Good Tuesday and Happy New Year to you! I hope that it is full of wonderful achievements, accomplishments, health, happiness, time with those you love, time for activities you love, and many blessings.
Day 3 of my Elimination Diet is winding to a close as the evening falls here in the Midwest. I am still going strong (so the failure reference is not a reference to me completely obliterating the diet and speeding to the nearest pizza shop in a carb- and cheese-induced frenzy, although it would be a lie by saying I didn’t want to!).
I wasn’t going to post any remarks on the diet until maybe 5-7 days in, but I have come to a realization on the third day.
[I’m going to become terribly popular (not) with all women everywhere by saying this, since it seems that a majority of American women are perpetually on a diet, but I have never considered myself to have “dieted” before. I HAVE been 25 pounds heavier than my current weight, and was self-conscious of it, but never actively “dieted” to lose the weight. When I stopped eating everything in sight and adhered to a mainly vegetarian, and then vegan diet, (while continuing a consistent exercise regimen), my weight balanced out and became a non-issue.]
This diet thing is a good thing, as it’s facilitating my empathy with anyone that has ever dieted, has needed to diet, has wanted to diet but could not bring themselves to start, has succeeded on a diet, has failed on a diet…etc. And I don’t just mean diet to lose weight, I mean ANY kind of diet that restricts certain foods in order for more optimal health.
Sure, the mainly vegetarian/mainly vegan diet that I adhered to before was restrictive, in a sense. But it wasn’t restrictive at all to me. I don’t like most meat, and after having all but given up dairy, I developed an ambivalence, even disgust of the stuff. (Milk? Sick. Who decided we should drink stuff that comes out of cow udders? Ice cream? Blech.) Because I made the conscious choice to allow flexibility in my eating, I was able to eat almost anything that I truly wanted. Given, almost 100% of what I wanted WAS indeed vegan/vegetarian food – stuff like fresh vegetables, niceties from Whole Foods, and the occasional restaurant food or carb-load like toast. (My ultimate idea of “comfort food” in all its refined-carb glory is thick white toast, i.e., “Texas toast” or “home toast” with vegan butter).
But, I digress. I’ve thought of some crucial mental tenets that are needed for a diet to succeed, whether it be my elimination diet or someone else on a weight loss diet – if you don’t have these, failure is imminent!
- A concrete goal, with perhaps several smaller goals along the way. Ever hear of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals? This acronym stands for (I believe) Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. This is why people that set the vague goal of “losing weight” or “looking better” or “eating healthier” are automatically set up to fail. You can get the 12 inch loaded meatball sub from Subway and decide on the whole grain bread instead of the white – is that “eating healthier”? Sure, it could be construed as such. So if you do that once, have you fulfilled your goal of “eating healthier”? Hard to say, but just this change alone isn’t going to make a dent in your actual weight. In my case, my specific goal is that I want to stop itching my legs to bits every day and also heal the eczema/scars on them so that I can wear shorts at the gym again (and wear shorts when spring and summer come around). This is perhaps a vain goal, but it works for me. It’s also a realistic and measurable goal as, I’ve healed from bad eczema before, and I can already see some of the flares clearing up and getting better. Every time I open my cabinet and see some kind of temptation, I think of my goal, my running shorts that I miss wearing, and is it really worth it to have to start all over just because I ate something lame like a graham cracker.
- Adequate food! Any diet where you are hungry is one that won’t last. Have all the willpower in the world, but humans are hard wired for survival, and you can’t fool your body when you starve it. For me, this involved trying to find recipes online and loosely planning my shopping list and meals in the week before I started this diet, so that I would feel prepared and know that I had choices in what to eat.
- Mental Practice/Rehearsal for how to handle Temptations. So last evening on the final day of 2012, I would rather have been reading books in bed after sucking down some festive Rice Nog and then hit the pillow well before midnight, blissfully sleeping through the ball-dropping, bubbly-swigging, stranger-kissing, Auld Lang Syn-ing debacle that is New Year’s Eve – – – but I and the husband were invited to a friend’s for a tiny get together. There was so much temptation there! Candy, cookies, chips, pizza, pop – I felt like a true dieter, fit and trim with a will of pure steel over in my corner sipping sparkling water and politely refusing all offers of food. But, if I hadn’t eaten beforehand, brought my own beverage, and mentally prepped that I would not eat anything there, I would have caved and run amok on snacks.
The diet itself is going very well, though. It’s only Day 3, but I haven’t had any new eczema outbreaks and I definitely feel that I am itching less at night and during the day. This *could* be due to my supreme relaxation what with being off work for the holidays and sleeping 9-10 hours a night, but I’m hopeful it’s the diet too. I will be posting more about how I feel and some great new allergy free foods/recipes that I’ve discovered in upcoming posts!
Have you ever ‘dieted’? What helped you to succeed (or not succeed!) on the ‘diet’?