Fail Like a Champion Today

Greetings from the jolly side of the pond!

I have been abroad for a full fortnight now (that’s two weeks to my American friends), and I thought that was a good time to check in.

My progress has been a mixed bag. On the exercise front, I am nailing it. I have been keeping up with, and exceeding the Mile-a-Day December running challenge. In Ireland, I was able to run through a local park, and here in the UK, I am blessed with a 6-mile stretch along the coast. As for my DDP Yoga, I am really killing it. I have both practiced and led the Level 1 workout, I nailed Double Black Diamond, and in one of the greatest coincidences of my life, I ended up in the same town as a fellow DDP Yoga Certification student, so I went to one of his classes as a student, and he will return the favour this Wednesday in a Diamond Dozen/Level 1 Workout extravaganza. My yoga studio is my mother’s kitchen, but that’s the great thing about DDP Yoga; you need a heart rate monitor, water and a mat; everything else is negotiable. In related news, I am LOVING my new Manduka travel mat!

Onto the less positive news. My diet has slid into an unclean mess! I brought black beans, quinoa, gluten-free flour and some other items I wasn’t sure I would be able to find here, and I have made 90% of my meals since I have arrived. In general my meals are as follows:

  • Breakfast: 1/2c cooked quinoa, 1c blueberries, 1/4c almond milk
  • Lunch: 1/2c houmous, 4-6 cups of mixed salad greens
  • Dinner: 1.5 cups red lentil masala, and either 2c salad greens or 0.5c brown rice

Sounds great, right? Well, the problem is the snacks. Usually I get by with bananas, peanut butter (single ingredient), and oatmeal. But here, I have discovered numerous delicious gluten-free, dairy-free baked goods such as brownies and caramel squares. In other words, sugar out the wazoo! I pride myself on my scientific knowledge and research into nutrition. I have a strong understanding of the foods that cause inflammation, and have tricked myself into thinking that I a) follow the DDP Yoga Nutrition Guide, and b) that I eat a diet that minimizes pro-inflammatory foods, and maximizes anti-inflammatory foods.

This has really weighed on me since we all started following Brenda’s heroic cancer journey. On of her posts on Facebook in particular got me reviewing my diet, and I came to the realization that I think I follow the DDP Phase III diet, when I actually have slid back into a Weight Watchers-style diet. What I mean by that is I stick to my calorie allowance, but within my daily calories, I am doing nothing for my health. Worse still, I have fallen back into the near exercise-bulimia habit of eat first, work it off later approach to indulging. I spent a number of months eating well, but then decided that other people such as Stacey and Christina are capable of eating some sweet goods, but choosing “clean” sweet foods, and doing so in moderation, and therefore so should I. So I started allowing myself to eat some dessert items by making GF, DF, organic brownies with kale and zucchini. Initially, I has one serving a day. Then, on days I was working out more, I would have two. Then that rose to three or four servings a day. Then it started replacing healthier things in my daily menu.

Since my arrival in England, the same thing has happened, but this time with store-bought goods, which are worse because they are often less “clean”, not always vegan, and worse for chronic over-eaters like me because of their availability. I am embarrassed to admit this, and nearly didn’t, but I ate 1.2 PACKAGES of Freefrom-brand brownies today. I did the Level 1 workout, and missed dinner because of a large (and healthy) lunch, but that is a terrifying amount of sugar to be pumping into my system, as someone who understands the biological mechanisms underlying inflammation.

I don’t know why I cannot seem to control myself with sugar and food indulgence. I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago, and it occurred to me that when I think of the picture I took at my worst, and how overindulgence in bad foods caused it, I am very resolved not to eat junk food. But whenever I am in a cafe, or in front of the cabinet where I keep GF brownies, that thought doesn’t even enter my head! It’s as if my reptile brain is firing (“Sugar good! Liz eat!”), and my prefrontal cortex is closed for business. I know that if I could just remember the causal relationship between overindulgence and weight gain or inflammation at the very moment I am deciding whether or not to eat (another) brownie, I would be able to say no. In the meantime, I think it is time to face reality, and accept that I cannot strike a balance with healthy eating and moderate indulgence in sweet foods. I seem to be stuck in the all -and I mean ALL – or nothing approach to decadent foods. And I choose nothing!

I have been poring over the DDP Yoga nutrition guide, and I am resolved to make 2014 the year I commit to my long-term health, because I am over thirty, so that term isn’t so long anymore! I am going to do a toxin cleanse when I get home, and then I am going to stick to the Phase III plan. And this time, there will be no free passes. No more, “well, I’m a vegan, so I get to eat fruit past noon”, or “I’m a vegan so I get to mix protein and carbs”.

In the meantime, I plan to use the remainder of my trip as an opportunity to wind down my sugar consumption. And that starts right now with not eating the brownie that has been dominating my thoughts since I started writing this post!

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