I love excess. I don’t want to love it, but I do. I binge watch my favorite shows on Netflix. I read my favorite books until I can’t stay awake anymore. I can’t go to the store to only get one thing- a ten minute trip to Ikea? Ha! Of course not! When I get excited about something it takes over my life for a period of time, it consumes me, until I get my fill.
This predilection also extends to food. I have spent many years trying to undo my penchant for decadence; years of bakery breads and delicious sweets, beers and butters, cakes and cordials all memorialized in the weight on my hips and beyond. Is the instant gratification worth the extra pounds and loss of energy? Logically, no. Emotionally, it depends on what is triggering me at the moment and how severe my craving.
I’ve always craved food. I’ll visualize a specific food (or even restaurant) and am not satisfied until I’ve satiated my desire. That’s why I was willing to drive 45 minutes away and spend big bucks on some Belgian waffles or drive around in circles looking for non existent parking to get a falafel- I have always felt like a slave to my cravings.
I finally decided that enough was enough and jumped into the 21 Day Fix program. I waited until after the holidays so that I could have a better chance of success, away from food temptations, to begin. What I like best about the program is that it is has great tools to combat excess. The containers are obviously tools for portion control, to teach moderation. The exercises also are concise but challenging, which has helped me stick with it. I’ve done exercise programs before, but I usually start them and overload myself at the beginning instead of slowly working up to heavier weights or more endurance, pushing myself past my limit, usually because I think I’m in better shape than I am, but also because I am an expert at consuming myself in excess.
So far with two rounds of the 21 Day Fix program I have done very well managing my cravings and curbing my excess. When I fill a yellow container with pasta it may seem like too little at first, but after eating it covered with veggies and proteins I realize that I’m actually full; all those times I formerly would grab a second helping because I loved the taste were just superfluous.
That doesn’t mean I have gotten rid of all my cravings though. The second week I dreamt of dinner rolls. In that dream I was throwing away my husband’s rolls because I told him they weren’t allowed at home. He was not happy in that dream, and a little chagrined when I told him the next day as well. That week I allowed myself one cheat meal, and although the meal itself fit into my portion allowance, I allowed myself one restaurant roll. It was so delicious and even more so because it was a special treat.
I have had a few special treats while on this program, but because I consciously make decisions about what and when I eat, allowing myself healthy treats weekly and an unhealthy treat occasionally, it really helps to mitigate my cravings. I now tell myself, “Yes, I really want that, but I’ve had my cheat meal this week. How about next week I have that for lunch.” Sometimes that next week the craving is gone and I don’t need it, or other times I wake up every morning counting down the days until that meal. Usually in that case I try to visualize something else or eat something healthy with that same taste profile, like when I craved a big restaurant burger but made lean bison burgers at home instead. I had to choose between a bun and sweet potato fries, but once they were eaten I didn’t miss the bun.
Will my cravings for unhealthy food ever go away? Probably not. There are still emotional triggers and stressors that will bring them back. I will still be around the food that can cause me to spiral into a twenty pound indulgence binge, but now more than ever I feel like I have practiced the art of moderation and gained a little more balance into my excessive life.