My subconscious is hilarious. Between the competitive baking shows I’m now hooked on watching and the absence of sugary deliciousness in my life since leaving my family after Christmas “break,” I am constantly dreaming of desserts! I wake up in the morning half-convinced that it was all true, and I really spent the past several hours pigging out on brownies, cupcakes, cookies, cakes, pies, fudge, ice cream, and solid blocks of chocolate.
I’ve had this type of strange dreaming happen before: when I very first started losing, and over the summer when it started getting tiresome. I’m not worried about it, I’m purely amused. It’s like my inner child is screaming for goodies and the only way it can have them is in my nocturnal imagination. OK, inner child! Enjoy the fake calories!
One of the key things I’ve embraced from the start is not to practice absolute, categorical denial of anything. I have sound reasons beyond the obvious “I don’t wanna,” and they’re my big 3:
- It’s unrealistic. Eliminating entire swaths of food from your diet may yield drastic losses in the beginning, but it’s not sustainable in the long term. Once you inevitably reintroduce your no-no food group, there’s a much higher likelihood that you will over-indulge like a fiend, and you’ll end up right back where you started. Furthermore, are you really going to go through the rest of your life without ever having another slice of birthday cake, glass of champagne, or piece of candy? No, you’re not, and you don’t want to. Admit it now and you can work around it.
- It’s unhealthy. The secret to all of this is balance. If you cut out a whole brick of the food pyramid, you’ll have to figure out how to consume the good nutrients that were in that brick from somewhere else. That’s math you’re not going to want to do. Just eat less of the less-good stuff and you’ll be fine.
- It’s avoiding the real problem. If you’re an over-eater, losing weight is extra challenging, and that’s because you don’t know how to eat just enough. Without mastering moderation and portion control, you’re not going to truly change the bad habits that landed you in Fat Land in the first place. You have to invest the time in training yourself to learn this new way of nourishing yourself. Swearing off certain foods is not the way to do that.
***Of course, there are exceptions to this: foods with no nutritional value, or that are chemical based rather than nutrient based, like pop. I fully gave that shit up ages ago. Everyone should!
In summary, the best approach — inherent difficulty notwithstanding! — is to keep everything in your diet, but learn how to control it. It’s absolutely easier said than done, but it’s the only way. Staying away from some foods entirely will only make your cravings for those foods harder and harder to resist until you eventually cave massively and end up hating yourself for the binge you go on. It’s the oldest cliché in the weight-loss book, but it is a lifestyle change, and that means… CHANGING YOUR LIFESTYLE.
Meal planning and preparation solved almost all of that problem for me, and it’s why I can feel comfortable having a pint of Häagen-Dazs in my freezer right now. I bought it two days ago and had actually forgotten it was there until I opened my freezer door this morning while putting my lunch together and saw it. At this time last year, it would have been impossible for both of us to be in the same living quarters without me either constantly thinking about it or devouring the whole tub in one sitting. This pint is for a special occasion, though, making it a low-risk temptation. (Full disclosure: There are 2 pints in there, but the second one will be for a later date when I feel like it’s appropriate.)
Conventional wisdom in weight loss is that you’re not supposed to reward yourself or celebrate milestones with food. That makes perfect sense to me and I have adhered to it like a champ. However, I’m making an exception for a few notable events coming up the week of January 17th:
- The 17th is day 300 of my mission. That’s a BFD, and it deserves recognition.
- The 17th and 18th are also weigh-out dates for two of my DietBets that I have rather big numbers to pull in order to hit, but the fact that I was able to make it even a possibility that I could win after falling back around the holidays is reason enough to celebrate for me.
- The 19th, I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor. The last time I saw her was in mid-July, when she told me she bet she wouldn’t even recognize me the next time she saw me. I had someone who recently came back to work from maternity leave actually not recognize me when we saw each other yesterday for the first time in 4 months, so I’m hoping my doctor’s prediction will be true. And that will be after SIX months without seeing each other!
- I’m closing in on losing 100 pounds, and if I keep up the pace, it’ll happen in time for that week.
So, yes. Chocolate-peanut butter ice cream is in order that week.
I’m crazy enough to be looking forward to more sweet dreams tonight!