As previously stated, my Paleo Adventure is over. The question now is: what to I do going forward? I think claiming the adventure is over was premature. I find myself struggling to maintain that same level of self control I had when I first started. I think this is normal. I think everyone has these issues but some deal with them differently. In many cases, people lose that control early on and abandon the plan entirely… you know, like a New Year’s Resolution. While I’m happy with my weight number, I still want to look slimmer than I do right now. The good news is that even the small amount of cycling I’m doing has had a reasonably dramatic effect on my legs and butt.
Self control continues to be a challenge. I think my biggest problem lately is that when I’m out of control I eat cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios, normally). There have been days lately that my family is doing something fun that involves non-paleo food. We went to the annual Highland Festival and indulged on food we don’t normally get to eat (scotch eggs, bridies, haggis, rumble-de-thumps [which are just mashed potatoes…]). For our anniversary, we went out to a lovely restaurant and didn’t worry about what we were ordering. I think this is ok. I don’t think I should turn to cereal for a snack though, but I see special occasions as just that: “special”. Sure, there’s times when we can celebrate a special occasion with meals on plan, but that mostly means cooking ourselves… and for celebrations of things, who the fuck wants to cook? Happy Birthday! Make your own fucking cake because you can’t just eat anything you want. Happy Anniversary! Now make me dinner. Who wants that? Sure, you could go out and try to stick to the plan (and I will always encourage you to try to…) but sometimes you want to eat whatever the fuck you want and not feel guilty about it.
I think my first year was about finding ways to guilt myself away from my old habits of poor eating and I think that works for a while. The problem is serial guilting. Eventually you’re going to want to spite yourself. It might be a one time blow up, it might be a permanent retraction from the plan, it might be little ‘cheats’ here and there. The question I end up asking myself is “is this one thing going to break me?” While the answer is probably “no”, when done consistently it’s a BIG “yes” even if you don’t want to admit it. I think the answer is to challenge myself with new goals and rules. Changing the game sometimes makes for a better game (unless it’s hockey and you’re trying to ban fighting again… in that case: go fuck yourself). So the question is: how do you challenge yourself and how do you make rule changes you can live by?
I think for myself the rules are going to be a relaxed version of what I was doing at the start. I’m not going to go with an 80/20 or 90/10 ratio. I find the ratios are useless. How many ‘cheats’ are that lower percentage of what you’re eating? What number are you comparing it against? The amount of food you eat? The meal? The snack? It’s kind of a hard number to say and really quantify. I liked one person’s cheat idea: once a month, eat whatever you want in a 1 hour period. If you’ve been on a paleo diet for a bit, 2 pieces of pizza fill you up FAST. You won’t get to the hour mark unless you want to throw up. You’ll quickly remember what it’s like to feel ‘full’ again. And not that pleasant ‘paleo full’ but that ‘overstuffed explosive Creosote-Gut full’. Just remember, that in MOST cases you’ll probably feel kinda shitty afterwards. Most of the time I break plan, I eat badly and immediately think “Why did I think this post-eating feeling was OK?” Things you may have forgotten: heartburn, indigestion, really fucking TERRIBLE gas, bloating… saying things like “ugh, I think I ate too much” and whining about it for an hour while you nerve gas a 1 mile radius around you. Sometimes is serves as a reminder. Reminders are good too.
So, where does that leave me? It leaves me with some fucking work to do. I need to come to terms with good rules for living healthy and sticking to them as closely as possible without killing myself with guilt. It’s about controlling my urges and honoring hunger the way that works best for me. Above all, it’s about living. Sometimes you just gotta make mistakes and then stop making them. Live your life, but try to set some boundaries for health. Also, don’t do a kilt fitting while wearing jeans underneath.