(This was totally a pep talk for me. Sorry. lol)
I am a huge fan of personal responsibility. A couple of years ago I had this great epiphany about what I could control and what I couldn’t control. I cannot control the things that happen to me bit I can control the way I react to things happening to me. I can control how prepared I am for some things. It really applies to everything. When it comes to money, I can control where I spend it and what I spend it on for the most part and I can be prepared for emergencies by having an emergency fund. (Let’s say, for instance, I break my glasses and finally have to give in and get new ones after 12 years. Seriously. Well, I have enough in my savings that I can use my insurance for my exam and some glasses AND I can get contacts if I want them!) But what I really want to talk about today is how personal responsibility applies to dieting. (And really, if you think about it, money too!)
That was what my real epiphany started with a couple of years ago. I was trying to get down to my pre-met-the-love-of-my-life weight because Love Makes You Fat. I was getting so frustrated with the world around me and I am a stress eater and the whole thing was just an effing mess. When you are on a diet and actively trying to lose weight, what feels like a lot of it, there are a million ways to slip up and a million things that are frustrating. Maybe it’s that Wendy’s has that Spicy Chicken Asiago Ranch Club right now or that your favorite restaurant’s lunch special is stroganoff (which they’ve never had and you love) when you intended to get veggie soup and a salad with the dressing on the side. Maybe it’s that you accidentally slept in, didn’t have time to work out, forgot to eat breakfast, and there are huge apple fritters in the back room plus you forgot your lunch so you’ll have to order Jimmy Johns. Over the years I have learned to file these things, all very real examples from my very real life, under the heading “manageable.” You just don’t go to Wendy’s. You compromise by getting the cream of broccoli, worse than the veggie soup but better than the stroganoff. You split a smaller donut with a coworker and order a lower calorie sub which you can spice up by adding hot peppers. In these cases messing up is completely on you. You have a choice and the only voice that you have to deal with is your own. Mind you, my inner voice is a real oinker so these are debates that go on all day, every day.
It’s enough having to deal with that voice. Where I feel that personal responsibility loses some of it’s ground is when you add in other voices.
I would say that I have a decent 75% success rate in dealing with myself. If I really work at it, like I am this week, I may be closer to 80%. It’s when you add in additional people and additional voices that things get tricky. Let me explain. Yesterday Hubby had the day off for MLK Day and I did not. On Mondays I get to swing home for lunch and so he asked me to pick up Wendy’s for him. I agreed because I like him. I spent the morning debating what to do about my own lunch. I only had myself to reason with. In the end I got a few things off of the value menu. I didn’t get what I really wanted because it was 200 calories more but I walked away satisfied and not at all bitter about Hubby’s awesome looking sandwich, as I would have been if I just warmed up some soup for dinner. At the end of the day, I came in below my calories by 70 and I felt pretty darn good about it.
Now, that brings us to today. Today is my “long day” in that it feels really long even though it isn’t. I spend a lot of time in my office and my office makes me so tired. Anyway, I am meeting a friend for dinner and I always treat myself to lunch on Tuesdays unless my mom does. I spent last night and this morning in a panic. See, I know that eating out twice today would most likely mean breaking my diet and any eating out I do today is going to put me over budget. Those are the facts. I can swear up and down that I am going to get two Fresco tacos at Taco Bell for lunch and a salad for dinner and just one beer but I also know myself really really well. When I go to lunch I’ll be super hungry and I’ll convince myself to order a burrito too, something I could totally come back from. However, going out to dinner could be the downfall and here is why…
See, when you are on a diet (or a budget, or both) it’s really easy to feel like you deserve things. If I have a rough day, I will think that I deserve a beer and some chips. As I’ve said, dealing with our own inner voices is hard enough. What about when your husband assures you that you can have Taco Bell for lunch. Then your mother asks you to lunch the next day at your favorite restaurant. Then, at dinner, your friend really wants to split an appetizer platter, complete with potato skins and fried cheese cubes and onion rings and fries and cheese sticks. This is where it gets tricky. You can insist that you really just want a salad or some soup or that delicious veggie sandwich but your friend will read into it that you are on a diet right away and if you fess up I can almost guarantee that your friend will do what friends do and assure you that you don’t need to lose weight and that you really need those fried foods because you are having such a good day. For me, I may give in or I may hold out but if I hold out I am about 5 times more likely to go to lunch the next day and get something even worse because I feel like I am denying myself something. (My favorite restaurant has a dish called Black Tie Pasta: bow ties and tortellini in creamy alfredo sauce with broccoli and blackened chicken. They are agents of Satan.)
There are ways to deal with this. For me, I brought some soup today. It’s too cold to eat in my car anyway. I can warm it up and sit in my office with my podcasts. Tonight I am getting one beer and one salad. If my friend argues with me about it, I will not give in because I have to learn to say no. I WANT a salad or veggie sandwich anyway. Tomorrow, I’m rainchecking on lunch with Mom. We’ll do it next week.
It’s important to remember that these people mean well. They want you to go out with them because they like you and want to spend time with you. They are not thinking about your diet or your budget. They encourage you to spend money and eat not-so-good things because they know you like to and they want you to be happy. When you say you’re on a diet they tell you that you don’t need to diet because they want to be nice to you. Don’t get angry at them but be firm and kind in your response and keep being firm. In the end you could possibly walk out of a situation feeling good about your friend and good about yourself.