The 4th of July holiday is like most holidays for us Americans. We (usually, typically) have family or friends around. And lots of food. And alcohol. Every region/family has their favorites, but for most of us, it’s not a salad and fruit holiday – it’s chips, BBQ, potato salad, cakes, pies, ice cream. It’s a day of freedom and for most of us, that is also freedom from our diet.
If you follow me on social media, you know that I don’t participate in dieting. Not because it doesn’t work, because it does for many people. But it 100% does not work for me. If it did I would have lost more weight when I was doing Weight Watchers and I wouldn’t have started my journey in January 2012 at the highest weight I have ever seen. The reason I think it does not work is that it allowed me to change from obsessing about food to obsessing about points. And then just like what happened with food, after so long of doing really well, something breaks and a binge happens. And how do you recover from a binge? You start obsessing about points and eating crazy perfect and depriving yourself. Back and forth, back and forth. A vicious cycle of total unhealthy thinking.
So what the hell does this have to do with the holidays?
It’s this. Now, a few days away from the holiday and a day removed from the official weekend, I see so many people commenting about the fact that in order to enjoy the holiday, food must be consumed in massive amounts. And that the holiday demands so much food that you feel awful then get restrictive and super clean to balance out the holiday. So Monday is the day to clean it up and detox and cleanse and….the dreaded start over.
I thought about this for a few days and it took me a bit of time to figure out why this whole cycle really bothered me when I read about it. But I think it bothers me so much because it really is a demonstration of the lack of moderation that happens on deprivation style diets. That celebrations for many of us means eating things that we would NEVER eat on a daily basis or we plan in a cheat day so we can eat the things that we would eat in a much smaller quantity or not at all, but they all become totally acceptable because a date on the calendar makes it ok.
Let me be clear – I’m not anti-holiday or anti-dessert (or alcohol or bbq or any other delicious food despite my tree hugger eating mentality). I love all that stuff, you don’t get to 300 lbs without liking a few cupcakes and eating a few burgers. But I am anti cheat days.
I believe in injecting a little moderation into our lives daily/weekly/monthly/whatever so a certain cheat date isn’t built up as the “how many calories can I stuff into my body quickly” holiday. Not because the food is bad, but because the cycle of saving up for a certain day mentally is not a lifestyle model. Or is it? It’s so common in the weight loss community that it is certainly not abnormal thinking or something that gets you a second look. I’m almost 100% convinced that in life for reaching a certain weight/size goal you are better off being consistent, not perfect.
I guess I want to challenge anyone who reads this blog to start trying to live with a little moderation instead of deprivation/explode model. If you made it through this entire ramble, thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts. This topic is a hard one – I think it’s very personal what diet works for you mentally and physically. Although I do believe that they aren’t always the same answer as sometimes you have to go for sustainability mentally over sometimes faster weight loss that drives you coo coo for cocoa puffs. And that overrides science. Right?