100 lb. Club - Why are we so critical of ourselves?

01-20-2006, 02:08 AM
Okay, so I've been losing weight for about 11 months now. I feel sure that this is a lifestyle I can maintain forever. I'm a slow loser - only 45 pounds gone so far, and that's mostly okay.

The thing is, if I let up, even just a teensy bit, I have horrible feelings that I've blown it entirely, and I'll never get back on track. Logically, this makes no sense. :dizzy:

For example, I didn't work out today because I have a terrible cold, and I still went out to dinner with girlfriends and ate 2 pieces of pizza and a small salad. This isn't the best day on record, but why do I feel like it erases 11 months of hard work and success?

I ran a 10K race last weekend, and it's been eons since I missed a day of exercise. I'm eating pretty well. For this, I give myself hardly any credit. On the other hand, one off day, and I have visions of myself turning into Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor (remember that scene when he gets fat again and starts bursting out of his clothes?), that's me in my head.

Does anyone else deal with this? Or am I the only whack-o out there?

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts! :)

cheers! :hat:

01-20-2006, 02:35 AM
I think it is because we are perfectionists. Perfectionists are not people who do things perfectly. They are people who would rather not do it at all if they can't do it perfectly. This tends to kick us in the butt more often than it really helps.

Letting go of perfectionism isn't easy. It involves teaching ourselves that we aren't perfect and that it is OK not to be perfect. It is also ok to have a little faith in ourselves. One little "mistake" or bad day isn't going to destroy all the progress we've made. It is just a tiny setback. But looking at it as a MAJOR deal can make that setback turn into something bigger. And we are terrified of that. Being too hard on ourselves and then getting discouraged because there are never rewards (or enough rewards) for doing things right, and too many "punishments" (ie bad feelings about ourselves) for doing things wrong is a recipe for disaster.

We need to be happy and joyous in our successes, and allow our little failures to remain little by not blowing up too big their importance. People who tend to "give up" and not do it at all if they can't do it perfectly need to give up that idea. And they need to recognize and reward themselves for every good choice they make.

That reward may be in simply repeating positive messages to ourselves. Like "YAY you did it!" Whenever we resist temptation. and maybe minimizing the goofs. Like "Ok, you messed up that one little time. Pick up and go from here and it isn't the end of the world." (give in to it and wallow in the misery and it very well could be.)

01-20-2006, 08:22 AM
I think SherryA makes a good point. When I get weird about my food stuff I go to my Fitday account and run a report about my kcal intake for the past week or month instead of for the day. When you average it all in you can see that one day off plan does not have a big overall impact. I also look at the amount I have burned through exercise for the week or month which also help. It is the overall average that counts.

It is good to be aware of the tendency to get upset when we fall off plan. It points to the possibility that we are seeing out new eating style as being just a diet and not an overall lifestyle change. A lifestyle change always looks at the big picture. If you are anything like me when I get into diet perfectionism it is almost a guarantee I will go off the diet completely at some point. I get disgusted with myself for eating and then can't seem to rally my forces to overcome my perceived sense of failure. Since I can't do it perfectly I tend to give up in despair. When I look at my eating plan as something that well be a part of my entire lifespan it takes a lot of the pressure off to be perfect.

01-20-2006, 09:52 AM
All or nothing thinking gets me in trouble every time! I have to remember my mantra:


01-20-2006, 10:55 AM
I know when I am on plan and doing good and then have one bad meal I feel like its over. Sometimes I'll have that surprise big loss because I beat myself up and didn't eat enough.
I constantly have to remind myself what if I ate like I used to, I would've gained more than 4 lbs. It was one month in what will be a many month journey. I'm not losing 10s of lbs I'm losing 100's of lbs. So I am guessing this will happen again, all I need to do is just stay right on track. I'll need to refocus many times.
I think its normal to be that way- not realizing the good and concentrating on the negative. Instead of saying wow look what I've done- I've lost 25 lbs, how would 25 lbs look? think of a bag of dog food, imagine carrying 25 lbs on your back all day. We tend to say I didn't goto the gym, I'm gonna gain weight, I should just give up.

01-20-2006, 11:06 AM
It's really tough not to be critical of myself. I put the weight on really fast (and have stretch marks to prove it) and I want to get it off really fast. But that fat, while it appeared in less than a year has been sitting on my body for over 3 years. So it's pretty comfortable. I was pretty stressed and bummed last night over my mishap. Besides all of your support, I also talked to a friend of mine here - she told me what she tells the lobbyists who work for her - "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

We don't have to be perfect even if we think we do - just keep working hard!

01-20-2006, 11:55 AM
I am guilly of this too and it's a big part of why I have started and failed so many times in the past.

I'lll eat a little too much of something, or I will miss an exercise day and my brain will think "what are you doing? You just messed up big time, there is no way you are losing weight now, you may as well give up, you don't want this enough etc"

It does get old after a bit and I usually have to find some sort of motivator, or signs that I am moving in the right direction.

Since my scale does not want to work, I have a fat shirt. It is a shirt I couldn't wear but never returned. Every once in a while, I will try it on and see if it fits. I can actually get the shirt on now, but it's too snug for me to wear in public (I like my stuff loose!)

I think in general, most of us are like that.. mess up a little and then the brain starts being negative. I try to think along the lines of "it could have been worse, look how you used to eat"..

All we need to do is to just keep plugging away and hang in there.. :strong:

01-20-2006, 12:30 PM
Yup I hear ya! Perfectionism is a killer. We get do focused on the big things that we miss the successes in the little things. Your are so not alone lol

You can do it! Look how awesomely far you have already come!


01-20-2006, 12:31 PM
Yup I hear ya! Perfectionism is a killer. We get do focused on the big things that we miss the successes in the little things. Your are so not alone lol

You can do it! Look how awesomely far you have already come!


01-20-2006, 10:33 PM
Yay! :woo: I'm so glad to hear I'm not alone with this. :D

SherryA - I think you hit it exactly. I'm definitely a perfectionist. It's something I should keep in mind when I'm feeling inclined to beat myself up.

f(x) - Running a fitday report is a great idea. Numbers are comforting, especially when they're tilted in my favor ;)

Jen - That's a great motto!

I'm not so worried about screwing up and going back to my old ways. I feel pretty strongly that this is a lifestyle that I can maintain over the long haul. I'm more just annoyed at how super-panicked I feel when I have a less than perfect day. I guess this is just another way that I have to wait for my brain to catch up with my body.

It takes a long time to change your body after 33 years as a fat girl, but I'm finding it takes even longer to change your head. I sort of feel like I've stalled out a bit, so I'm planning on changing up my routine. I'm going to drop a few of my walks and trade them in for weight training sessions. I'm also going to be a little more vigilant about getting enough protein and vegetables in my diet (2 things I struggle with). Just small tweaks, nothing too drastic. Maybe it will keep my evil little brain :s: occupied for a while.

Thanks guys!

cheers! :hat:

01-20-2006, 11:18 PM
Hey Paula,

I live in Santa Rosa, where in the SF Bay area are you?

A book you guys might want to read that might help some is one I was just reading not too long ago. It is by the Flylady. The book is called "Body Clutter". It isn't a diet book, but it is about ridding ourselves of that "most personal clutter of all" the extra fat on our bodies. It is about the mental part of it all.

I think I was ready to get back on plan when I read her book, but it did help me to see why I failed last time. Back in 2000, I lost 50 pounds in about 8 months. Then over the next couple of years I lost about 10 to 12 more. After that I just got tired of the whole process. I was working really hard for my weight loss. I even did Body for Life which is a really intense exercise program. I did it for 12 weeks and built some good muscle, lost a lot of fat, went down a dress size. But I was discouraged because even with all that hard work, I hadn't dropped any weight. My body was smaller, I should have been happy with that, but I really wanted to see the scale move lower too.

The more I complained about it to some of the forums I belonged to, the more negative feedback I got. No I didn't stick to my diet plan during that intense exercise program, I couldn't. I needed more fuel to do that much of a workout. But I really was proud of myself for the committment and the workout I did.

But at the end of that time something just wasn't right. I couldn't figure out exactly what it was, but my body wasn't right. It was like it had gone into a holding pattern. It was like the harder I tried to lose weight the less it responded.

So even my good efforts weren't rewarded and I began to become really discouraged. Plus instead of celebrating my successes, I found that everything seemed to become an excuse to beat myself up more and more because I couldn't be "perfect". It seemed like at that point in order to lose more weight I had to become more and more "perfect".

I finally gave up. For about a year or two. Now I'm in the position of having to relose what I regained.

So the Body Clutter book helped me to see that I gave up because the rewards for good behaviour just weren't there any more. I wasn't "good enough". I "deserved" to not lose any more weight because I wasn't "good enough"....

Can you see how self defeating this attitude can be? Why work so HARD at something if the only messages you keep giving back to yourself is that you weren't "perfect" enough? Why not be happy? Hey I lost 60 pounds and several dress sizes! YAY ME! Instead it was "No you are never going to reach your goal because you just aren't disciplined enough."

After awhile those negative messages took their toll and I stopped trying to hard only to feel rotten about my results anyway.

But. I know how I lost the weight before. I know how to do it again. I KNOW I can do it. And this time I'm going to reJOICE even if I do hit that same plateau. I'm going to rejoice that I haven't gained it all back. I'm going to rejoice that I was able to catch myself before gaining back all that I worked so hard to lose before.

Even if I reach a point where all I can do is maintain. I'm going to rejoice that I'm maintaining and not gaining. Negative messages that we use to beat ourselves up with are just damaging to the whole process.

If you want to get a copy of the body clutter book you can find it at flylady.com I think there is some stuff in that book that is of value. It helped me anyway to see why I just couldn't do it anymore and it gave me the courage to try again. FLY by the way means "Finally loving yourself" I like that.

01-21-2006, 02:36 PM
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Sherry, I live in Petaluma. :)

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