Help me in overcoming an all or nothing attitude.

  • I'm hoping you pro's out there might have some advice on how I can adjust my thinking.  I've done bfl 3 times (in the past 2 years), and I've completing each of them with precision.  The PROBLEM is that when I'm not on the program, or on 'free day'....I seem to make up for all the good I've done by gorging all day long or eating bad between challenges.  In my head on free day I'm thinking I need to try and fill the void I'm going to have the following week instead of listening to my body.  My goal this time is to find balance.  I ended up taking a free day last Thursday while we were on vacation, the hunger and stress of the trip seemed unbearable, and I've been good about not beating myself up too bad about it and moving on, but I still really want to have free day tomorrow.  Ugh. 

    Second question.  I've heard that being a woman that my arms CAN'T get big.  I'm finding that to be untrue for me.  They are indeed getting bulkier.  I'm happy with the muscle mass, but don't want to increase the size of my biceps.  Will sticking to bfl get my body to a 'fitness' level?  Will I eventually lose my mommy tummy after having 3 kiddos?  Thanks for answering my weird questions.

    If this helps I'm 33, 5'8 and wear a size 8 pants.  Not sure how much I weigh since I havn't weighed myself in 7 months.  Probably in the low 150ish range.

  • I'm not a BFL "pro" (having just started my second challenge), but I do have over 25 years experience with taking fat off and putting it back on :-). I've learned some things over the years that I'm finally successfully putting into practice. Two caveats on these:

    1. Everyone is different, so the fact that these work for me is no guarantee that they'll work for you; take whatever helps and discard the rest.
    2. These assume you're doing the challenge primarily to get leaner and fitter, not to try to win the annual EAS contest.

    First, "overly free" free days probably aren't worth worrying about. I watch calories instead of doing palm/fist (which I can't make work well on stews and casseroles), and while a normal day runs 1950-2100 calories my free days can easily get up to 3000-4000 calories. I have yet to see this seriously dent my results (and I've even seen a convincing explanation of how this helps long-term fat loss). That's for a free day, you understand - free weekends do tend to slow things down, but even there they can be recovered from with minimal loss of progress (as long as they don't become a habit). The big danger here isn't as much the phsyical effects but the psychological - feeling that you've "failed" can lead to "dropping out" and that's what kills results.

    Second, the between-challenge time has also been my biggest danger zone. In the last couple of months, though, I managed to overcome that trend. Previously, I was a victim of what I'd call "binary thinking" - I was either "on the program" or "off the program". Now, I go with four categories - "Challenge", "Active", "Coasting", and "Free", in decreasing order of intensity and strictness. And all of them are part of the program in my mind - I'm never really "off".

    For me, "Active" is lighter workouts (usually peaking at 8s or 9s instead of 10s) and only 2-4 per week instead of 6, but keeping the eating plan fairly well. "Coasting" is no formal workouts but staying active (probably not exceeding 7s or maybe 8s in activities), and being a little lax but not fully "free" on the eating (except for the free day). "Free" is not worrying about activity or eating at all, but this is done by design for a week or at most two - and no guilt allowed.

    In the nine weeks before starting this challenge, I had four "Active" weeks, four "Coast" weeks and one mostly "Free" week. And I ended them in a little better shape than I started them.

  • You my friend are a psychological genius!  I think you are absolutely right.  The more I marinade in my all or nothing 'issues'...I think...like you said, when I feel like I've failed, because of free day, it's harder to propel myself forward without wanting to quit.   It's so awesome that you were able to figure out that you would be on or off between challenges, and instead think of your healthy lifestyle in terms of catergories.  The thing is, once you know how to eat healthy...you can never really be off, right?  It's like accountability, what you know, you are responsible for.  I guess it's just hard accepting that I KNOW what's right and wrong for my body, and the guilt is what is the biggest culprit in my motivation.  I'm going to have to really delve into this awesome concept you have laid before me.  Seriously, maybe you should write a book!  So...the second question is...how do I NOT feel guilty for not hitting my 10's or splurging big time on free day?!?  Yikes!!

  • This is a great thread!  I too struggle with the "All-or-Nothing" syndrome.  I've tried this program a couple of times but get frustrated with myself when I've "messed" up my meals on a non-free day.  Eventually, I just throw my hands up and quit all together.  This time around, I'm trying to make small changes to the nutrition side of things and to not be so hard on myself.  I realize that I may not get the results that I otherwise could but eventually, I'm hoping to change my overall health.  Cheers!

  • So...the second question is...how do I NOT feel guilty for not hitting my 10's or splurging big time on free day?!?

    I actually deal with those two a little differently, though there is a common theme I'll get to at the end.

    For not hitting my 10s, I just try to treat it as a learning experience. Were my weights too light? Make a note to increase them next time. Did I get afraid of injury and back off? Figure out what kind of injury is possible and prepare for it next time (might mean having someone spot me, or warming up and stretching a particularly tight muscle beforehand, etc.). Was I just lazy? Prepare some motivational stuff (champion bios, pictures showing the type of body I want, pump-up music, etc.) to get me fired up when the next workout comes.

    It also helps to remember that you won't hit a 10 every time. Bill Phillips said that straight out in the book: "Now remember, you won't have a level 10 experience every workout" (page 66). Missing some 10s is not just OK, it's normal. But don't stop trying to hit them - shooting for a 10 helps orient and focus you even when you're only achieving 8s, and keeps set in your mind that you want to keep improving.

    As for  big splurges on my free day, It's easy for me not to feel guilty about them because to me, that's what the free day is there for - not the "splurging" part specifically, but rather it's a "safety valve" that gives me a safe place to put down the discipline for a day if it's getting too heavy for me. Then, once my willpower has had a rest-and-recuperate session, I'm ready to pick it back up and "get strict" again for the next week.

    If the splurge is truly epic, I just figure "wow, that should definitely be enough willpower R&R to get me through to the next free day - might not even need the next one." And move on.

    If I splurge on a non-free day, I fall back on that common theme I mentioned. The most succinct summation of it was by Winston Churchill:

    Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

    I also have two other quotes along the same line that I go back over (emphasis mine in both), one from Calvin Coolidge:

    Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

    and the other from Teddy Roosevelt:

    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points how the strong man stumbled; or where the doer of a deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust, and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatness so that his place shall never be with those cold timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

    Why should I melt before that internal voice telling me how badly I failed? That's a critic; Roosevelt said he doesn't count. What does it mean that I fell short? It means I'm trying, putting forth the effort; the only way to never fail is to never try, and that's not an option. So what power can push me past my errors? Coolidge's omnipotent force - persistence and determination. And as I harness that persistence to move on from failure to failure without losing my drive, I know I'm on Churchill's path to success.

  • That is great...thank you.  So in a nutshell I need to (Have a good attitude, keep with it and be proud that I'm doing bfl at all).  I can definately see why your hobbies are reading because you are quite a writer mstickles.  I look forward to 'seeing' your progress through the next 10 weeks!  What a great perspective you have.  I have no doubts that you will be successful! Thanks again!