I don’t like limits. Limits aren’t fun. Limits box me in and often times I hurt myself trying to get out. During my obese days, I didn’t have any limits on the food choices I made. If I wanted an entire 16 ounce bag of peanut M&M’s, then that’s what I had. If I wanted five individual chip bags at 2:30 in the afternoon, I ate them, and if I wanted to sit on the couch all day feeling sorry for myself, then that’s exactly what I did.
Of course I had societal limits – I didn’t eat that bag of M&M’s in front of my friends, nor did I model the five chip bag trick to my children. In front of other people I limited my food choices to those that were healthier and more moderate in amount. Once I began on my final journey to lose weight I had to decide what limits I wanted to set up for myself with regards to food. I had done some of the more popular diet programs, read a lot of weight loss books and magazines, and honestly, had all the book knowledge I needed to lose weight. But because I had never been successful in self-limiting my food choices, I was concerned.
Should I even set limits? Or should I just eat when hungry and stop when full? Should I limit the amount of certain types of foods I was eating, and if so what? I eventually came to realize that because of my personality, I didn’t want to self-impose very many limitations on myself, but rather I wanted to learn to enjoy food in the right way. So instead of strictly imposing rules on myself, I had some guidelines which gave me enough of a box to get the job done, but also had some openings for breathing room. Here were the limits I set for myself during month number one:
Month One Limits
No chocolate (this was huge)
Keep fat percentage overall to 30% or less
Eat just one portion at a time
Exercise every day (just 15 minutes)
No eating after dinner unless it was planned (this was very hard at first)
You can see that my month one limits were a bit strict, especially with the chocolate and the nighttime eating. I picked those two habits to work on first because I knew I had a serious problem. Normally, I ate chocolate more than I ate veggies, and nighttime snacking had become like a second meal to me. Was I always perfect that first month? No way. But I had more good days than bad, and those good days gave me the confidence I needed to start believing in myself. As the month went on, I started feeling better about myself emotionally, even though I hadn’t lost much weight. I felt some control over my choices, and for the first time in a long time, felt positive about my future.
Rest of My Life
Once the first month passed, I tackled one bad habit after another. Whenever I read your blogs, and you talk about a habit you are working on, I always think, “Yep, I had that habit too!” The rest of my weight loss year was spend finding my way through the minefield of emotional habits I had developed with regards to food and replacing them with good habits. I still limited my food’s fat percentage, but loosened up on the nighttime eating and chocolate ban. I increased my exercise time to 30 minutes, and continued with the portion control. And you know what? Those self-imposed limits I placed on myself 12 years ago are still in place. Why did they stay in place?
Because they weren’t the kind of limits that made me feel constrained, but rather limits that gave me the freedom to make healthy, wise choices. What limits have you placed on yourself that may be hard to continue for the rest of your life? Or are there some limits you need to set to help you succeed? Diane