Confessions of an Ideal Protein Coach -- Adventures at Cheesecake Factory

It's been a rough week.  The election was last Tuesday night and President Elect Trump's surprising victory sent shock waves through my community of friends, family and Facebook contacts.  I didn't vote for him. He definitely worries me.  But I've seen enough examples of candidates doing very different things in office than they said during the campaign that I've been trying to take a wait and see approach, myself. That only goes so far, though.  I'm such an energy sponge, and I care so much about my friends who are terrified, that the emotion around me has amped up my anxiety a LOT. 

I've been alternately taking long breaks from Facebook to reduce my exposure to this stress, and getting sucked in for extended periods trying to send encouraging, calming messages.  But the people who are panicking don't seem to want help calming down. They seem to want more people to panic with them. That's totally human and normal, but really hard to be around when you aren't in the same headspace.  I've found myself swimming in anxiety despite my attempts to manage it with relaxation and meds. 

With that said, I must say I've done better this week than I would've expected. Much better than I would've before I had my spiritual foundation (my 12-step work).  Turning to food during crisis used to be as natural for me as breathing. I used to do it without even thinking, and later 'wake up' mid-way through a binge wondering what happened.  This time, I've seen my eating and my focus get *fuzzy* but not completely out of control.  

Yesterday was particularly difficult.  My whole family ate lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. That experience was my own fault. I hadn't thought it through well - despite having had a week to plan it.  I even chose the restaurant!?!  I made a spontaneous choice based on what all the kids in our party would enjoy, but I totally discounted how much of a trigger the place would be for me. My family would've gone pretty much anywhere. I wonder in hindsight if I had it in mind to cheat…

Even before any kind of dessert was in question, my ordering was sketchy. My first mistake was ordering crab cakes.  They ended up having breadcrumbs in them.  OF COURSE THEY HAD BREAD CRUMBS IN THEM!!!   Any restaurant with word Factory in the name is going to use fillers in a dish like crab cakes. I knew that. But I ordered them in a state of wishful thinking and denial… I told myself they were probably mostly crab.  They were better than some of the other things that were tempting me, but they still messed with me.  I also ordered a Caesar salad with no croutons.  I didn't bother to ask them to hold the cheese or put the dressing on the side. I see now that at that point, I was already in trouble.  

After lunch, I came ****this close**** to ordering "Low Carb" cheesecake for dessert. (SMH)

My family (who don't have Metabolism Type B and can safely eat things I can't) were all getting huge desserts - some the size of their faces.  Of course they were. That what people DO at the Cheesecake Factory.  I was feeling a rising amount of temptation because of the cheats I'd already indulged in…  On the menu, something called "Low Carb Cheesecake" began whispering reassuring lies to me… "I'm safe. I'm low-carb so I'm not that bad.  I'm waaaaay better than real cheesecake… Go ahead. You deserve me after your stressful week…" 

I wanted to crawl out of my skin as I wrestled with my desires…  I could hardly think straight. The only thing that stopped me from ordering it was the fact that my boyfriend decided at the last minute he didn't want dessert. Maybe he did that in solidarity with me because he knew I was struggling.  It helped, but I felt weak for needing that… I started to see that I'd narrowly dodged a bullet.

Just as I began congratulating myself, right after the menus were pulled and the decision point had passed, my boyfriend changed his mind again asked the server for some dessert to go.  The desire to do the same returned with a vengeance!!! I had to stop myself from jumping up to run after her and ask for some, too…  but thankfully it was too late, so I just sat there stewing in uncomfortable urges…

I wonder sometimes if any Met A person ever really understands the magnitude of the internal struggle Met Bs with carb addictions face.  I especially wonder this about Met A IP coaches and most doctors.  My original coach had never needed to lose more than 20 lbs in her entire life, and she would often look at me with confusion when I'd tell her I'd cheated.  Her expression shouted, "Well, dummy, stop doing that?!?"  She was a kind person but absolutely didn't get it. It was a good thing I'd been studying psychology and addiction for a long time by then so I could coach myself on that aspect of my journey. But I was always aware I was on my own with that struggle.  No one knew how hard that part really was for me.  No one but other Met Bs, that is. 

Anyway, back at the Cheesecake Factory, as my family said goodbye to one another, I kept a smile on my face. I acted 'normal,' which I've learned to do over the course of a lifetime of dealing with this same struggle.  I didn't talk about the fact that my mind obsessed about cheesecake a lot through the rest of the day.  My family brought their desserts home -- I was aware of them in the refrigerator pretty much every second they were there.  A few pieces are still there as I type this.  I always feel a little broken when my obsessive food thoughts return, but I have a little bit more empathy for myself these days.  I know the physiology I've triggered and that it's temporary.  I don't feel alone - partly because so many of you have come forward to say you often feel the same way and fight the same battles yourselves.  It helps to know I'm not just weak - but suffering the natural outcome of a lifetime of being directed to eat improperly for my metabolic type.

Last night I ate an extra restricted, hoping it would calm my cravings but be healthier than what I really wanted to do.  Even Ideal Protein says this is better than a cheat with real carbs.  But instead of just letting that stand and be the end of it, I also spent time reflecting on why I ended up on such a cliff. 

First of all, I know stress adds up over time, and it drains energy I'd otherwise have for higher reasoning / decision-making.  The Willpower Instinct, one of my *favorite* books on the subject, helped me understand that willpower comes from the same tank of energy as all other difficult activities, and that when your tank is drained due to stress, illness, sadness, conflict, anger, etc., you'll have less ability to resist tempting food.  So I'd already fallen into a drained state during my stressful week, and I should've avoided a restaurant that would be so difficult. 

I had also fallen off on my daily preventative activities - namely prayer and meditation.  I'd been busy. Distracted. I'd let up on my careful food journaling and gotten behind on water, veggies, supplements. I had many excuses for why I'd let myself become less careful. None of them were good enough. Not if my health and weight-loss journey is as important to me as I say it is.  Actions speak louder than words.  I'd had some yellow flags that I ignored. It's no surprise I ended up in red flag territory.

I feel better and more focused today. I am on track with food this morning. Supplements, check. Water - on my way. I'm going to prepare veggies for this week and just keep going.  I hope you are all finding some peace and self care in these chaos and emotion-filled times. Thanks for 'listening.'