Imagine a favorite pleasure food, one you can truly savor and enjoy without losing control. Is it a small piece of dark chocolate? Or does chocolate of any kind cause you to lose control too much to truly savor it? Maybe a single ice cream sandwich is pure pleasure without the panic? This is so individual.
For one of my weight loss clients, a green tea latte from Starbucks is the peak of pleasure. It causes her to feel satisfied physically and emotionally; it is pleasurable without the downside of losing control. She told me she has even “lightened” it up by having less syrup and now uses skim milk. It has about 250-300 calories, and “oh, are they worth it!” she says.
I believe her. Listening to her describe the experience, I want one too – not the green tea latte, but the experience! You see, green tea lattes are not my thing, but I understand what she is saying. For her, green tea lattes provide a relaxing, enjoyable experience that starts when she walks into a Starbucks store to place her order. I feel that way when I order an ice cream cone. Pure pleasure!
During our first meeting together, we set out to find the source of calories keeping her from losing weight. The conclusion: candy at the office was probably responsible for an extra 500-800 calories per day, almost every day. Along with the candy she had an extra helping of guilt and lack of control, none of which happened when she had the green tea latte.
But . . . instead of getting the candy out of sight and and saving herself from the chaotic spiral downward, she had given up the lattes on the advice of a well-intentioned trainer. While for many of us, giving up the latte would be easy, for her it was torture and deprivation. Giving up the candy, she told me would be much easier. In fact, having none would be easier than tempting herself with a little and losing control.
I asked, “So, when you didn’t have the lattes, how did you do with the candy?” Her answer: “Terrible, worse than ever!” A strong (and emotional) feeling of deprivation was fueling her candy binges.
The plan was easy to figure out after that. Get rid of the candy that added so many extra calories and did not give true pleasure. Add back the lattes.
It turns out she had really understood all along, but didn’t trust herself: “You know, I thought that giving up my lattes was probably not a good idea, because they satisfied me so completely, but I was told they were a waste of calories.”
It pays to listen to that little voice inside. A waste of calories for one person may be a very intelligent use of them for another. Are you listening to your needs and treating yourself kindly?