Friday, September 17, 2010

Free Days

Once in a while I plan a "Free Day" or "Free Meal."  These are specific days or specific individual meals when I give myself permission to NOT worry about every calorie that sits on my plate or the nutritional balance of the food I will eat. It's a completely guilt-free experience.

Sounds wonderful, right?

It is pretty awesome. But it certainly took me a while to get past the guilt part of having free days. But now I am able to plan for specific meals or whole days and not even bat an eyelash -- and when it's done, I usually forget I even had it because I've moved on from the experience and gotten right back on track.

For the past three months I have been on the "straight and narrow" with my eating and water and vitamins. (You'll remember my bout of rebellion this past summer.) And when I say "straight and narrow" I don't mean that I've been perfect every single day - but my goal has always been to be on track at least 90% of the time. And that's where I've been since I called off the Rebellion.

But that 10% of not being on track might be a planned free day every once in a while (not every week, but maybe once a month at most) or if not a full day, then just one single meal. That single Free Meal events are usually special occassion meals like the family reunion potluck this past weekend. If I go a week or two without using that 10% freedom, then I can roll it together into a whole day of freedom.

But this freedom has some rules:

  1. A Free Meal can only be one meal. All other meals of the day must be on track and perfect and protein-heavy.
  2. A Free Day must still meet my protein goals So whatever food I decide to eat must still give me 80-100g of protein. After that, anything goes.
  3. After a Free Meal or Free Day I must get right back on track with the healthy eating plan.
  4. No guilt allowed.
  5. If it gets out of hand, all bets are off and Freedom is revolked.
NEWBIE WARNING -- this plan is not a good option for anyone who is less than one year post-op or is still trying to lose weight. During that first year life is all about restriction and learning new habits and training your brain to have a healthy relationship with food.

So let me tell you a little story...

This past Tuesday I ate a cupcake. Yes, I'm still savoring that moment. It was not an impulse decision, it was a decision I made in light of day's eating so far and what was planned for the remainder of the day. It wasn't a planned treat, but when I gave it some thought, I decided I could afford it in light of my caloric budget.  I knew that I'd been "on track" for the past few months and that I'd been eating well, so I had the cupcake and had no guilt.

So then later that evening I was talking about the cupcake and said that I'd been eating well for several weeks and it was an indulgence that I had because it fit into my planned calories. My mother happened to be in the room when I said that and her comment was: "Well, except for Sunday." Mmm.... what was Sunday?

Yep, I'd had a Free Meal on Sunday at the family reunion, but by Tuesday evening I'd forgotten about it. During that Free Meal I had eaten a fairly healthy array of food, but then I'd had a sampling of some of the desserts. A sugar cookie, a bit of a couple different dessert salads and a small brownie over the course of a couple hours.  But after that one Free Meal I had moved on with my life and didn't give it a second thought - so when my mom called me out on the indulgences it had honestly not even entered my mind. In fact, when I realized what she was talking about I even said: "Oh, that doesn't count."

So when I said "that doesn't count" I really meant it. I had a Free Meal and I'd moved on without guilt. Each day is it's own decision. Free Meal guilt doesn't carry over into other days.  Free Days are different, they are few and far between, so those need to be planned in advance and taken in context of when the last Free Day was.

So there you go... that's how I stay sane with the regemin of staying on track 90% of the time.


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