I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been letting my brain’s pleasure center overpower my brain’s logical thinking center.
I had meals at two different restaurants today
One concept I've been using lately is something shared with me by my son that is a principle from addiction treatment. It is called "Fast-forward the fantasy." The concept is that when we are tempted to indulge in something that we know is not good for us, the draw to it can be extremely powerful. During those moments of temptation, we seem to only think about the physical pleasure we will receive if we indulge. Our minds quickly supply all the rationalization we may need: "you can start over tomorrow," "just once won't hurt," or "you deserve it because life has been so ... (Fill in the blank...stressful, empty, etc." But, rather than giving in to the temptation, one can instead fast-forward in time past the point of indulging in whatever it is that we are trying to overcome. Often, after a moment of pleasure comes reality -- guilt, regret, emptiness, helplessness, frustration, and a literal feeling of "coming down" off of whatever artificial high the addiction has produced. The trick behind fast forwarding the fantasy is to think about and even try to experience in advance those feelings that will come if you do decide to indulge. They are much less alluring than the feelings that lead one to indulge in the first place. For me, this has been really helpful in the areas of salty foods and sugary foods. Sugary foods make me week and give me acid reflux. Instead of imagining the sugar-high produced after eating them, if I instead think of the feeling of physical weakness and the acidic feeling in my stomach, I find that the temptation loses much of its allure. Likewise, if I think of salty foods as drying up my body of the moisture it needs and raising my blood pressure, the trade off hardly seems worth it. I hope to continue assembling tools like this to fight the addictions I face relating to food, and I'm grateful to my son for sharing these ideas with me.
Noticed a bit of progress today. I went to the grocery store late in the evening, after skipping lunch, and was very hungry. Not a good decision usually, as it probably wasn't today. But here are a few things I noticed:
- I was mentally kind of looking for an excuse to eat junk ... "I deserve it after a long day and it wouldn't be so bad because I've hardly had much to eat today"
- I was in a setting where "no one would know." In the past, this has involved me purchasing junk and eating it before going home
- I am in a habit of buying things at the store to consume on the drive home, whether healthy or less healthy
But, as I wandered the store, deciding what to buy, my cravings were not for the high-sugar, highly-processed or high-sodium items. I wasn't tempted for ice cream, chips, candy or crackers, but more for granola, health-food peanut butter with dark chocolate, juice, etc. In some ways I thought this was a good sign that my tasks and desires are changing when it comes to food. There have been times in the past where the cycle of buying and eating junk food at grocery and convenience food stores led me to consuming 1,000 - 3,000 calories all just off that one shopping experience, consumed entirely by the time I got home. Not this time...my indulgence led me to some all-fruit Popsicles, a bunch of frozen no-sugar-added fruits I can blend into smoothies, and a huge bottle of water.
Well, I have mixed feelings about how yesterday went. Once again, I had low consumption of fresh vegetables (but did fine with getting enough fresh fruit). I can feel the difference though--I feel like I have less water in my system and like I am retaining more puffiness from the food.
I missed lunch and was pretty hungry by dinnertime. Kathy and I ate at a Japanese fast food restaurant on our date, and I stuck with the healthier options -- brown rice, steamed veggies, extra vegetables, fruit juice for a drink, etc. The only thing that wasn't so good was the green curry sauce, which had a lot of salt in it. But, overall, especially in light of being hungry, I did pretty well.
Then we went to a movie, and I brought snacks ahead of time that are healthier. So, that part went well also. The part I'm frustrated with this morning is, after we came home from the movie, I ate the crust of two slices of pizza that we had ordered for the kids while we were gone. I was a little hungry, but not enough that I should have eaten, and certainly not a starchy, yellow-ish light food that has a surprising amount of sodium in it. I also drank a no-calorie Splenda-sweetened so do and ate some peach fruit-only jam. All in all, it felt more like a craving-induced snack. The late hour and the high ratio of yellow-light foods made it something I shouldn't have done. It just felt more indulgent than nutritious. I did the same thing the night before, so I need to stop this in its tracks and not allow it to form a habit.
Today, I weighed in in the 250s, a target I've been looking forward to for a while. When I'm in the 260s and 270s, my clothes don't fit well, my blood pressure is strained, I have low energy, I don't like the way I look, and some movements are difficult, such as bending to get things on the ground. In the 250s, I feel like I start to take an edge off of the super-high weight. Even still, it won't be until 243 that I hit the 10% weight lost target and feel more able to do things like work out. But moving into a different set of 10s on the scale feels encouraging.
I don't know how many times I've lost weight and told myself "I will never allow myself to weigh in the 270s again, or the 260s, etc." only to end up there once again once I quite trying and quit caring. Putting the pounds on happens so quickly. I remember being down to 220 lbs right when we were about to move to Colorado. I made a trip here (we owned the house already) to get some work done in a concentrated period of time, and I remember stepping on the scale and hitting the 220 mark. I had been doing personal training in Arizona for some time, and I reached the point of losing more than 50 lbs. But I felt like I was starving...I eating a low carb diet, mostly meats and vegetables. Before I left Colorado to head back home, I went to the store and bought a box of chocolates and ate the whole thing. Then I went to The Black Eyed Pea restaurant and ate a huge meal of stuff that was fried. It was like I had held my breath as long as I could tolerate and was finally letting go and returning to my old eating habits. And I did...the cravings and the old habits returned with a vengeance and I put the pounds back on 5 at a time for the next few months, finding myself right back where I had started.
It's not like I was unaware of what was happening--I knew the talk about changing your lifestyle forever rather than going on a deprivation diet. But the truth was I didn't want to have a life where I was deprived of what I wanted, so I was holding on until I lost enough weight, so I could then return to my old ways. The problem was, returning was like surrendering to nearly-uncontrollable cravings. I remember being in church and having an immense craving to leave right then and go buy two or three bags of candy and down them all at once. It didn't make much sense at all, but I remember the feeling being so powerful it nearly consumed me.