I remember the breaking point of the quasi-diet I was on freshman year of college. In an attempt to stick to my “rules,” which allowed both apples and peanut butter but no sweets, I finished an entire balanced meal and then proceeded to eat about a 1/2 cup of peanut butter because I was still feeling empty. It became a big peanuty rock in my gut. I think my roommate had to roll me to our dorm room. Hey: technically I didn’t break my rules! And that’s when you know. When you hear yourself justifying complete overindulge because it “didn’t break rules,” you know it’s time to reexamine some things.
Today, because it was a coworker’s birthday, my office was flush with cupcakes. Big, be-sprinkled Crumbs cupcakes the size of my fist. It took absolutely no thought whatsoever to abstain from those confections. And if I not had abstained, I’d be writing this post from my hospital bed after the doctors revived me from a sugar coma–after they pried the remaining 5 cupcakes in the box from my dead, cold hands.
So instead of stuffing my face with cupcake this afternoon, I came home and stuffed my face with some Kashi cereal after my less-than-satisfying buckwheat soba noodle dinner. Yes, sure, I ate some of the cereal at a nice pace in front of the TV. The 2nd bowl I ate standing over my kitchen counter; one might have called it “scarfing.” Let me tell you about that cereal. It’s probably been around a while and it probably tastes similar to cardboard. It was not like the cereal was calling out, tempting me with its fresh, crunchy goodness. No, more like it was between the cereal and more apricots to satisfy my sweet tooth, and if I’d gone with apricots, I would have paid for it later.
Now, if I watched myself accumulate enough nights of Kashi noshes and apricot splurges, I’d begin to wonder if I’d hit the same breaking point from 6 years ago. Would my diet back then have stayed on track if I’d just snuck myself a piece of cheesecake–rules or no rules–and then continued on my merry way? At some point, must one dispense with the rules and resume life as a normal person who can have a sliver of cupcake without turning into a maniac? Well, yes, of course. Ok: but when? And this, this is a valid and very difficult question. When does a dieter know when to let go? It’s like you told yourself to hang tight to a life raft to prevent sinking. And now you’ve arrived safely on land and can’t bear parting with the damn raft because it was your safety line for so long. Unfortunately, every dieter is too familiar with the terrifying idea of the backslide. The rebound. The regain. The rules provided an easy way of living because there were rules. And now, there are cupcakes. Big, fat, creamy cupcakes the size of my fist!
Luckily, since I am not finished dieting, it’s not my responsibility to answer my own questions yet! That will have to wait until the final 8 pounds are gone. And when they are, I will be happy to explore the post-diet experience with you. I will be more than happy to explain how I will now manage the literal and metaphorical cupcakes in life. Because, unlike before the diet and unlike during the diet, I’ve got to figure out how to live in a cupcake world without tilting to extremes.