When I was first studying addiction in college, we were given an assignment to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous or a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. I walked into an AA meeting not having any idea what to expect, only what I had seen on TV.
During the meeting a young man who appeared to be of American Indian descent talked about using nature as his "higher power". An older man immediately went on a tirade about how Jesus Christ was the ONLY higher power a person should have and that this young man was doomed if he didn't accept Jesus and he knew what he was talking about because he had 22 years clean and sober.
I was personally HORRIFIED at this happening to this poor young guy that was desperately trying to change his life. The paper I wrote for the professor reflected my feelings. Since then, I have learned that this was NOT the way AA as an organization views the concept of higher power and that the statements made that day reflected one man - he was not speaking for everyone.
Despite that, I have seen many "old-timers" in AA pushing the agenda of "This is the way I got clean, so this is how YOU have to do it!"
So now that I'm in maintenance for a year, and have announced it to anyone who would listen, I've been asked "HOW DID YOU DO IT?" - both in terms of the loss as well as maintaining.
I don't believe that my way is the only way to do it. What works for me might not work for you. Yet, unfortunately, I see people all the time lecturing others that they MUST do this and MUST NOT do that when it comes to losing weight.
Let's look at some of the absolutes people are spouting:
- Sugar is addictive and evil - you must avoid it at all costs. If you choose to use even a little bit, you will trigger your addiction and binge and get set back months.
I certainly avoided eating foods with lots of sugar on a regular basis. But I have found that having a high-calorie sugar laced treat once and a while is good for my soul. And it doesn't cause me to binge. In fact, if I really over-do it on sugar I find this tides me over for weeks and I have no interest in eating fatty food like that for a long while.
2. Fruit contains a lot of sugar, so see above and avoid it!
Um.... that one really chaps my ass. Comparing the sugar in a banana or strawberries to the sugar in Keebler's cookies is insane. Fruit is one of the best things you can do for your body. I have eaten a banana almost every day without fail for 3+ years and still dropped the poundage. Right now my fridge is filled with fresh pineapple, cherries, apples and strawberries that I snack on, not to mention the dried cranberries and raisins in my pantry.
3. Carbs were invented by the devil. Cut out carbs completely or be fat forever.
Now I know there are some people that carbs tends to trigger intense cravings and make it more difficult to stay "on plan". However, research shows that low carb diets are often associated with things like constipation, vitamin deficiency, and extreme fatigue. If you are exercising - like you should be - these problems are greatly exacerbated. Worse of all, low carb diets are typically NOT SUSTAINABLE in the long term. So if you are making a lifestyle change where does this leave you when you are looking to maintain???
4. Artificial sweetners, high-fructose corn syrup, and every other processed substance will
immediately lead to tumors all over your body, you will not lose weight and will die an
Look, it's best to eat as naturally as possible. That being said, having a Truvia in my oatmeal 3X's a week and eating things that are made "non fat" (like nonfat yogurt) hence some artificiality hasn't killed me yet. I try to eat "clean". Lots of fruits and veggies, meats, staying away from processed food, I do what I can. But I still buy (GASP!) Peter Pan Peanut Butter rather then the "natural" PB.
What it comes down to, my friends, is that you have to find what works for YOU - not me, not the guy who insists that he knows it all on Facebook. Some people have a "cheat day" once per week - and this works out perfectly for them. I didn't cheat hardly at all during my trip down - I refused to allow myself to think outside the strict box. However, I am regularly "cheating" over my past year in maintenance. This is what works for ME.
So taking advice from others who have been successful is a GOOD thing! But using common sense and finding your own path? That's a good thing, too.
What are some of you favorite - YOU MUST or MUST NOTS that you have heard during your journey?