My head hurts. I'm sitting here, all hopped up on vitamins, fish oil and aspirin. Ow. My bullet proof coffee is helping, but my fingers are still struggling to land on the right keys.
I cheated, my friends. I ate nachos. Lots of them. They were delicious. Oh, and a tamale. It was lousy.
Ohhhhh ... THE PAIN!!!
It's always amazing ... each and every time I do this ... how painfully clear it is that my body and mind feels poisoned! My body is simply not used to this ... it wasn't designed for this ... and it hurts. OWwww ...
Ok, now that I've started the new year sharing my horrendously foggy misery with all y'all ... I should rise above it all and shout, painfully, from the rooftop ... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
Seriously! It's an exciting time! Time to get started. Time to improve! Throw a stake in the ground and say, "These are the things I want to resolve this year!" ... and then do it! It's a perfect opportunity. Take it! Be a better person! Strive to live a healthier lifestyle! Walk further, lift more, touch your toes with more verve, shake more hands and smile at people until they smile back!
I know I've got some big plans this year ... I'm hoping y'all do, too! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
[INSERT LOUD CROWD CHEERING SOUND EFFECTS HERE]
Now, back to my pesky clouded thoughts and decision making powers ...
See, I'm a fan of the "planned cheat". If it's part of the plan ... it instantly nullifies the "cheat status", becoming simply "dinner" or "a snack". I do think it's good to keep the body guessing, a bit. An occasional curveball accomplishes many things, in my opinion. It forces the body to stay strong and able to adapt, as opposed to settling in to the lifelong routine of crispy smoked pork belly slices and cruciferous vegetables. In my mind's eye, it also creates a greater sense of calm. I walk through life KNOWING that I haven't eliminated nachos, pizza or tacos. I haven't sworn off pineapple forever. These are still treats in my world, but they've been given a place and time. They've been added to a more disciplined and categorized structure. This has allowed me to eat an excellent and varied mix of foods, while still knowing in the back of my mind that the 3rd Thursday night of every month is "free-for-all" night!
I'm crazy, I think. My thoughts are often irrational, even though I'm well aware of it. Maybe I'm just human, but ... I'm unable to live in a world of restrictions. The moment you tell me I can't have something ... it's all I'll think about! Fester and dwell I will!
However, if I know it's out there ... and that I can still have it ... I can calmly and happily wait for my planned treat. Yum.
Here's my thinking ...
If you're going to do it ... Do it. Just do it! Even Nike agrees! Make sure it's part of the plan, but then do it without shame or guilt. Enjoy every last minute of it. Savor it. Take it all in ... inhale it, smell it, chew it gracefully, meaningfully and lovingly.
I personally think anything more than a meal every 3 weeks is too often ... and a bit of a rollercoaster. For me, it's about every 2 months, and is usually one, but a full meal. I eat large portions, but ... I wouldn't describe it as an all out binge-fest, it's just a whole lotta goodness. The point being, it should be fun, delicious, completely enjoyed and reasonable. If taken to unhealthy levels of excess ... it ceases to be as effective a tool. Eat and enjoy, but maintain control.
As with anything in life ... have an exit strategy. See, in my experience, "cheats" usually means grains. For others, it may mean meat, or dairy, or a sugary-sweet. Everyone has their "thing". In my life ... it's usually grains ... in the form of breads or pasta. And, when I do it, I awaken the next day wishing I'd not done it. I've always got a massive pulsating headache. My thoughts are clouded. My words come slowly. My decision making powers are flawed. I'm weak ... and I want a doughnut.
I want a stack of pancakes. I have a completely irrational need for a croissant from the organic bakery across the street. A hot cinnamon roll would be perfect, right about now!
Judgment ... impaired.
Knowing that I was going to go to a Mexican Restaurant ... I had to make plans. Breakfast was made yesterday and just needed reheating (a ham, bacon, zucchini and roasted pepper frittata). I'm going for a run around a lake with a friend in about 2 hours. Dinner is going to be Artichoke Stuffed Salmon, wrapped in Bacon ... served with a Creamy Tomato Sauce. It's all ... all ready to go. In case of emergency ... I'm loaded up with homemade sausage patties that I can cook straight from the freezer.
I go into this knowing full well that I'll have ludicrous and seemingly unstoppable cravings. I've braced myself for impact. Part of keeping the body guessing is ... also a little reminder of what it seems to so aggressively crave! My body QUICKLY snaps to it and internally screams and begs and pleas for more ... MORE!!!
FEED ME, SEYMOUR!!!
I simply don't give in. I always have an exit strategy. I go into it knowing I've got it planned, as well as a follow up. The food is cooked and ready to go ... no excuses. Time to get back on the wagon for a few more months. If I just feel like I'm going to die (I won't die, mind you) ... I'll cook up some eggs ... to fill the irrational void.
It's a bit loony, to be sure, but ... after about 3 days ... life resumes to normal, the 8 lbs. of gained water weight disappears, the clouds fade, judgment returns and all becomes right with the world ...
... until ...
This post has been prompted based, not only on my own habits and softball sized conundrum lurking just behind my eyeballs, but also because of the sheer number of emails and private messages I've received from people ... confessing their sins to me.
This past week has been a real eye opener! The REALLY interesting this is ... these people know. Just like I know ... they knew, too. They were confessing, not asking for help. The tone of their delivery was simply so that they could clear their guilt and shame by ... telling someone.
Adorable! Now ... eat 4 slices of bacon and do 7 pushups.
After 150 days of eating clean The Rock allowed himself a "legendary" cheat day.
12 Pancakes, 4 double dough pizzas, and 21 Brownies.
Honestly ... don't stress it. Embrace it! Make it a part of your routine! Sure, it's a step back, but ... you may gain 2 steps forward out of it! It's just one of many tools and tricks used to achieve or maintain a goal.
I really want to caution romanticizing this. It's not something to dwell on or dream about. It's a tool, a trick and a strategy. It's best if it's not attached to emotion. It's not to be taken to excess. I also feel it needs said that many people CAN'T have a cheat day due to medical conditions. For those of you who are unable to change your diet for even a day ... I'm sorry about this post. I do not mean to insult.
There are also others that had a planned cheat day ... and never returned. They went for that "hour long hot air balloon ride", but ... forgot to tether the balloon to the ground. A year and 80 lbs. later ... they're left wondering what happened. How did they get here ...
This is NOT a strategy that works for everyone. When I go on vacation, I tend to allow myself total gluttonous freedom ... and this has set me back on several occasions ... it's a SERIOUSLY slippery slope, but one I feel is unjust to ignore. I'm open to it and open to talking about it, but ... caution you to tread carefully.
Whether you've just "cheated" or not, but happen to find yourself in the midst of a lunatic crave ....
- Drink some water. A big glass of water is ALWAYS a good idea. It's satisfying, distracting, cooling and filling.
- Do something physical. This can mean a quick walk around the house, or a walk up the street, or ... a quick jog around the local lake, or an impromptu yoga class, or a stretch, or ... blare some music and rock out to Cher's latest and greatest, or Miley's, if that's your cup of tea. Something to both distract and reinforce your desire to grow, strengthen and live healthily.
- Write down how you feel. Frankly, this blog started because things weren't going well ... so I sat down to write how I felt. BOOM! BLOG!
- Be patient and wait .... I like to tell myself "This too, shall pass." This can be anything from meditating, to praying, to biting your lip and clenching your fists. Whatever your method ... the plain cold hard reality of it is ... you won't die ... the craving WILL pass, if you give it but a moment.
- Have someone scare you. Honestly, find a way to be temporarily distracted. If you're focused on something else ... you're not focused on yourself. It's a mind game. Find a way to win.
- Do something productive. Engage yourself in a positive activity. Clean the fridge. Walk the dog. Call an old friend. Do something uplifting.
- If all else fails ... eat something! This is always my big backup plan. I eat! I don't eat doughnuts. I'll eat a steak. I'll make a quick pepper and egg scramble. I'll make something super quick and filling. JUST MAKE SURE IT'S ON PLAN!
If you've tried this, and it doesn't work, and you've found a better way ... please stick with what works for you! This isn't for everyone, and I am not giving permission to go on a free-for-all Butterfinger and French Fry Fest. This is DEFINITELY not my message.
At the very core of this ... at its heart ... the meaning behind all of this is ... have a plan. Have a backup plan. Have an exit strategy.
... and stick to it ...
No matter what!
On that note ... here are 14 of my favorite recipes from this past year! If you're wondering whether this is an overly restrictive or challenging way to live ... I have 14 reasons why that just isn't true ...
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
BBQ Cheddar-Chicken Salad with Tomatoes & Bacon
Spicy Cumin-Cheddar Crackers
Bacon, Cheddar and Jalapeño Dip
Meat Lovers' Lasagna
Creamed Brussel Sprouts with Mushrooms and Bacon
Cheddar Taco Shells
Cinnamon Roll OMM
Coconut Macadamia Smoothie
Chocolate Pudding Pie with Macadamia Crust
One last time ... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I hope you achieve all your dreams and surpass all your goals!
Thank you, ALL ... for everything!