Saturday, December 16, 2017

Self-Discipline: BMI = 29.8

My biggest fear when I set out to conquer my obesity was whether I could develop the discipline to walk past the yummy foods that taunted me, or whether they would torture me for the rest of my life. I asked myself if it would be worth living in a perpetual state of self-denial to be healthy and I have to say that prospect left me pessimistic.

I loved eating and the companionship of sharing a great meal. I think that I grew up associating great food with love, affection, and friendship. Even now that my core diet is very healthy, I really enjoy splitting a quesadilla with my workmates. Only yesterday I found some dill pickle dip at work and was compelled to taste it with some snack chips.

I really don’t have any more self-discipline than before I started this adventure, although two things have changed. The first change is that I now notice, instantly, when I start to nibble and can tell myself “NO” for the next hour or two. That voice continues to grow stronger in my head each time I heed it. The second change is that I am much more readily satisfied with a moderate snack. I don’t need to slather sour cream and guacamole on my quesadillas to enjoy them and I don’t need to eat 1000 calories of them to find satisfaction. After I tasted that left-over dill pickle dip with 3 snack chips, I was satisfied.

I attribute these changes to my ‘snack timer’ technique and my hearty breakfast. Learning to tell myself “NO” for an hour, then 1.5 hours, then two hours, built up another internal voice in my decision-making inner debates. As long as I exercise that voice once in a while by telling myself, “timer ON, one hour,” it continues to get stronger. It gets easier everyday to heed that voice because I’m no longer starving. As much as I used to eat, I wasn’t eating a balanced diet, and so I was starved of essential nutrients. Ever starved of essential nutrients, I couldn’t resist the urge for calorie dense foods.

Now that I eat a very balanced, and very hearty breakfast, I don’t show up at work fatigued and hungry. At the end of my shift I don’t panic and grab some deep-fried chicken strips because I know that I am coming home to a monster meal of mostly whole grains and vegetables.

If, in between, once or twice a week, I split a quesadilla with some great workmates, but also make sure there are some veggies in there, avoid the sour cream and guacamole, and keep the portion down to 400 calories, well then the rest of my diet seems to be compensating. Just look at my BMI on each post since I started adding one decimal place; continual progress. Yes, I had 3 chips with dip because I am weak; but that used to be a giant-sized party bag with a half litre of dip.

I don’t have the discipline to avoid all temptations yet. On the other hand, I am not tortured by the foods I used to love because I still eat them – I just don’t binge anymore. My core diet now is not calorie-dense, which makes it bulky, so I just can’t eat a whole pizza or giant-sized bag of snack chips anymore. I’ve also developed an aversion to sugar. Last night I had to taste some panna cotta and tiramisu because I planned to pair them for a dessert special; I was able to have a teaspoon of each, think about the pairing, then have another teaspoon of each to verify my evaluation and give the dessert an ok without being tempted to chow down on the combo.

If your diet is out of control, as mine once was, then this might sound as though I have built up a huge amount of self-discipline. I have not done so. I have developed a habit of seeking out fruit/veggies and whole grains and avoiding added sugars. The combination leaves me with a core diet that is very bulky – making it difficult for me to eat much else. The really tasty stuff that I used to binge on is now more tempting than ever, but I simply cannot fit much of it into me anymore given the breakfast that I eat. On top of that, snack-foods taste so much better to me now that I eat much less of them and find those small portions (3 chips) actually satisfy my cravings.

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