A year ago, me and two of my very dear friends/neighbors (we all happen to live in separate apartments in the same house) put on a series of monthly brunches for all of our wide circle of friends--most of them fellow bicyclists--to keep the community tight during the otherwise rather slow winter cycling scene in Chicago. We called it the "Skull and Crossbones Secret Society" (not to be confused with the "skull and bones" or whoever they are at some important university somewhere).
We had a top secret initiation that everyone was subjected to:
"We have cleverly poisoned all the food with a secret toxin that only kills the people who are not fit to be members of the Skull and Crossbones Secret Society. If you eat the food--and survuve--you are automatically a member for life."
The irony in this is that we didn't actually poison the food (surprise), but by serving them the food we offered, we were, in essence, poisoning them with "secret" toxins, and they did survive--for now, anyway. Mountains of waffles, donuts, pancakes, bacon, sausage, gumbo, goose (yes I even roasted geese one time), the list goes on and on. Fruit? Maybe a listless cantaloupe or off-season pineapple. Vegetables? Only if they are completely enrobed in eggs and cheese and cream, in the form of a quiche or fritatta or strata.
But offering that fatty, horrible-yet-so-delicious comfort food to our best of friends on cold winter mornings was such a wonderful opportunity to sustain relationships and comfort one another with cammaraderie and companionship during a time of year that can often seem so isolating. I've missed the brunches lately, and there are people I haven't seen since the summer who would have been here if we'd been doing them still.
So, tonight I discovered in my inbox an invitation from two of the former attendees, a married couple who just had a baby in October (my birth month too). It seems they decided to end their long hibernation with the newborn this Sunday by appropriating the Skull and Crossbones Secret Society and making it their own.
I'm virtually compelled to go, and I really really want to anyway. Certainly the food table will overflow with nothing good for me to eat. I do have choices, but I also have a tendency to be an all-or-nothing kind of guy, and moderation is NOT my strong suit. (This is why I tend to avoid drinking alcohol--even for the health benefits--because I usually find it difficult to stop at one 4oz glass of wine, and it's just better if I don't start at all.) So here's how I see my choices:
- Go to the brunch, eat ad lib, and enjoy myself and the feast of badness as a "special occasion;" plan to try to make up for the claories later.
- Go to the brunch, eat nothing (unless there's some fruit to nibble on)--and hope no on notices
- Make a dish to contribute that meets my needs, and eat only that--and hope no one notices
- Don't go to the brunch. People WILL notice this for sure.
I know ultimately I'll end up doing whatever feels right in the moment, but if I at least walk in armed for whatever battle I choose, I'll stand a better chance at not being thoroughly defeated when it's over.
I also think my two ad lib days last week should demonstrate that all is not lost when one has a "bad day," particularly given my otherwise pretty low calorie levels (for a man of my size) for the past two and half weeks. The scale this morning tells me I've lost nine pounds since I started CR on January 1--well over my target, and probably too fast, based on the counsel I've recieved so far from CR experts.
So, I guess I'm looking for someone to tell me, "You know what Chris? By Sunday, you will have been doing a great job of CR for three whole weeks, and if you wanna cut loose just one time, enjoy it, and just try to make up for it later." That's what I really want. I want permission. I want someone else to tell me what to do, but I want their advice to be what I want to hear! At least I'm honest about my denial...
I say go "pot luck". Bring something healthy for everyone. Nibble on the unhealthy things that are there so you don't look like a slob, but get the bulk of what you are eating from the "pot luck" you bring to the table. Balance your options a bit. Relax! You are doing great (by my own newbie standards) and have a BLAST!!!
Go to the brunch, eat well but don't completely stuff yourself, eat a lighter dinner that night, maybe a big salad with a teaspoon of flax oil and some lean protein. Go a little lighter on calories the day before and the day after than usual, and go high on nutrition (aren't you glad you have those muffins? though I'm worried they won't be sweet enough with fifty Splenda packets instead of sucralose). Don't feel guilty, don't stress out, you're at the phase where you can easily build in a margin so as to have room for ad lib meals. I did it for years, and still do to some extent, just less frequently. You can even do that forever. Part of my CR program has always been to build in ways to eat "ad lib" at important occasions so I don't feel deprived or anti-social. Then I'm happy to go right back to my quotidian diet. It's not the planned ad lib meals that mess you up, it's snacking here and there on stuff that happens to be around... at least that was my experience. When I adopted the "not one bite rule" I found I was protected from snacking on stuff I didn't want, so I had more room for stuff I did want. It feels good when you have a plan and make choices that are consistent with your goals. Good for you for figuring it out in advance.
Now, was that what you wanted to hear? :)
Also, good point about one bad day not messing you up. I have plenty of bad days... check out the hummus of death last week. I find it frustrating when I don't stick to my plans, but it would be kinda weird to never mess up, wouldn't it? I mean, that would be creepy. Like being a space alien.
Gee, I hope my boyfriend doesn't read this and realize I just called him an alien... :) I still love him, even if he is from outer space... I'm sure it was a very nice planet that he came from...
The MegaMuffins could have taken a bit more Splenda, but honestly, I am really trying to train my taste buds to accept food that is "naturally" sweet. I think people often get into trouble by eating "diet" food that mimics indulgent foods like milk shakes and candy bars. They never lose the taste--constantly reinforced--for sugary-tasting food. That has been a problem for me in the past (remember low-carb chocolate candy?). So, my MegaMuffins are only lightly sweet, and to be honest, I am enjoying that quite a bit. I've also read a convincing argument that our bodies recognize the taste of sweet as a signifier of quick high energy, and when something sweet-tasting doesn't offer that, it winds up creating more hunger.
You lost 9 pounds in 17 days?!
Holy shrinking waistline, Batman!
If anyone should have a splurge day it's most definitely you.
Go and eat. Have fun, enjoy! DO NOT STRESS IT!!! This is your lifestyle now and these kind of things are going to come up. Enjoy them..make up for them ahead of time and afterwards and move on. Don't even think of it as "bad". This is not an all or nothing lifestyle. Its just life.
Go, eat the food, enjoy yourself. You could bring a super nutritious, low cal dish, and eat mainly that, still enjoying a small-ish quantity of the other food. But I don't see a problem with going, cutting loose, and just eating anything you want - you may be suprised by how junk food tastes and makes you feel, though - and perhaps that's something good to experience.
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