This weekend was one of those “dangerous” weekends I was warned about when I was a member of Weight Watchers. We would talk about all the food that was going to be in front of us as we were surrounded my family and friends, and all talk about the strategies we were going to implement when we faced the ultimate challenge of BBQ, beer, and endless desserts.
Then, the next week, everyone would talk about the same thing. It made me laugh. Everyone would take turns talking about the foods that were at the family BBQs; describing the cakes in detail, with the entire room going “oooh! uhghh!” as someone described the ingredients in the sour-creme based dip that Aunt Edna brought, served with deep fried pickles.
Some of the strategies included drinking water, thinking about our success, always tracking, packing our own snacks…lots of ways to stay focused and not undo an entire week. I always tried to keep those strategies with me, but I never wanted to be on a “diet.” That’s what I hated. Feeling like I was restricted or deprived.
I never was, with Weight Watchers. I could eat cookies and cakes and french fries – I just had to make sure that I was honest with myself and tracking my food. I lost some weight this way, but plateaued fairly quickly.
Then, as many know, I learned about clean eating. Which, let’s be honest, can be argued as a “restricted” lifestyle. Of course, living in America, it’s hard to eat clean. Surrounded by fried foods, processed sugars, and everything in between, I will sometimes feel deprived. I’m not depriving myself of nutrients. I can eat (and always do) enough to keep me energized, but sometimes, I really want that milkshake topped with peanut butter sauce.
With “occasions,” it’s easy for me to make excuses to steer away from clean eating. My birthday, I drank. A lot. I knew I was going to, so I ate really well all day, and strayed away from eating any carbs. I felt good about those decisions, and had a lot of fun, too.
The 4th of July is another one of those “occasions.” I was happy to sign up for a 4-mile run to kick off the day. It felt good to know I was going to start well, plus, packed my own lunch and good snacks. I was ready for the day, and allowed myself a few drinks to join in the social scene. I knew it was going to be a “cheat” day, but I wanted it to be only within a certain boundary. I also told myself that not indulging would save me some money; not ordering drinks at every bar I saw, and not eating more than dinner (because I was bringing my own lunch). I was ready.
Then, I failed.
The run was great, I felt good. I had a free banana and tried some locally made almond butter on top. I ate my sandwich in a whole wheat wrap, and had my first beer. I was excited about the day with friends. We were out on the down the entire day, of course finding coffee shops and restaurants as a brief haven from the rain outside. We found a restaurant/bar, and I told myself, “I’m not hungry. Have a drink and maybe a small appetizer to split, but you’re not hungry.” That was before the beer, Belgian waffle, homefries, and french fries.
From there, I snowballed. One of my favorite quotes is “just because one tire is flat doesn’t mean you should slash the other three.” I slashed the tires, lit the car on fire, and then put it through a compactor.
Beers, desserts, fried foods, all of it. I didn’t stop – I was back to my old self, the self that was 20+ pounds heavier, eating everything in sight without even taking a minute to chew my food. I ignored all the voices in my head that told me to stop. I ignored my motivational quotes, my old Weight Watcher leaders, and the reminders of how far I’ve come and the goals I’m still working to achieve. I did it all in the name of “fun,” and “a holiday,” even though I could feel how much the drastic change was effecting my body.
It came to dinner time. I wasn’t hungry, but I felt nearly-hungover (no, I was not actually drunk or hungover). I thought about what I had eaten all day. Empty calories, processed everything, and sugar. I had no protein, vegetables, fruit…nothing substantial. It blew my mind. Even though I wasn’t physically hungry, I knew I needed something…real.
I ordered salmon with a side of vegetables with a pounding headache and a sour feeling in my stomach. I quickly devoured it with several glasses of water, and it was amazing how much better I felt. I had energy, my stomach didn’t hurt, and my head wasn’t pounding. I can’t believe how much I tortured my body, and how much my new eating style truly has effected my overall health.
Looking back, I am incredibly disappointed in myself. I let myself lose control, an experience that not everyone can understand. I was never hungry, but I continued to do something that I knew was a terrible idea. Then, I payed for it.
I wish I could walk away from this weekend and say, “I’ve learned my lesson. I’m never going to go off track like that again.” That’s not something I can say. I’m nowhere near perfect, and I’d bet something like this will happen again. I talk a lot about making lifestyle changes, encouraging others to do the same. And overall, I can say I have. But sometimes, I lose focus – much more than I ever want to.