Sunday, January 15, 2012

#15 - Meltdown

-- All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
-- Martin Luther King Jr.

Well, I have put up enough happy-go-lucky posts. Perhaps it is time to portray the seedier side of things.

I hit the wall today. No, I didn't fall off the wagon, but I had a form of mental and emotional breakdown.

To fill you in, this weekend is my family's JGW. For the men, this is the Just Guys Weekend which entails a trip to our family cabin in Colorado. No rules and plenty of burping, scratching, and other such things that mothers frown upon. For the ladies, it is Just Girls Weekend and I don't exactly know what they do. They stay in Omaha and I think manicures, Hobby Lobby, and other such things are involved. The JGW is something I look forward to. We have a great time and I jump at every chance to go to Colorado (especially if it is free). However, this is the first JGW I have attended while trying to eat healthy.

It started really early on. We left Omaha and made it as far as Lincoln before we stopped at Dairy Queen. You see ... this is the first stage in being "naughty". We get ice cream and then call Mommy and laugh when she yells at us for eating dessert before dinner. However, this time, I found out it wasn't quite as entertaining when my role was to sit and watch them eat their ice cream and watch Rich eat his chili dog.

Then came the rest of the car ride with stops at fast food restaurants and the smells of gas station snacks wafting through the car. So far, I was doing pretty well. It was an assault on the senses, but I was hanging in there. I had planned ahead for the fact that gas station food was not going to work. I purchased some protein bars, granola, and gum in preparation for this.

-- All men are tempted. There is no man that lives that can't be broken down, provided it is the right temptation, put in the right spot.
-- Henry Ward Beecher

Day 2 dawned bright and early with breakfast at the Egg and I where I had my "healthy" breakfast (I found out later that it had a bunch more calories than I thought) and watched them eat things with syrup, gravy, and/or loads of sausage. We managed to keep it pretty well in line the rest of the day, but then they ordered pizza for dinner. They kindly got me a Subway sandwich for my dinner. Again, I felt like I weathered this one pretty well too. But it was more difficult. Pizza is probably my greatest weakness and just the smell of what they were eating was about too much for me. But, I focused on my sandwich. Wolfed it down. Then left the table.

Day 3 - new breakfast restaurant. Classic greasy spoon with wonderful egg dishes and things .... mostly cooked with butter or grease. I stayed strong with two eggs, a small (4 oz) sirloin steak and dry wheat toast. But once again, I am seeing/smelling foods so sinful I won't mention them here for the benefit of my fellow addicts.

--Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory.
-- Frederick William Faber

It is clear to me at this point, that the "victories" I was celebrating from all of these good choices were also slight chips in my resolve. Yes, I was making it through each meal with a healthy choice, but I was also taking a blow to my will power each and every time.

By the time I left that breakfast on the 3rd day, I was beginning to get cranky. If you had asked me at the time, I probably couldn't have expressed in words what was making me so cranky. I think I was slowly reaching my boiling point and at the time, I didn't know why.

We went into the park and did some sight seeing and then on the way back to the cabin, we stopped at a gas station ostensibly to get Ben some gum and Rich a fountain soda. Unfortunately, this gas station had an A&W in it. Ok, remember ... will power is low. I get back in the car and behind me are two boys sipping on root beer floats, my father is in the front with another one. Then my nose is assaulted by the chicken nuggets and fries that my nephew (sitting next to me) has obtained. Finally, my brother-in-law lands in the seat directly in front of me with a chili dog and fries.

I slammed my hand across my face so I could only smell the fabric of my gloves and asked them to get me home soon. And .... my dear friends ... I had a meltdown. I couldn't deal with it. I barely waited for the car to stop moving in the driveway and I bolted from the car into my room for a breath of air that was clear of the taint of greasy food. I had myself a good cry and spent a lot of time simply alone with my thoughts.

Fortunately, I didn't resort to food. In fact, they kept trying to talk me into going to Subway or someplace healthy. I had more power bars and granola at the cabin as well. But I knew that this battle couldn't be won by eating. I don't know if I am being clear, but somewhere inside, I knew that I shouldn't give into the idea that their eating should trigger my eating (whether I make a healthy decision or not).

-- On the other hand, I believe there's hope, because the breakdown and the repair are happening simultaneously.
-- Kathryn Bigelow

Knowing that I had a difficult time with what they had done, my family tried to make amends. In a way, it was very sweet. They ate their food outside and took the garbage to the garage trash cans so no odor would be in the cabin. They called home to my sister to get an idea of what they could make for dinner that was healthy. So we had a healthy meal of chicken, green beans, and salad. They had good intentions but in the end it backfired. I had such a light breakfast an no lunch to speak of (due to the meltdown) that I was chock full of possibilities for a dinner meal and had come to the idea that I could enjoy a slightly naughty meal at whatever restaurant we went to that night. Oh well, it is better for me health-wise to eat the meal they prepared for me. I guess it will be a desert of protein bars and granola to make up the difference.

At this point, I must apologize to all my food addict friends. I have mentioned a lot of things in this post that will do nothing to help your journey. And this is what my family really doesn't truly understand. The healthy meal was a sweet gesture, but the damage had already been done. As a food addict, the seeing of the food. The smelling of the food. These are the triggers that have affected my brain. Even as I type this at 12:16 at night, I am still craving the crap that I have been witnessing all weekend. The thought that there is leftover pizza in the fridge right now is causing me to want to break my legs so I don't go in there to get some. And my family thought that keeping the smell outside would make a difference. It doesn't. It is still swirling around my sinuses and in my brain.

I guess the best way to describe it is that I am now the proud owner of several cravings. Those cravings will haunt my waking hours until one of two things happen. First option, I could give into the craving. This is something that the modern Kevin won't do (I hope) because the giving into one craving can lead to two and then back to 550lbs. Second option, I have to fight this craving with all my might until such time that it fades away to nothing again. Who knows how long it will take and how hard it will be.

Let's be honest, I probably have to come to terms with the idea that this could go on for the rest of my life. It happens everyday. Driving down the street and you see a fast food sign or advertisement and that will trigger a craving. A sight, a sound, a smell, even a sensation (i.e. early summer evening = 4th of July food) can trigger them. If I am going to make it, I have to be able to fight it. In general, they come at me too infrequently to be a problem. It just got the better of me this weekend.

So, as I go off to sleep, I have to try and mentally rebuild my walls so I can survive the car ride home and whatever joyous assaults I will face on the way. Let me add here that I do not blame or begrudge my family their choices. God help me, I would eat the same way if I could. I don't hate them at all. I hate the food. I hate the craving. I hate my weaknesses.

In the final analysis, I made it through with my diet intact. I suppose that is a victory, but it sure doesn't feel like one at this point. Maybe things will look differently in a week or two. I hope I didn't tempt anyone two much with all the food talk, but it is a part of my journey and something I need to record and work on.

-- After all, tomorrow is another day.
-- Margaret Mitchell (Gone With The Wind)

Thanks for reading!


  1. Be strong, Kevin. It sometimes helps me to imagine what eating those foods does to me. Start with the immediate gross out factor. It never tastes as good as you remember it tasting. If it's greasy, your skin gets greasy and then you're stuck smelling that all day (particularly if you are in the car). It's not the pleasant smell of the fresh item, it's the disgusting leftover smell of uncleaned grease traps.

    Then there is the less immediate discomfort. I don't know about you, but fast food or junk food after I have been eating healthy for any amount of time makes me very sick. It is poison, it should make you sick. Since you're facing a long car ride home, think of how uncomfortably long that trip will be if you're not feeling well.

    Next, think of what it will do to you in the long run. You know yourself better than anyone else. You know how hard you have worked to get to this point. You know where a bad decision now might lead you later. Remember, do not sacrifice what you want most for what you want in the moment. Let the moment pass and use your thoughts to overcome the cravings. Cravings are not a need, they are a want. What do you want more? A healthy life or that (insert item here)?

    <3 Safe travels home! See you soon!

  2. I am so proud of you. I know that it is SO hard to watch others eat what you would like to. I live with Rich, after all. :) And when you texted me - I fought with whether to commiserate with you or give you the "buck up camper" talk. I chose "buck up camper" because I feared that my validating your frustration may lead you to feel deserved for a cheat. But I DO get it - maybe not to the extent that you feel it - but I get it.

    But the take home message here. . .you did it! It was incredibly hard. . .but you did it! I think I would have dumped it all and decided to start again when I got back (which would have been another two weeks down the road). You showed strength and determination that was amazing. So as much as it sucked - you win. You get the prize. Instead of having a moment's pleasure with that food and a month of guilt --- you get to have a moment's misery and a lifetime of pride. I am SO proud!