Costco Pizza: An Exercise in Moderation

Costco Pizza

Costco Pizza. Image source:

Lessons from a 4 year old
At a family party last weekend, a preschool teacher related a story from work.

A little girl fell down on the playground and started crying. Before the teacher could comfort her, a little boy stopped playing with his buddies and ran up to the girl.

“Hey, Sally. Stop crying! Just get up,” he jumped up and down once… “Shake yourself off,” he wiggled his little behind vigorously… “and go back and play. That’s what my Daddy tells me to do.” Without waiting for a response, he ran back to his buddies.

Such wisdom from a four-year-old. If only we all practiced that.

An Exercise in Moderation
Learning moderation during my weight loss journey is one of my major goals. In the past, if I messed up even once—if I fell down—I’d let it destroy my resolve completely. I’m an all-or-nothing kinda gal, and that has really sabotaged my weight loss attempts.

Now, I plan to “fall down”—or go off plan, then shake it off and get right back on the wagon the following day.

This past Thursday was a particularly trying day. Just long, full of meetings, a presentation (I hate public speaking), and a late arrival home. Not enough time to both make dinner and go to the gym—unless I wanted to be up until midnight.

My husband and I decided to take a day off from the gym. We planned to go to El Pollo Loco for a healthy meal, but veered off to Costco instead to pick up some things. Ravenous by then, my husband wanted a hot dog. I had a ZonePerfect nutrition bar in my pocket that sounded very inadequate at that moment.

As we stood in line, I decided right then and there: “Honey, I’m going to have a slice of pizza.”

“Okay,” he replied.

The pizza was steaming hot, right out of the oven and tasted marvelous. I completely, utterly savored every bite. I could feel all that comfort food coursing through my veins. What a drug. Wow. I even got a little buzz from it. That night, when I went to bed, I felt warm and fuzzy all over. And not at all guilty or ashamed. I fell asleep smiling.

I hadn’t been craving pizza. I hadn’t been obsessing about pizza. I have been on the program for a month, and I was very, very aware of my choice to partake: it was part of my lesson in moderation.  And I enjoyed the pizza far more than I ever did when I could have it whenever I wanted.

The very next day I was back on plan. My Friday menu reflected my one protein day per week.

And you know what? I still lost 2 pounds this week. Even with a big, glorious slice of Costco pepperoni pizza (nutritional information).

Body for Life, by Bill Phillips

Body for Life, by Bill Phillips

I learned the value of having a “Free Day” from Bill Phillips’ 1999 book, Body for Life. It is beneficial for many reasons:

  • Purposely overeating once a week may help convince your body that it’s not starving
  • It gives you autonomy to make choices; people are willing to draw lines and create structure as long as there is a remaining element of freedom
  • You don’t want to set yourself up for failure. You don’t want to say, “I will never eat another piece of pizza again.” That’s just not realistic. And eventually you’ll rebel and give in, then give up entirely because you failed. Phillips gave this example. It’s like Michael Jordan going into a game and saying, “I’m not going to miss one shot.”
  • A free day reminds you what it feels like when you overeat – that sluggishness, indigestion and bloated feeling.

I’ll add my own reasons:

  • Train myself in moderation. Go off plan. Briefly. Intentionally. Then get right back on plan.
  • Keep me on track to maintain my lifetime commitment to being healthy and fit

Have you intentionally gone off program? Were you able to get back on track the very next day?

Have you allowed falling down/going off program to ruin your diet completely?

What are your favorite off-program meals?