Essentially, it’s the one time a week when any and all food items I consume simply don’t “count.” I’ve just had my weekly weigh in, and there’s a whole seven days until I have to step on that scale again. I pledge to go back to counting POINTS and working out on Monday, but until that time, I do not concern myself with how many calories are in the two slices of spinach-topped pizza I’m have for dinner, or the mocha (lite) frappuccino from Starbucks I slurp while raiding the magazine rack at Barnes & Noble that afternoon. The calories, apparently, just vanish into thin air. My family and I always go to IHOP for breakfast on Sunday mornings, and I delight in an egg white omelette, whole grain pancakes topped with sugar-free syrup, and coffee with skim milk. I often enjoy every last bite of it, and I don’t even think about how many POINTS I’ve just eaten.
For lack of a better expression, I give myself the day “off.”
That isn’t to say that I gorge myself on candy and ice cream every week, but instead that I loosen the reins a bit and don’t allow myself to obsess about the fat and calorie content in the day’s meals and snacks. I also take Sunday as my one day off from the gym. It’s not a free-for-all, but rather a day of bending the rules a bit.
If I’m handed a yummy treat during the week (the chocolate chip cookies from my previous post, Cookie Monster, for example), I may stash it away to eat the following Sunday. It’s not that I can’t have it during the week, it’s just that a 3-POINT cookie may not fit so easily into my daily menu. (For the record, I have eaten exactly ONE of those cookies. It was delicious and I wanted another very, very badly, but I stopped myself. Now that’s progress!)
Is all of this the right thing to do? Probably not. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in the Weight Watchers handbook that encourages this kind of behavior.
But for a long time, it worked.
The extras I consumed on Sundays never seemed to show up on the scale at my next weigh in, and certainly my body deserves a day to recover from all the cardio and strength training I do Monday through Saturday. Having one day where I gave myself permission not to obsess over every little thing that passed my lips, or feel guilty for not subjecting my body to pain at the gym, was a big part of what kept me sane and satisfied throughout the week. Another bonus is that a lot of family parties and other weekend gatherings just so happen to take place on Sundays, so I knew I could indulge in a small slice of birthday cake or a couple of hors’doevres guilt-free.
Here’s the thing, though. While this strategy used to prove effective week after week, as soon as my weight loss started to stall, I knew that I would have to stay out of the twilight zone. I promised myself every Sunday morning that I would start to actually look up the POINTS for the quart of chicken and broccoli I planned to have for dinner, or at least try to estimate the calories I’d be piling on my plate at that anniversary party, but then week after week after week I simply elected not to do it.
I started reading articles about people who allowed themselves one “cheat” day (although I would never call it that) during the week and still lost over 100 pounds, and trainer Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser once said on the show that having one high-calorie day each week could shock your system enough to actually speed up your metabolism when you got back to eating healthier the next day. Supposedly, some of the contestants do this regularly on the show – they just don’t let us see it.
I used these as excuses and just continued on my merry way, and each time the scale didn’t show the loss I wanted, I convinced myself that it had nothing to do with what I had eaten last Sunday.
No more. This is clearly no longer working for me, and I have to stop. Once the “honeymoon phase” of weight loss is over, it’s easy to stray from your once strict eating and exercising regimen, and start letting things slide – and that’s exactly what has been happening to me.
If I ever want to get the scale consistently moving in the right direction again, then I’m going to have to leave my comfort zone behind and shake up my routine.
And that means kissing my Sunday twilight zone good-bye for good.