Last January I decided if I was ever going to lose weight and keep it off forever, I was going to have to devise my own eating plan that would work for me for the rest of my life. It had to be forgiving and there could be no forbidden foods, and it had to be flexible.
Part of that plan involved rethinking. I had developed a mindset and a relationship with food over the years that was off kilter. One of the most important things I did was the mental work...figuring out what I was doing wrong and why I was doing it and what I could do differently.
My food plan is my map...it will lead me where I want and need to go. But what happens when I take a detour and don't follow the plan? Am I a failure? NO. Thinking of oneself as a failure when one detours from one's chosen food plan is counterproductive.
To quote from The Thin Commandments Diet: "The biggest cause of excess pounds is not a food. It is not even a behavior--it's a mindset. It's a mental habit that reacts to a diet slip by giving up, 'letting the screen go blank'." The author, Stephen Gullo, goes on to say that this one slip or error tends to become a reason to stop all one's efforts at weight control. He says, that instead of handling it like any human error, asking "what can I learn from this?", we say, instead, "Well, I blew it, I might as well blow the rest of the day/weekend/week/forever."
The "I Blew It" syndrome is terminal to weight loss. Why? No one gets heavy from one slip, one detour, one meal of too many calories. Gullo gives several consequences from thinking "I blew it". I've chosen a few to list here.
- sets up impossible tension in your life: that you have to be either perfect or a failure
- ruins your chance to cut off the mistake and keep any weight gain small and temporary
- turns a few minutes of unwise eating into something that will take days, months or even years to make up for
- paralyzes you into a mode of helplessness that lets one mistake end up becoming thousands of calories
- makes you loose hope
- doesn't answer the most important question: What went wrong in this situation and what could I do differently?
When I developed my personal food plan I developed a method for dealing with my slips or as I prefer to think of them, detours. Any plan that does not teach one what to do when one "slips" is incomplete. Most plans don't teach their followers how to deal with slips or even special events like birthdays or holidays. Generally they expect that you will forgo the special food that accompanies those occasions...all the while also telling you the diet is a way of life. But who, in reality, will forgo birthday cake for the rest of their life, or chocolates on Valentines day? or Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings? Not me.Gullo goes on to say that error control is the essence of weight control. And I say emphatically "AMEN"! We all know what to do to follow our chosen plan. What we don't know is what to do when we slip. Most of us beat ourselves up, think "I've been bad" or see the food we've overindulged in as "bad"....all of which is counterproductive.
THE MAGIC BULLET FOR ERROR CONTROL
In three words: contain the mistake. It's that simple. Containing the mistake prevents it from becoming an overwhelming series of mistakes. Gullo says: "Just as there are chain smokers, there are "chain eaters". Don't allow the chain to start, and you will succeed in weight control".
When I devised my eating plan I built into it a method for error control. It has revolutionized the way I look at weight loss and weight management and has allowed me to finally get it right. Reading The Thin Commandments Diet has given me additional insight and I wanted to share this excerpt with you. There is a lot more to be learned reading the whole book and particularly the chapter titled "The Seventh Commandment: Slips Should Teach You Not Defeat You" which gives specific information instead of the typical generalities so often given in diet plans. It boils down to the difference between having cheerleaders cheering you on but you having no idea what to do or how to proceed or having an instructor say step here, go there, do this or do that.