When I worked at a convenience store many moons ago, I used to have a customer who came in nearly every day. And every day I'd greet him and ask how he was, and his answer was the same always: "Gooder 'n gum!" He would say it kind of dryly and I was never really certain how to take it, so I just let it float until the next transaction.
Today I was thinking about that statement as I was chomping on a piece of gum while driving to work. This particular piece is a new flavor, lemon bar, and tastes so delicious that I almost feel like I'm cheating on my diet. Then I thought, gum IS good, one of my favorite "treats". And that led me to thinking about treats and how maybe the mind trick about treats isn't about avoiding certain kinds, but about changing how we define the word itself. If I call a bowl of ice cream a treat, it has a certain way of turning that bowl of ice cream into something special, rewarding, forbidden and naughty even. So, my train of thought continued, maybe my idea of "treat" is what really needs to evolve. When I'm on a diet, and doing good, I generally try keep my food clean and don't think about those naughty indulgences. But today, while chewing my gum, I realized that the word treat doesn't have to be attached to junk food. Anything that tastes good (in my humble opinion) can be a treat, even if its something on-plan. And here's my new slogan that expands on the idea that nothing is off limits, it's ok to have anything, as long as you don't have everything. Eat a slice of pie, but don't eat the whole pie. Maybe I'm under-simplifying. :)
I feel good today. The sugar cravings are gone, I am not obsessing or planning out when I can eat some more junk food, or what that junk will be and how it will taste. Simple carbs do that to me, they turn me into a shameful addict, indulging in private and hiding the evidence just to get the high. I feel so much better mentally when not on the sugar-coaster, but there is still the naughty indulgent feeling when I give into it. I haven't discovered the limits of my carb sensitivity yet, I'm still learning. I have been eating a lot of fruit this time around, because it tastes ridiculously good and I love the fact that (especially berries) it is so nutrient-packed. Now that is a treat! And so far, the fruits don't seem to effect my cravings like other sugars do.
Now that I am free of sugar-fog my mind is becoming stronger, and is finally getting on board. I used to think I had to be "in the game" mentally before this weight loss thing would ever be successful, but the longer I do this the more I am finding that's not true. It's like the Nature vs Nurture argument, there's no one right answer for everyone, but for most people it's a balance of the two that make the whole. For me, the biological side of being hooked on sugar makes it really hard for me to commit to getting clean, it truly is like an addiction. So I have to be "sober" for a few days before I can really think clearly and stop focusing on my short-term pleasure-seeking sugar high. Sugar isn't evil, but for me, it has far too powerful an effect on me biologically and mentally to use any more than just occasionally.
I am, however, going to start researching/experimenting with spices/ seasonings and maybe try some more clean recipes to keep things interesting. And I might try to keep a journal of some of the things I'm learning about myself (for example, one of the things that has thrown me off my diet is bringing per-cooked foods- especially meat- to work for my lunch break. I get disgusted at the thought of eating it, and go get something else, usually non-productive food that starts the downward spiral). I trying to keep ahead of my school work so that I can't use it as an excuse to stress eat or skip workouts. I know I will never get to a point where I am not sensitive to sweets, so I need to come to terms with eliminating those things altogether.
Things are looking up, and my spirits are lifting. I think I'm ready to give this another go. Bob Marley said it, "In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty." I am ready to take the sip that waits for me. Today I am also 'gooder 'n gum.
Happy Valentine's Day!