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.