Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sometimes a meal can ruin you

I never liked diets.  They don't work and they make you think about food all the time which is the opposite of what I want to do when I'm trying to lose weight.  But those who do incorporate diets into their weight loss/ healthier living ways of life often say that if you occasionally have a meal of things that are unhealthy, that one meal won't ruin you.  In other words, it's okay if you let your indulgence take over once in a while, and you don't have to beat yourself over that.

Well that's exactly what happened to me earlier this month, and now that February is almost over I'm still paying for it.

Even since I started journaling I've been writing down my weight every morning, and since the beginning of this year, graphing it.  For the entire month of January my weight was on this constantly but very regular roller coaster, going up and down by a range of 5 lbs but always got a bit lower at the end of each cycle.  I was fascinated by this pattern and generally felt fine about it.

On Feb 7 I celebrated the Chinese New Year by making dumplings from scratch.  I mixed my own fillings, and made wraps from flour and water.  It was a laborious process that took me almost 4 hours, and I still don't know if I considered it a waste of time but I'm grateful for the process.  That morning as I weighed myself I found that my weight had been the lowest since I started recording and I was very happy.

After making the dumplings I decided to pan-fry some.  Ordinarily I would eat about 14-15 dumplings if I buy them frozen or if I make them with store-bought wraps.  But it turned out that when I made my own wrap they were consistently larger and thicker so 15 of my from-scratch dumplings turned out to be way too much.  I still managed to finish them all since I was hungry and wanted to eat the things that took me so long to make, and for the first time in months I felt the fullness I haven't had in a long time.  It didn't feel good, and it came with that familiar feeling of self-hatred.

But that was just one meal right? I over-did it on a special occasion so it shouldn't be a problem later on.  The next morning I weighed myself and found that I had gained 4 lbs from the day before and I just accepted the fact.  I just assumed that over the next week or so it would just roller coast back down and life will be fine again.

Except it didn't.  The weight plateaued up there for a few days, made a little dip, and went even higher and stayed up there for a few days more.  Now it's going back to that roller coaster pattern but the actual numbers have consistently hovered at a higher range. Overall I think I have gained a pound or two from the whole experience but nothing too bad, and I still weighed less than I did when I first started graphing on Jan 4.

It started with that one meal, which, if everything else had gone back to normal wouldn't have mattered by itself.  But with that meal came a bunch of other things.  For some reasons for days after that I managed to stuff myself some more for no good reason.  I don't even remember what I ate now or what I ate that much but I remembered the fullness and the self-hatred.  I skipped some of my gym classes and workouts.  I got takeout more; I don't know what triggered it but I went into my phase where I just didn't feel like cooking.  I was also sick for a week, during which time I oscillated between having no appetite and eating as much as I could to distract me from feeling shitty about my cold (and of course I skipped all my gym classes during that time).

So strictly speaking it was just that one meal.  And there were some stuff that happened during the weeks that followed that were unrelated to that one meal.  But I did feel the psychological impact.  The sudden and dramatic weight gain, the guilt, the feeling of self-hatred, the frustration of knowing I need to work out more to compensate and the inability to run and feel as light.  And it also opened this gate, that it was also somehow okay to go back to the way I was over-eating before.  I felt shitty, but so what, I was still functioning like I was before.  The consequence was real but at the same time... inconsequential.

Does that mean that we should beat ourselves over every bad meal decisions we have?  I don't think so.  I still believe that one meal won't make you fat.  But I would be more cautious after my next bad meal because the effect may linger for more than just that one meal, and I don't mean just the weight.

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