Friday, May 13, 2011

W19, Day 4: Self-Control

So this evening while shopping for produce at the local Asian market, I succumbed to the temptation of take-out.  I selected a couple of potstickers and some sweet and sour chicken.  Yes, I know, sweet and sour is about a million points per cup, but I did really even think about it.  I'd been doing very well this week up to today, recording my points and staying within my limits for the last three days.  You might think, "Three days, really? That's it?"  But I find that when you fall off the wagon for a period of time, the longer you let it go, it seems to get exponentially more difficult to get restarted.  Things you could do much more easily earlier--like stay generally on track for a day, week, month--suddenly become so hard.

One day is a struggle. I'm at that stage.  Why?  I don't exactly know, except that things because crazy around my birthday and to be entirely honest, I'm getting tired.  I guess I imagine my self-control is a muscle, and like any muscle, it gets tired.  I guess I got this imagine in my mind after reading a very short article called "The Science of Self Control" from Time Magazine in which the author argued, "Self-control can be a slippery thing...[because it] is neither an acquired skill nor a logical cognitive process. Rather,'s an exhaustible resource that operates like a well: it is emptied with use and refilled with rest." In other words, I can logically reason with myself 'till I'm blue in the face, but at some point I run out of determination and give in.

This sounds very defeatist and as if it is an excuse to fail, but it's really not.  For me, what it means is that I have to do a few things:  1) Go back to basics about writing down everything I eat.  This sounds trivial, but it's truly the key because I'm much more likely to stay on track if I have to write down those little numbers in my journal.  2)  Refocus on the ultimate goal and why I am doing this--examining why the sacrifice and lifestyle change is necessary and worthwhile.  3) Give in to those long-standing, weekly cravings with my allowance points. 4) Try to forgive myself for my flub-ubs and move onwards instead of letting the frustration and angst drag me into a whole day or week.  This is the very hardest thing for me.  When I fail or mess up, I feel so worthless, as if I'm proving to myself that I deserve the shame.  It's as if all the progress and positivity from my previous efforts fall away and all the self-recrimination and loathing emerge.  Anyway, it's not pretty.  It's also hard to describe for others, but perhaps it's always easier to love others better than we love ourselves.

So, returning to my take-out story:  We got home and got ready to eat dinner.  I dutifully transferred the sweet and sour and a small amount of chow mein to a little plate, leaving a lot in the take-out box and putting it in the fridge.  Because of this, I felt less guilty about the sweet and sour, ignoring it's high calories and fat content.  Until I took a bite.  And spat it back out.  Fish.  It was sweet and sour fish.  Very fishy tasting fish at that.  Sweet and sour fish might have been all right if I had known what I was eating in advance (but probably not), but it was definitely a surprise.  So I didn't eat it after all.  Maybe there's such a thing as diet karma?

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