Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Old Habits Diet Hard

I hate it when I'm right.

I've been on my "increased calorie plan" for a week now and I have gained three pounds. My pants are tighter, my belt more snug, and my monthly body fat measurement did not tell me happy things. I am not a happy camper.

My first instinct was to throw up my hands and say, "I can't work with this!" But then I took a deep breath and did some critical thinking about my habits over the past month. Was this really a case of gaining weight purely because I increased my calories? Or because I increased my intake of chips and Guinness? A little voice told me it was the latter.

I confess: I haven't exactly been a model student. While during the week I have been the picture of health, the weekends have been a different story. Two weekends I was out of town, and who goes to Mardi Gras without a little king cake? Okay, a lot of king cake. Then out of town again for almost a whole week on a business trip, where the hotel gym was crummy and I regretted not packing my own ice chest of food and shoving it into the overhead bin. My weekly Saturday splurge of filet mignon and dessert became accompanied by a bottle of wine, crackers and cheese, then chips and salsa, and finally cinnamon rolls for breakfast Sunday morning. And who can forget Valentine's Day? I convinced myself that since my transgressions were condensed into one 24-hour period, they could be ignored. But when that 24-hour period repeats itself in a constant 7-day loop, well, the calories start adding up. My wake-up call was loud and obnoxious, and there was no snooze button.

I'm ticked off at myself because I took two steps back, and because I knew better. But as I roamed around and moaned to my friends about how sorry they should feel for me, I didn't get any sympathy. They told me that I am in the best shape of my life, that at least I caught myself early and know how to turn it around, and that even with this small setback, I am still in better health than this time last year. They're right. I hate it when they're right.

I nursed my wounds for a while, and then I knew what I had to do: brush myself off and get back to it. My first instinct was to cut my calories back to my comfort zone and forget this silly experiment. I had already done enough damage and didn't want to risk losing any more ground. But curiosity won out. After all, I knew that my weight gain didn't have anything to do with one measley week of a new plan. I've done it my way for a long time and it hasn't gotten me where I want to be. I'm just curious - and crazy - enough to turn myself into a laboratory for one more month just to prove myself wrong.

So I went back to the gym with a vengeance. My focus is renewed and I will no longer be distracted by merlot and fancy cheese. I'm going to do this honestly, so when I finish this month and see the results, I will know that there are no sheepish excuses to pull out in my defense. It is me versus science.

A friend asked me what I think will happen, and whether if I go into this thinking I am going to gain weight and be proven right, maybe I will subconciously sabotage myself to ensure that is what happens. I told her, I honestly don't know. I'm trying to keep an open mind and not prejudice myself about the outcome. I hope I lose fat and don't take another step back, but my instinct is saying, "been there, done that."

Man, I hope I am wrong.


EDP said...

I like the line about it being you vs. science. Because science (or logic) dictates that if you stick to your eating and exercise plan, you WILL reach your goals. I know it is hard to take the emotion out of it, but that's what you've done so far (with a detour during Mardi Gras), and you really are in fantastic shape. Hang in there.

H F said...

Exactly! There is a lot more to it than calories in versus calories out. You have to consider the quality of the calories, the ratios of the nutrients, the timing of the meals, the timing of your more than just eating less and moving around more. Luckily I enjoy tinkering with that stuff.

Sghoul said...

One thing I read over and over is that humans are very bad at beging honest with what we eat. Or even what we observe in others. We love to under or over estomate what we ate and how much.

Also, science is not perfect. There are always exceptions to the rule. Heck, the whole 98.8 degrees thing isn't even constant from person to person. Or even constant throughout the day. And that is a big reason all of this is so hard.

Especially when you have hard goals like you do H. The body does not WANT to have abs and almost no fat. It WANTS fat. It is wired for it. Fat insulated and means you have a store of fuel for lean times. The body doesn't know that you make a good wage, and aren't going to starve unless you decide to. So you are fighting nature.

H F said...

Hush, you voice of reason! I will not listen to you! I know I am fighting nature. That's what makes it FUN.

Sghoul said...

Don't come crying to me when nature erupts a volcano near your house or drops an asteroid on you. Hopefully your rock hard abs can deflect it.

H F said...

Okay, I amend - I am fighting nature as it relates to what happens within the confines of my own skin.