Feb 8, 2011

On Spiraling out of Control

Weekends are occasions where there is seldom a routine, making it more difficult to plan my meals effectively. This past weekend was no exception. On Saturday morning I had a ten-mile trail race and the day started out very good. I had 1C of brown rice before leaving the house, and at the 5-mile aid station I had one cereal bar which gave a much-needed pop to my energy levels in the half. So far so good.

On Saturday night, when I was tired and all I wanted to do was "veg", I was informed (or, more likely, reminded) that I needed to bake not one but two cakes for my son's birthday which was the next day. One cake was to be consumed at Sunday School, the other at a Super Bowl party. Clearly, this was contrary to my evening plans, not to mention the fact that cake-baking probably isn't the ideal activity for a guy on a strict diet.

I made the yellow cake first. I cut the dome off the layer that was going to be on the bottom, I gave it to Joe, and had a small piece myself. That was a mistake that was on the verge of spiraling, but I kept in control by giving most of it to Joe. Thankfully, a dome didn't form on the chocolate cake so I wouldn't repeat.


Because I had to make frosting, on Sunday morning I skipped a planned 4-mile race I was registered for (I really wasn't in the mood to drive into the city anywau.) If baking a cake while on a diet is a bad idea, frosting a cake is even worse. Still, I somehow managed to behave and Joey got to lick the leftovers off the spatula, so everyone was happy. And while he was eating the cake with his friends, I was at the gym pounding away on a treadmill. Later, I also managed to behave while frosting the yellow cake. Before leaving for the Super Bowl party, I had eaten my pre-portioned dinner and had a piece of fruit in my pocket for a snack later. All was looking good.

Among my friends, I have a reputation for making really good buffalo-style chicken wings. I was asked my the party's host to make some for this, and I happily obliged. Because not everything was available, we had to wing it (no pun intended) on a few of the ingredients, and after the first batch I tasted a wing to make sure everything was good.

And it was good. *very* good.

To make a long story short, after tasting that wing, I spiraled out of control. That first one turned into probably 20-30 more, and after that, I ate whatever I wanted. Pigs in the blanket. Chips and dip. More wings. I even had a piece of the cake I baked for Joe. During this binge event, I noticed three distinct thought processes going on. There was some part of me looking at my behavior and screaming, "What the hell is wrong with you?", another part of me curiously and objectively watching the behavior and finding it fascinating, and the in-control out-of-control part of me throwing caution to the wind and happily eating everything in sight.

At this point in the tale it would behoove me to notify you, dear reader, that last Wednesday I hit my first plateau of the new diet. I anticipated this, and once it arrived the question became "how long would it last." It was (and still is) going strong, and to make a long story short, by Monday morning I was three pounds heavier than on Friday.

Needless to say, the prevailing emotion on Monday was regret.

In the face of this, I have been strong. Possibly due to the Sunday night binge, cravings last night were intense for a couple of hours, but I resisted and they surprisingly wore off by 10PM. In terms of weight, as of Tuesday I'm still plateauing at 307, but I've been there for six days now and hope to break through in the next day or two.

Plateauing is such an interesting topic. Does anyone know why it happens? It's interesting to notice how trousers continue to get looser and the (pardon me) balloons of fat deposited around my body continue to get "softer" as though they were deflating. Yet the scale - the only objective measurement that I can monitor daily, stubbornly stays put and that causes no small deal of mental anguish and perhaps even hopelessness, particularly when presented with temptation.

When I'm not plateauing, the scale is my strongest ally. When I am, it becomes a bit of an enemy.

My gym has an odd promotion where they have pizza on the first Monday evening of every month. I never remember that they do it until I'm actually at the gym. In last night's case, I saw the pizza after my workout on the way out the door. Giving in to pure curiosity, I walked over and opened the box to see what kind it was. It was a delicious looking freshly-baked cheese pie from a local pizzeria. After three pretty hard-run treadmill miles it would have been easy to convince myself that I "deserved" this pizza and that it could work as a decent recovery meal. I recognized that deceptive thought process as it went through my noodle. It has tricked me into eating the first slice countless times, and, like what happened at Sunday's party,after a single bite I inevitably spiral. I walked away from the pizza and ate the pre-prepared pre-portioned meal that I had home in the fridge. But that pizza was on my mind the entire drive home; indeed it was still there later on in the evening during my cravings. It's even on my mind now, the next day, as I write this.