Weight Loss Support - On plan, but still guilty? (Long post)

Nola Celeste
11-19-2010, 03:59 AM
After doing research, I decided that aiming for an average of 1500 calories a day would suit me well. Overall, it has; I've lost weight well and haven't suffered any major hunger in a month on plan--until tonight. I went over 1500 for the first time in a month and it's sooo weighing on me (no pun intended).

I should have been asleep an hour and a half ago, but I am just bedeviled by winding up at 1628 calories on the day. Logically, I know I shouldn't be beating myself up for it--I told myself when I started down this road that I was aiming for an average, NOT looking at 1500 as the last step before a precipitous drop into the pit of abject failure. I don't gnash my teeth at the days that I've been under. If I'd eaten 1372 calories, I'd be fine with that as long as they were nutrition-packed; why should 128 calories cause such anxiety if they're on the other side of my target?

Nothing I ate was off plan. I just had a late-night snack of a vegetable curry (no rice) that put me over the line. It got recorded before it even hit the microwave. I was fine with exceeding my target calories before I ate. But now I'm struck with "eater's remorse" despite not having gone off my stated plan. It's especially frustrating because the whole point of having a target range instead of a do-or-die, rigid limit is that such limits have previously led me to consider a small slip a good reason to binge; I wanted to avoid that kind of all-or-nothing thinking.

And here I am, chewing my lip and regretting a few ounces of spicy veggies. Logic tells me this is stupid because my plan allows "over" days and "under" days as long as my week's average is 1500 or below. Emotion tells me to get on the hamster wheel and pedal off those 128 calories, but I don't want to use exercise in a punitive way.

Does anyone else do this? Are there zig-zaggers out there who don't mind their zigs, but agonize over their zags? How do others deal with a target range--or do you set yourself a rigid limit past which you never stray?

11-19-2010, 04:20 AM
I know how you feel and I have struggled with the same thoughts.

I had to recognise it as disordered and compulsive thinking and find a way to deal with it, because it is a hideous feeling that is not necessary to weight loss success!

I am on a diet meal delivery program which is calorie controlled and pre-calculated, so pretty much any bite off plan is over my limit.

Know what I did? When I had a candy or taste of something offered to me and I felt that wave of guilt, anxiety, whatever come over me... I MADE MYSELF EAT IT. Yep! Didn't want it, could have done without it. But I would eat it, let the thoughts come, wait until my official weigh in and see that the scales still went down.

Now I can go over and eat a few bites off plan without guilt, obsession, deprivation etc. I know that going off plan can be the kiss of death for some but it has introduced a foreign but much needed moderation to my diet mentality.

As long as there is restraint and we don't do it daily, we'll be fine. :)

11-19-2010, 04:28 AM
Sorry for the double, bloody character limit on my phone!

The mental side of this can be a killer, for the first time ever I am trying to attend to the emotional implications of weight loss. It's hard but in the end it makes it all easier.

Remind yourself of the science behind weight loss! It takes over 3000 cals excess to gain a pound, as you know!

You're right not to use exercise like that IMO, it can set off dangerous habits in some people.

I am only doing incidental exercise now, whereas in the past I have done hours a day to the point of sickness. I am trying to make my loss as easy and moderate as possible, because it's not about who is the unhappiest doing it, but who sticks it out.

The weight comes off whether we're miserable or not as long as we stay in a deficit, we might as well be at peace!

Was the curry yum? :)

11-19-2010, 04:55 AM
I like to think of counting calories as practice for mindful eating. It's not so much the number that matters, but the behavior.

Eventually, your efforts of learning to eat within a certain limit will translate into unconscious portion control and making healthful choices.

This means when the time comes for you to simply maintain your weight, your practice of choosing low calorie, nutritious foods will already be there in your mind. :)

11-19-2010, 09:09 AM
FPSJ, I hope that works for you, but I think I'm one of those people who won't ever be able to eat intuitively, and I'm OK with that.

Nola Celeste, perhaps it's kind of backwards that I've avoided the kind of obsessing you're mentioning by aiming for an exact calorie count each day and carrying over the balance if I go over or under. For example, the other night I got hungry and ended up doing a planned splurge that left me "in debt" for 1300 calories. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, when you consider that I've been practicing this way of eating for just short of 2 years (about 690 days), that's less than 2 calories a day!

Do I use that as an excuse to wipe the slate clean and start over? No! I'll pay off the debt 100 or 200 calories at a time. It may take me a while, especially with Thanksgiving next week, but I'll do it.

I don't think there are very many calorie counters that do this, but it has worked extremely well for me. If you keep getting "128-calorie guilt", it's one option, anyway.

Nola Celeste
11-19-2010, 03:51 PM
Thanks, folks; I appreciate the help and advice!

I wound up taking a walk (leisurely stroll around the block, not exercise) to clear my head and make myself ready for sleep. Feels like a victory to come up with a new strategy that doesn't involve yelling at myself or hunting down a brownie, so I'm pretty happy with that. :)

Sunday, I really like what you said up there: "it's not about who is unhappiest doing it, but about who sticks it out." In the grand scheme of things, beating ourselves up is unproductive; figuring out why a mistake happened or what led to so much negative feeling so we can stop it matters more. Thanks for providing such perspective!

FPSJ (I love your user name), I definitely see what you mean about internalizing portion control. After only a month, I do feel I have a better handle on what a portion really is--though I still weigh to avoid portion-size creep. I don't know that I'll ever be an intuitive eater, but knowing what's reasonable means a little more safety when I go out to eat or dine at a friend's house.

Oboegal, that makes a lot of sense! I'm not sure if I'm an organized enough person for that to work for me in the long term, but it's definitely a tool I'll keep handy to try if I run up against this problem again. Actually, it might be a good way to look at Thanksgiving, as I'm already planning a higher-calorie day then. Thanks for that. :) And congratulations--110 pounds is phenomenal!

Edited to add: Yes, yes, yes, the curry was 100% yum! :D

11-19-2010, 09:59 PM
Glad you're feeling better today. :) Sounds like you made some great progress by not over-exercising or having a binge!

11-21-2010, 09:58 PM
I really struggle with this, too!!!

My daily calorie average is supposed to be 1400. Before I started calorie cycling, I ate right at 1400 for the day, or perhaps bit under. After I started cycling, I found that my daily calorie average for the week was closer to 1350 cals. Why? Because my high calorie day pretty much never happened. I just couldn't make myself at over that 1400.

I'm getting better with this, but, as a recovering binge/emotional eater, I worry that it's a slippery slope. In the back of my mind is just this thought - if I start going over, will I be able to stop?

There have been occasions, though, where I'm more like 500+ cals over. My birthday dinner, for one, and a special meal with a good friend I only rarely see. I do figure those cals help bump up my monthly totals. That might be taking the math too far, though. :) Interestingly enough, I never feel any guilt about these planned splurges.

So, maybe the answer is having your high calorie day with less frequency? Would that help the guilt factor for you?