Going, Going, GONE – It All Started With A Handful Of Chips… by Robb Wolf
Veggies, meat, good fats, some fruit, water and an occasional piece of high-quality dark chocolate – that’s what’s been going into your body for the past week or two. Seriously, you are on a roll. This paleo thing – it’s in the bag. I’m talking EASY. You totally can’t understand how some people are always complaining about how hard it is. I mean, you’ve been at it a solid ten days – nothing to it. The rest of them must all be weak or something…
And then it happens… Friday night rolls around and you’re going out to dinner with some friends – you’ve already got your totally paleo meal planned and you’re ready. The waiter brings out a ‘complimentary’ basket of tortilla chips and salsa. You tell yourself that a few chips won’t hurt – you’ve been really good and they are gluten free… OH HOLY DELICIOUS!! The salt, the crunch, the – well EVERYTHING – these are THE BEST stale, restaurant chips you have EVER tasted. So you go ahead and empty the basket with everyone else, your meal is still going to be totally paleo. Dinner comes and goes and now everyone is ordering dessert, after some arm twisting (that’s your story anyway), your friends talk you into ordering a brownie sundae. You decide this is going to be your ‘cheat night’ and you’re going to enjoy it. By the time you get home you’ve chomped stale chips, destroyed a giant brownie sundae and chugged more drinks than you can remember. Time for bed, and tomorrow its right back to paleo.
Saturday morning – things are NOT feeling happy right now. Your head is pounding, you’re tired and the thought of eggs and bacon is enough to make you ‘lose your cookies’. Right now, some toast or maybe some pancakes and syrup with a great big glass of OJ and cup of coffee, sound really good… The ‘recovery breakfast’ leaves you feeling less than better, upset, and guilty. You tell yourself you’ve blown it for the day, grab a couple OREO’s and head to the Golden Arches for lunch. The afternoon is spent watching TV, hanging out with the family and eating copious amounts of chips, handfuls of M&M’s and maybe a few of those tasty little pizza roll bites… The weekend continues in this fashion and Monday the HARSH REALITY sets in. You totally went OFF THE DEEP END. Like, below the bottom – digging a hole to China…
Does this sound familiar? For some of you this might be a monthly, bi-weekly, weekly or even daily pattern. It’s one of the MOST common stories I hear. Everything is going so great, willpower isn’t a problem – you’re feeling good and then WHAM! It’s like tying a 45# weight to your ankle and jumping off a ledge. Things go down – and FAST. Why does this happen and what can you do about it? Is there a way to prevent the crash and burn that begins with a couple of scoops of almond butter and ends with an empty jar, a pint of ice cream, and a package of Chips Ahoy? You’re in luck!
So first off, why the heck does this happen? Is it because you’ve ‘deprived’ yourself for what seems like an eternity (five days is a LONG time…) or does it stem from boredom, emotions, etc? Identifying the trigger is big and it’s a vital part of preventing it from happening again – but that’s not the first step in turning things around. The number one thing you’ve got to do is STOP thinking that ‘you blew it’. So, let’s say for example (this is totally made up…), – you ate the WHOLE bar of dark chocolate (one of the really big ones) and dipped it in almond butter (maybe like ½ a jar…). Was it one of your better decisions? No. Did it happen? Yes. Can you change it? No. But, does it mean you should let it defeat you? NO!!! And this is the part that hurts so many people! The mentality seems to be, “well I blew it, so I might as well have___________” (insert food of choice here). And this pattern continues until you finally reach a point where you’ve had enough (this could be a day, week, month, year(s)…) and decide to ‘resurface’ and start again. It’s a cycle of self-sabotage and the best way to prevent it is to not let it start in the first place. Sure, you ate something that you don’t feel so great about – it happens to the best of us. It’s done and time to start over – RIGHT NOW! Not tomorrow, not Monday, not next month – RIGHT THIS MINUTE! Make a plan and get back on track – no excuses. Get rid of the food that started the whole onslaught and any other foods that might “push you over the edge”. **Helpful Tip** – If you put a jar of almond butter in the freezer there is NO WAY that you can eat it once it’s frozen. (Or at least that’s what I’ve heard…)**
Next, plan out your next day or two of eating, include some strategies for taking your mind off of food. Make a list of ‘other things to do’ – take a walk, call your mom (she’d really like that), clean (okay, but it needs to be done…), do a crossword puzzle, read, etc. Boredom is not an excuse to make poor food choices. Sorry if that sounds harsh – it’s tough love…
Make room for an occasional ‘treat’. Sometimes telling yourself you ‘can’t’ have _________(insert food of choice here), makes you want it more. Instead of saying never, plan to let yourself enjoy a weekly indulgence. I’m not talking an entire 3 hour eating extravaganza – pick ONE FOOD and really focus on enjoying it. That means you get the GOOD stuff – no cheap store brand, low-fat, ‘healthier’ option or stale restaurant tortilla chips – go for the cream of the crop. Now before you eat it – turn off the TV, computer, tablet, and phone. Put the newspaper, magazine, ebook, etc., away. It’s you and the food – that’s it. Make it an EXPERIENCE truly taste and savor every bite. When it stops being the MOST AWESOME thing you’ve ever tasted – stop eating it. Yep, get rid of it, get it out of your house – and yes, what mom said is true – there are starving children, but they don’t need ice cream or M&M’s either. They too would be better off with meat, veggies and good fats. Another thing to remember is that you ‘CAN’ have absolutely ANYTHING you want to eat – BUT (and that’s a big BUT), you are choosing to make the best decision for your health by not making less than nutritious food choices. Instead of telling yourself ‘I can’t’, say ‘I don’t’ or ‘I choose to not’ have a certain type of food. You are ultimately in control. I have yet to see anyone get beaten down by a Twinkie… (Do watch out for the ‘Hurts Donut’ though…)
There will always be temptations and life’s too short to not enjoy some of the things you like every once and a while. It’s totally okay, as long as you’re smart about it – plan for it and set some limits because you CHOOSE health over instant gratification. Don’t let negative thoughts defeat you and send you into a deep black hole. If a non-planned leap off the edge occurs – turn it around and start over – RIGHT NOW!! Wipe the slate clean, the past is the past and the future is yours – make it bright. Lastly, always have a plan for ‘digging out’ and resurfacing. Write it down and have it ready to pull out and employ at all times.
Paleo doesn’t have to be all or none. It’s not a religion. Sometimes ice cream (or your food of choice) is good and totally acceptable. Quarts of ice cream, cookies, pizza, French fries, etc, on a REGULAR basis or in an unending stream are another story entirely. The power is yours – take control. Stale chips be damned!