Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moderation & Deprivation

A common thought process that I've seen in blogs - and that I have had myself - is about trying to eat in moderation. Usually the argument goes:
1) Life is too short. I don't want to feel deprived.
2) If I deprive myself of it, I'll crave it, and then I'll binge.

I was thinking about the two words - deprivation and moderation - earlier today. Some meanings of deprived were: lacking the necessities of life and the condition of being without, especially of economic or social necessities.
Moderation came up as the avoidance of extremes of excesses; being within reasonable limits.

For me, when I read the definition of moderation, I think it makes sense. Just have a little; balance it all out and everything will be fine.

I tried it. It didn't work. I thought it was working, but it really wasn't. Part of it was because my concept of what was moderate was so skewed. I was obviously eating a lot because I was gaining weight. Moderation for me would have been one (or two) slices of something instead of three.

That's not moderation. That's still too much -- it's still nearing excess. In the scheme of it all, and given my ultimate goal of wanting to lose weight, even one slice of certain somethings would be too much.  As an overweight person, obviously my perception of what is moderate isn't right.

I realized that the big changes I wanted to see would only happen if I made big changes in the way I ate and exercised.

The changes didn't all come at once. I am always trying to be within reasonable limits, and soon my craving for something sweet after dinner went from a big brownie, to a small slice of cake, to half a bar of chocolate, down to an After 8 after dinner mint.

I didn't think that was too bad ... however, even with my nightly 40-calorie After 8 dinner mint I realized that some of my friends were having dessert once a week ... even once a month. How's that for a different perspective of what moderation is? See, it's all about perspective, and I think for me, until I recognized the folly in my perspective and came up with a strategy to really have control over my eating habits - long term, not temporary - I would not see the changes that I wanted to see.

I have to wonder what would have happened if I just stopped all together. Would I have felt deprived?

The definitions of deprivation really have to do with dealing with not having something essential. It is obvious that having something sweet is not essential to live. I don't think I ever felt like not having something would make me feel deprived. I wanted to eat what I wanted to eat simply because I wanted to eat it! There was no thought of future consequences. If I was really conscientious about how I would feel in the future, wouldn't my thoughts have turned to how difficult it would be to burn off those calories in that pizza, cake, ice cream, etc. instead of I may want to eat it later ... does that make sense?

Again, it's about perspective. This quote really struck me when I saw it:

I really want to be healthy, strong, energetic, and thin! If that's really what I want most, then I have to behave like it.

I'm convinced that the idea of deprivation, when it comes to wanting to eat food, is an illusion. It's an excuse for not wanting to try harder. I don't want to make that excuse for myself anymore. Participating in this Whole Life Challenge has really shaken my perspective. I'm on Day 5 of no dairy, no grains, no starch, no sugar, no preservatives --- I have to say, I don't feel deprived at all.

Side note:
My mornings of yoga are going great! I'm really enjoying that 15 minutes of calm, peace, and quiet -- helps me get center for my day before I start rushing around like a mad woman!
I didn't do abs this morning, but I will do them tomorrow for sure.

Good CrossFit session today - 
I worked on my pull-ups (still struggling, but maybe making a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of progress) and I tried ring dips (with a band) for the first time. Man I need to work on my upper body strength!!
For weights I did dynamic sumo deadlifts (70 kg) and dynamic box squats (40 kg).

Our WOD was
120 skips (or 60 double unders, but I'm not at that level yet!)
50 hand-release push ups
40 knees to elbows (hanging from the bar)
30 push presses (20 kg)
20 pull ups (did the best I could with the band)
10 cleans (20 kg)

Day 5 of the Whole Life Challenge complete and I'm doing great (my progress info here)!


  1. Very interesting post. I might add one tidbit for thought. Not everyone that indulges in 2nds or 3rds or desserts gains unwanted pounds. Just the chosen ones, and we are legion. There are a select few I know that eat carbs and sugar daily. My wife's mother is one of those. She has dessert with lunch and dessert with her evening meal. She is 88 years old, 5ft4in tall and weighs 114 pounds. She claims when she was of child bearing age, she never got above 125lbs with each pregnancy. Some people get those metabolisms. Then there are the rest of us:(

    1. That's true. That's why perspective is important. There are so many factors that need to be considered, and we have to remember that just because one person is doing X and seeing results doesn't mean we can follow that same plan and experience the same.

  2. Hi PlumPetals! I have come to the conclusion that I am not a moderate personality. I'm all highs with a few lows, here and there. I can decide not to eat something for other valid reasons, but I don't think I can decide to be "moderate," because anyone who knows me knows I'm really not moderate. So my friends say that I have to be realistic about that and factor it in.

    :-) Marion

    1. Being realistic about what you can/can't handle is definitely important. That realization is so liberating. I spent a lot of time fooling myself - thinking I was being moderate when I wasn't. It's just about being aware of what you're doing and having a realistic idea of what the consequences (good or bad) may be.

  3. Congratulations on going 5 days without sugar. I think I did a month in the past and after the initial "shock" (sugar is everywhere, right?) I didn't find it that hard. Habits are the worst, as an example I would always feel the need to eat when I went out to a mall. Otherwise I felt deprived. Yeah, it's an illusion.

    1. Thank you! I really didn't think I'd be able to do it, especially as you said with habits that you feel you need. I always thought I'd need to have something sweet after dinner, but now I realize that I don't. I am having a bit of fruit so perhaps I'm still replacing that artificial sweet with something naturally sweet -- perhaps getting rid of it all together is the next step!

  4. These are two of the "diet world" words that really irritate me. When people tell me I shouldn't "deprive" myself by not eating stuff I neither want nor need,or that they're not willing to "deprive" themselves of whatever junk food they name, they're implying, as you said, that those foods are somehow essential to their existence. When, on the contrary, those foods are detrimental to their existence -- it's like the same as saying I'm depriving myself of tobacco because I don't smoke. I just don't eat that stuff, what's the big deal? And if you put half a minute of thought into it, maybe you would decide that you don't eat it either. And moderation...please. First of all, when someone can define moderation and everyone can agree on what quantities and frequencies of "everything" is okay, then maybe moderation will mean something. If I cut down from two big Macs every day to one big Mac four days a week, is that moderation? What would be moderate heroin use? If I usually eat a whole bag of potato chips on Saturday while watching TV but I reduce it to half a bag, does that count? How much alcohol is moderate? All it comes down to is simply this: If x habit/food is not contributing toward your goal, it is detracting from it. No need to rationalize. If you enjoy doing things that you know don't do you any good, go ahead & do them, but please don't put them in the guise of necessities.

    1. I agree completely. It's all about choices - every time. I think about all the people struggling to kick the soda/diet soda habit and are struggling to drink water -- your body needs water; it does not need soda. So the word deprived shouldn't even come up.

  5. Great post. Keep it up! :)


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