For Those Thinking of Cheating/Going Off Plan...Read This First
For the last two weeks (not counting today) I have been off the plan. It wasn't really something I'd wanted to do; I wasn't lead astray by cravings but more by simple convenience. I was moving house, most of my cooking stuff was packed away and hard to find in the sea of boxes, and my income had been depleted to the point where it was just cheaper to eat junk.
At first, it wasn't so bad. I still felt good...the lingering effects of my low-carb lifestyle. It took about a week for it to hit me. Suddenly, I was tired all the time, sluggish...I felt like all I could do was sit on the couch and eat eat eat! That's when the cravings kicked in. I could have restarted the diet a lot earlier than I have, but my cravings kept telling me that I needed the junk. It was like I wasn't even in control of my own thoughts half the time. I can't believe I once thought this was good or fun!
Then last night was the last straw. My body just wanted no more of my former diet and it let me know with a vengeance. As I lay on the bathroom floor, clutching the toilet like it was my long-lost best friend, I realized what a toxic relationship I had with food and what it was really doing to me.
I started over today, fully realizing that it was going to be one more week of 500 calories of pure protein. Though this time around, it doesn't seem so bad. It's easier, because I know what to expect and I'm fully resolved that I'm leaving the old habits behind.
Moral of the story (obviously) is that it's not worth it. If you're like me (and many of you probably are) it won't be just ONE brownie, or potato chip...they lead to longer, larger slips that will, inevitably, leave you sick and wondering why you cheated in the first place.
I once heard that the human body is hard-wired to seek out three basic things: sugar, salt, and fat. Our bodies are also hard-wired to seek out the easiest way to get these three things. Most modern junk food contains all three! I think those of us who have 'cravings' for junk food are actually just reacting to the body's drive to get what it wants without compromising food stores (fat) on the body. Our bodies and modern science are working against us to ensure that we stay fat!
I think this brings a whole new level to the 'cravings' factor. You're not really craving that cupcake...you're craving sugar; however our brains don't differentiate between simple refined sugars and complex sugars from natural sources. The only way to tell the brain it doesn't want cupcakes, potato chips, or other refined products is to replace our unhealthy cravings with good ones. We can be screaming "cupcake!" internally as much as we want, what matters is what we reach for. This makes it so much more important to have healthy things on hand, instead of trying to figure out how to make junk food 'acceptable' on the plan.
I would even go as far as to tell people not to try the dessert recipes for a good few months after starting the plan. It would be far better to reach for a higher sugar fruit (in moderation) than to keep up with old habits. And yes, making desserts with splenda is still keeping up an old habit, we're just justifying it by saying it's 'legal' on the plan. Especially when these things are just replacements for real desserts. How many of us will really just eat one almond cookie, and how many more will make it a nightly ritual to have a few ( or half the pan) after dinner.
I have also started a rewards jar for myself. Every time I want something and go for a healthy alternative (such as eating an apple instead of a cupcake), I put money in the jar..just whatever I can spare in my wallet. When I have reached my goal, I can spend all that money on something just for me....like new shoes or a really nice dress. It's a good way to visualize just how much we have changed and how we are moving forward for ourselves. :)
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