. . . by week two, the wheels had fallen off my August resolution. So why was I eating that wedding cake and all those s’mores? [from Part One of Two]
What happened when those desserts kept coming? There were, of course, the voices in my head that said: “No, Meredith, you can’t have this ice cream!” and “Bad Meredith, why are you eating a donut?” And worse: “Meredith, you are disappointing not only yourself with this brownie, but everyone who reads your writing!” It felt like exactly the way you screw up a blog: by making grand pronouncements about what you’re going to do and why it’ll be oh-so-interesting – and then changing your mind along the way. Due to my Wedding Diet commitment, the voices came up stronger and louder than I’ve ever heard a chorus of self-blaming, dessert-shunning voices sound.
I set forth the goal of trying a new limitation each month and reporting back on how it went. It was going to be a beautiful little lifestyle project. I thought that whatever I chose for the month, it would be reasonable to control just that one thing: not eating sugar, or dairy, or whatever. It’s not that I didn’t have the willpower; I’ve been doing P90X every day and eating better than I ever have. In fact, I lost seven pounds this last month. And it’s not that I didn’t have the mindfulness; I’ve been increasingly conscious of what I eat and when I eat it. But beyond the challenges I cited last week, the reality is that life didn’t fit into my perfectly symmetrical plan. Life happened, it happened differently from what I expected, and I couldn’t control it.
While I was supposed to focus on eliminating sugar, I suddenly felt myself drawn to counting calories. I don’t know why. I’ve never done it before. I just resonated with exercising discipline around food in a different way; I went from focusing on limitation to playing with allocation.
Being open to shifting my approach was freeing in many ways. Limitation – the central idea behind the Wedding Diet – put me in a place of saying a categorical ‘no’ to some foods while giving others a weak ‘sure, but I’ll probably give it up next month.’ The result was that there was a halo of ‘no’ around most foods. This created a collectively negative way of seeing food. Playing an allocation game, on the other hand, was much more positive. I could eat all sorts of things, but there were bounds to what moderation meant.
I expected that I would achieve greater awareness of my body and a sustainable approach to eating by following The Wedding Diet For The Rest Of Your Life. So much of me wants to shoehorn my life back into that perfect project plan that I made for it. But when I take a broader view, I see that I’m achieving the outcome I wanted, just via a different path. If thinking about allocation instead of limitation works for me, why would I deny that insight? I feel great, and I’ve been able to do that while eating cake at weddings.
And so the month without sugar has also became the month without control. I can set ambitions, but I don’t always have perfect control over how I get there. But if I can live with that human messiness, maybe what I realized in this month without sugar can also push me in the direction of greater self-love and growing connection to my body – what I searching for all along.