I take a lot of time and pay a lot of attention to the people I work with. In my opinion, for them to achieve their goals, it doesn’t come to just guiding them what to eat. It requires work on a much deeper level – helping them rethink their convictions and by giving them advises and recommendations, actually helping them reveal the true meaning of a healthy lifestyle.
When you have wrong convictions, you can’t act right. When you come out of the conviction that diet is designed in a way that is supposed to be restrictive, depriving, traumatizing and that eating healthy means sacrificing yourself, then you can’t expect that these understanding could give birth to actions which actually build your body – actions that make it healthier and stronger.
Believing that diet means to restriction, leads to the fact that your actions will be focused on depriving your body. Remember the last time when you removed whole food groups and macronutrients.
Believing that diet means deprivation, leads to the fact that your actions revolve around depriving your body. When was the last time when you were burning with desire to add more fat or carbs, but your mind dictated that you shouldn’t? Probably yesterday or even today!
Believing that diets mean to sacrifice, leads to the fact that your actions will revolve around sacrificing your body – in the name of an illusionary image or expectations for perfectionism. When was the last time when you felt exhausted, because you restricted your food intake? Maybe the last couple days, while you are trying to compensate for the weekend when you decided to try something sweet and then one bite led to binge eating.
The way we perceive diets, suggests that there are a bunch of rules and one sinner – you, who doesn’t manage to follow them because you are not enough in some way – not enough will, not enough dedication or maybe you’ve grabbed the wrong “Nutrition Bible” and you are trying to profess convictions that are in a conflict with the actual needs of your body.
From the mistakes I’ve made and from my work with people, I can outline 5 of the most common diet sins.
The conviction that if you do not feel hungry, then your diet is not working. You have no idea how often women I work with, write me and share that they feel great and that they see progress, yet they are worried that they are never hungry. We’ve fallen to believe that in order for a diet to work, it needs to be accompanied by moments, when we nervously tap with our food and stare at the watch, with the hope that it is time to eat.
I often read comments like “When I am about to faint, I eat…”Do we really need to take our body to a state when it is about to faint? A moment when it can no longer function and it is on an autopilot, waiting for us to give it a bite that will refuel some energy? Let me ask you – when do you put gas in your car? When you are completely out of fuel and you find yourself in the middle of the highway with a useless car? When you are supposed to call somebody who could help you and besides wasting your own time, you are wasting his as well. I doubt it! Then, why are you doing it to your body? Do we really treat our cars better than our bodies?
We do not need to feel hungry in order for the diet to work. A good nutrition plan is a combination of nutritious foods and knowing your body well – knowing when and what it needs. Something like the light for the gas tank – when we can read the signals of the body, that we are running out of energy, we need to add some duel, before we come to a state where we are about to faint.
This is another wrong idea – “eating healthy requires strong will”. Will, suggests that you are doing something that tortures you and something that doesn’t bring you pleasure. Will suggests that you endure something. You need will, where you lack meaning. A healthy diet doesn’t demand your will. When you eat good quality food, more variety of it, then it makes your body feel good and helps it be energetic. When the body feels good, the mind celebrates, as well. Do we really need will to allow ourselves to feel like this?
Will, costs too much effort and it is a weapon of progress, that cannot fight for too long.
Will, becomes redundant, when we change our notion about healthy eating. When we realize that healthy eating doesn’t mean the strict diet of a professional fitness competitor and that healthy eating has many different faces.
Will, becomes redundant, when you join IFS Lifetime Challenge and when you reveal the delicious side of healthy eating.
Perfectionism has crushed the desire and passion in so much people. We all expect that we need to be perfect and when we eat a bite more, when we are one hour late for a meal or when we eat something that our mind labels as unhealthy, then we feel like failure. Perfectionism is not attainable. If we use perfectionism as a foundation for progress and as a road to our goals, then we are walking on a dead end street.
The shortest path to success is being stuck in reality – and reality by itself allows imperfections.
Every time when my mind is trying to torture me that I haven’t been perfect, I tell myself: “Ok! This is just one more meal or one workout I didn’t do. What does that mean, compared to all other 364-365 days of the year, when I am so dedicated? It is just a grit that won’t have such a huge impact on my goals. It is just a moment, that you sometimes need in order to gather strength and become even more motivated.”
It is easy to focus your mind on something momentary and to lose sight of the whole vision and perspective. It doesn’t matter what happened right in this moment. It doesn’t matter exactly what you chose today. It matters what you choose during most of the time. Being perfect requires so much energy and it is something that cannot be achieved or attained. As if, the more you chase it, the more you realize that perfectionism is always a couple steps in front of you. And you have two choices – to accept it and enjoy the couple moments of imperfection or to resist it and chase something that can’t be caught.
I’ve never felt better and I’ve never achieved better, than in the moment I allowed myself to be imperfect. J
People, who are trying to lose weight, turn out to be thrifty. They try to cut some food from their breakfast, to reduce the amount of food in their lunch, skip the afternoon meal… with the hope that dinner will have the same fate, but usually, what happens is that dinner compensates for the whole day of thriftiness and we make up for all of it – we even overdo it.
During the first week, when I work with a new person, I usually see this tendency. In the desire to achieve their goals faster, people start skipping meals and cutting on food portions. Then, it always leads to overeating on some of the next meals. Sometimes people are so stuck in feeling guilty for this behavior that they can’t take a look from the side and analyze the reasons. If you look their food for the day, you will easily spot the reason for them to overeat and you will be able to say that it is not gluttony, it is not that they can’t give up chocolate or bread. It is just the fact that their body needs energy – we’ve deprived it from it and now it demands it.
Nutrition is something like life – cheaper things always turn out to be more expensive. Our trials to be thrifty on the amount of food, always lead to overeating or binging.
The enthusiasm and the way we idealize a diet, even though its negative consequences can be compared only to the initial stages of falling in love – when we do not notice anything imperfect about our loved one and everything is so pink and beautiful. Usually, this is followed by falling in reality and the realization that the person in our life is not so perfect and incredible and that it was our idea or to be more precise our expectations and desires that have built his perfect image. It is the same with nutrition.
We are so desperate to achieve our goals, that when we start to blindly follow a nutrition plan, we do not look consciously on what is happening and no matter how many rules or restrictions the diet demands, we idealize it.
This is common among women, when such diets lead to losing your menstrual cycle, having lack of energy and so forth, but still the mind finds objective reasons to deny the role of diet and all guilt is transferred to something else.
The more we live in denial, the more likely it is that deep inside we know that what we do is not right, yet the mind builds solid arguments to keep moving in that direction.
A healthy nutrition plan rarely denies something. It suggests options. It suggests choices and it is not build on top of rules, but on top of recommendations. The rule restricts you, and the recommendation gives you the power to choose – according to the situation and your momentary condition.