I have a very embarrassing but poignant story to tell about these donuts.
Let me start by explaining that for the past couple of years I have put a lot of effort into shifting towards a healthy lifestyle. With special thanks to my husband’s passion and intelligence about lifestyle change, I have significantly “cleaned up“ my diet, joined a CrossFit gym (and actually show up to work out from time to time! 😉), and begun to practice mindfulness. The journey has largely been uphill, but fruitful. While I have a long way to go, I am by far and away stronger, healthier, and wiser than I was a few years back.
But make no mistake, I am still very human.
Case in point: Last week, I got a craving for my weakness one afternoon: baked goods. Meanwhile I was expecting an old friend of mine to stop by the office for a visit. I thought it would be sly to use this as an excuse for an indulgence and welcome her with some donuts. It was just a treat, and after all I hadn’t had any for a long time, so why not reward myself? Since I would be hosting, it seemed silly to skimp on the supply, so I bought a half dozen. For her and me.
Lo and behold, my dear, wise friend is a very healthy person herself, and kindly refused to partake of the donuts adding, “I don’t know the last time I have had one of those.”
After the visit, not wanting them to go to waste, I munched *mindlessly* on donuts while getting caught up on some work. Next thing I knew, 2-1/2 of them were gone.
Not feeling too great about myself, I headed home for dinner. With the “munchies“ now kicked into high gear, I went ahead and ate more for dinner then I normally do. For the rest of the evening, I felt… well… blah. I don’t have a great description for how I felt. I wasn’t quite nauseous, I didn’t quite have a headache, I wasn’t quite short of breath. I just felt like I was in a fog, struggling to be barely functional. I was out cold by 8:30 PM.
I wanted to make up for it, so I made myself go to the gym early the next morning. It was clear to me that I was operating on only half the gas I usually do for the workout. Compared to times past when I would return after weeks at a time away from the gym, I was far more compromised that particular morning after just one day of bad eating.
After barely scraping through the workout, I headed to work. That daggone box of donuts was still in the office. I ignored it and launched into my tasks and appointments. As I got hungry shortly before lunchtime… I heard the donuts calling me.
I picked up the box and took three steps toward the front door intending to bring them to the dumpster. I almost audibly heard the “good voice” from over my right shoulder yelling “STOP, JUST THROW THEM OUT!” as I ignored it and reached into the box for “only one or two more bites.” The Good Voice eventually prevailed, and the result is captured in the photograph above. But by this point there were less than 2 donuts left in the box. And no… I never wound up sharing any. It was all me. ☹
All this was after just one day of foolish eating amidst a rather assertively “healthy lifestyle.” In the space of this 24-hour period I wound up fatigued, foggy, queasy, inefficient and… addicted: proceeding to indulge in a bad choice even with conscious acknowledgement that the “right” decision was to immediately get rid of the offending substance (a/k/a donuts). My sense of reason was completely taken over by the impulse.
You might say there is no way you are eating 4-1/2 donuts in a single 24-hour period so this story doesn’t apply to you. But do you eat donuts on a regular basis at all? Or does your daily breakfast maybe consist of something like a bagel with cream cheese? Or toast, or an English muffin? Do you take your coffee or tea with cream and sugar? Milk and sugar? Even milk and an “alternative” sweetener? Do refined carbs, artificial coloring or flavoring, and/or processed dairy comprise any amount of your usual diet routine? Do you eat out more than twice a week, as opposed to consistently eating meals prepared at home from fresh ingredients? If you answered yes to any of these questions, how long has it been going on? More than 24 hours, perhaps?
Maintaining a clean, healthy diet in this day, age, and culture is not easy. Our senses are constantly bombarded with reminders of the foods and drinks that are designed and engineered to trigger the dopamine reward system that is associated with pleasure and addictive impulses. After all, if you are triggered, then you will purchase more. This goes well for the food industry. It might not go so well for you.
If you have never gone a long enough stretch with complete avoidance of processed foods, only filling your system with things that were meant for human consumption like fresh produce and lean unprocessed animal proteins, you might not even know what it feels like for your system to run at maximum efficiency. Imagine taking a brand-new car and from Day 1 pouring a quart of iron shavings into the oil tank, or a pint of sand into the gas tank. Car won’t run so well. Imagine instead that you took a tablespoon of sand and added it into the gas tank every time you went to fill up. The resultant inefficiency might not be apparent the first couple of weeks or months. But eventually that junk will build up, and the car will peter out before it should.
Why do we take such diligent care of our vehicles but ignore what we do to our bodies? Ironically, at least a car is replaceable! Not so with the body. We each only get one.
Cleaning sand out of the fuel injector by quitting on bad health habits does not happen overnight. But it starts with making good choices for just one day. Then one more. Then one more. Take it one day at a time. And if there is a bad day… hey, it’s just one day. The good news is that there is another one to follow it, and it is always yours to do with what you will. The key to feeling better is to be better. One day at a time.
Starting a life-changing pattern of better habits is tough during the holidays. But the great news is that the New Year comes right afterwards. Make a plan to make it count.
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