Breaking Free Of The Guilt Cycle

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keep calm BestAfter two successful years and 100+ pounds lost, why do I still beat myself up for slip-ups? I screw up and I immediately reboot into the old “all or nothing” mode. For some reason there’s a little part of me that still expects perfection when it comes to food choices. Well, Sunday, I severely disappointed that side of me.

Sunday night I had a couple of glasses of wine after dinner. Not good. The next thing I know I’m in the kitchen mixing flour, eggs and oil. Yep, I made 4 silver dollar pancakes. Sigh…

Afterwards, I told myself the right things. “Back on track for breakfast. Slips happen, it’s OK.”

Come Monday morning, I wasn’t a happy camper. That little voice in my head started as soon as I opened my eyes. “What were you thinking? I’m such a screw up. That’s it, my diet is shot to hell. I’m never getting to goal. What’s the point?”

It didn’t help that my stomach was a mess all morning. It got so bad I had to cancel with my trainer. After I cancelled, the drum beats of guilt and shame got louder.

I spent most of Monday in battle with myself. It didn’t matter if I was back on track by breakfast; that little voice kept reminding me of my past failures. The “all or nothing” mindset was in full swing and “nothing” was starting to take its toll.

Eff Guilt!
By mid afternoon I decided I needed to go for a walk. About half way through I started to knock some sense into myself. “If I blew my diet, why am I walking in the frickin’ cold. I ate pancakes; It’s not the end of the world. Heck, my week isn’t even shot! Conversation over.

Maybe the freezing walk was my penance. No, that’s not it. Exercise isn’t a punishment. It helps me think clearly. I just stopped giving power to that little voice and moved on.

Seems so simple. But it took me way too long to get to that point (Ugh…Stop with the guilt already!).

I use to think guilt was a good motivator. But that’s not true. Changing my lifestyle is hard work. All guilt does is dwell on past failures, making it easy for me to give up. Losing hope is never good.

Time For Guilt-Free Eating
There are a few things I can do to put a stop to the “all or nothing” mindset.

It’s just food! I need to break free of seeing food as “good” or “bad.” It really distorts my thinking when I screw up. I don’t praise myself for eating “good” foods, but I sure do kick my tail for chowing on “bad” foods.  Maybe I need to use something more neutral like healthy/unhealthy.

Admit I’m not perfect and all I can do is give it my best. The “all or nothing” mindset sets me up for failure. Perfection on a diet is an impossible standard to meet.  One meal doesn’t blow my week or reverse 2 years of great work. The next time I eat something unhealthy (oh, and I will!) I’ll tell myself, “It’s OK. Stop what you are doing and get back on track.” And mean it!

Keep reminding myself that weight loss isn’t a straight line. One day you take 3 steps forward, the next you take 1 step back. The key is tacking forward after each misstep. I can either keep beating myself up over those damn (but delicious) pancakes, or I work on making today the best day possible.

7 thoughts on “Breaking Free Of The Guilt Cycle

  1. Pingback: 10 Reasons I’ve Lost 140 Pounds And Kept It Off | Dot to Trot

  2. Pingback: Fighting Sugar Cravings — Back To Basics | Dot to Trot

  3. You had a lot of good (and bad) self-talking going on! Great ideas to think about, too. The third one is my favorite – I used to see weight loss as a straight line and shouldn’t ever go back and forth, but things happen so that doesn’t always make sense.

    • Thanks. It’s funny I’ve lost about 17 pounds since Jan. 1 and I’m down because last Saturday the scale stayed the same. That’s why it’s important not to place a lot of importance in that scale.

  4. Love reading your posts. They are so relevant. I still beat myself up, way too often. Maybe you can answer the question at the bottom of my most recent post. Where is that line between self-compassion and excuses?

  5. Great post!
    Loving your personal techniques on how to have a healthy relationship with food, and get rid of the “What the Hell Effect” (it’s actually a psychological phenomenon that research has been conducted on!)

    • Thanks! It’s amazing how food takes on special characteristics when you are overweight. It’s just fuel for the body but so many life experiences teach us differently.

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