Well, we’re in the home stretch of the Game On Diet — only one more week left to go. As the end of the game nears, I think it is natural to start thinking of next steps: What have I learned from this experience? Will I play again?
What Have I Learned?
When I started the Game On Diet, my weight was steadily increasing — having quit Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time and mindlessly indulging my bad habits. I did not exercise regularly, and I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Every time, I’ve tried to “fix” this stuff in the past, it has never worked. I would eat OK for a week or so and then steadily slide back into eating too much. I would exercise for a few days and then find 1,000,000 excuses to not exercise again. I would promise myself I would go to bed earlier, but then stay up later than planned visiting “just one more blog.” It was beginning to seem impossible to me to adopt the healthy habits I knew I needed — even though I knew my health and well-being depended on it. Oh…and I think I’ve been trying to eat more fruits and vegetables for years now — and that has never happened either.
So when Dawn invited me to join in on this Game On Diet book review extravaganza, I thought “Well, why not? I have nothing to lose.” And to my surprise, I found that it wasn’t all that hard. Sure, the water was tough to drink in the beginning, but I eventually got used to it. (In fact, on my “water day off,” I often end up feeling kind of sick — I think I’m dehydrated! My body seems to be saying “You’re finally giving me enough water and now you’re taking away again?! I don’t think so … feel this, Missy!”) I was shocked that 20 minutes of exercise almost every day was actually doable. (I’ve been alternating the elliptical machine with yoga — with other exercise on the weekends like hiking.) And the sleep — the sleep has been fantastic! I’ve been so much less of a grump. And the fact that I’ve had to go to bed earlier has actually helped me get control of my blogging habit — which I’ll admit was a bit out of balance. And my bad habit of biting my nails was pretty easy to kick when I just thought about it. (My only real problem in this area has been that my new longer nails keep breaking and getting snagged on stuff!) And the 30 minutes of working on the problem areas of my house has not only gotten the “horror closet” in the basement under control — but the stuff I uncovered in there and sold on eBay is probably going to net me about $100! Woo hoo!
I will admit it right now: My biggest struggle with this game has been the food. It is where I lose the most points — incurring snacking penalties, messing up a meal. In addition, going overboard on my day off and meal off have prevented me from getting the elusive weight loss bonus. The eating 5 meals wasn’t a problem for me — when you add in snacks, I was eating that already. The problem was eating the wrong kinds of food and eating too much. For years now, I’ve been eating food that isn’t good for me. I have a sweet tooth and I feed it. If I like something, I’ll eat a bunch of it. If I’m bored, I’ll give myself a treat to make myself feel better. If faced with a choice between healthy and non-healthy, I’ll choose non-healthy every time. In other words, I’ve been an emotional eater with some very bad habits.
The start of the game was a bit of a shock to me. The foods the diet wants you to eat are not what I usually eat. (Or rather, the foods you should eat are not what I eat a lot of — I ate mostly F.L.A.B.B. foods.) Switching the type of foods I ate — and cutting down on my beloved chocolate — was a bit of a shock. I know I felt better — but I felt deprived. Hence, the overeating on the meal off and day off. I know this is a natural reaction — in a way, I feel like I was in a detox program. I’ve been working on getting the bad stuff out of my system, and I feel like I’ve been able to find a healthier relationship with food. Rather than mindlessly chow down on 10 pieces of chocolate, my two Dark Chocolate Dove Promises are being savored and tasted. And I found a new appreciation for healthier foods that I didn’t know I would like — such as almonds and macadamia nuts. I found that smaller portions did make me feel full (especially now that I am drinking enough water). I wasn’t really “starving” at any point during this game — and my cravings are starting to get under control. This is huge for me. Although I never came close to having a perfect score, I’ve made huge gains in how I relate to and think about food.
Am I perfect? Heck no. But I feel like this game as proven to me that I can perhaps live like this. Given some more practice and effort, all of these new behaviors might truly become “how I live.” One little experiment I’d like to try is continue on with the game habits after the end of this week but tweak them a little as far as the food goes. What I’d like to do is continue eating the 5 small meals — applying the diet principles outlined in the book fairly closely — but count daily calories and not go above what I should eat. When I say “follow fairly closely,” I mean I will keep many of the new healthier foods I’ve tried and liked but make some room for the “regular” foods the rest of my family still eats — like Goldfish, Hershey bars. (I know that a lifetime of banning all the F.L.A.B.B. foods isn’t going to work for me. I still want to have them but in moderation.) However, these “regular” foods will be counted in my calories and will not be eaten mindlessly like they were in the past. I wonder if I eat in this way — which feels a little more normal and sustainable to me — I would be able to keep this up permanently. I’ll let you know and will post a follow-up post about my little experiment.