If “I’m too busy” is the mantra of those who have trouble working some fitness into their days, then “I don’t want to deprive myself” is the anthem of those who struggle with the clean eating piece of the puzzle. My answer to the fitness/time issue is “You’re no busier than a fit person. We’re all busy.” To handle the deprivation dilemma, I want you to picture the rabid ex-smoker. You know the type, they used to smoke, and really enjoyed it, but when they finally quit, they turned into those people who wouldn’t let people smoke in their homes, told others how much their clothes smelled, and would wave their hand furiously in front their face if others were smoking within a fifty foot radius of them. Now, do you think the ex-smoker feels deprived? I’m sure they’re proud of themselves as quitting smoking is a really hard thing to do. When you feel that you’re depriving yourself on not having every piece of cake that passes your way at an office party, try to ask what it is you really think you’re really missing out on. While it isn’t easy, I’m sure it was hell for the smoker trying to quit too, give yourself a chance to get on the other side of the mountain so to speak. Unlike the smoker who knows better than to have “just one,” I promise there will still be cake in your future.
There’s a barrage of “You ate it, now negate it” themes in magazine articles. They love to show donuts or cookies and then show what is required to burn it off. There’s a huge disconnect going on for most people with this concept. I remember having a conversation with a woman trying to lose weight, and she said, “I don’t deprive myself, if I want a piece of cheesecake, I have it, and just add in an extra 20 minute walk.” Now, it’s okay to choose to have something, but keep it real. A single piece of cherry cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory is 860 calories. A typical 150 lbs. woman walking level ground for an hour at a moderate pace, maybe burns 200 calories. I hate doing math, but even I know this isn’t adding up. Make a decision based on if it’s worth it, if you’re trying to lose weight, maintain, or outright splurge, but if you’re really trying to negate the calories, be sure you have the correct exchange rate, as sadly the currency for calories burned has a very stingy exchange rate!
I bristle a little whenever someone says, “Oh, everything in moderation.” My rebuttal is always, “Moderation is for maintenance.” Moderation didn’t cause weight gain, and it’s not going to cause major weight loss either. You need a deficit of 3500 calories to lose a single pound. Chose a clean eating and fitness routine you can live with to make progress. I tried to create an eating plan that I could live with and that wouldn’t make crazy enough to quit and give up. If that meant I kept the cream and sugar in my coffee, then so be it. A little success will help fuel your desire for a lot of success. I found setting small, mini five to ten pound goals, were attainable, and I was able to celebrate the success of reaching that mini goal, rather than be overwhelmed at thinking of having to lose ninety-six pounds.
Not eating every cookie that crosses your path is not deprivation. My love of time travel movies is well documented, as I’ve long been fascinated with the thought of being able to give my younger self advice. But ask yourself: if you could travel back in time and do some things differently, would any of them involve eating something? Granted, I did laugh when I saw a sign at a local bakery that said, “Think of all those women on the Titanic that passed on dessert!” Once, I suddenly became very sick with a crazy infection, and ended up in the hospital for weeks. It didn’t look good for me, and one morning I ordered the pancakes for breakfast and said, “Well, if I’m not going to make it, I see no point in ordering the egg white omelet.” Want to laugh? I ordered the sugar free syrup in case I rallied! Happily, I live to tell the story, so enjoy the “worth it” treats when they come your way, or you think your ship is sinking, but save the moderation talk for when you’re at your goal range. Maybe it’s as simple as changing how you look at it. Perhaps you’re not depriving yourself if you don’t eat a basket of tortilla chips with a frozen margarita when you have twenty pounds to lose, but really depriving yourself of being fit if you do.