As always, the best topics for blog posts come from actual conversations. As many of you have noticed, it’s spring. I’m showing my vanity card a little here, but for me, that also means it’s time to get a little leaner than “winter hibernation Warren.”
In my case, this really just means tightening up the diet and splurging less frequently. As a result, people around me have noticed that I do things like drink less alcohol, rotate between only two lunch establishments, and eat my afternoon snack out of a measuring cup. In short, it’s noticeable.
From this scenario have come several interesting questions and comments, which I will generalize into two buckets:
- “Is that a measuring cup? OMG, you are actually insane. That’s totally extreme. I think you have anorexia (or whatever).”
- “Is that a beer? OMG, isn’t that waaay off your diet? Do you feel really guilty right now?”
First, let’s clear up the obvious crazy-talk. Anorexic? The average draft horse would not challenge me to a calorie consumption contest. Also, the irony of these conflicting complaints is not lost on me. You just can’t win the PR battle when you eat healthier-than-average.
Now that that’s off my chest, the bigger issue…
Should I Feel Guilty About Eating Something Off-Diet?
Anyone with experience on a fairly strict nutritional plan has experienced some feelings of guilt after consuming something that wasn’t perfectly within their guidelines. Unless you’re an absolute machine (there are a few), you’re going to miss a meal, or have to eat crappy restaurant food, or splurge on a beer with friends. It happens. Life happens.
So when these breakdowns inevitably happen, the gut reaction is to feel like crap. ”You shouldn’t have done that. You’ll be fat tomorrow. What happened to your willpower?” These are the helpful tips your brain is providing you. Some people rebound fine from this. Others jump on the downward spiral and completely fall off the dietary rails. Regardless, no one feels good about it.
I’m going to blow your mind right now. Wait for it.
Feeling Guilty Is Completely Useless and Completely Unnecessary
Unnecessary, you ask? Indeed, I reply. Now I get to come back to the question about the measuring cup.
95% of the time, I am extremely strict with my nutrition. I eat lots of protein, lots of veggies, few grains or starches. I fast once per week. I measure my snacks.
Could I reach my goals being a little more relaxed? A little less “insane?” Probably, but there’s a reason for the madness.
95% Perfection Affords You 5% Splurge, Guilt Free
I’m strict most of the time because I know I’m going to screw up sometimes. I’m going to grab that beer, eat that burger, or miss a meal. Old friends are going to visit, and we’re going to eat, drink, and be merry. Impromptu beach trips are going to happen, and the only restaurant on the strip – it’s Five Guys. I’m going to eat it, and I’m going to enjoy it. I’m not going to feel guilty.
Because I’m on-plan most of the time, and I can afford it.
You don’t have to be perfect all the time; you just have to be perfect most of the time. Then enjoy the splurges when you have them, you deserve them.