Are you a relentless rule follower?

by kellylavieri on May 26, 2015


Another week is here and yikes…enviably a new diet promise to yourself to give up…blah, blah..whatever indulgences you overexposed yourself to this weekend. Maybe you have been on a diet for the last few months getting ready for Summer so the scale this morning possible had a little setback.

A tad dramatic, yes, but when we work so hard to operate within the guidelines of the dozens of nutrition “rules” we’ve accumulated over the years, its easy to fall into the trap of feeling like breaking those rules makes us bad, or unsuccessful, or a failure.

Sometimes, we collect so many rules that we set it up to think, “I either need to be fully on board, following them perfectly, or I might as well be completely off and eating anything I want.”

Free  Yourself

Relentlessly rule-following sets us up for struggle.

But, because we are so used to operating this way, thinking for ourselves when it comes to nutrition feels scary, because what if we mess up? What if we don’t choose the right thing? There’s a lot of pressure to make the right decisions all the time, and we (mistakenly) believe that a single “slip-up” will make or break our momentum or have a huge effect on our physiques.

That couldn’t be more wrong and personally I am bit over rules and more about #Balance365.

With nutrition, you are always navigating. Depending on what is happening in our lives, how much or little exercise we are doing can really plays a part in our nutrition choices. Eating is never not going to be something you have to do. And thinking that you must follow all the rules to perfection is an insane standard to hold yourself to. And in fact, often causes us to make and worse choices later! Deprivation and draining willpower constantly is not benign. At some point, we’ll have the urge to overindulge. Of course we will. And it has nothing to do with not trying hard enough. In fact, it probably has to do with trying too hard –hard to the point of rigidity and then breaking. Again, focusing more on the mindset of perfection vs. #Balance365 (find what works for you).

Do you need permission?…only from yourself, really!

See, over the last few years, I started noticing something: the more permission I gave myself to shirk “the rules” and find an easier way or a more personal way or a more enjoyable way to eat, the less willpower I expended on nutritional choices. I simply stopped feeling the urgency and stress over food. Which I found always made me eat more garbage out of fear that I would have to give it up.

I needed to find some more mental space to do other things I wanted…like work on my business, read, work with more clients, ENJOY THE FOOD I WAS EATING! Permission was the thing that reduced the amount of mental energy I spent on all these nutrition dos and don’ts we have.

This might sound counterintuitive because, “Kelly, permission leads to me eating everything!!!”

And maybe it does the first time, because we have a deprive, binge cycle mentality. However, permission is the opposite of rule-following, and at first, giving yourself permission feels like the Wild Wild West, because OMG WHAT DO I DO??? ARE PEOPLE WATCHING ME? WILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN MYSELF?

But over time, and with practice shirking the rules and getting better at a mindfulness practice, permission comes to be the ultimate in control. It’s precisely the thing that reduces the mental energy we need to make better decisions. Because it takes the urgency and stress out of decision-making.

You might need to ease it to this, especially if you have to pack your meals for work during the week..I certainly not talking about bingeing on the vending machines as a way to let it all go.

So I want you to use your weekends for experimentation.

I want you to go rogue on the weekends. Shirk the rules. That does not mean eating to your hearts desire, because remember that doesn’t make us feel satisfied/good either, but instead change things up.

Here are some examples:

  • Make choices based on enjoyment (both before, during aaaaaand after you eat that food – doing this will naturally curb the volume of overindulgent foods you choose) and not so much on what you’re “supposed to” eat.
  • Stay mindful of your hunger and try to feel it. Then allow yourself to eat accordingly. This is a practice but one that helps you get in touch with your physical sensations instead of eating according to a clock. The result? You might eat more or you might eat less. See what happens. Don’t be scared. Nothing is ever irreversible.
  • Try skipping breakfast or putting it off for an hour or two, and then navigate your hunger and cravings as a result.
  • Wait a bit after a workout to have a meal. Unless you are absolutely starving, then by all means eat, but don’t eat just because you are scared to not take full advantage of the protein after workout absorption!
  • Go to dinner and have a single piece of bread. Harness mindfulness to a) taste the bread and b) be discerning – does it actually taste yummy? If not, skip. If yes, enjoy and stay mindful.
  • Make a choice based not on “is this the right choice?” but on “will this choice give me a sense of satisfaction so that I am better equipped for decision-making later?”

The key is simply this: Stop with all the rules…you will be fine!

Don’t be “on plan” and don’t be “off plan” either. Just try and find what works for you through a bit of experimentation…Detective Work!. No context. No guidelines. No boundaries. Just YOU considering … you.






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