In this newest phase of my fitness journey, once again I find that the mental game is everything. You have to get yourself in the right headspace, and doing that is often the hardest part of setting out. Staying there can be a challenge, too, but the more often you make the right choices, the easier it is to keep making them.
Still. In my never-ending quest to answer the magic question --- What am I willing to do, and keep doing, right now in order to meet my goals? --- I've discovered that while the question remains the same, the answer may change, and that requires cognitive adjustments.
What I was willing to do and keep doing in 2008 is not the same now, in 2012. Now, I have less time and energy to focus on working out, so I've committed to thirty minutes of high intensity exercise a day, instead of a hour or more of other types. I don't burn as many calories with this but I can do it every single day, and I can usually do it in the morning, which means the Black Cloud of When Are You Going to Get Off Your Ass? doesn't follow me around for the rest of the day.
Also, I find that counting calories is a necessity, and I'm glad that my mindset has changed to allow me to do this, even if it's painful at times.
I remain steadfast in balking against the idea of "cheat days". I don't like that term. Cheating is dishonest, and it is not dishonest of me to decide to eat a delicious Cookie of Doom. It is human. Let's face it, it gets really tiring to stay on top of your diet 24/7. Really, really tiring. And dull. And frustrating. Life is not about denial; it should be enjoyed. So I don't have "cheat" meals. If I want something I will work it into my food plan. That's not the new part.
The new part is that I have decided that, for now, I'm going to have Worry Free Food days. At least, that's the theory. I'm still working on the Worry Free part. What that means is --- well, take today for example. We've been invited to a party at a friend's house. There will be brisket and adult beverages, of which I would like to partake. I can easily consume more than my entire day's calorie allotment at one sitting.
This may happen. And while I'm actually NOT planning to pig out, while I actually HAVE made a deal with myself about how many glasses of wine and how much brisket and what I'll skip so as not to overload on carbs, according to my new program, if it happens, I am not to worry about it. I planned ultralight meals for the rest of the day, I'm doing my workout, and tomorrow, I'll take it easy, too. But in the meantime, I should be able to enjoy a party or a dinner without angst.
Now, the part I have a hard time with is accepting that this means a slower weight loss. That's the tradeoff for having Worry Free Days. It is also, I believe, a better alternative for me right now. That is, if I can really make the adjustment to not worrying about my indulgences, knowing that the next day I will get back to a more modest diet and it will be okay.
That's really the issue, isn't it? The fear that it won't be okay. If we eat that piece of cake or that hamburger, our control will fly apart like a smoothie in a topless blender, and make just as big a mess. That indulging is an indication of weakness. That our indulgences are worse than someone else's.
It all comes back to the same erroneous conclusion that YOU BAD.
Look, having indulgences --- real indulgences --- means exercising some willpower. When I was bemoaning the discovery of the 500 calories in the Cookies of Doom, a Facebook friend (who happens to be tiny) said something along the lines of, "So just eat half the cookie." Who eats half a cookie, really? Toddlers. Marathon runners. My tiny little friend, apparently. If I could eat half of the BEST COOKIE IN THE WORLD and be satisfied, I probably would not have an issue with weight. I'd rather eat that whole damn cookie and enjoy the heck out of it and eat nothing but salads and protein shakes the next day. Or else, avoid those cookies altogther (which actually, is the more likely alternative, because now that I know they're 500 calories each I am unlikely to be able to truly enjoy them). Everybody's different. That's what works for me.
So, my plan is not perfect. But it's what's working right now, so far, and if it stops working, that's when I'll get another plan. For now, my workout is done, I've stuck to the shake and protein snack routine throughout the day, and I'm ready to enjoy myself tonight.