While on vacation, I thought a lot about cheating on my diet. Did I want to have a vacation from dieting too? I thought not.
At dinner on our first night away from home, we landed at a restaurant that had won awards for their pizza. I like pizza. A lot. But pizza is not part of my current eating lifestyle. Well… pizza crust is not. My husband and son got a fabulous looking pie and it sat on a stand literally inches from my face, literally looming over my bowl of chili. I gave thought to having a piece. Could I do that moderation thing? I was on vacation; it was a renowned pizza restaurant. How much harm could one slice do? But then I thought about my past slippery slopes. If I allowed myself to cheat, however intentionally, at the beginning of vacation, what would happen at the next tempting meal? I did not crave the pizza enough to potentially derail myself. I did take a nibble at some toppings that fell off, but I otherwise ate my chili, sans crackers. And I packed up the leftover pizza for my son who happily ate it for breakfast the next morning.
A few nights later I was singing a different tune. The gang went to wings night at a local restaurant. If I have ever had wings before I don’t remember doing so. They are just not something on my radar. I decided that I would try two wings, two different flavors. I know wings are very unhealthy; I never eat chicken skin anymore, let alone anything fried! But this was a decision I was (almost, mostly) comfortable with because I did not think they would trigger cravings. My problem has always been sweets and bready stuff. Not protein, no matter how it is prepared. So full disclosure, because I told myself I would admit on my blog to any cheating – I ate four. Even math-challenged me knows that is twice as many as I had planned to eat. I shouldn’t have done that and I felt some guilt. But just a smidgen. And at the next meal I went right back to my healthy eating. But the wings brought a glimmer of hope: maybe I can actually handle moderation after all!
While on vacation, we ate out at restaurants every meal except breakfast. That is a lot of tempting menu items. When I looked at the offerings and what others were eating, I did wish that I could order whatever struck my fancy with no regard to weight or future cravings. The evening when everyone but me had fresh cinnamon rolls and warm bread with dinner, followed by dessert (including two of my all time favorites: chocolate mousse and apple cobbler a la mode) was a killer. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger! I came really, really close to just having one bite of that mousse. Just reaching across the table for a split second. And if my husband had asked if I wanted some, I honestly don’t know what I would have replied. But he didn’t ask and I thought again about the slippery slope. My mind was really working overtime, listening to the battle between the angel on one shoulder and the little craving devil on the other. And wishing everyone would just hurry up and finish their desserts already!
I’m not sharing this story to get patted on my (almost fat-less) back. I’m telling it because I suspect that at least one person out there will be sitting at a meal and facing their own pizza or mousse and thinking about just one slice or just one spoonful. For that person, it might be fine to partake. But I can tell them that it is possible to want to succeed on this journey more than wanting that taste. And I’m sharing this story because I want to be honest that my internal struggle is still there, despite how I might come across in my outward non-cheating (mostly) success and new-found optimism. And I am telling this story because I am still writing for myself. And I need that accountability (thank you chicken wings). And I need the reminder, now and then, that I can do this. And that I am making progress. And that right now I really, really want to live this healthy lifestyle more than I want pizza or home-baked bread or even chocolate mousse. More than I want to have a vacation from dieting. And believe you me… there are moments when the cravings are right there, front and center. Someday, when I am so ingrained in this way of eating that I know it will stick forever, I will probably splurge on a restaurant meal. But I may not. Maybe I will feel so good, and so good in my skin, and so good about myself and my eating, that I will value that feeling over any potential taste that might enter my mouth. I don’t know yet. Stay tuned.