Off the wagon

It’s started innocently enough a month or so ago.  I was running late for work and didn’t have time to make my shake or eat a normal breakfast. Of course, I only run late for work when I’m overtired, so I decided just for that day a little sugar and caffeine fix was in order. I’d hop back on the wagon the next day – after all, everyone deserves a treat once in a while, right? That’s how I justified my morning trip through the donut shop drive-thru. An ice-cappuccino and vanilla cream later, and I was suddenly ready to meet the challenging day that faced me.

Food does that to us. It makes us feel good – something about the reactions the sugar infusions to the bloodstream create in our brain. I’m not a scientist, I only know what I’ve heard or read other places. I do know how I feel when I eat, however. I react to food like an addict reacts to a drug. The biggest difference is that we need food to survive. We can’t avoid it.

Still, maybe I would’ve been able to hold my seat on the weight-loss train if I had stopped at that one bad choice. But, as bad choices often do, one tends to lead to another, and another, and another…

With the kids back in school and things at work busier than ever, I started cutting corners everywhere. I’d grab a quick lunch at a diner and follow it up with take-out for supper to feed the family because I was too exhausted to cook. I’d tell my friend Angie that I was too busy to walk that day – and I was busy, but I still should have forced myself to take the time. I’d grab a snack late at night to “treat” myself for my hard day. And if I messed up one day, it was like a free ride ticket to Sweetsville. It gave me the opportunity to justify to myself that since the day was already shot, why not enjoy another treat and pick the dreaded diet back up the following day? After a few days in a row of using that justification, it was an easy jump to telling myself that since the week was already shot, why not enjoy keep enjoying sweets for the rest of the week?

I was caught in a cycle of bad choices.  Wait a minute, who am I kidding? I’m still caught in that cycle.

Perhaps one of the surreal things about writing this column is that I’m forced to be honest with myself. It’s easy to justify things, to stretch truths, and even to tell outright lies to yourself when you are the only person listening. This morning I’m telling myself that I should enjoy the holidays before resuming my diet. My lie to me this morning is that it’s too hard to resist all of the holiday treats, so why bother trying?

Since I’m being truthful, let me lay it all out there. I’m working from home today. I have healthy choices available to me. What have I had to eat? A leftover fried pork chop, a piece of chocolate frosted cake, glass of root beer, some rice pilaf, a bowl of ice-cream, and about three handfuls of salted almonds – so far. I’ve also been eyeballing the big box of chocolates my husband received for his birthday a few days ago. I’ll be lucky to hold out until he is home from work. I’ve adopted the “I’m no longer on a diet” mindset to the point where I’m barely paying attention to what I’m eating, I just know I’m eating again. Like I used to before I started writing this column. Like I used to before I decided I needed to change my habits and pursue a better quality of life.

What I’m feeling now – depression, disappointment, discouragement – are the feelings my failure has spawned in me. Honestly, they all make me want to eat, and none of them make me want to exercise. I know what I have to do, and I know it won’t be easy.

I have to muster up the energy and the will to make the hard choices again. I have to do it now. I have to acknowledge that failure may find me again, and promise myself that when it does, I will not let it defeat me. My health is too important to give up now.