I had been noticing changes which had burrowed their way into my eating regimen and had stubbornly taken root. I was eating too much. I was eating too often. I was eating things I am better off not eating, and with things like crackers, discovering that eating one cracker led to eating twenty-seven of them. Or some number well beyond a reasonable amount.
I was feeling the consequences – those telltale sartorial indicators. NOTE: Comparatively speaking, my eating difficulties are hardly acute; you just want to feel comfortable in your own pants. I could hear my jeans saying, “Didn’t that top button used to close a lot easier?” and my shirts going, “Where did that belly come from?” as rolls of added poundage bulged unattractively between the buttons.
Hard as I tried, I could not change my habits via my indomitable will power. There was something chemical (and, inevitably, psychological) going on. Nobody needs four helpings of cashews. I told myself “Stop!” and heard the Devil cackling.
This may not be scientifically correct – though when has that ever stopped me before? – but I believe I have this gastronomical thermostat inside me that tells me when to stop eating. But if not listened to, that thermostatic “set point” imperceptibly moves up, forcing me to eat continually greater amounts to feel satisfiedly full.
I needed to gastronomically “reboot.” And I knew only one way to do that: Visit this Fitness Spa that I go to in Mexico. That place never fails to get me back on dietarial track.
I do not exercise there (except for an early morning walk.) When I’m on vacation – even a “vacation with a purpose” – I do not enjoy instructors yelling at me. The only time I want to hear, “You can do better than that!” is in the context my blog post revisions. And then only when it’s coming from me.
My objective was to re-calibrate my thermostat and relearn the appropriate habits: Eating the right amount of the right kind of food at the right times of the day.
The strategy the spa uses concerning eating the right amount of food is serving smaller portions on smaller plates. (When the food covers the plate, it looks like it’s a lot.)
The right kind of food? That, to some degree, varies with the individual, but if you’re eating an entire bag of cookies, that is probably way too much sugar.
The right times of the day? At the Fitness Spa, lunch starts at twelve, dinner (unfashionably) at six.
And there is absolutely no snacking.
Dedicated to the process, I successfully pull it off. After a week’s visit, I have regained control over my eating. It’s an exhilarating feeling. I can hear my jeans exulting,
When I get home, I am determined to “maintain.” The thing is, if you could diet once and that’s it, Weight Watchers would be in “Chapter Eleven.”
You begin with the loftiest intentions. Remember the way you wrote in your notebook on the first day of school? It’s like that.
Your writing becomes illegible, and there are “cross-outs” all over the place.
Ditto for my determined eating regimen.
I have now been back for eight weeks, and despite my sincerest aspirations, I have witnessed myself slide.
Let me stop to inject an observation. It may not be one you’ll agree with; it may not even be correct, but it’s a longtime companion, and it feels like it’s right.
“Never” is hard.
“I never drink.”
If you liked to drink, I imagine it’s a daily struggle not do. But as difficult as “Never” is, in my view, “Sometimes” is exponentially harder.
“Never” is clearly defined. It’s never.
The problem is, calibrating “Sometimes”?
By the way, if you’re not an addict, in which case “Never” is mandatory, “Sometimes” is normal and healthy. “Sometimes” involves a consciously considered moderation. “Sometimes” is reasonable. “Sometimes” is sane.
But, boy, can “Sometimes” easily deteriorate into “Always!”
For three weeks after I get back, I ate lunch at twelve or later. I got used to that at the Fitness Spa. Plus, twelve is a natural “breaking spot” in my workday. I finish writing my blog – I eat lunch.
Then one day, I start my blog writing activities early. And I’m finished at eleven. Suddenly, I’m hungry. Something has triggered. I have made this unconscious association that when I finish my writing, I’d have lunch.
But it’s only eleven. And lunch isn’t till twelve.
What do I do? Eat lunch early? There goes my “lunch eating” routine. Have a snack and wait until twelve? There goes my “absolutely no snacking” agreement.
I split the difference. I hold out till eleven-thirty, and I have my lunch. I had broken my “No lunch until twelve” injunction, but at least I didn’t snack.
Now you don’t want to be wacko about these things.
“I never eat lunch until twelve!”
But without an “uncrossable line”, you’re all over the place. Next thing you know, you’re eating breakfast at seven, and lunching at nine-thirty!
You say, “Okay, so that’s how it is sometimes.” But how often is “Sometimes”? And, if you keep crossing it, what happens to “the line”?
Inevitably, the same fate befell all my eating agreements. It’s an avalanche. “Just this once” becomes “Once in while” becomes “Ah, what the heck” becomes “Gastronomic Armageddon!”
I’m at a restaurant. They bring freshly baked bread to the table. “A little nibble. What would it hurt?”
It’s my daughter’s birthday. “Dad, a sliver of ‘Birthday Trifle!’”
I accept a tiny slice. And before I know it,
I am “evening out the edge.”
We’re invited to dinner at a friend’s house. My plate (a big one) is heaped with food. I don’t want to hurt the cook’s feelings (even if it’s one your friend hired for the evening.) So I clean my plate (say goodbye to "portion control"), and I gobble down dessert.
Little by little, and before you know it,
“Look at that.”
An incipient new bulge is overhanging my belt.
Anybody for “ping-pong”?
Trust me. There is a thin line between discipline and obsession. But the “Road to Perdition” is named
There is always the Fitness Spa.