Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cycle of a Food Addict

There are some people out there that love food, yet don't have the body shape to show for it.  For all the rest of us, the euphoric feelings we get from amazing food, instead of treating us nicely, slowly increase our blood sugar, add rolls to our muffin tops, and increase our risk for every bad ailment under the sun.  (How cruel is it that even the cutesy description given to the overhanging tummy of an obese person sounds yummy?)

Anyway, I just went through another 'fat cycle', and I thought I would let you all in on what it's like.

Day -1: You get on a scale, and the numbers that pop up are about 10 pounds more than you were last time you were brave enough to get on (and about 25 pounds more than it should be for someone your height).  Mild depression lingers on the edge of your emotions, but you shrug it off.
I hate you.
Day 1: You wake up and decide that this is finally the time to take over your diet and really lose the weight.  You'll be hot in no time, if you just stick to it this time.  You have a healthy breakfast, marking down everything you ate and all of their nutritional contents.  You've trimmed your regular intake back, and you're ready to fight hunger face-to-face.

Day 1.5: The hunger is as you expected.  You keep opening that cupboard (or desk drawer at work) to snag one little extra sweet thing to hold you over.  Ha, hunger, those cookies got thrown away!  You're serious this time.

Day 2: You wake up happy to have defeated your first day.  You know the first few days are the hardest, but you are going to work just as hard today.  Planning each meal and snack of the day already seems like an endless task, but those skinny people must do it, so you will, too.

Day 2.5: The hunger is apparent, but you've already defeated it yesterday.  You are rock solid, because you are serious this time.  Avoid commercials, avoid talking about food, and certainly don't look up the menu to that restaurant you've been thinking about trying.  Even though its your present to yourself  after you've shed some of this weight.  Hunger is still hanging out back there, deliciously in full-color in your mind.
Eat me.
Day 2.7: You are out for your first jog in a very long time.  You are surprised how much energy you have.  This must be the secret.  Eating well and keeping track of everything gives you energy.  It will only get better from here.

Days 3-5: You've been amazing.  You even sneaked on the scale to get a glimpse of your progress.  You've totally lost some weight, and you are interpolating how much more you can lose by the next big holiday.  People are going to be so proud of you when you walk in showing off that new bod.  You've been exercising, you've been eating right.  You've been perfect.

Day 6.5: You've been perfect for a whole week now.  You haven't had a single dessert.  You've been chewing gum or sucking on cough drops to curb cravings.  You're out with friends at dinner, and you decide that you're going to treat your hard work with the dessert menu.  You're not going to go crazy, but you definitely deserve it.

Day 7.5: You've had no energy all day.  Hunger has shown up with friends.  All you can think about is how good that small dessert was last night.  Maybe you should buy something dessert-y and treat yourself a few times a week, in moderation, in order to keep yourself on track.  You swing by the grocery store and pick up a package of oreos.

Day 7.8: A good movie is on TV.  It's Sunday and you have to work tomorrow.  You're just going to relax and watch the movie.  Wouldn't it be fun to have a few oreos?  Technically, you've been really good, still.  This is a perfect opportunity to work on deliciousness in moderation.  Those salads have been quite drab, haven't they?  So you pull the package into the living room with a glass of milk.  You pull out 3 cookies, because that's what the nutritional info says is one serving.  You slowly eat each cookie, trying to get as much of the orgasmic, sugary goodness from each bite that you can.  The third cookie is gone, and you feel like you barely had any.
3 more cookies come out, but you've sealed the cookies this time.  You're serious.
The movie is pretty good.  So were those other three cookies.  Ok, one more, and you take them back to the cupboard...
You sit down, but now you are starting to care less about the movie...
You realize that you had 1 cookie, so you might as well eat 2 more to make it easy to calculate the nutrition in your log...
You get up to grab 2 cookies, but you know you have to leave those cookies in the cupboard or you'll just eat more...
Those cookies are done, but the movie is still going...
You blink, and the package is in front of you... empty.

Day 8: Guilt.  You'd been doing so well.  This is precisely why you are fat.  You have no self control.  Yes, the oreos were amazing, but you really have to change the way you look at food if you're ever going to change.

Day 8.7: Fuck it.  I already ruined it last night.  Let's order the pizza from the commercials that I keep seeing.

Day 10: You've pretty much gone on to business as usual.  You decide it can't be that bad.  You did, after all, have a whole week of watching your diet.  You step on the scale.

Fuck you.

Day 10 becomes Day -1.
The cycle continues.

You have no clue how many times I had to replace 'I' with 'you' in order to make this about all of us, instead of my battle of the bulge.  I'm hoping the recognition that all of us go through this motivates both myself and any of you that struggle with food and weight (and even body image).

I've heard the secret is to not make drastic changes overnight, but I've always been a very black-white/yes-no/no compromise person.  One day it'll work out, though, right?

Hopes he's in a prolonged Day 3 mode, but knows he just had a Day 8,


  1. It's all about having a plan and a real goal, and get support to accomplish that goal.

    For example, I've made it a goal to do the Warrior Dash on May 21st, and hired a trainer back in February to help me do it. He helped me figure out my max calorie intake per day and designed fun workouts that I can do every day so I don't feel like I'm just working out to workout. We found some recipes and things to eat that taste great (I eat BBQ chicken almost every day) and discovered that chocolate protein shakes are like having dessert twice a day! I've lost at least 10 pounds in the process, and probably replaced double that amount with muscle. Whenever I feel weak and want to order a pizza, I call my trainer and we talk about it an decide on a plan on where I'm getting it and whether it will fit in my calorie count for the day....in fact I just had pizza last night, 2 pieces from Papa Johns. I've gotten used to cooking my own food, and I hardly ever eat out, especially since I don't really know the calorie content. I'm hitting about 2K calories a day, and I'm eating three giant meals and feeling full (mostly because I'm getting 200g of protein a day, so I can eat a pound of chicken/turkey/fish as a meal no problem).

    My point is, weight loss, fitness, etc is not something we can do alone if we're used to just eating what we want whenever we want. We need a plan, and we need support to accomplish that plan...otherwise we're really just wasting our time, and adding stress to our lives that will only perpetuate the problem.

  2. also, here's a link to my trainer's blog, he has good recipes and tips on how to stay with it. He's also a web-based trainer, so he works with clients all over the country with videos, phone and email consultations, and surprisingly, it works great!


  3. I agree with most of your comments, and I just put roglaw on my Google Reader (if it's good, he'll stay). (The only thing I worry about is your protein intake. Shouldn't it be maxed out at your weight [in lbs], but in grams of protein? 170 lb shouldn't consume more than 170 g of protein? How's your cholesterol?)

  4. Also, I spent most of last year regularly meeting with not one, but two nutritionists. I got into a weight management clinic at UCLA. I feel like an expert in nutrition, and I am currently keeping track of everything I eat and making sure that I'm getting my full nutritional needs. I've just never found the right blend of motivation to keep things going for a long enough period of time for it to matter. (At least, not since high school)

  5. Yeah, and my trainer and I talked about it, it's usually a 1 for 1 lbs/g ratio for protein. I'm sitting around 200g a day which he said is fine since my focus isn't about bulking up its more about slimming down. I also weigh 290, so I'm way under the one-to-one ratio. As far as cholesterol, it was bad last time I went to the doc, but I don't eat a whole lot of bad cholesterol. I don't eat red meat, just chicken and lean pork, and I use egg beaters (basically egg whites), and I get half of my protein intake from skim milk and whey protein powder (the shakes). I also eat a ton of vegetables, mostly in the form of stir fries for dinner, and giant salads (5-6 oz of lettuce, less than 1tblsp low fat dressing) for lunch. For dessert I get those Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, which only have about 160 cals in each, and when I'm looking for something sweet beyond that I a piece of bread with honey and peanut butter or oatmeal with honey/brown sugar in it, and that usually does the trick with only adding 150 or so cals.

  6. I should add that honey, frank's red hot, italian spices, brown sugar, garlic powder, and cinnamon go a LONG way in adding flavor to boring things to make food made at home interesting and fulfilling.

  7. note - the cholesterol problem was two years ago, I need to get a checkup to see how things are going, but I can almost guarantee based on the things I eat it has to be changing for the good.

  8. I applaud your effort, I just know that my cholesterol is bad, and that it didn't change much after several months of cholesterol-conscious eating.
    I also totally agree with your essential spices. Next to my stove is a small spice rack (as opposed to the big spice cupboard), and on it you'll find: italian spices, garlic powder, cinnamon, chili powder, minced onion, and red pepper flakes, and local honey. The RedHot sits an arms length away. I'd add dijon mustard to that list, too.