Friday, 27 November 2009

Week 12 Day 82: a new beginning - LighterLife Lite. Difficult questions and honest answers

I am sorry I haven't posted here in a while. I've been asking myself some difficult questions and coming up with very honest answers that I was afraid would make me a target for criticism. But it is my blog, and it is my life, so I'm just going to get on with it.

Firstly I should tell you that  I'm now 10lbs from my goal weight and have switched to Lighter Life Lite (LLL). This is the slightly less intensive programme where you have three foodpacks a day and one no-carbohydrate meal.

After much deliberation, nail-chewing and pacing (more on which later), I went along to my first LLL meeting last night and officially started today. After almost 3 months of full abstinence and absolutely no cheating, I'm a little afraid of my meal, which I will be having for dinner.

NB: I do plan to post about LLL and how it's all going on here - including recipes - so if you're in abstinence and you don't think you can handle food talk, I do apologise, but you should probably turn back now.

Secondly, despite my great terror of doing so, I bought some size 10 skinny jeans. I had that awful “oh these aren’t going to go over my ANKLES” moment when I tried them on, but I am sitting here wearing them AND THEY ARE A BIT BAGGY. Confounding all my expectations.

So. The thing I've been thinking about, and have been too scared to say anything about for fear of retribution is.... (drumroll) .... CHRISTMAS. Christmas and its attending social get-togethers and so on. Because I KNOW I'm going to eat (and drink).

This is the part where you call me a bunch of names ("weak"; "saboteur"; "cheater"; "quitter", etc.) and leave, slamming the door on your way out.

And I know it's insane. I've survived this far without cheating once - and I've been to restaurants, parties, been on short breaks and taken part in birthday celebrations. In fact it was my mother's birthday recently and I spent the day with her; on the way there I bought lots of food she liked: blue cheese, Parma ham; pasta salad; roast peppers and artichoke hearts and Mozzarella; little cakey things and nice wine (incidentally these are things I'm rather partial to as well), and I didn't even have a NIBBLE.

So why am I planning on ruining all my hard work by eating over Christmas?

That's exactly what my lovely wise post-LL friend said when I confided in her. This is the exchange:


FRIEND: > Being totally devil's advocate about it, part of me wants to say that you've done so amazingly well - not cheated at all?? bloody hell! - then why not just stick with it and forget what time of the year it is.  It's only one year and what you're going for is so worthwhile.
ME: > Well, you see, this is the thing. My faulty conscience and my overactive guilt gland think I SHOULD salute my three months of abstinence, tattoo “FOOD IS NUTRITION NOT LOVE” on the inside of my eyelids, straighten my back, lift my chin and stomp virtuously through Christmas with my focus firmly set on that bright Nazi future of February 2010.
Christmas is really important to me. More so, possibly, than my holiday to America in February: you cut me, I bleed eggnog. Obviously a large part of it is roast turkey, (skinny) gingerbread lattes, the excuse to eat (say) chocolate cherry liqueurs for breakfast, and so on. But that’s all part and parcel of the taking part, the enjoying, the kicking back. 
I know I can, in theory, take part, kick back and belong while staying abstinent – because I've already done it for over two months.
But I will be MISERABLE if I do this over Christmas; I knew this from the beginning: when I started in September I hadn’t anticipated (and wouldn’t ever have countenanced) doing LL over Christmas – BECAUSE it’s such a big deal for me - hence the increasing wobblies the closer we get to December. And - perhaps this is actually the LL psychology working here – I deserve to NOT be miserable.
I'm in a new job and I WANT to go to my new team’s Christmas lunchy thing – and eat, like everyone else. I WANT to have Christmas lunch and eat at my almost-in-laws’. I WANT to go to a couple of parties and have silly cocktails! And I WANT to make florentines and Lebkuchen and be able to eat a couple!  A stronger person might be able to do this wielding their soup pack and fizzy water and have as brilliant a time as everyone else, but I’m not that person. I feel isolated and freakish, and very sad for my tastebuds.
Essentially, I think that abstaining through Christmas might actually WEAKEN my resolve and self-belief, because I’d be so chuffing miserable and TRYING to be brave. I think it would be punishing myself.
FRIEND: > If you do come off it, but still with a goal to achieve, how does that affect your holiday in February?
ME: > Obviously there’s the danger that I’ll do Christmas, then keeping putting off restarting LL until February then they have to haul me on the plane to the US using some sort of winch. 
I have a big problem with self-trust. My entire possible undertaking of this thing would involve me saying to myself “Self, you abstained AND lived for three months. And I am committing to trusting you to start again in January”, then honouring that commitment. In a weird way I think it might help me, ahem, “grow” (sorry). And it does mean:
1. I've been breaking my back to lose the extra weight by Christmas. But, given that I'm losing an average of 3.2.lbs a week, that's unlikely to happen. But this way I’ll have 2 months, rather than 3 weeks, to lose the extra 10lbs (if indeed I need to), making a big saving on a the crazymaking.
2. I won’t feel deprived because I’ll have done the Christmas thing and anyway EVERYONE diets in January.
3. I’ll be motivated because I’ll want to be skinny-skinny in time for my holiday.
4. My bezzie mate will also be dieting for the holiday – and I see her the most out of all my friends, so that’ll be motivating.
FRIEND: > It does sound as if you're ready to go on to RTM though - as long as you can say to yourself 'well, if this is the extent of the loss, then I am happy. This is the weight I want to be and I'm proud of myself and I'm happy about where I am right now'. 
ME: > I’m not sure I’m quite THERE yet. I mean, apparently I am a size 10. My brain definitely hasn’t caught up yet, I think I still look lumpy in my undies, and I am 10lbs above where I want to be. I am not “holiday skinny” yet. But I kind of feel “Christmas skinny” if that makes sense.
FRIEND: > I don't think you're going to go mental with it over Christmas, because you have put so much work into it and you're not going to throw that effort away. 
ME: > Well, this is part of it you see. I don’t THINK I will either – I’m scared I might – but I’m trying to learn to trust myself on this, based on the evidence of the last 3 months. The thing is, I KNOW I will cheat on Christmas Day, and I may be tempted/actually cheat on other days over the season, too. So will I do this randomly, emotionally, and feel like crap about it? Or will I do it in a planned, accepting, adult “okay, it’s Christmas, let’s pick it up on the other side” way? And is one of these options masquerading as the other?
And that's what I've been debating with myself about:
  1. Is my plan to cheat just a self-sabotage tactic? Or am I actually looking after myself?
  2. If I do cheat, will I do it randomly, emotionally, and feel like crap about it? Or will I do it in a planned, accepting, adult way?
All I can do is go by how I'm feeling. For the last couple of weeks I've been VERY demotivated at the thought of not partaking at all in Christmas. I've been stepping on the scales each morning, WILLING my body to shed the 10lbs before the season kicked in.
And now? Now I'm hopeful and optimistic. I feel like I've made a decision that's true to me - not one that's going to spoil everything, and I have my head back in the game.
After all this thinking I went to see my LLC yesterday and told her very honestly what was going on in my head. The first thing she said was, "If you eat conventional food, is the world going to end?" She also said that as my LLC she couldn't endorse cheating. She said that she would have continued in abstinence through Christmas but that everyone is different. 
And the weird thing is - if it was my birthday or something coming up, I would have stayed in abstinence with only a twinge of deprivation. But it's Christmas, and if I don't eat I won't feel part of it.
My LLC said that if I hadn't been completely abstinent and so good at learning from the programme so far, she would have come down on me like a ton of bricks, but she could see that I was trying to handle a tricky situation, and that I knew what the consequences were (have to get back into ketosis; weight loss compromised for that week), and that I was making an adult, unemotional decision.
So the plan is this: do LLL for a couple of weeks, see how that goes - I may lose the 10lbs then (although I doubt it) at which point I can go into the LLL version of Route to Management. I'm going to go off-diet for maybe 2 or 3 days over Christmas, then continue either LLL or RTM.
Of course now I've made this decision I'm not even sure I will cheat. I may go to the restaurant or party or whatever and find food that fits into the LLL plan, at which point I'll decide whether or not to have a glass of wine. But I will, FOR THE MOST PART, be on LLL. 
I'm not going to mention it on the Minimins boards, because many people (and probably rightly) will tell me off, and I don't want to upset (or tempt) anyone who's staying abstinent through the holiday. And god forbid that this is the effect this news will have on you.

But I still think it's a healthy decision. For me, not necessarily anyone else. Of course I'd be totally miserable if I went completely off the reservation and started chowing down on everything over Christmas. But I don't think I will. And I think I just recognise that I deserve not to feel horrible over my favourite holiday of the year, and I'm taking steps to minimise any potential fallout.


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