Lessons from Cheat Week

I flopped on the couch, hand over my bloated belly and sighed.  I felt weak, nauseous, crabby.   A headache bloomed at the base of my skull, promising to be a whopper.  Angry with myself, I heaved my carcass up and went for a three-mile walk, but there was no help for it.

I would have to let the truckload of sugar, dairy and preservatives work their way out of my body and deal with the aftermath.

I could go weeks being ‘good’, enjoying the benefits of fresh air, exercise and clean eating, yet invariably the siren song of candy bars, lattes and creamy soups would overwhelm me, and my poor body would again suffer the consequences of some candy-coated debauchery.

A week from Halloween, I decided I was sick (literally) of this cycle.So, following the example of some nature based traditions, I declared All Hallows my new year.  A new start, with a fresh dedication to clean eating starting November first.

Well, it’s November sixth, and that pipe dream is already shot, but I did retain some lessons along the way.

  1. ‘Cheating’ is no fun if it’s allowed and encouraged.  I found myself wandering the aisles, feeling obligated to purchase some goodies, but having no interest. I wanted kale chips and coconut water.  I settled on some peanut butter cups and was not impressed.
  2. 2. The ‘forbidden’ food often sounds the best, simply because you ‘can’t’ have it.  Immediately upon celebrating my new year, I was presented with sundry dairy-filled treats, the same ones that held no allure a few days ago looked positively delectable now, which leads me to…
  3. 3. There is nothing new under the sun.  Have I tasted bacon-sprinkled cupcakes?  No.  But I’ve had bacon, and cupcakes, and I know what they do to my system.  No matter how many times I ‘cheat’ the lesson remains the same.  There is no taste out there, artificial or otherwise, that is so mind-blowing that I am willing to give up this lifestyle entirely and go back to feeling sick, tired and depressed, which leads into the last and most encouraging lesson of Cheat Week
  4. If you eat clean long enough, your tastes will change.  Pre-packaged foods may smell good, look good, even taste good…in my mind.  One bite and I am left wondering why I am wasting valuable real estate on this stuff.  A crisp, autumnal apple or some healthy squash soup really are more appealing than anything I can get out of a box or bag.  I never thought I’d say this, but when I can get out of my head and out of my own way, what I truly crave is ripe, juicy fruits and crunchy, vibrant greens.  Keep at it long enough and even your taste buds will start to ask for something better.

Shine on.

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