Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28th, 2014 Turning Off The Self-Judgment

April 28th, 2014 Turning Off The Self-Judgment

I'm a creature of habit. My breakfast menu usually has two options: Eggs and sometimes cheese, wrapped in a Joseph's 60 calorie pita, or placed on a 100 calorie sandwich thin if the pitas aren't available. Or steel cut oats and perhaps a few scrambled egg whites. Rarely, in a tight pinch—if I wake up too late to prepare, I've allowed a fruit and maple oatmeal and scrambled eggs or a fruit and yogurt parfait from McDonald's. I've pretty much concluded the McDonald's Oatmeal and the parfait options need to go simply because each contain a significant amount of sugar. And for me, sugar is like a drug.

Is it possible for me to start my day with a double dose of sugar and still maintain my calorie budget throughout the day? Yes, I've done it. But, in making those choices I'm choosing to make things much harder. And just to be fair—I've started the day like that many times before and spiraled out of control in a feeding frenzy before sundown, check that—before noon. This cause and effect self-analysis isn't something I've always considered or realized about myself, it's a fairly new epiphany, as in the last couple of years.

When someone is just getting started and they ask me for advice, I stand behind exactly what I did from the beginning. I tell them to maintain a calorie budget and exercise, period. I tell them, “eat what you like and nothing you don't. Don't complicate this process. Get accustomed to eating less, naturally. Focus on maintaining the integrity of your calorie budget and you'll naturally evolve into making better choices along the way.” And I go on: “You can get fancy later. If you're like I was, simply cutting down to an intake best suited for weight loss is a big enough victory in the beginning. Start with this and allow your natural evolution of good choices to unfold.” Of course the conversation also turns to the emotional and psychological side of this very big battle most of us have in common. We all know this is about much more than food and exercise.  

I find myself in an awkward position lately. I have traveled over five years along this road and I've learned a great deal about myself and now I tend to be more critical of my own food choices. And some of those, like the sugar, for good reason. But what happens is, if I choose something that I've mentally noted isn't good for me, I immediately bring about negative feelings about what I'm doing. Does this make sense? I can make myself feel like a failure even when the choice fit nicely within my Calorie Bank and Trust. Even if it's something I enjoyed and even celebrated along the way of my initial success.

I didn't eat fruit and maple oatmeal from McDonald's this morning or a parfait. I did prepare my usual eggs and cheese wrapped in a Joseph's pita—and it was delicious. I had some fresh fruit for snacks and I enjoyed a fabulous lunch and dinner too. So where does this line of thought come from? I stopped at the grocery store on the way home. It takes me so much longer to shop now because I'm judging everything I put into my basket. Why am I doing this to myself? I believe it's because I've raised the bar of expectation very high. And while it's good to raise the bar as you go and ascend to new confident levels—I must recognize when retreating to the basics is imperative for my stability. If I continue to struggle living up to the highest expectations I've set for myself, then I'll continue to be disappointed in myself when I fall a little short. And the negative consequences of those emotions are not acceptable any longer.

I am retreating to the basics with a few exceptions. Anything high sugar or high fat is a minefield for me, so I'll tread lightly or not at all with those. I'm more specifically proclaiming: I will be less self-critical and self-judgmental. Because here's the bare truth: The barriers I've created within myself via shame and guilt—the avoiding pictures, the dreading public appearances and doing my best to avoid seeing people I haven't in a long while for fear they'll judge me or be disappointed in me---these barriers have been built with my own self-judgment and disappointment in me...and I've been amplifying and projecting it upon others. No more of that insanity. My fear of receiving this from others is actually a reflection of my own judgment!

In order to return to my healthiest weight and be more fit than ever, I have to embrace where I am, who I am and what I'm doing. And feel good about it 100%. And be kind to myself. Is it hard sometimes? Yes it is, very. And I don't necessarily understand all of the psychological dynamics of why I treat myself the way I do sometimes. But I know for certain that breaking this habit of self-sabotage is key to the healthiest visions of my future.

I'm headed to the trail for a good walk. It'll compliment all the stair climbing I did today. I don't even count the stair climbing normally—but today I noticed because it was unusually high between work and home, maybe 20 flights of stairs? That's fairly accurate.

I can't even begin to express how much consistently writing is helping me. It makes all the difference in the world. I look forward to so many incredible things ahead.

I'd love you to join me on twitter: @SeanAAnderson and on MyFitnessPal: SeanAAnderson

Thank you for reading and for your incredible support,



  1. I get the McD oatmeal with no brown sugar. It's plain with fruit on top. It is available any time of day. You could ask for no fruit too, I'm sure.

    Keep up the good work & good attitude.

    1. Good move! Thank you for the suggestion. I'm all about the fruit! Perhaps in a pinch I could order no brown sugar, extra fruit.

  2. Yep, it is hard re-doing everything. It is hard to let go of the guilt. Sounds like you are taking some good, concrete steps towards better health. Good luck.

  3. Hi Sean, Hang in there guy. You are doing so good! Food like life should be enjoyed. One major turn around for me was to approach food as something positive, I control it, it no longer controls me. But to find things that are good for you that you really enjoy. I love to cook exotic cuisine and try to have fruit or food that is colorful when ever possible. On the same note to add hot peppers when ever possible to give things a kick, but when I cook for family I make things mild. Sometimes my pocket book causes me to be limited but I make the best effort. I look at food differently now and keep in mind is this going to help me live longer and feel great, that's the choice that will keep you on track! You got this! I know you will be at your goal in no time!

  4. That's awesome Sean! So happy to see your comment "for me, sugar is like a drug." No artificial sweeteners or as little as possible of sugar except from fresh fruit and vegetables is most amazing transformation you could possibly make. Being able to easily resist all AS and sugar added to or processed to foods for life is very much possible.

    Jon L

  5. When on the road, I have found that McDonalds has an "Egg White Delite McMuffin" that is about 250 calories. It's really good and gives me the protein I need in the morning. Sometimes I'll get one to save for lunch. I wish McDonalds would expand their breakfast menu for later hours.

  6. We ALL are addicted to sugar, whether we know it or not. It is a struggle to make the right food choices because of the original learned eating choices way back, I believe. Those manage to surface by surprise and we fall victim to taking ONE for whatever reason we give ourselves. Then those choices grow and so do we. You are doing the SUPER HARD part of keeping the weight off Sean. It happens to all of us (if we have the major food addiction to start) this struggle AFTER the initial weight loss. You are doing great and THIS is when your biggest insights about you and food will come.

  7. I personally have noticed that naturally thin people never worry at all about what they eat or don't eat. I find it's really quite healthy to emulate these people. You'd be surprised at the crap they consume on some days, how fabulously healthy they eat on other days and how normal it all works out to be. Just my thoughts...
    Good to see that you are headed in the right direction.


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