Monday, April 11, 2011


A while back I won a giveaway sponsored by Katie J.  One of the items in the giveaway was the book Secrets of a Former Fat Girl by Lisa Delaney.  When the book arrived I put it on my bedside stand along with the other books I've been trying to get to.

One evening during the time when I was sort of reevaluating what I was doing for my health and well-being, I picked the book up.  As I opened it my mind was saying, "Ah, it's probably just like every other weight loss memoir you've read" and believe me, I've read a ton of them.  (Pun intended.) When I got to the page showing the chapters, I noticed that she had written the book where each chapter was one of her secrets. So I decided that I would not read the book in order from page 1 to the end.  Rather, I would randomly choose a chapter and read it.

I read a couple of chapters and I was correct, it was like so many other memoirs.  Not really much in the way of secrets - at least to me.  Things like visualizing yourself thinner, remembering that just because other people can eat whatever it might not be the case for you, don't let people push food on you, etc., etc.  Then one night I picked it up and read Secret #3: Adopt INO.  By the end of that chapter, I knew this was something I was going to put in place for myself.  Though the information wasn't necessarily new to me, the way she stated what her goal was with it made some lightbulbs turn on.

You know how we're all looking for the elusive "click?"  As I read, it seemd that the INO strategy was about faking it until you make it, or, creating the click when it's not there. It is easy for me to work this strategy because one day per week I allow myself a treat day, a splurge day, a pleasure day - whatever you want to call it.  On this day I have anything I want, in any amount.  It might seem backwards to do this, but along with INO, it works for me.  So what is this INO?

It's Not an Option

In a nutshell, it's a phrase I use towards eating and towards exercise.  In the case of eating, for example, I allow myself a certain number of starch servings per day.  If I have reached the max, and I want something else, I quietly say, "It's not an option today.  You can have more tomorrow or you can have all you want of that item on treat day.  But today, it's not an option."

With exercise, it may be that I don't want to get up and run or I may get home and feel too tired to go to Muay Thai.  Yet, I have committed to a certain number of minutes that I want to exercise each week.  So I tell myself, "It's not an option today.  You need to take a 60 minute class to add to the minute bank.  On treat day, you don't have to exercise at all if you want.  But today, it's not an option."

As simplistic as this sounds, INO is helping me stay within reasonable boundaries for health and fitness. I'm also finding that often the conversation goes much further in my head - beyond INO.  It helps me remember that my ultimate goal is to be the best I can be and now I've begun to think of INO as "I'm telling myself NO - for now."  As I've put this into practice, the thought occurred to me that there are a lot of folks out there who are dealing with medical issues where they have no choice but to operate under INO. So, as simple as it sounds, it has a lot of power.

Don't get me wrong, there have been times when it has been hard, more so in dealing with food than with exercise.  Because I'm like a lot of you out there - I like to eat good food.  Even when I'm not hungry.  Shocking I know! I have times when it's just my head or my taste buds that want to eat.  I've reached the level of plenty of food for the day and I want one more thing.  When it's like that, the INO conversation can go on for quite some time.  In fact, as I told Shelley, one night I was pretty much walking around my house chanting "IFNO, IFNO, IFNO!"  I'll leave it to you to figure out what the "F" is for...

Perhaps this works for me simply because of my treat day.  I have found myself at times thinking, "INO!  Just hold on, Saturday's on the way." (That one works well when I want a glass of wine.)  I have no idea if this will work for anyone else, I just know that it has been working for me.

So there you have it:

1. Eat real food in smaller portions
2. Alcohol is not my friend
3. INO

Now, let's see where this takes me.


  1. I love this. It moves things into the realm of "just for today". I don't have to say no to cupcakes/apple fritters/wine FOR-EVER, but just for today, it's not an option. Love it!

  2. I never used INO but it makes perfect sense. Maybe it's time that I am going to adopt it too. Thinking about it when I was reading your post I already do it at my exercise. Especially when the alarm goes at 5.10 am and I don't want to go out of bed and sleep in. But then I think: well if you stay in bed you have to get up at 5.30 am so what's sleeping in? And I get up, get dressed and go. Plus there's always a rest day to look forward too which helps too.

    Thanks for the post, it's a good one and certainly something to think more about.

  3. I may just have to borrow that from you and give it a try. There has been more than one time I've needed something to chant around the house while I'm avoiding a certain treat. (get thee behind me, ding dongs!)

    This weekend alcohol met splurge day and ended in a mega splurge. I should have had an INO tucked in my pocket. LOL

    I really like the idea of a splurge day. I'm just taking all kinds of stuff from your blog today! Except I may make it a splurge meal instead of a day for mine. See how that goes.

    Thanks for a great post!

  4. Well, you know I like this concept. ;)

    And after a couple of "Splurge Saturdays" the whole INO thing is getting easier for me, just knowing that on Saturday, it is an option, should I still want it.

    Now, about the exercise goals for the week - I like it! I think we have to be taskmasters with ourselves on this aspect - it's too easy to not get that workout in otherwise.

  5. I like IFNO!
    This is a hard concept....I get anxious just thinking about it, but, I do believe in it.

  6. Great post Helen! In not so many terms, "it's not an option" is the way I handle my diabetes. Yep, it's a pain in the ass to test my blood sugar 8 times a day, take 4 shots a day, but I don't have an option.

    Now I think I'll take that same approach to other aspects of my life - like food and exercise - I never thought to associate anything else to the "not an option" rule.

    Thanks for this post! Hugs!

  7. I'm sure that will take you far. I use INO myself at times (and I certainly need to start using it a little more right now). It helps control the inner 5 year old inside.

  8. Crazy, I was just posting about the same principal as INO. I think you have to look at it that way. Making the choice before you are confronted with the temptation is sooo important.

    Starting At 500 Pounds

  9. I'm readjusting, refocusing and finding some new blogs to read. I like what you had to say and appreciate the tips. I hope we both are heading to where we want to be.


  10. I like it. I also like a splurge day. That has helped me say to self, "if you behave today, and then again tomorrow, you can have whatever you think you can't live without in this moment on your free day". Also, I know that when I want something when I get home from work and it's not in my day's "budget", there will be another meal coming in a couple hours. I can hang in until then.

  11. Helen thank you so much for sharing this! Sometimes a simplistic idea will bring us a light bulb moment. INO is a great coping skill. I kind of do the same thing with the idea of not today-if I want to eat that yet tomorrow I shall but - not today! It helps to have a mantra.

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  13. I totally love this and it's exactly what I needed to read tonight.

    I've used INO for exercise for over three years. It's my mantra when I'm not in the mood, and sometimes, I'm really NOT in the mood. But I chant to myself, it's not an option to skip it. Can't skip it, won't skip it, it's not an option.

    So why don't I do that with my food? I've never even thought about doing that with food. Like you, it's easier with exercise, food is harder for me. But I'm going to start an INO with food starting right this minute. It's 10pm, my time to flip out and ruin a good day. INO--INO--INO! Rather, it's IFNO!

    Thanks for a great post.

  14. Helen the shooting incident took place in a city about an hour driving from where I live. But since Holland is such a small country everything is pretty close.

  15. This is a very new idea to me..INO but I've been doing it in practice...absolutely NO alcohol since I started and NO bad food days. Making something off limit totally stops you from having to decide whether to have a bit, or a bit more. I love this INO and will add this to my mental list, and will add your blog to the places I visit! Thanks

  16. I read that book a while back. It stayed with me and I found her to be inspiring.

  17. Hey, I like this idea, Helen! Thanks for sharing it.

  18. I like this idea. I've been giving in way too much, so I definitely need to tell myself that it's not an option! A "free" day sounds like an interesting idea. I've heard of it before and often wondered if it would work for me. Glad to see that it is working for you.

  19. I LOOOOOVE this post, Helen! I am going to adopt that phrase starting TODAY!

  20. I'll adopt the INFO. It rolls off the tounge better that way. Can I use it in my treatment group?

  21. Saw this over on Biz's blog, and it helped me a lot this week! I stopped by today to read the whole post. Thanks so much for writing it! IFNO is my new mantra...

  22. Oh this is so big but so simple! I need to remember to ingrain it in my mind.

  23. INO sounds sort of like how a recovering alcoholic doesn't have to say "No more drinks, ever" but instead is told to think "I'm not going to have this drink right now. Just for these 10 minutes." Repeat, and eventually the day ends and you are still ETOH-free. Then a week, then a year, etc. But it always comes back to those 10 minutes, or 5 minutes or 1 minute. INO right now.