Sunday, May 2, 2010

What is the Meaning of a Free Day?

I decided today would a free day. Every Sunday my husbands family gets together at his parents house. There are about 30 of us. This Sunday dinner business is serious stuff. There is a schedule made out for months in advance. Everyone knows what they are supposed to bring on what Sunday. Most Sunday's put Thanksgiving dinner to shame. These days have lately become a particular struggle for me. With all that yummy food, my husband working most Sundays, right after getting home from church, with three small children by myself, well, lets just say I'm already in an emotional roller coaster going into the meal. And there is plenty of food to help ease the emotions, if ya know what I'm saying. Anyway, I've tried to fight it time and time again. There was a period of time we stopped going to Sundays, but the kids missed seeing their cousins. So most Sunday's I go away feeling guilty and a whole bunch of other emotions from the choices I made that day. So, today I decided to have a new attitude on the day. I would make it a free day. Then, I hoped, the emotions involved for eating the wrong foods wouldn't carry over. So, what was my mental attitude for this day? Go back to old eating habits. For this one day, eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to calm the emotions. The result, I feel sick, and I still have all the emotions involved with eating to much. So here's my question: How do you handle your free day? Do you go in with the attitude of "Oh good, it's a free day. I can eat whatever I want for this one day"? Do you allow yourself a small treat and still try and eat healthy the rest of the day? Do you still keep your food journal on your free day? I need some help getting a hold of these Sundays! They are hurting my hard efforts from the rest of the week. I can put all the weight I lost during the week back on with one day of overeating. I'm not liking it one bit.


  1. I think it is important that you enjoy the time with your family but I known that it is hard to watch all that good food setting around. I have tried to limit most of the high calorie foods to a good taste...not always a full portion or all I WANT. Make sure you drink a lot of water before the meal to help you feel full. Even though it shows up at first on the scale, it will quickly go if you are right back on the game. Sounds like you eat right most of the time. Try to bring some tasty foods that are also low in calories and get your family on the bandwagon. As they see you loose they will ask about it and may follow. That happened to me when I lost my weight after having a baby and my sister-in-law was so impressed she joined me and so did my mother-in-law. We all lost weight and felt good and enjoyed sharing healthy recipes. Hang in there.

  2. I'd say do all of what Mama Haas said. On my free days I usually don't go into it thinking that it is my free day. Usually I decide about halfway through the day and it's not because I want to pig out, it's because I want a really good cupcake or a bowl of ice cream or pizza or we are so busy after work we end up eating out. All of these things can be put into a normal day but sometimes it doesn't always work every day to be perfectly healthy. Life happens. We're not always home. We're not always perfect. I'd say if you do plan your free day, DO still journal. It will still make you conscious of what you stick in your mouth so you don't go completely overboard.

  3. My free days serve as a real motivator for me because I know that I can enjoy all my favorites at least once a week. I tend to go hog wild on my free days, and though that may not work for everyone, it really helps me mentally on all the other days.

    I don't put a limit on myself on free days, but I've found that I don't eat as much as I used to simply because my stomach has become smaller. After eating with wild abandon, I get that gross feeling, but strangely, rather than feeling guilty, that feeling serves as a reminder that I really do feel better and happier when I eat a well balanced and moderate diet. The day after a free day I'm usually rarin' to get back on the wagon and feel my body cleansed with lots of healthy food and exercise. I usually pay the price on the scale, but I can make it up with a couple days of hard exercise. And to me, losing that little bit of ground, but overall still making slow and steady progress works for me because it is DOABLE. If I never eat my favorites, never get to just bask in the luxury of delicious cookies or a slice of homemade bread with butter, I would fail.

    I've made the conscious decision that once a week I will embrace who I am, a total sugar addict and food lover, and take joy in decadence without guilt. I work hard exercising and I eat a healthy diet six days a week, so when I rest from that work on the seventh day, it's something I can do knowing that it's now just an occasional splurge and no longer a way of life for me. And I am very comfortable with that.

  4. On my free days, I only journal at the very end of the day, so that I don't interrupt the day with feelings of guilt and I don't track my calories, because I know I've gone over. I don't go out of my way to eat sugary treats, but I eat them if they're offered.

    A Thanksgiving-like dinner every Sunday? That would be hard indeed. Mama Haas had a great idea to get other people on board to bring healthier options.

    Maybe you could also approach the dinners with an attitude that Yes there will be good food and, yes, I will eat it, but I will also make a goal to do something active with the kids/adults during the gathering: piggy back races? obstacle course? Or make a goal to have a recipe swap with relatives. Or to take silly pictures of family.

    My thinking here is to take the focus off of food. Try to invest your emotional energy into one of these other things too. It might occupy time you would be spending eating seconds.

  5. I can understand feeling guilty over the free day. I'm like Chelsea and kind of decide part way into the day that I'd really like to eat some Chinese food, or an extra piece of the strawberry pie I just made for FHE. I don't necessarily think of free days as eating a ton of fattening food, just eating MORE of the foods I love. I know on the Biggest Loser they said something about having a high calorie day once a week? Anyway, it sounds like you are setting a wonderful example for your children, you eat right during the week and you also show them that once in a while, it's okay to indulge.

  6. I have done this so many times and I hate how I feel after! The problem I have is fighting for the next few days to get my stomach to shrink back to it's normal size.
    I have made the goal when I am in family situations like that to stay away from the food table. I get my food and then walk away. I am trying to focus on the conversations and not obsess over what's on the table. It is a hard but if I let myself go I seem to go CRAZY. Yesterday I was pretty good but I ate over my points. I was still happy though because even though I knew I had gone over I said NO two different times when all I wanted to do was EAT. I am looking at it as a success.
    It sounds like all of us are learning to look at food differently and family functions are a big challenge. We ARE learning though!!!
    My goal is to feel GOOD when at the end of the day no matter what day it is :)

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  8. I don't do the free day, I'm afraid I will lose momentum in my efforts so I pretty much stay within my calorie range.

    In regards to your big Sunday family bash, I have a few thoughts and they're worth exactly what your paying for them.

    We all need to develop discipline when it comes to eating at large social gatherings whether it be with family, church, friends or co-workers. I think we all face similar situations so know that you are not alone on this one Alicia.

    Many of us participating in this challenge and blog are Mormons and Mormons should know how to eat healthier than most people unfortunately many of us don't. Our vice of choice is not tobacco or alcohol it is FOOD. All events seem to require large quantities of FOOD.

    My extended family in Utah has a family dinner once a month, it use to be twice a month but everyone's schedule just got too busy for that. There is always plenty of food at our dinners but there could easily be a much more than there usually is. I love those dinners and always try to arrange my travel plans so that I can attend a dinner. For me it's not about the food though, it's about being with those beloved family members and enjoying their company.

    I get the impression your extended family would not be willing to even cut their dinners down to twice a month but you could cut your attendance down to twice a month....course then you have the guilt factor.

    If you don't want to do that you could join the family gathering after the dinner is over and just enjoy visiting and letting the cousins have their time together.

    Of course neither of the these two suggestions may be doable for you so of course I'm saving the best for last. Two plate Sunday Alicia, it's worked for an acquaintance of mine I think it could work for you and I'd even send you the two plates as I have plates to spare.

    Here's how it works, the two plates are a salad size plate and a bread and butter plate. You take your two special plates with you every Sunday. You eat dinner on the salad plate and dessert on the the bread and butter plate. You can fill those plates up once, no refills. On the Salad plate I would hit the buffet and focus on protein and veggies, you aren't allowed to stack the plate high with food but you should include a few special treats like a roll, or something you wouldn't normally eat. When you eat, take small bites and really enjoy what you're eating. With the bread and butter plate I would try as many desserts as possible by only taking a tablespoon full of each or a bit more if there is just one or two desserts offered. Now you are probably going to want more than those two plates of food but just don't do it. Remember, you'll get another chance the next Sunday. Although the purpose of these large gatherings may feel like it's to eat a lot of food that should be secondary, it's really for the family to gather together... so enjoy everyone's companionship and work the room visiting with one and all.

    Keep us updated on your Sunday progress!!

    We all love having you as part of our BLOG family and you don't gain weight when you're with us cause all we do is talk about food.

    Sorry, commented twice when once was enough.

  9. Thanks for the great ideas everyone! They have really helped, especially with my mental attitude today. Usually the day after a bad eating day is the worst. I feel yucky and want to lay around all day. I usually have a lot of guilt with the choices I made. Today, I got up, did my workout, and feel really positive. Because of your comments, I'm kind of excited for next Sunday to put them in action. BTW, Audrey, I bought the multi-vitamin pack at Costco the last time I was there. I LOVE them!