With just a couple weeks left in this challenge, I find myself wondering what comes next. More specifically, I’m allowing myself to actually think about what I want. Because—let’s face it—I spent half this challenge so convinced that I couldn’t possibly make any progress, then the other half (so far, anyway) so amazed that I was finally progressing, that I never really stopped to think about what any of it means, long-term.
There’s the easy stuff, of course. At my current rate of loss (assuming I’m maintaining… forgive me, Diet Deities, but I haven’t weighed myself in over a week and I have a cold and my exercise schedule is off thanks to travel and said cold), I should be able to hit the 10 pound mark on schedule. Rather than celebrate that, of course, I have decided I’d like to lose another two pounds, after that. Losing a total of 12 pounds takes me to the weight I’d really like to be at, though why I like that number (other than that it ends in a zero, which just seems nice and round and all), I couldn’t tell you.
The harder part is the realization that I’ve become comfortable with my diet, and I’m not entirely sure what happens once I just want to maintain my weight rather than lose weight. Am I on a diet, or have I adopted a new lifestyle? Is it both? I’m pretty sure the goal here was to make sustainable changes.
The problem is that I’m not sure if I have.
I’m not going to lie; some of the dietary changes I made were really hard for the first month or so. My name is Mir, and I am a sugar addict. I fully believe I spent that first month either in withdrawal or giving in to cravings and then hating myself for being weak. And at first I tried moderation, but it quickly became clear that I’m not the girl who can allot herself one dark chocolate a day and be happy. I am the girl who will allot herself one dark chocolate a day and then eat five more when no one’s looking. So I went cold turkey.
I gave up refined sugar. I gave up grains. My intake of carbs (other than those obtained from select vegetables and fresh fruit) is almost nonexistent. Gave them up entirely. My diet now consists of piles of fruits and vegetables and healthy portions of high-protein foods like lean meats and yogurt. Up until last week, I hadn’t cheated in well over a month.
Last week I was away at a conference and I cheated twice: At one luncheon someone put a tiny scoop of handmade vanilla gelato in front of me and I AM ONLY HUMAN, so I ate it (and good lord, it was delicious); and I went out for Thai food one night and my dish had such a marvelous sauce that I had a small scoop of white rice merely to aid in getting more of that sauce up to my mouth. In both cases I didn’t notice the “forbidden” foods triggering an avalanche of cravings, and because I was in a controlled environment it’s not as though I could’ve fallen off the wagon too hard even if they had. I came home and resumed my well-controlled diet.
So is this a diet, or a sustainable life choice? Once I’ve reached my goal weight, do I continue eating this way, but with larger portions? (Interesting item of note: I no longer feel hungry or deprived on my current eating plan. So the idea of eating more of what I’m already eating sort of makes me go… meh.) Or do I go back to having dessert, having that glass of wine, eating rice and the occasional (gluten-free) pasta and cornbread again?
Part of me feels like the “reward” at the end is that I get to go back to eating those foods I’ve forsaken. And another part of me raises a skeptical eyebrow and says, “Hey, Sugar Addict. Once you start, you’re back on the cravings train. Better to just stay far, far away.” The fact of the matter is that I’m not good at moderation. I’m okay at deprivation; after a while, it no longer feels like being deprived. But moderation… that always feels like being deprived (to me).
I could keep this up, at my goal weight; just up my calorie intake a little, and call it my new lifestyle. Do it forever. Maybe. Or I could consider conquering moderation the next task, though I know from years of experience that the way my body starts jonesing for carbs probably means I’m safer, this way. But then again, some would call my current eating restrictions kind of extreme, I suppose.
The bottom line is that right now I feel pretty good. I don’t want to screw that up once I’m no longer losing weight. Can being low-carb actually just be a regular eating plan? Or has the lack of carbohydrates injured my brain?