I’ve been following the South Beach Diet for about a month and a half now and other than a little bit of candy, I’ve stayed strictly to the diet plan. My past experiences with diets haven’t been so successful. I usually start cheating after the first week because they are so strict. South Beach has been different because I’ve actually liked the food and the diet has been easy to follow. In fact, as you may recall, I was shocked that upon completing Phase One of the diet, all of my cravings disappeared. No longer do I have a craving for breads, or pasta, or sweets like I once did. Before starting the diet, I couldn’t think of going a day without one or more of those things. That’s not to say that I didn’t have some temptations, but they aren’t the cravings that once consumed me. Unfortunately, my temptations the other day got the best of me. 🙁
In my bucket of bad habits, there was one craving turned temptation that was the strongest. I guess you could say it was the “alpha temptation”, and that temptation’s name was… pizza. I used to love pizza and not having it for 6 weeks was really starting to wear on me, but that’s not what did me in. No it was something much more sinister and diabolical lurking in the dark.
If I have to be 100% honest, what started this decent into gluttony and depravity was low self worth. For some reason, that day I was feeling extra low and beating my self up a good bit. I’m sure you know the usual suspects: “I’m stupid, I’m no good, and I’m a failure.” Well, those three were laying into me pretty good and when I opened up the fridge to see what I would eat for lunch. Nothing appealed to me, so I opened up the freezer and lo and behold what did I see, but Girl Scout Cookies. Nothing quite like a box of Thin Mints to pick you up.
As I began eating the cookies, I was disappointed that they didn’t taste as good as I remembered. That’s not to say that they tasted bad, just that after a few of them, I realized that they weren’t giving me the kick I once got from them. In other words I could have done without them. I kept eating them anyway and as I did the thought occurred to me, “If I’m going off the diet, do I really want to waste it with cookies? What do I really want?” The holy grail of my temptations was pizza, so with a few mouse clicks I had one small cheese pizza en route to the house.
I was giddy with excitement that the pizza was coming. Part of it had to do with the food, but part of my excitement stemmed from the fact that I was doing something “bad.” 8) Eventually the pizza arrived and I grabbed a Diet Coke, made a space in front of the TV and prepared to dine on a delectable guilty pleasure. I opened the box, gently lifted a slice to my mouth, closed my eyes and took a bite. Instead of a “Mmmm” being uttered, a “eh?” came out instead. The pizza was OK, but it wasn’t all that. After taking another bite, I sat back in the chair with a puzzled look on my face. “What the hell is this?” I thought. Where’s the great taste that I’ve been dreaming about? Where’s the rush I used to get eating this stuff. And that’s when it hit me, eating these foods weren’t about good taste at all, they were about something else all together.
Food has been a crutch for me. If I’m feeling down about something, or unable to deal with a situation in my life, I’ve always found food to be a comfort. Not happy with the way I handled something? A Big Mac will cheer you up! Well, it didn’t really, what it really did was just saturate me with carbohydrates and fat and numb my brain. This way I wouldn’t have to think about whatever was plaguing my mind. Sound familiar? Doesn’t that sound like something an alcoholic might say?
Food had become a coping mechanism in my life and as a result, I put on weight. Once I started the diet, I no longer had this crutch that I relied on so heavily. Is my life that bad that I need to look for some sort of escape? Certainly not. The stuff I’m talking about is probably some of the same stuff that you deal with on a daily basis. It’s the negative self-talk, “the critic”, that sits in our heads and wields judgement on what we do. What “the critic” says isn’t true and we shouldn’t listen to it, but when we do we lower our expectations of ourselves and take one more step into being depressed, or angry, or both.
Of course all of this is simply 20/20 hindsight. I wasn’t thinking this as I ate the rest of my pizza, or finished the entire box of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. 😛 No, I ate them all as a way to try and find that comforting carbohydrate coma that usually comes from such a meal. No such feeling came and I was left trying to figure out why. Fortunately there’s a silver lining to this cloud, otherwise this entry would be one big depressing read wouldn’t it? 🙂
The good news is that the South Beach diet was designed for this sort of thing to happen. Falling off the wagon is no big deal with this diet, so the usual guilt and loathing that comes from cheating, or total abandonment of the diet is not to be found. So when the boxes were empty and the realization of what I was really doing sank in, there was no guilt stick to beat myself with and thus perpetrate the downward spiral. Instead, all I have to do is go back to Phase One for one week. No big deal. No big production. No going to the principle’s office.
So far I’ve lost 14 pounds, but for the last week or two I’ve been hovering. My weight loss has been going up and down around a pound and not going any lower than the 14 pound mark. I think part of it is due to the fact that Phase Two is a much slower weight loss than Phase One, but I also haven’t been working out much, if at all. Even though I may laud the diet and how great I think it is, a key component is working out. When I started the diet, I was working out three times a week, yet each subsequent week I went less and less. Now I’m lucky if I workout once a week.
Being on a weight loss plateau, losing site of my health goals and then falling off the wagon make going back to Phase One the right choice. I don’t know yet if it will be for one week, or two, but I think getting back to basics is exactly what I need and I’m actually excited about it! So we’ll see what happens in the next week or so and see if I can stay the course. What have I got to lose? Only another five pounds. 😛