I tell you, this getting into shape thing is harsh at times. Three weeks ago I recorded a three pound weight loss, but over the past two weeks I’ve gained 3.4 pounds. Nevertheless, all of the working out I’m doing (at least six hours a week, sometimes up to nine hours) seems to be paying off; plenty of people have commented that I look like I’m losing weight, after all. And when I look in the mirror, I can see that I have been losing weight. My belly’s smaller than it used to be, my face is longer. My jeans no longer fit me as well as they used to. The belt which I bought just a few months ago and which was a bit too tight at the time now is too loose, even when I tighten it as much as it can go. Sure, it’s embarrassing to walk around constantly hitching up my trousers in public, but it’s kind of cool, too.
But it’s still hard at times, too, of course. Like tonight. Jennifer’s out at some sort of craft night thing with some friends from church, and I’m at home alone, left to my own devices. I went to Borders for a bit and had some coffee while working on the plot of a Dungeons and Dragons game that I’ll be running tomorrow night, and while I was driving home, I thought to myself, “You know… I could cheat a bit and have that special meal I used to treat myself to almost every night for awhile.”
Special meal, I hear you say? Nothing too dangerous. Just… well, okay, a bacon ultimate cheeseburger and a large order of French fries from Jack In The Box. A mere hundred grams of fat (or so) and a thousand calories. Nothing big, right?
And for years, it was comfort food for me. When I was working at the video store, I would often — just about every closing shift — pick up a cheesy horror film, then swing through the Jack In The Box drive through on my way home and then indulge myself. A horror film and cheesburgery goodness at 1:00 in the morning. Can’t be beat. Sometimes, I’d have the cheesburger and read comic books (in fact, I think there might be a grease stain on one of my old Sandman books). But I treated myself to that meal at least four times a week.
No wonder I got so fat, eh?
At any rate, I was driving home, thinking that it would still be an hour or so before Jennifer got home herself, and I could swing by the drive through and pick up one of these overfilling meals. I knew what the after effects would be: the bloated feeling in the belly, the greasy skin on my fingers from the fries, the near nausea. Not to mention the headache I’d wake up with in the morning (am I the only one who suffers from food hangovers?) and the difficulty I’d have breathing while working out tomorrow morning. But, on the other hand, it’s been months since I’ve indulged myself that way, and the lure was almost too great to resist.
Instead, I repeated to myself a mantra I’ve found to be very effective when facing this particular sort of temptation. Is today going to be the day, I ask myself, that I give up on this reshaping of myself? Again?
And I have to tell myself no. Because I know that if I let myself slip today, then I will start headed down that slippery slope, where cheating will be too easy, where I will think something like, “Well, it was just one burger. I can have another one, no problem.” And before you know it, I’m back in all of those old habits. Soon, I’d stop working out, and then this whole plan will go out the window, and I know where I’ll be when that happens.
So, no, today will not be the day.
Instead, I tried focusing on all of the other treats I could have. Ice cream. Cookies. Chocolate cookies smeared with peanut butter. I could have any of those. I’ve budgeted, so to speak. An orange. A tortilla spread with margarine, cinnamon, sugar, and Cool Whip. Somehow, though, none of those things were nearly as inspiring as the idea of the Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger and Large French Fries from Jack In The Box. Even the thought of the beer that I could have didn’t inspire me.
So I drove to Jack In The Box.
And, because today will not be the day, I drove on past.
I really wish I could say that I felt an inner sense of victory or that a monstrous swath of positive self esteem overwhelmed me, but I can’t. What I really wish is that this were not a struggle. I’d rather find other things to feel victorious about; I don’t know what, but trying to feel like a champ because I resisted the urge to swallow a couple of pounds of cheeseburger (I’m not sure if it really does weigh that much, but sometimes it felt like it). I’m sitting here, writing this, munching on dry cereal that doesn’t taste like a cheeseburger by any stretch of the imagination, and trying to feel victorious.
Today will not be the day.
I hope that day will never come.