OMG I made it!
Any restart is hard. This one felt like the HARDEST one ever. Upon reflection, I think every single restart has felt like the HARDEST one ever - mainly because in the moment of cravings, there is no escape (or at least not the usual escape). Even if I distract myself with something wonderful or engrossing, cravings rear their gaping little maws through the cracks in my awareness - begging, urging, rationalizing. It's super uncomfortable. I can't actually call it pain. It's more like agitation. A feeling of having a turbo-fueled rocket trying to take off inside my body while I'm securely chained to the ground. Often before my chains have broken - and I've given in to the relentlessness of the desire for comfort food. This time I didn't.
One of the things that helped was forcing myself to consider, "Then what?" My mind spun scene after scene wherein I got my hands on something super sweet and carby, and I could vividly, viscerally FEEL how good it would feel to eat it - to savor it. My body cried in anticipation and desire. My mind hammered like a one-note piano… this! This! This! THIS! NOW!
Instead of trying to make the mind video stop playing (which by experience, I know I can't), I let it play out, felt the pull and the excruciating longing, and made myself ask, "And then what?"
I eat the donut or ice cream, it feels REALLY F-ING GOOD while I'm doing it, and then what?
Day 5 is a good time to reflect on that question because the aftermath of my last capitulation looms fresh in my mind. The answer is: Then I'm back to square one. Then I'm standing next to my giant boulder at the bottom of the same hill. Then I start over - again - and it'll feel EXACTLY this hard again. Then shame. Then disappointment. Then I've packed on pounds in a couple of days that will take me nearly ten times that long to lose. Then whatever I wanted to avoid by eating will still be there - PLUS I'll have the added mental overhead of having bailed on my commitment to myself. Then, then, then… I've been down this road before and it always goes to the same place.
There was ONE treat left in the house that I hadn't gotten rid of because I thought Travis might want it. It whispered to me and taunted me from the darkness of the freezer. Would he even miss it? What if I had just *one* more day of comfort eating… Didn't I deserve it after everything I'd been going through lately?
I went to the freezer and grabbed the frozen goodie and tossed it in the trash - along with some random, freezer-burned popsicles that ordinarily I wouldn't even consider eating but which had momentarily started to look good - the way cough syrup looks good to a recovering alcoholic on the edge.
I was short and snippy with my beloved in the evening. He understood. He held me and encouraged me and told me he noticed that I'd tossed the frozen treat and he was proud of me. I felt a weird combination of shame for being so "seen" - so exposed - so obviously a junkie jonesing for a fix. But I also felt loved in the most intimate of ways - warts and all - imperfections and all. I'm so fortunate to have had love like this from many cherished people in my life. It's so hard to show them my weak, desperate and powerless self but the people I've picked LOVE me - not despite that part of me - but sometimes because of it. They see it's only a piece of a bigger whole. A flawed flesh and blood embodied spirit walking the earth subject to the ravages of corporeal existence. (I'm sure that's the exact phrasing going through their minds as they hug me or comfort me through a chocolate craving. Yeah, pretty sure.)
Anyway - Day 5. I've made it this far. It's usually a little easier from here. For regular phase 1 restarts this is usually the onset of food peace. For my alternative, sweet-free restart, I recognize it to be the day my appetite starts to reduce but my mind searches endlessly - still in denial - for the sweet things I used to have during the day. Water enhancers. Sweeteners in my coffee or pudding or shakes. There are no sweet tastes for me and it's a next-level adjustment. But it's a little less painful than the pure cravings. And I KNOW what's on the other side of resignation to no sweeteners… the deepest food peace I've ever known. I'm going there. I don’t know what day that happens because I've only done this once before. But I know it's out there. I'm a nomad in the desert of eating - knowing there is a wonderful oasis on the horizon if I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other. (I guess Day 5 comes with a lot of sappy metaphors. Heehee!)
I hope you all are out there in food peace, or that you are on your way to that lovely place. And if you're struggling, I hope you find comfort in the fact that you're not alone. The rest of us understand. I understand. And as long as you NEVER give up, there is hope.