Moderation has become quite the buzzword recently. I’ve talked about it, defined the heck out of it, and worked on it as a skill. Truthfully, it’s only been in the last six months that I’ve realized that moderation is the ONLY way I want to live my life anymore.
But if I’m being honest, I definitely have NOT always thought this way. I was one of those people who constantly was praised for her self discipline, which is awesome when it comes to schoolwork, but self-discipline can have some ugly side effects outside of the classroom.
See, where most people hit the wall two weeks into a diet, I broke through it and went ahead at full force. Where most people want a bowl of ice cream two weeks into their diet, I cut more calories for just thinking about it.
For about eleven years, I struggled with a severe eating disorder that took away parts of my childhood, all of my teens, and some of my young adulthood. I restricted my caloric intake excessively and always. My workout routine was relentless and was my way of burning off every calorie I ate. And when I slipped up? I hated myself. Often, I would look in the mirror or try on clothes and just collapse in tears.
Note my approach to the holidays from about 2004-2015.
Thanksgiving Day: run a 10k, eat extra because I’m hungry and tired, have dessert (and wine once I turned 21 😉 )
Day (or honestly, weeks) after Thanksgiving: count every calorie that goes into my mouth, exercise an hour+ per day, hanging on until the next happy hour excuse to relax
It was miserable. This cycle of indulging followed by severe restriction fueled nothing but disordered eating, over-exercise, and crappy body image, regardless of how thin I became.
I was constantly searching for a better way to live.
My journey to moderation
After years of restriction, I battled every day to eat more food that would nourish my body and fuel my goals. I’d be lying if I told you it was easy. There were days during my recovery when I cried while eating the extra food.
Things started to shift in 2014. I found Jill Coleman‘s writings on moderation. Her ideas piqued my interest. You mean, I don’t have to restrict to see results; I just eat the same way every single day? Cool. I can do that.
And that’s exactly what I tried to do.
My Thanksgiving plate looked like my dinner the night before.
Andrew and my anniversary dinner was nothing out of the ordinary.
I drank beer (OK, Mike’s Hard Lemonade) or wine most nights.
Combined with the strength training I recently discovered, I lost body fat, dropping into a pretty lean for me range. I was STOKED.
It wasn’t until mid-2016, I realized something that blew my mind: trying to eat mostly moderately every single day was actually just another way for me to continue restricting myself in the day to day.
Because I focused so much on eating the same every day, I found myself slipping into old, restrictive patterns.
Social invitations were declined so I could eat the same foods (even if I enjoyed them)
I wanted to indulge on special occasions but made myself stop
Traveling stressed me out (because how could I find my foods)
Since that realization, I KNEW I had to make some changes. I don’t want to be in that restrictive space anymore, so I’ve started testing the waters with some new ideas. I’ve shifted my approach to be one where moderation is two seemingly opposing concepts.
My #consciousindulgence approach to moderation
- Eat in a way that makes you feel like you don’t need to have a cheat day
- If you overindulge for whatever reason, remember that it does NOT need to be “cheat day” to indulge OR you don’t need a cheat day to (over) indulge
Again, if I told you it was easy, it would be an utter lie. Those ugly thoughts telling me to eat less, move more, and get smaller still are there; I just don’t listen to them as much.
If I want to indulge a bit more (like when Andrew came and visited), I do.
If I need some chocolate every evening to make me feel satisfied, I eat it.
I’ve been living this way more and more for the last six months, and it’s made me feel more at peace with food. I also feel more empowered to enjoy my life and the experiences that come with them.
So when I leave for Argentina in a few weeks, you can bet I’m taking my #consciousindulgence approach with me.