I stared at that empty, sticky plate feeling sick, both physically and mentally, and more than a little dazed at the light-speed rate at which my morning had deteriorated.
The first thing I did was take all evidence of my indiscretion to the big trash bin outside. This was primarily out of shame, but also because I didn’t want the smell of it in my house. When I came back inside it was to sit and contemplate what I had done and condemn myself. I berated my actions, or lack thereof, and fell into a sick depression brought on by the all too familiar fear that I was relapsing. I cannot recount the number of times that I have gone on a diet only to fall back into old habits. And I was so sure that this time was different.
Firstly, I was confident that this time was different because Paleo is unlike any other diet I’ve attempted. I even laugh every time I use the word “diet” in the same sentence with “Paleo”. “Diet” to me means deprivation. The idea itself of these delicious, whole foods being compared to any form of deprivation is simply ludicrous.
Secondly, I knew that this time was different because Paleo works. It eliminated my auto-immune symptoms! How much more evidence do you need?
But as I was so quick to point out to myself I’ve felt that “this time” was going to be different every time I tried something new. So I sat there and argued with myself for a while. It was tedious and exhausting. The inner voice finally went quiet when I asked where it was when I was fighting The Addict. When I didn’t get a response I proceeded to busy myself around the house hoping to push the ugly business out of my mind.
When a friend called that afternoon I offered to make dinner when he came over. I thought this would be the perfect way to get my nutritional groove back. But hours passed and he never showed. I finally got too hungry to wait for him any more so I grilled some bratwurst and had leftover sausage stuffing and broccoli cauliflower casserole. I was doing my best to stuff myself with good food because I could feel that NEED growing in me for junk food. I’m still not sure if this was a direct influence of all the refined crap in my body reducing my leptin sensitivity or if I had just psyched myself out to the point that I was feeling it from an emotional standpoint. Either way – I wanted something sweet in a bad way.
I watched some DVR’d episodes of “The Universe” trying to get my mind off of it, but I sat there gnawing at my nails the whole time like a crackhead needing a fix. I broke out the dark chocolate hoping that my usual one ounce would be sufficient to curb the insanity, but it only fed it. I ended up eating about four handfuls of dark chocolate chips and feeling even more disgusted with myself.
Later, my friend called back to say that he had been delayed running an errand. He suggested that I come over to his house. At this point I thought that getting out of my own house might be a good idea. I got Season 3 of The Big Bang Theory to take for us to watch and even had the presence of mind to pack some nuts. During the process of creating my own bag of mixed nuts, however, I ended up dumping them in the floor. Twice. The first time I cursed. The second time I cried then laughed hysterically. It was as if there was some part of my own psyche trying to sabotage my efforts to stay Paleo. I decided to pack the rest of my Paleo Pumpkin Pie to take with me as well and leave it for my friend to eat. It might be Paleo, but that doesn’t mean you’re permitted to eat a whole pie and in my present state I just didn’t trust myself.
As I was driving to my friend’s house I realized that I was getting the munchies again. I could hear the Lays Kettle Cooked Jalapeno Chips calling to me from the snack aisle at Wal-Mart as I drove past. Bastards. I decided I needed meat. I drove through Arby’s and ordered a big roast beef. When I got to my friend’s house I tossed the bun and just ate the roast beef while we watched Big Bang. After I had finished my beef and polished off my bottle of water I still wanted more. DAMN! I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I sure as hell didn’t want the nuts I’d brought. I wanted the candy corn in that cute little holiday glass bowl that was taunting me from the end table. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I felt hypnotized by the smug expressions on their little orange candy corn faces. Orange is my favorite color. It’s the color of the sun. And life. And, hell, I’d already eaten a whole hotcake with maple syrup and a quarter of a bag of dark chocolate chips. Let’s do an experiment and see just how disgusted I can get with myself. So I chewed the smug expressions off their cute little candy corn faces and washed them down with an ice cold diet Dr. Pepper. I thought I would feel smug in return, but I only felt defeated. I then had the gall (ironic since I have no bladder in which to keep the gall) to ask my friend if he had ice cream. I don’t even care for ice cream. Thankfully, he didn’t have any.
I’d like to say I made it home without doing any more damage, but that would be a big fat lie since I grabbed another handful of orange and yellow sugar out of the candy corn bowl on my way out.
By the time I got home all I wanted to do was go to bed and forget that the entire day had happened. Sleep came, but the next morning I was to find that my memory of the previous day’s events was still quite clear. I fried a couple of breakfast pork chops in coconut oil and boiled a couple of eggs. I decided it might be a good idea to keep all carbs to a minimum. I didn’t want to take any chances.
I spent a lot of time Sunday trying to come to grips with Saturday’s fiasco. I tried putting it in perspective. I had eaten a lot of good food that day despite the huge mistakes. And in total I had eaten one hotcake with syrup, at least a cup of dark chocolate chips, a dozen pieces of candy corn, and a diet Dr Pepper. Really horrible from a Paleo perspective, but really not bad when I considered how I used to eat. I wasn’t trying to rationalize my behavior. I was well aware of the heinousness of my actions. But all too often we minimize our successes and blow our mistakes out of proportion.
That was when it occured to me that I had been expecting my Paleo journey to be smooth sailing. This is completely unrealistic, especially when taking the human element into account. Making a mistake doesn’t mean that I am branded forever by that one error. And to think that I will never make a similar transgression is naive and immature. No journey is without it’s difficulties, especially the ones that take the greatest amount of time.
I could have used that one horrible day as an excuse (as I have so many, many other times) to say, “Screw it! It isn’t worth it!” But that would be a lie. Paleo is worth it. My health is worth it. My children are worth it. There have been innumerable times in my life where I was confronted with a stumbling block and it didn’t mean enough to me to climb over it. But this does mean a lot to me. A lot more than I would have ever thought. So rather than get mired in the pity pit I made a choice. I chose to take that day and build on it. No great accomplishment in this world was ever made without a thousand failures preceeding it. This failure of mine is no different. I have to learn from it what I can and move on. The operative words here being MOVE ON. It would be easy to get stuck after a day like that and not be able to get past it. But I am far smarter about nutrition than I was before and my excuses simply don’t work anymore. Besides, if your journey isn’t laden with obstacles, pitfalls, detours, and road blocks, you’re not going to have much of a story to tell at the end, are you? 😀
Thankfully, I can say that the last two days have been pure Paleo paradise. I’m back on track and feeling much better. Phew!
The lesson I take from this experience is this: If you need an aspirin, don’t go to your former dealer for it. You’ll just end up with a bigger headache.
I was so proud of myself. I had managed to get through my Thanksgiving holiday without even flinching at neo foods. Even when my oldest brought out the largest tub of cool whip I had ever seen I didn’t even want it. I was completely content with my delicious Paleo foods. I even caught myself bragging about it on Twitter. “I had a 100% Paleo holiday! Yay me!”
Then it took me the entire day yesterday to mentally and emotionally recover from the catastrophe that was Saturday.
It started off as a normal Saturday morning trip to the farmer’s market. I usually fast on Saturday mornings because I’m anxious to get out and get my Paleo food shopping started. I don’t know why this Saturday should have taken such a horrible turn. For some reason, driving back from the farmer’s market I became terribly hungry. I was so famished that I couldn’t even bear the thought of having to cook when I got home. The old, familiar urge to drive to McDonald’s came over me. But I’d done it before. Pre-paleo, certainly, but I had eaten there a number of times after eliminating grains. It can be done.
So that was the rationalization that took me through the drive-thru. I had already decided that it had been two months since I had eaten regular potatoes and surely that one lowly hash brown in the Big Breakfast wasn’t going to do too much harm. (The fact that I had no idea what unearthly kind of oil that lowly hash brown had been drowned in never entered my mind.) As for the biscuit, I would just do what I had done before – toss it into the garbage. Eggs, sausage, hashbrown. I had bottled water at home. This would be sufficient. I even made a point of specifying “NO hotcakes” since I certainly didn’t want to pay for something else that I would have to trash. Imagine my shock and dismay when I arrived home and opened my container and discovered that beneath my egg and sausage were piled three glorious, golden brown hotcakes.
It was like running into your old dealer and discovering later that he had slipped a freebie into your pocket.
I was not prepared to deal with it. I tossed the biscuit without a second thought, but then biscuits are to hotcakes what caffeine is to cocaine. The former does not embody the totality of desire that the latter inherently possesses. Even if you have never experienced what it is to be an addict, if you’ve read “The Host” you get the idea of what it feels like to have your will subverted. I felt completely helpless as the addict within began suppressing my logical control and left it relegated to the role of hapless observer. I maintained control long enough to eat the eggs, sausage, and hash brown as slowly as possible hoping that once I was full I would have the strength to destroy the demon at my table, but alas…I did not.
In the frenzy which accompanied the takeover I was able to snatch two of the hotcakes and toss them in the trash while my inner Gollum screamed and wailed at the loss of “The Precious”. But then Cheryl, the Paleo Princess, was gone and only The Addict remained. She quickly plated that last surviving hotcake and slathered the oily “butter” substance that her “dealer” had supplied onto it. She rushed into the kitchen and panicked as she couldn’t get the lid off of the sticky maple syrup bottle. I could feel her tears as she choked, realizing that this moment of weakness might allow me to take back control, but then as she grunted with fury the lid gave way and she laughed madly and triumphantly. The now syrup-soaked cake went into the microwave for the few seconds it would take to make it the warm sin it needed to be for complete satisfaction. These few seconds were interminable. Nails tapped feverishly on the counter as the timer counted down. It hadn’t even finished beeping before The Addict had the devilish dish out and was shoveling it in her mouth as if it someone might take it away from her. The fact that it burned her tongue was of little consolation to me, the helpless watcher.
What had felt like an eternity was over in moments. My demon, The Addict, was gone and I was the one left riddled with guilt, self-hate, and a gut full of poison.
And the day had just begun.