ben and Jerry (yes, I've mentioned them before. Yes, they're friends of mine). Or your other best friend gets engaged and insists you come out to the Mexican restaurant with the best chips (read: margaritas) in town to help her celebrate. However driven you are, day one, week one, month one, there will come a moment when you lose that drive. And, even if you've said "no" countless times before, there will, my friends, come a time where you say "yes".
Food is more than delicious.
It's not about the food. I hear people say all the time, "Oh, if only it didn't taste so good". I would be willing to wager that "taste" is one of the last reasons most of us eat. We eat because it's there, we eat because it's convenient, it's the time of day we're supposed to, because we're lonely, or we're happy, or we're mad, or we're bored, or it's a "special occasion". Food is the family member that has dinner with us every night from the time we're born; the tucker-inner, the recognition of a job well done. We're not addicted to food: We're addicted (and yes- this goes for ALL humans, not just overweight ones!) to our history with food. Just like a relationship where you might be treated poorly, we keep going back because we remember the "good times", and UNLIKE a bad relationship, we genuinely cannot live without it.
We can't release it. So we must reframe it.
You cannot walk away from food. You actually need it to survive. You also can't avoid that it's a shared cultural experience that ain't going away. How shocked would you be if you walked into the break room and saw someone shooting up or smoking pot? I'm hoping (depending on where you work) you'd say VERY. But how shocked would you be if you didn't see a week where someone brought in coffee cake, or cupcakes or candy? I know in my office, if people don't have a brownie or cookie to cap off their lunch EVERY day, they go haywire. It becomes an all-out sugar war- "WHERE is the dessert? Did they FORGET the dessert? Who HAS dessert?" Woah. The white collars I work with are deduced to 2 year old "Who stole my cookie?" pondering. It's fascinating and scary.
Did you know there's a study that was done that actually cited that sugar lights up the same part of our brain as cocaine does for cocaine addicts?
But I digress- it ain't about the sugar: It's about being prepared to face the sugar.
So, we know we're going to ultimately mess up, and we know that there's no way to have this stuff not exist in the world. What's a gal (or guy) to do?
Stop hating yourself.
Seriously. If you are on a diet, you loooooathe yourself. Not only are you telling yourself that you're not good enough as you are, but you're telling yourself that when you mess up (and, see above: you will), you're reallly going to get it. Get over the fact that the food you eat will never, ever, ever be perfect. It will fall somewhere on the spectrum from "Omigod, that food is literally laced with rat poison" to "Wow, look at the macronutrients on THAT one!". It's NEVER going to be all good and all bad. Unless you're superhuman (which is awesome, and we should hang out), you're never going to be perfect, so stop beating yourself up.
Focus on the good stuff.
Diets focus on the bad. "Clean out your pantry!", "Get rid of your sugar!", "NO MORE PIZZA" (can you tell pizza's one of my things?). Why in the name of curly kale are you spending all your energy and focus on what you are trying NOT to focus on? Get out of the way of real food that supports your body. No more "nos". Instead, eat good stuff. Eat greens (you know this is rule #1). Eat protein. Eat healthy fats. Drink water. Focus on those 4 things, and those 4 things only, and the "bad" stuff will start weeding itself out. How do ya like that? All the result and half the work.
Blah, blah, blah, I'm so sick of the idea of "volume" eating- Like "Did you know, eating 400 pounds of greens is only 35 calories? So just eat salad, and you'll never gain a pound!". Ugh. No.
I'm not talking about that kind of full. I'm talking about the other full- the one that's harder to get, but SOOO much more satiating. Remember those pesky emotions we talked about that food played into? The celebrations, the challenges, etc? Yeah- find a way to uninvite food. Break up with it- not forever, but just for stuff like that. Because, it doesn't fill you up. It's not fuel, in those moments, it's...well, ultimately, just calories. Nothing- NOTHING else. You know what kinds of things fill you up? Friends- being with good ones, and making new ones. Adventure- there's something magically satisfying about seeing the world in new ways. Passion- Doing the stuff you LOVE to do. Activity- Doing, literally, anything. And no, TV (or anything that causes you to sit still) doesn't count. Find your thang- working out, biking, dancing, talking, writing, twirling batons, volunteering, making balloon animals, crocheting, ceramics, Crossfit, mountain climbing. Once you get busy being busy, you won't have time to eat out of boredom, and when you do eat, you'll feel genuinely "full" from your awesome life that you don't NEED that cookie in the same way, making it easier to make better choices.
Get over the fact that THIS IS FOREVER.
Oh, my dreaded frenemy "the finish line". Listen, I love a goal and a deadline as much as the next person- probably more. And if this were about getting into a size 6 ONE time, I could frame out the perfect no-carb, high-cardio, kill-yourself-program to follow (trust me... I did it once. And I STILL didn't quite make a size 6). But that's not what life should be about. It's not what life IS about. Life, and success, and the food you eat, and the exercise you do, and the friends you have, and the love you find- it's not linear. It's quite literally anything but linear. It's a giant squiggly line of ups and downs and highs and lows and almosts and victories and failures and sadness and elation. If you understand that life doesn't work like a line graph, you can start to embrace that a bad day is just part of the process, and it's not freaking nuclear. It's a blip on the overall radar of your life. It's a teeny, tiny, unimportant, pizza-eating grain of sand on the beach of your worth. It doesn't matter. Unless you make it matter, and you need to not do that. Stop giving a flying flip what you weigh. Unless you're on a reality show wearing a sports bra in front of 9.5 million people (something I have no experience in), or you're about to jump off a bridge with a bungee cord holding you to the top of a bridge, your weight has absolutely no bearing or impact on this world whatsoever. You know what matters? Whether you can live the life you want to. If you can't, it's time to make a course correction so you can. But people vastly overestimate the "number" they need to lose in order to have life shift: You want to wear cute clothes and think a size 6 is the only way to do that? Honey, puhlease- call me up and let's go shopping. You want to go on an adventure and are afraid your weight will keep you from being active? Ok- so don't wait for your vacation to BE active. Start now, and then book your trip for 3 months out. If you spend 3 months being the kind of "active" you'd be on vacation, then you won't need to worry about whether or not your body will keep up (regardless of what the number on the scale says). Base your goals on action, and performance (being able to shop, being able to go white water rafting, mountain climbing, city exploring, etc), rather than your scale, and you'll be amazed at how much you can ALREADY accomplish without losing a pound, taking your life off the unnecessary hold you've put it on, and giving you permission to not only be awesome, but to KNOW it.
Beat the Bullies
This one's tough because it plays with your heart strings, so I'll give it to ya straight: People are mean. They're mean because they don't understand something, or they've been taught to hate something, or they don't know any better. It doesn't excuse it, or make it easier to tolerate, but it's true. If you give them the opportunity, there will be those- ones you know of, and those you don't- who bring you down and make you believe you have to look a certain way, act a certain way, etc, and who will tell you so.
My best advice is not to ignore it. My best advice is to call those potty mouths out on their ish. Stop letting people treat you like crap (for ANY reason) and insist upon them telling you why they think it's necessary to do so. You deserve to not wallow in someone else's opinion of you, and I'd bet anything when you stare down the jerkface they'll lose their power...and you'll gain it. You may even have an opportunity to be a teacher of sensitivity, or an advocate of empowerment and leave your bully better than you found them.
My other best advice? Surround yourself in people that build you up, and then be able and willing to share when people (or life) is pulling you down. For every so-and-so there is that thinks you're too fat/too thin/too this/too that, there are probably dozens if not hundreds that see how un-freaking-believable you are. The trick is to hear THOSE people frequently so those (bored, lonely, insecure) naysayers don't have anywhere near enough force necessary to penetrate the wall of love and confidence you've built around you.
Diet's suck. But you don't. You're better than a diet. Stop being a slave to your diet and start being the star of your life. The food stuff will work itself out when you start focusing on what you're really hungry for.