Thursday, January 10, 2008

Small Triumph

The scene: Dakota's daycare fell through a few weeks ago (long story), so while we get things situated for a new plan, daycare has fallen on me (I work from home) and my aunt (who is a simply awesome person). Yesterday my aunt's son had a baby boy of their own, so she was at the hospital all day. So it was just me and D all day. Plus, trying to work for a living. Fortunately it was my day off from training. Still - boy howdy, some kind of exhaustion. Not like - geez this little girl is more than I can handle - but just fatigue. Amy, meanwhile, finished a 10 hour day at work and was on her way home and called to ask what we should do for dinner. I was feeding Dakota. Amy was tired and not in the mood to go buy groceries for the salad she had planned. We were both shot. Finally, like all good Americans, I offered, "we'll just order pizza when you get home."

So when Amy got home I handed off parenting duties, and we agreed that while we were ordering pizza, we'd at least go for the lesser evil with it and go thin-crust, and Canadian bacon (ham, I guess the kids call it now) and pineapple. So we were keeping it as lean as we could. Then just before I hang up with the delivery guy, Amy says, "Oh, get me some cheesy bread."

Let me digress a moment. Week one of my grand experiment, where I have zero tolerance for crap in my diet, has so far gone pretty well. I had an alarming few moments on Tuesday (yes, TUESDAY, a whole TWO DAYS after starting this thing) where I'd have given my kingdom for a chocolate bar. But I abstained, and have been on course with sensible portions, no junk, and as natural as possible. One interesting thing I've encountered is how conditioned for crap I seem to be. I'll think, "I'm in the mood for something salty," and my mind immediately presents a big bag (not a snack-sized bag, mind you) of potato chips. Or I'll finish a meal and think, "man, something sweet would be perfect", and bang - chocolate comes to mind, and I start reeling with the perfection of the idea. So then I step back and think - okay, wait. If I was a caveman and I craved something salty, what would I eat? Probably some red meat? And then I try and plan accordingly to incorporate some more lean red meat the next day. Same with sweets - we call fruit "Jesus Candy" around here, because I tell Amy that God made fruit so we wouldn't need chocolate. What's interesting is it's the crap that comes to mind for the cravings before anything else, and I have to manually steer the ship around it to figure out what I really should eat, and really do need. If left on auto pilot, I'd be stuffing my face with a Concrete Mixer from Culver's.

Now, a caveat: I realize I said "zero tolerance for crap", and I meant it, but I'm also not living in a bubble. So probably it's not true zero tolerance. If my family gets together at a restaurant, for instance, or we have brunch plans with friends this weekend (which we do), true zero tolerance would mean not going, as it's likely that whatever I find there won't be as good for me as something I could make myself out of friggin' nuts and berries. Life is too short, and I'm not going to be that guy. So the trick will be to find and do what I can in those situations to stay focused on the experiment and find something to eat that's right for me. So maybe "zero crap" should be restated as "minimal, intentional avoidance of crap." Anyway.

So, back to the story. First thing I did after hanging up the phone was down a banana, to fill me up a bit. Then the pizza came, and I opened it up on the counter, and seriously there was this weird moment of silence between me and Amy as I looked at it. So steamy and gooey and smelling so good. And then the cheesy bread. So cheesy. I looked at her with honest-to-god helplessness. Was I really hungry for pizza - I mean, was I experiencing some kind of irrepressible hunger that only pizza would satisfy? Did it really even smell so good? No. It smelled like pizza. It looked like pizza. Nothing special, just some pizza. I realized I was having some kind of Pavlovian response to the idea of the pizza in front of me. The entertainment eating it would provide. And if you think about it (stay with me here), pizza is kind of cultural institution in this country. It is the easy choice for get-togethers, and dinners with friends, and good times, and beer and ball games. Likely my mind has a kind of love affair with pizza for all the things it associates with it. A little deep, I know, but hey, this is what was happening. And I sound like some kind of addict or chronic overeater, when I'm not - but pizza, or maybe "convenient mass produced pizza", I realize only just now, is a specific weakness, it seems. Amy recognized the helplessness in my eyes as I gulped, and said, "Just 2 pieces babe. That's all. Just put it away after that." So, I put 2 pieces on my plate, and tried to take my time eating it, and closed the boxes so I wouldn't look at the goodness inside.

I promised no numbers, but in case you wondered, here are the stats on a slice of Quartered Ham & Pineapple, Medium Thin 'N Crispy Pizza:

180 calories
60 calories from fat
6 g of fat
3 g saturated
23 g carbs
9 g protien

You know what? Not saying pizza is health food - cuz it ain't - but you can do a lot worse than that. The thing is, under any kind of normal circumstance where I wasn't out to prove something to myself, I would have a minimum of 4 pieces. More likely 6. And at least 2 pieces of cheesy bread, which wouldn't count. And I would do it without any awareness of if I was hungry or not, or if I was feeling satisfied - I would just eat them for the taste of it, and enjoyment of it.

But - I am extremely encouraged to say - I stuck to just 2 pieces. No cheesy bread. Another banana for dessert allowed me to not talk myself into "but I'm still hungry" (I wasn't), and that was it. It went in the fridge, for Amy to eat tonight or whenever.

This was the first time, really, that my grand plan had to be backed up with action, and while I'm encouraged that I withstood the mighty Power of Pizza, I'm more interested in how absurd my feelings about it got. I'm surprised I'm that weak, actually. If nothing else, this experiment might teach me the difference between need and want. And certainly I felt better the rest of the night, and today, with my fuel tank still full of clean stuff, not to mention knowing that I could step away like that. All good signs going into the weekend, anyway...


RobbyB said...

Good for you, X.

Me? Notsomuch. I downed two slices of Ian's for lunch today. I could've gotten by with one, but something in my head that one just isn't enough. I'm paying for it now with an overwhelming sense of lethargy. Those carbs are no good.

Iris said...

You need to move to a mountain like me where pizza delivery is not ever an option!

Steph Bachman said...

Way to fight the power of pizza.

It's hard to look something so tasty in the face and say no or cut yourself off. It's a mental victory. Good luck at brunch.

Coach Tammy said...

YAY for YOU! It's a big step to be able to pull out of automatic and really think about what you're eating and why.

Here's another great snack idea. Frozen cherries. Delish... just like ice cream ;)

Anonymous said...

Fantastic mate - I can totally empathize with your "crap" cravings. Pizza, McD's, Wendys, Arbys...I had to start doing tris just so I could keep eating and not wind up being one of those dudes who's hoisted out of their apartment with a crane when he's 40. That's an awesome personal victory - when you toe the line at your next IM, my guess is you won't be thinking of all the pizza you had to sacrifice to Become Again - besides, once you're done, you and Zilla can have a night where you chow 'za until you're almost comatose and you'll know you totally earned it.

Krista said...

I just found your blog and documentary and have really enjoyed watching it.

I absolutely love the 3-face logo, did you create that? I'd love a copy of it or to buy it on a poster or card, to frame and have in my inspiration office/bike room.

Please let me know. Thank you.

Steve Stenzel said...

I say away from thats "Jesus Candy" and stick closer to all that pizza and cheese bread....

Triteacher said...

I keep coming here and seeing this pizza, X. You're giving me ideas - even though I know that is not your intended message. I'm attributing my next 10 pizza pounds to you and that picture though!