Friday, 9 October 2009

The road to hell is paved with good intentions apparently...

Which seems sort of mean to me, I mean, at least you were trying, right? And I have good intentions in spades.

It seems to me that dieting has a few key underlying 'musts' without which it's impossible. Or impossible to me, anyway:

1) You have to plan ahead - you have to know what you're going to eat/choose. Spontaneity leads to poor choices for me.

2) You have to be organised - you have to set time aside to make those plans, to consider when you can exercise and to have a plan B. I find Plan B has to be employed with bewildering frequency

3) You have to be disciplined - just to put those plans into action. Making the plans is the easy part....

And it all went wrong for me this morning. I'd checked the weather last night and it's supposed to rain this afternoon/evening. I hate cycling in the rain anyway but with the addition of slimy leaves - well, no, not a chance, not for a scaredy cat like me. So I thought I'd walk c2.75 miles along the Thames path on my way in to work to compensate. That was my plan - together with Circuit of Hell and breakfast (porridge) at home. Thinking about this now, it was not a well-thought out plan - I would have had to have got up at 5.40am - 5.50am I think in order to fit all that in which seems inhuman, but I also had at the back of my head that I could do Circuit of Hell tonight. And, as you have guessed, my plans went awry. Firstly I got up too late (6.30am) for Circuit of Hell and/or breakfast but was still in time to walk in. Except. I'd not factored in the utter uselessness of the London transport system and all that extra time I'd allowed for was swallowed up waiting for - and being unable to get on - tubes. I barely made it to work on time in any case, let alone with the 50 mins minimum walk in.

That is the random factor - the unforeseen, the unpredictable, the random that can kick your best laid plans into oblivion.

And as Lesley astutely pointed out in her comment on yesterday's post, I have an unfortunate tendency to be all or nothing. Once a plan fails I tend to crumple and give up generally. I definitely find that with one failure a mindset kicks in that leads with "oh well, you've ruined today you might as well...". And the 'might as well' is inevitably eating something fattening. And that compounds the feeling of despair so it spirals. I really have to fight this. The problem is that I feel defeated and fed up at that point which is where fighting is difficult and feebly giving in is much easier. But I have to, have to fight this.

I can practise this weekend. We have friends coming for lunch on Sunday (menu if you're interested: field mushrooms stuffed with leeks, bacon and blue cheese followed by chicken and chorizo roasted in sherry with stuffed squash and then apple and blackberry crumble cake with clotted cream - all pleasingly seasonal) and I'm going out for lunch with bf and his friend on Saturday at a pub from their youth. That is enough to make me feel that I've "spoilt" the weekend and, blow it, may as well have exactly what I please. What I please being large quantities of fattening stuff of course (the three Cs - cakes, cookies and chocolate). But I'm going to try my darnedest (a word I've never written before!) to use my remaining meal choices to make healthy choices. To make choices to make up for those decidedly off-diet meals even. In fact, I bet I can find a relatively healthy choice for lunch at the pub. And then it's only Sunday lunch and I can balance that with a healthy breakfast and a small supper that day. Can't I? I'm certainly going to try.

But how to tackle the Random Factor? I guess not to let it affect the rest of that day's choices - to accept that there will be times when you cannot do the right thing but to put those times behind you and move swiftly on. I don't think that's easy - not for me in any case. Practise makes perfect I guess...


beth said...

That seasonal lunch sounds gorgeous. And yes, you should be able to find something to eat at the pub that is not fried, dipped in butter, or drenched in custard!

I too have the perfectionist tendency, so I think what we have to, erm, perfect is how not to freak out when Plan A goes awry (and Plan B does too) and move immediately to the next most acceptable option. And even if the next most acceptable option is not what anyone in the world would consider a healthy meal, to enjoy whatever it is, recognize it's just one meal, and move on. What's that saying about resistance being futile? I think it's our flailing that causes the pain (or shall I say, gain?), whereas with acceptance you just leap up ready to duck the next punch. To mix a thousand metaphors, I think. Sorry if I've prattled on -- shall relinquish the soapbox immediately!

Call me Ishmael said...

Hey Peridot,

Wow, can I say how impressed I am by your Sunday lunch menu? I can't even conceive of food like that, let alone cook it!

Sounds like you've got some challenges ahead with the weekend. I've got a few suggestions for you that I've learned from my behavioral work -- I'm trying hard to reprogram how I deal with food to stave off the deprivation/binge cycle to which I'm dreadfully prone.

Suggestion 1) eat your normal, ie healthy, breakfast both Sat and Sun.

2) Find the pub menu online if poss and pick out what you are going to have for lunch. Only eat what you want -- ie, if you don't want a salad, don't force yourself to get a salad because you want to be "good." Talk to yourself about your choices and see what trades/compromises you are willing to make with yourself. If you want dessert, are you willing to skip drinks? If you are going to get a burger and fries (my weakness) are you willing to take the bread off the burger, or at least the top bun? If you want the whole burger, can you get a salad on the side instead of fries?

3) Whatever you do decide to eat, enjoy it. Eat mindfully and slowly. Don't stress over your choice, and don't fret about the calories. Whatever else you do, ENJOY YOUR LUNCH.

4) Eat a normal dinner. If you're not hungry, don't force it. If you are hungry, eat what you planned to eat. Don't make yourself have a "small" dinner or a "good" dinner. Aim for a normal portion of whatever you are going to eat.

Do essentially the same thing for Sunday. Less menu dickering because you know what you'll be eating, of course.

The point of these behaviors, I'm told, is to try and alleviate the stress and the panic over food choices and remind yourself that you're in control of what you eat. And as long as you aren't seriously overeating, a lunch -- even two over a weekend -- isn't going to kill you.

Again, these are just suggestions that I try to follow and they do help -- sometimes more than others. But over time, it might perhaps change the perception you have that you've "blown" a day by eating a normal sized meal -- even one that contains dessert, fries, pub food, whatever. Again, if you're not seriously stuffing in tons of food, you're not going to do that much damage with a pub lunch and a homecooked Sunday meal. If you can stay in the moment, go slow, and watch your portions, it might turn out ok, right?

Good luck! Let me know how it goes.