What were some examples of some of the small changes you made along the way to get the scale moving, without compromising on restriction?
Great question. As I started thinking of examples, I realized that it wasn't just a matter of eating less and making portions smaller. It was very much about greater enjoyment, eating more in line with my values, and sometimes eating more food. Restriction says, "You're eating too much _____. Eat less of it. Duh." But if you think that and act on it, driven by the idea that you're eating too much and some should be taken away from you, of course there will be backlash.
If you're maintaining your current weight with a multi-thousand calorie binge (cheat day, restaurant extravaganza, TV zone-out night) every week, you can't just eliminate the binge and continue eating the same portions as always. The sudden huge deficit will always drive another binge. So, then it becomes a matter of gradually eating more all week, and eating slightly less in bingey situations, which becomes easier when you're less deprived.
So, there's that piece of the puzzle, eating enough in general, looking toward leveling out both the bingey highs and restrictive lows. That's best approached by focusing on how you want to feel. How does it feel when you wildly overeat? Or skip a breakfast as payback? What does skipping meals do to your eating later? Or the next day? What does a low-cal, high-volume veggie meal feel like compared to a more balanced meal? How does eating a lot of food right before bed feel? How does going to bed hungry feel? So much of it is just a matter of paying attention, asking questions, and taking little actions to feel better and enjoy your food more.
For me personally, it was things like I always used to eat the whole pint of ice cream when I opened it. By eating considerably more food at other times, I became able to stop at half a pint, then years later, one serving, then a couple years after that, I was happiest and felt best with a few spoonfuls. But I couldn't have gone from always eating the whole pint in one shot to being happy with just a taste, or forgetting about it for weeks at a time. No way!! Doing so would have felt restrictive and made me want it even more.
I focused first on the foods I didn't care much about. What was I eating mindlessly? What didn't I care about? What wouldn't I miss? Some examples were random food set out on tables at work, things eaten mindlessly while cooking (as opposed to tasting and savoring), foods I was consuming for eatertainment, like when I would continue eating in front of the TV until the show was over. In some cases, I'd been serving myself the same portions for years and never questioned it. I ate them because that's what I eat. Once I stared paying attention to hunger and fullness, that began to change. I'd notice that my normal portions don't always feel great. Sometimes I was genuinely uncomfortable after eating but had never really acknowledged it. What could I change so I'd enjoy the food more and be even more comfortable? Sometimes this meant adding fun extras to the meal. I didn't need three pieces of chicken, a whole squash, or a bucket of vegetables if I had a few more foods I actually wanted. Overeating healthy "allowed" foods was still overeating. For some reason it took me a long time to see that. So, my meals often include chocolate, peanut butter, cheese, chips, or cookies. That way I really look forward to them and I'm satisfied with less. Emotional satisfaction is as important as physical fullness in flipping the off switch.
A lot of my small changes involved shifting more toward satisfying meals and less snacking, eating more food earlier in the day so I wasn't crazed at night, eating when physically hungry and to emotional and physical satisfaction. I used to think fullness was too mysterious, that there was no hope of experiencing the subtleties it in the moment, but that's something I learned too, mainly by slowing down.
If you ask yourself which meals or behaviors are the ones holding you back, what's your answer? Mine was big weekend television eating, boredom eating, automatic portions, big desserts that I wasn't necessarily still hungry for. You can't just stop them all at once. Pick one and get curious. Why do you do this? Would it feel even better to do it a little differently? Do you need to add more or different food somewhere else to be satisfied? For example, I was definitely going to continue eating those big desserts past fullness if I only allowed desserts on my weekend. To stop doing that, I included fun foods more often throughout the week and in smaller portions. It became less of an event, so I was able to eat less overall while enjoying my meals more.
Does that make sense? It was kind of rambling. LOL