Lesson Number 3: Never Say Never!
A few days ago I received the following comment to a blog post:
“I’m really curious if you are going to address, in your 10 things you learned blogs, how weighing and measuring helped or didn’t help you get more at peace with your food. We’ve spoke before and I know you from other groups you were in and so I’m curious the difference from eating whenever you want but it being whole foods plant-based, to going to the BL way…..I’m fascinated! hope that makes sense?? ?”
Thanks for asking! It’s the perfect segue into the next lesson that I learned these past 12 months.
The last time I “did” Weight Watchers (eight years ago) I swore up and down that I would never weigh or measure my food again. Since I always go so burned out on it at about the 6 month (or sometimes less) mark, I finally threw my hands up in the air and promised myself that I would never again attempt to lose weight using this method. It felt like the exact opposite of freedom.
For years I held tightly to my story. I held it so tightly that I wouldn’t entertain anything that even resembled Weight Watchers, swearing up and down that any healthy eating plan that required restricted portions was a waste of my time and a sure ticket to Cray-cray-ville.
I also desperately wanted to believe that there was a way for me to eat what I wanted (within reason), whenever I wanted, until comfortably full, and also live in my right sized body.
So I jumped from one plant-based doctor’s plan to another, all the while gaining back every last pound that I had put on using the Weight Watchers portion control method.
Now, I certainly became a healthier eater in the process, learning to love and even prefer unprocessed plant foods. I was healthy. Disease-free. But I got fat again.
One of the KEY differences between a portion control plan like Weight Watchers and a portion control plan like Bright Line Eating is that on BLE, you are not recreating a plan for yourself every day based on what you feel like eating, and then trying to fit the food that you ate, or that you want to eat, into your daily or weekly allotment of food.
With BLE, you eliminate a ton of the decision-making.
This took a lot of stress off of me when it came to eating. Stress that I didn’t even recognize was there, but once it was gone, I could feel how much happier I had become.
And as it turned out, when I took away the decision-making fatigue of a plan like Weight Watchers, I observed that it wasn’t the weighing of the food that wore me out. It was having to figure out what to eat all the time, and then sticking to the weighed quantities, and then having to re-figure everything out again if I ate more than what I should have in a meal or in a day. It was just a lot of decision-making.
It also exhausted me mentally any physically to try to “not eat” much for most of the day in order to save up points for a big or special meal. It was a version of restricting and sort of binging behavior.
In BLE, you make a few decisions, but nothing like what a non-BLE person would make when it comes to food.
You are also maintaining a steady blood sugar level throughout the day so that you shouldn’t ever feel like you are restricting or hangry on a BLE plan. Notice that I said “shouldn’t.” More on that below.
Now, everything is connected, so I also don’t want to fail to mention that on Weight Watchers, I was (1) eating sugar and flour and (2) most likely not eating nearly enough vegetables and unprocessed food. The combination of those two things was also a major contributor to me feeling like I just couldn’t sustain the diet. Sugar and flour raise our insulin levels and when we do that, we send our hunger drive significantly higher than it is when we are not eating those substances. It’s really no wonder I always ended up giving up on Weight Watchers.
In Weight Watchers defense, I am aware that the plan has changed a lot in the past eight years and that I know nothing about these changes. It very well may be a much improved plan. I happen to have an old friend who I reconnected with recently and she and her mother are living proof that the new and improved Weight Watchers is working for people. I also happen to know that my old friend does not eat sugar and flour anymore either.
How does BLE differ from something like Weight Watchers?
The BLE framework provides a meal structure (a combination of vegetables, protein, fat, carb and fruit) with assigned quantities (weighed amounts or other measurements). You chose what food you want to fill each category, in advance, for each meal. Then when it comes time to eat, you weigh out what you have pre-decided on.
For example, at lunch you might decide that your protein component is going to be beans. You weigh out six ounces of beans. Or if you choose tempeh as your lunch protein, you weigh out four ounces.
Here’s were the freedom comes in:
Over the course of a few months, you develop this sense of confidence in what you are eating because you scientifically observe how your body responds to that specific quantity of foods in that combination. You watch how your clothes fit, your weight and your level of satiety. If you don’t like the response you are getting, you slightly alter your plan and stick with the new plan long enough to observe its effect.
This is the rhythm of BLE.
If you find yourself hungry in between meals, you might want to ask yourself the following. This took me a long time to understand and really internalize, and it’s one of my most hard-won nuggets from my first year on BLE.
AM I PHYSICALLY HUNGRY MORE THAN ONE HOUR BEFORE MY NEXT SCHEDULED MEAL TIME?
If the answer is NO, congratuations! You have found a meal plan that works really well for you and chances are that you are going to ride this baby all they way down into your right sized body. You can join the ranks of the very happy BLE campers.
If the answer is YES, consistently, then you need to alter your BLE food plan. I learned the hard way that this kind of physical hunger is not sustainable in the long run. Yes, you may lose weight faster, but you might be miserable. And there is nothing that ruins a good food plan faster than misery. The body has evolved to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We are humans. We cannot defy our basic biology for very long.
Altering your BLE meal plan can take many forms. It can involve adding more food at one or more of the meals, adding another meal entirely, or altering the balance of the components of your meals to have you feeling more satiated (in my experience, fat leads to a feeling of fullness and adding more grain or potato leads to increased appetite and weight gain-totally contrary to what I was led to believe in the very low-fat plant-based movement).
Altering your BLE meal plan is best done with the guidance of a seasoned Bright Line Eating coach or buddy. There’s a lot of details on how best to do this that can be picked up in Boot Camp.
The bottom line is this: Weighing my food means that eating is no longer the mystery it once was. I know exactly what the results will be of eating more or less than my plan, or of eating food off of my plan.
Food drama eliminated.
It has been two weeks now since the first video in the Food Freedom Series was released. If you’ve watched those videos, you have probably had your assumptions challenged and your mind blown just a bit. (I know mine have were!)
If you watched the fourth video, you’ve learned about the Bright Line Eating Boot Camp, which will teach you how to create the automatic habits that support sustainable weight loss.
Perhaps you are thinking about joining the Boot Camp. Perhaps you need a few answers to help you decide.
Well, now is your chance to get those answers.
Susan is holding a LIVESTREAM Q&A session this evening, September 28th at 8:00 PM Eastern (5 pm Pacific time).
You can ask her whatever it is you need to know to make a decision. Ask whether this will work for you. Ask if you can eat corn tortillas or Stevia. Whatever questions are burning in your mind, bring them.
P.S. – Susan does coaching calls and Q&A sessions with Boot Campers and clients all the time, but rarely, very rarely, does she do Livestream Video Q&A sessions for the general public. Don’t miss out!
P.S.S. One year in to BLE, I have to admit, I’m not weighing my food with every meal. At the end of the day, it’s all about your personal feeling of freedom. If it makes me feel free to have some meals that are eye-balled, then it is perfectly within my program to allow for that. This might show up when I’m eating in a restaurant. It might show up at home when I’m eating a complex plant-based meal and I use the one-plate rule. I’m allowing myself this flexibility these days as I gain confidence in knowing who I am, what a “normal” meal looks like, and what I need in order to make the BLE plan sustainable for me in the long run. I am learning to honor all the parts of myself above anyone else’s way of eating, or any prescribed plan or program.