Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Wausau, WI
Over the years, I've tried countless plans that claim that no calorie counting or portion-limits were necessary to lose weight on their plan. I learned that for me, there is no such thing. I can gain weight or at least stall on virtually every plan out there. Even Atkins induction, South Beach Phase I, Paleo, Primal Blueprint, Neanderthin....
As a result, I now "translate" every WOE I want to try, into an exchange plan. No matter how I eat, I translate it into a 1500 - 2000 calorie exchange plan.
Over the past 105 lbs that I've lost, I've followed many WOE's, and probably will continue to try new ones, or experiment with those that have worked for me in the past, but I always try to keep the exchange plan format constant. If I want to include non-paleo foods, or have a high-carb day, I still try to use my exchange plan so that I don't turn an off-plan day into a free-for-all-binge-until-I'm-sick day (occasionally that still happens, but much less often now that I have not only an official "back up" plan, but even have a back-up to the back-up in place.
For example, my plan A is always lower-carb paleo. However, I have a back up plan for when paleo isn't going to work easily (say I'm invited to dinner or for some other reason want to go off my main plan). Plan B is to follow the same lower-carb plan, but not worry about non-paleo foods as much (so I might fill my starch exchanges with white potato or rice, rather than a more paleo-friendly choice). And Plan C, is a higher-carb exchange plan. I can't rely on Plan C very often, because high-carb eating makes me hungrier, to the point that I'm hungrier on 4,000 calories of high-carb than on 1,000 calories of very low-carb.
However, by having three plans in place, having a back-up plan, and having a back-up to the back-up, I always feel prepared, and I almost never let myself feel like "I've blown it so I might as well keep eating."
Occasionally I find myself not following either A, B, or C perfectly, but just by having "back up plans" it makes it natural to continue to focus on "damage control." Even if I make mistakes on my main plan, AND then my back up plans, I don't panic and binge. Just having plans A, B, and C in place makes it easier for me to improvise a plan D if C hasn't gone as planned.
I don't know if that makes sense, but it essentially means that I'm never entirely without a plan or at least the sense of preparedness to improvise a plan when the situation calls for it.
In the past, I never had a back-up plan (let alone a back-up to the back-up and the preparedness to continue making contingency plans as I went). I had two plans.
Plan A "eat perfectly" on plan.
Plan B "eat absolutely everything in sight, usually until I literally made myself feel physically ill from the bingeing."
One poor choice always led to hundreds of poor choices, now I aim for damage control. No matter how poor a choice I make (and whether I planned for it or not), I'm much less likely to fall into the "I've blown it so I might as well make my mistake even bigger so I can start fresh tomorrow."
Even if I make ten poor choices in a row, I try not to let myself use those mistakes as an excuse for making choice number 11 just as bad or worse. I remind myself that every choice is an opportunity to make a better choice.
Keeping track of the calories (or in my case, exchanges), even when I've gone off plan, really helps remind me that every choice counts. And that "starting fresh" is a myth. There is no starting fresh, there's just moving on.