Letting go of guilt

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

We had a bit of a discussion about feeling guilty in our class today. It was worrying the number of people who felt weighed down by guilty feelings.

We all feel guilty about our actions, and one of the most common sentiments I tend to hear is that we feel guilty that we let ourselves get overweight in the first place.

I can’t believe I let things get this bad

Beating ourselves up for stuff that happened in the past is not healthy. It’s emotional baggage that’s much too heavy to be carrying around. Instead we need to learn to forgive ourselves, draw a line under the actions of the past, and concentrate on the positive changes we can make for the future.

Dwelling on the past and how we got to be overweight will only make us feel more miserable – and less likely to take action to lose weight and become more healthy.

I feel bad putting myself first

This seems to be especially true of those of us who are carers for our family or friends, where we are more used to putting everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. We feel selfish for even taking an hour out of our week to attend a Slimming World class.

However our loved ones don’t begrudge us some “me” time. In fact, because they love us so much, they want to support us in our journey. They know that being more healthy (and hopefully lighter) will make us happier, and give us more energy to invest in our relationships.

I fell totally off-plan at the weekend, and it was Tuesday before I got my head straight and back on-plan.

We’ve all been there when one blow-out sabotages not only that day, but often the few days after. We make one bad choice, and we beat ourselves up so much about it that we give up and compound that bad choice with a bunch of other ones.

What we need to accept is that, on occasion, we’re going to go off the rails. It happens, so there’s no point denying it. But our best response to it is not to feel guilty about it, and continue sabotaging our progress, but to accept it for what it was and move on as quickly as possible.

I know that if I can quickly let go of the guilt of a binge session and get back on-plan as soon as possible, then I’m going to stand a good chance of pulling it back.

I might not end up with a nice weight loss at my next Slimming World class, but I’m doing a hell of a lot less damage than if I were to stay off-plan until my next weigh-in.

I had a bad week so I won’t stay to class

One of the most common reasons for people not staying for class seems to be the embarrassment or guilt of a bad week. I know I’ve weighed and walked straight out the door a number of time when I’ve gained.

But it seems to me that when I do gain, that is often the time when I need the most help, and should be the time that I make a special effort to stay for class. After all it’s not a judgemental environment. I’ve never heard a consultant criticise someone for having a bad week. Instead all they want to do is help us!

And it’s not just the consultant. Everyone in the room is there to support us – primarily because everyone in the room knows exactly how we feel because they have gone through the exact same thing themselves!

There’s any number of reasons why we might feel guilty, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that guilt is a very negative emotion – unless, of course, it inspires us to do better. And what we need to do is try and turn that guilt into inspiration as quickly as possible – because it’s only then that we can get on with the important job of losing weight!

Progress comes from tiny changes

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions.

Like almost everyone else on the planet, my grand New Year’s resolutions of old started off very well-intentioned, but my resolve would vanish well before January was over. And the biggest reason why I’d give up on these resolutions so easily was because the change associated with them was far too big!

Setting a target to go to the gym 3 times a week when your current attendance is zero times is too big a change. Planning to attend loads of networking events when you’re painfully shy is too big a change. And saying that you’re going on a diet when you currently eat everything around you is too big a change.

That’s why our resolve fails. The change is too dramatic, and it doesn’t stick.

Micro-goals

What we need to do is set ourselves really small incremental changes or micro-goals. These are tiny little changes that don’t make much of a difference to our lives – and as such we don’t rebel against them – but can be added to other small changes over time, to achieve real progress.

The key is to understand what your eventual goal is, but not try to achieve it straight away. Instead break it down into lots of little incremental improvements that will get you there over a period of time.

Rather than trying to go to the gym 3 times a week straight away, start with the micro-goal of walking for 20 minutes more than normal next week. See how you go with that small incremental change, and then come up with your next micro-goal, and then the next, and next. With all these small very-achievable changes we’re going absorb those changes more easily.

Slimming World is all about small changes

It’s one of the reasons why I like Slimming World. It’s not a crash diet – in fact, it’s not a diet at all. It’s a healthy eating plan where you make smallish changes to what you eat.

Instead of making one big change of giving up eating all the delicious unhealthy things you like, you are instead encouraged to make a small changes to substitute one unhealthy food for a more healthy version.

Loads of Slimming World recipes are all about making healthier versions of the foods we already love. So it’s not a dramatic change. It’s a small change, and as such it’s a lot more palatable (pun intended!). 

A crash diet may deliver more dramatic results, but it’s not sustainable in the long term – and if anything it’s just going to fuel yo-yo dieting – and that’s not healthy.

Instant gratification

In our world of instant gratification we’re not very good at waiting for things.

You can go online and select a book, a film, or some music and be consuming it within a few seconds. We can go to the shops and select from an array of goods from all over the world. And because we’re so used to being able to get things straight away, even the 48-hour shipping of online orders can seem like an eternity.

Let me be honest. I’m not very good at waiting for things. When it comes to my Slimming World journey, I’m very impatient to see my progress. I know that losing weight takes time, but I still can’t resist feeling eager for the weeks to fly by, so that I can go along to the next weigh-in and hopefully see some more progress.

I’m a bit of statistics nerd. I love numbers and charts and graphs, and so it might not come of much surprise that I’ve got a spreadsheet to track my progress. I input my weekly weigh-in, and it tells me my progress to date. And because of my impatience to see my progress I end up filling in ‘projected’ weigh-ins for dates in the future, to see where I might be in 1 month, 2 months, 6 months time.

It’s like I want to hit fast-forward on the next 12 months of my life, and come out the other end a more healthy and slimmer version of myself. I don’t mind the healthy eating and exercise in the middle. It’s not that I’m trying to avoid the hard work. I just want time to pass more quickly, so that I can achieve my goals more quickly.

I suppose it doesn’t help that I’ve been all over Instagram over the last few weeks, and the app is full of people who are towards the end of their journey. There’s people who have lost 5 or even 10 stones, and their transformation has been amazing. They post comparison photos of their before and after selves, and the difference is often stunning.

What you don’t see in Instagram, however, is the 2-3 years of slog it took them to lose all their weight. I’m looking at people who are towards the end of their journey, whereas I’m very much at the start of mine, and that just fuels my impatience!

At the moment if I posted any comparison photos you’d struggle to see any difference in me from my 1½ stone loss over the last six week. I can feel the difference, but I can’t see it yet.

Hopefully, one day I’ll get to the point where I have some dramatic transformation photos to share, but for now that day can’t come fast enough!

What are your trigger foods?

Bread – one of my trigger foods

It’s a common problem. You’ve been on-plan all week, you’ve batch cooked loads of dinners, counted those syns, and knocked it out of the park with all that body magic!

So you deserve a treat – a bit of chocolate, a glass of wine, a slice of pizza, or a bag of chips. But before you know it, you’re laid out on the floor groaning from eating your own body weight in junk food!

You’ve fallen foul of your trigger foods, lost control, and weren’t able to stop!

Food addiction

For some it’s hard to think of food as something you can be addicted to. We all need to eat to live, but for some of us eating becomes much more than pure survival. Just looking at or thinking about certain foods triggers the reward centres of the brain – the same area that’s triggered for alcohol and drug addictions.

A release of dopamine makes you feel good, heightens your awareness of the food, and encourages the brain to want to eat it.

My trigger foods

I have a number of trigger foods that cause me to get out of control if left unchecked. Here’s my top 3:

  1. Bread
  2. Savoury snacks combining pastry and meat (sausage rolls / pies)
  3. Ice cream

The only way I can avoid binging on all of these things is to avoid them altogether, even to the extent of not having them in the house. Because I don’t want just one or two slices of bread – I want half a loaf! I don’t want one pork pie – I want the entire packet. And don’t get me started on a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, because I won’t stop!

So the way for me to keep on-track with Slimming World is to cut out these trigger foods entirely. I know that a lot of people enjoy bread for their Healthy Extra B, but I prefer to have something like Scanbran or an Aldi Harvest Morn Cereal Bar – something that I won’t binge on.

Aldi Harvest Morn Cereal Bars – one bar is 5 Syns or a Health Extra B

What are your trigger foods? How do you manage them? Let me know in the comments…

Being led astray

They say that misery loves company. And sometimes, so do over-eaters!

How many times have you been led astray by someone else? Perhaps they were about to tuck into a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, or maybe a packet of Hobnobs, and they persuaded you to join them.

They didn’t want to binge eat on their own, because – you know – it looks bad, and they’ll feel guilty about it. But if you can be persuaded into eating with them, then it’s somehow OK.

And depending upon how fragile you are feeling, it might only take only the smallest suggestion to break your resolve.

It must be an eternal struggle for those who are trying to do Slimming World healthy eating in a house full of people who are not. Temptation (and tempters) would be around every corner.

In a way it’s easier if everyone is doing Slimming World together, as you can encourage each other, and hold each other to account. You can also avoid having bad foods in the house at all. However, with two or more people who are over-eaters in the same house, there is the potential for one person falling off-plan to bring the rest with them.