Some of you have asked about how I did on my last Eat Healthy or Pay Dearly Challenge. I have to say, it went really well. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning.
Back in February I challenged myself to cut wheat, sugar, and dairy out of my diet. I gotta say, the first few days off those foods were rough. Every time I stop eating sugar and/or wheat I go through serious withdrawals and this time was no exception. I get cranky and irritable and all-around stabby. I really should be locked away until it's out of my system. But it passed, as it always does. This time around it took about 2 weeks for me to stop craving junk food and sweets. Life is much easier after that. It got to the point where things like candy bars, soda, chips, etc, weren't even all that tempting anymore. The more processed they were, the less food-like they became. I would look at them and wonder, "Why would anyone eat that?" They were no more appetizing than a plastic bag or a bottle of Windex.
Now here's where the frustrating part comes in. While my physical cravings were gone within weeks, my psychological ones just wouldn't. go. away. Most of the time I was fine. But then I would get stressed out or tired or whatnot, and my emotional triggers would...well, be triggered. And I would want to eat junk food and sweets SOOOOO bad. Not because I physically craved them, but because I wanted the comfort or good feelings that accompanied those foods. I craved the endorphins or whatever it was that I got from them. That's why I'm making this current challenge longer, because I think a year is enough time to get those emotional cravings out of my system. Hopefully, I'll replace the good feelings I used to get from junk food with good feelings from healthy food -or from something non-food related.
Seven plus weeks passed. I was successful in my challenge to avoid eating sugar, wheat and dairy, and it definitely made a difference. I found I didn't need as much sleep as I used to, nor did I crash in the middle of the day. My overall energy level was up. My mood improved so much that I talked to my doctor about lowering the dosage of my antidepressant medication. One thing I thought was interesting, is that while I ate as much as I normally did at first, after a few weeks I noticed I ate significantly less. I just wasn't as hungry as I used to be.
As far as losing weight, I have no idea if I did or not. I made a goal this year to not weigh myself, and I haven't. This challenge was never about weight. It was about how changing my diet affected me physically, emotionally, and mentally. I didn't want to do a great job of eating healthy food, then end up feeling like a failure because some numbers on a scale didn't meet my expectations. I've gone through that before and it's stupid and demeaning and self-defeating.
Transitioning to life post-challenge did not go as well as I'd planned. I wanted to ease back into things. Gradually re-introduce certain foods back into my diet and take note of how my body and mind reacted to them. I planned on being so careful with junk food, and only eat a tiny bit. No binging for me! Instead, my first week post-challenge was BGW. So, yeah. That didn't happen. It was quite the learning experience nonetheless.
I discovered that when I started drinking soda again that it didn't taste anything like I remembered. It was downright disgusting. It tasted like acid and chemicals and burned my throat. Yet, and here's the interesting part, I kept drinking it. I just knew that soda tasted good. I remembered it tasting good. So even though my taste buds told me "YUCK," I kept drinking it. Even as I poured it down my gullet and thought, "Why am I drinking this? It's nasty." I kept drinking it! And each time it got a little less disgusting, and a little less chemical-tasting. And around the 4th glass* Poof! it tasted good again. Interesting how that works, isn't it?
*This was over the course of a week or so. I didn't drink 4 glasses of soda back-to-back.
The same thing happened with candy. There was a communal bag of Twizzlers sitting on the counter at BGW. I took one, more out of curiosity than anything else. I had already tried soda, and I wanted to know if Twizzlers would taste weird too. Yup. They did. It was like eating a stick of red dye #4 mixed with rubber cement. Bet you'll never guess what I did, though. That's right. I kept eating them. Even though I didn't like them, the memory of once liking them kept me going back for more. And just like the soda, after a certain amount of exposure to them they started tasting good again.
Isn't that just so wrong? Some of our food is so laden with chemicals and garbage that we have to build up a tolerance to them! Once I got all that crap out of my system I could literally taste the chemicals in soda and candy. I could taste how wrong they were; how unnatural. But my stupid brain sabotaged me. Sigh. Hence EHOPD Challenge #2. Or am I on 3 now? I can't keep track. I hope, oh how I hope going a year without it will cure me of my emotional ties to junk food. Only time will tell.
Speaking of the current EHOPD Challenge, I'm on day 3 and so far so good. It's funny, I really dreaded starting this challenge. I wanted to hold off just a little longer, eat whatever I wanted just one more weekend. But when I finally sat down and did it, it was such a relief. I was free of constantly worrying about it because I was actually doing it. It's liberating.
I will admit that I was SUPER stabby yesterday. My withdrawals have begun, but I managed to resist killing anyone, and I'm feeling much better today. I've been through this enough times to know that it will pass and I'll feel much better afterward. I just have to ride it out.
Now, I want to take a moment to respond to a comment I got this morning.
Here's part of it:
Let me start off by saying I am not in the least offended or upset by this comment, so please don't read my response as such. I hope to defend my position without coming across as defensive...if that makes sense....
I'm going to break this comment down and address it parts, if you don't mind. My brain likes things organized.
"And you will feel horrible, as your homocidal urges demonstrate."
Yes, I do feel horrible. But it's not permanent, nor do I believe it is detrimental to my health. It's just my body getting rid of the garbage that's accumulated there. It will pass, and I will feel better for it.
"Diets that restrict or eliminate entire categories of foods (like carbs or fats) are the worst kind. Not only are they unsustainable, they may even be bad for your health."
There are hundreds, thousands of books and articles and studies dedicated to finding the perfect combination of food for optimal health. And most of them contradict each other. I feel that the only way I can know for sure if one kind of diet or another is a good fit for me is to actually try it. I have researched the Paleo diet. I have two people close to me who have done Paleo faithfully and I have seen firsthand the health benefits of eating this way. The first person has more energy, far less social anxiety and depression, and better all-around health. The other's chronic asthma and allergies decreased drastically. Then there are my own observations of how my health improved when I went Paleo. So, yeah. I'm not worried about it being bad for my health.
"...almost all diets are designed to fail. They may work in the short term, but they are unsustainable."
I actually completely agree with this. I absolutely do not have the will-power it takes to eat a healthy diet. I've tried and failed over and over and over. I am simply too addicted physically and emotionally to foods that are bad for me. That is exactly why I am doing the EHOPD Challenge. Think about it. Your very favorite treat is sitting in front of you -let's say it's a chocolate chip cookie. It looks and smells soooo good. You really want to eat it. But no, you shouldn't, it's bad for you. If you eat this cookie and couple handfuls more you might get a tummy ache. If you eat this cookie and a several dozen more you might gain a few pounds. If you eat this cookie and maybe a few thousand more over the next 10 years you'll probably increase your likelihood of getting diabetes. But there's not really a negative outcome for eating just this one cookie, right? Just one is fine.
And that is why people suck at dieting: Because there's no immediate negative consequence for eating just one cookie. Everyone knows you should eat healthy. You feel better and look better. You have more energy. You have a smaller risk of diabetes and heart disease. But, that cookie is just so tempting. And just one won't hurt. But it's never just one cookie, is it? It's just one cheeseburger, just one slice of pecan pie, just one milkshake, just one candy bar. And they add up and add up and before you know it it's just one massively unhealthy lifestyle.
But let's go back to that cookie, shall we? What if instead of those sort of vague, possible consequences down the road for eating that cookie, there was one, horrible consequence now? Think about something you treasure dearly (I'm talking something you own, not your family or liberty or anything like that). Now imagine you had a choice between eating that one cookie and losing that prized possession forever. My most treasured possession are my books. I've been building my book collection for years -since I was a child, really. I still have the Chronicles of Narnia series that I got when I was Gigi's age. Now she's reading them. I love love love my books. The very thought of losing them causes my pain. So if I have to make a choice between eating that one cookie and losing 140 of my books (14 comments so far! Go Team!), or skipping the cookie and keeping my books, well, you'd better believe I'll pick the books every time. And I'll continue to chose the books every single time, every single day until my challenge ends. It really doesn't take much willpower when you think about it, because my choice has already been made.
"You will fail."
No. I won't.