Monday, May 27, 2013

Bend, Don't Break

Hi, my name is Anne, and I've been on a food bender for the last week.

Ice cream.
Breakfast pastries.
Chai Lattes.

I gave myself a pass because I thought I could just get the urge to emotionally binge out of my system- sorta like forcing a kid to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes after you catch them sneaking one.

Thus, I gave myself a week long "foodcation" to have all the things I have missed. On this, the eve of my return to better health, let me tell you what I've learned. 

I can't wait to eat REAL food again.


Fries? I remember them being a lot better than they are. Pizza makes my belly feel heavy and uncomfortably bloated. Sandwiches are great, but I would rather have half than whole. The bread fills me up too fast. It's really what's INSIDE the sandwich that provides the flavor. Next time I'll just eat some turkey. Breakfast pastries are nice, but I've realized they're only worth the calories when they're fresh so it's worth saving them for treats and seeking out really great bakeries on those occassions. Cupcakes are amazing, but simpler and smaller is better. Again, gourmet is the way to go when you get the chance. After a while things stop tasting interesting and everything is just a wash of bread and sugar. 

I've been sluggish. I eat this crap and get the urge to sleep immediately afterwards. I'm writing this blog at 11:24PM because I ate an apple, brie, cranberry, and honey sandwich that caused me to fall asleep while binge watching Arrested Development at 5PM! I never felt that randomly exhausted after a proper meal. This whole week, it has felt like my brain was rebelling against me- like it was repeatedly pressing the snooze button. Giving tours when your mind is ten steps behind you is torture.

When I touch my stomach, it feels BRUISED from being filled with food that doesn't digest easily over the last week.

I also noticed that during this "free period," never did I ever once desire/consume alcohol. 

Lastly, I discovered that working out after filling your body with crap is WAY harder than working out after priming your body with a protein rich breakfast of whole foods. Eating shitty food does not make you want to work out. It's like a self fulfilling prophecy of laziness. You eat stuff you shouldn't and then to make matters worse, it doesn't even put you in the frame of mind where you WANT to work out. How lame is that?

Also, just so you guys know: Food does not make you feel any better about your shitty life. SHOCKER. Even after eating ice cream, you're just sad and filled with dairy and sugar. It changes nothing except that it makes you feel even worse for putting crap in your body on top of everything else. 

So will I never crave any of this stuff again? Of course I will. However, I feel like I successfully proved to myself how much my palette has changed. These cravings are completely mental now because I know what I really want, how this food makes me feel, and how I'd prefer to fuel my body. Did this set me back weight loss wise? Sure, but this was temporary and the small amount of weight I gained will drop away when I get back to my routine. 

Knowledge wise, I feel like this was a right of passage I really needed. It's amazing to feel how much my body is rejecting my old habits and craving the return to my new ones. The key to this whole experiment was to bend for one week so I wouldn't break. I was feeling like I could never have any of that stuff ever again. I was afraid of food and afraid of treats. I felt like I was limiting myself too much and I wondered how I'd ever be able to adjust to Paleo/Primal if I was constantly craving bread and cheese. My emotional stress was driving me crazy and I wanted to eat all the things. Rather than just throw up my hands and give up, essentially breaking and causing MAJOR damage to my body and my psyche, I decided to make a plan with calculated risks so I could get a sense of how hard it would be to really give up all of the foods that going Primal is going to cut out of my life.

Note: I never would have have done this had I not known that I'd have no problem getting back into the swing of things, so I'm not recommending this course of action for anyone who just started a diet and really wants an order of cheese fries. I've been working at this for almost a year now and I know I have no problem returning to my health plan. This is not me telling you, "Sure, live a little and cheat on your diet when you feel like it." If you adopt that excuse, you'll completely sabotage all your hard work. However, if you're on a diet and you've been doing everything right for an extended amount of time and that desire for a burger has been dogging you every day for a month to the point where it's driving you crazy, maybe it's time to get in a good workout, eat a nice salad for lunch and then treat yourself to the best burger you can find so you can get the craving out of your system and refocus your attention on healthier stuff afterwards. Sometimes we have to bend a little so that we don't break and destroy everything we've worked for. 

No matter what, this whole "health thing" is all about what you want to do. It all comes down to your choice. So whatever you decide, own it and learn from it.


  1. Love that you took on this challenge, Anne - and the fact that it only served to show you how much better you feel while eating healthfully is a huge victory.

    Keep it going, girl! Always enjoy reading about your progress. Stay strong, be proud of your accomplishments, and remember: there's always money in the banana stand. ;)

    1. Yeah it's pretty amazing, to be honest. I didn't realize that was really making as much of a difference in my energy levels as the weight loss itself.

  2. This is awesome Anne! And so much of what you wrote is exactly what I feel after a period of eating crap. In fact this weekend, J offered to grab me a treat when he went to the store. Twice. And twice, I thought about what I wanted. Twice, I realized I didn't want any junk.

    So here's to another 6 weeks of progress :)

    1. Yeah it honestly helps to know. And feeling it- feeling the difference between the two- that helps immensely. I mean it does feel like whoa I'm off the wagon while you're doing it, but today I've been back "on plan" and it feels great.

  3. This reminds me of cheat days on my first shot at NS, the "bad" food would make me feel like crap physically, instead of just the guilt of taking the day off. We tried to take a day off a week ago (after about 3 weeks in-plan) and even if we didn't do anything crazy all I could think of was that I would rather be back home and eating within the plan.

    1. It is interesting to see how your body reacts to different food. I just have this mental muscle that wants sugar... but my body actually REALLY doesn't lol

  4. I've been on a mini-food bender the last couple of days. Partially to remember how bad I feel when I eat like crap, but also when the hot weather strikes I just want ice cream and popsicles until I get my hands on heirloom tomatoes and zucchini (which I bought today). Also when I get a REALLY strong craving for some treat I will indulge it a bit to get it out of my system, I get what I want and move on.

    1. I know what you mean on the ice cream. Ice cream is BASICALLY the entire reason I need one day where I'm not primal/paleo per week. It's not like I'm going to eat a whole pint every week, but I need some every week of the summer or I will go insane. I may try to resist as much as possible since that seems ridiculous (as I read the previous sentence back to myself and face palm), but I know I'll crack. Just trying to be realistic!