What I Learned From a Month of Food Debauchery

I know it’s been a while. I’d like to say that I’m out of the obese category, that I am able to run a marathon or ignore the siren call of french fries but, to be honest, I’ve been spinning my wheels for about a month.

It all started with my birthday. Five days before the end of the month, I knew I wasn’t going to be reaching my self-imposed goal of losing seven pounds that month and getting out of the obese category, but I was set to have a good finish. Then, I got two birthday meal invites.

No, I didn’t have to eat poorly at the restaurants. Yes, I could’ve asked the waiters to bag up half the meals before I started on my first forkful. But I didn’t. I chose to splurge.

And then I chose to splurge for several weeks after that. Didn’t I have a lot of stress at work? Hadn’t it been a long time since I’d had pizza? And what about those tasty blueberry crunch bagels that were trotted out for every important meeting at my office? In the same way a fish falls for a certain death by hook, line and sinker, I saw the scale creep up by knife, fork and spoon.

I still need to lose about 7 pounds to be able to say au revoir to obesity. Right back where I started. I’m glad not to have gained really, but I’m still kicking myself for going for the okey-doke with any food put in front of my face during that time.

I’m choosing to learn from this extended food bender, though. Here are some realizations I’ve had:

Life goes on without food. Sounds simple, but food doesn’t need to punctuate every good and bad event in life. Food is fuel; food is not a friend for celebrating with or consoling you.

It’s OK to splurge in a controlled manner. I used my Weight Watchers weekly points pretty much arbitrarily over the past month–and surpassed my daily and weekly allotments. And didn’t track my eating out of shame. But I am reframing my thinking to plan splurges–a splurge day, plus points for a small dessert or rich snack most days. Knowing a favorite treat is on the horizon makes it easier to behave during the day.

I need to distract myself. So much of why I ate wrong was out of stress or boredom. Sometimes it’s been safer or more exciting to think about food than cope with stress or watch the clothes spin in the dryer on Saturday. But I really need to focus my attention on something else. Sometimes it’s been reading or exercising; sometimes it’s been chewing gum. Anything to not think about and grab food when it’s not time to eat. It works for me.

I am not a slave to food. I do not have to eat something because someone offers it to me. I do not have to take a nibble of something because it smells good. All I have to do, as far as food is concerned, is take in enough to keep my body functioning properly that day.

When I was coming out of my food-filled funk, I picked up “The Beck Diet Solution,” a book I bought a few years ago but never finished. In it is a fantastic concept I’ve been trying to hold myself to in recent days: the concept of “no choice.” This entails shutting down any thoughts of why you need or want to eat a rich food by telling yourself you can’t, and that you have no other choice in the matter. It makes sense to me; if I’m having an internal conversation about why I should eat a food, why not have one about why I shouldn’t? When telling myself “no choice,” I also get a chance to remind myself why I want to lose weight in the first place.

In life, I’m a firm believer that every second is a teachable moment. Although I am not thrilled to have not been further along with my weight loss, I feel I’ve had time to reflect and come to some good realizations. As I’ve said before, I feel a good portion of weight loss success is in the mind. My extended slip has enriched how I fight the battle of the bulge on the mental front.

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3 thoughts on “What I Learned From a Month of Food Debauchery

  1. Wow…
    I feel really guilty for the birthday dinner at Famous Dave’s. I don’t want my foodie ways to rub off on you. We have to start new habits like hanging out at the gym instead of Famous Dave’s. Not to get off the subject, but I was as work today and watched some TV show all about cooking and barbequing ribs. I don’t need to tell you what my co-workers and I did for lunch and dinner.
    I feel inspired that you are fighting the battle of the bulge, instead of pulling a ‘Monique’. Keep up the good work, then write a book it. I’d definitely buy into it.

    • Thanks, man!
      I’m going to call you tomorrow about this. But please don’t feel guilty–it’s my fault. I have eaten healthier at Famous Dave’s before (pulled pork sandwich with apples and green beans); I just took an L because I hadn’t had wings and fries and ice cream in while. I don’t want to shelter myself from Famous Dave’s, birthdays, barbecues, etc. Even though I’m trying to eat better, life goes on. : ) It’s my responsibility for what I put in my mouth.

  2. Pingback: Putting Hunger Strikes on Strike « Let Them Eat Great!

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