I’m walking through the aisle at Wal-Mart and I’m trying to figure out what I want for dinner. Actually it wasn’t that difficult of a choice. I was going to eat what I craved the most and would probably miss the most the next 21 days – pizza. I went to the frozen pizza aisle and got one with with sausage and pepperoni.
I felt like a death row inmate enjoying his last meal. I finished every bite even though I was beyond full. I couldn’t leave any leftovers.
Four days later
My wife and I are walking through the same aisles at Wal-Mart. This time I tried so hard to resist the pizza. It wasn’t only the pizza that was tempting me. It was the Oreos or the bag of Lay’s KC Masterpiece BBQ potato chips that I love. I was starving, but I needed to resist.
99% of my body wanted it, but I stuck to the 1% and walked out without a frozen pizza or any of the other junk foods that I love.
We dropped off some groceries at my mom’s house. While we were there, pizza was still on my mind. The past three years whenever I’ve had the tiniest bit of a craving, I’d satisfying it. I’ve always lost the battle. I tried to think of an excuse to have pizza.
It really felt like two voices were talking to me. One said, “Go ahead! What’s the big deal??” while the other one said “It’ll taste good, but you’ll regret it afterwards if you eat it.”
We went home and I immediately made a salad. The hunger went away and felt pleased that I resisted my temptations.
Why am I doing this?
The day after my final pizza I began a 21 day cleanse. The 21 day cleanse would have me eating a lot of fresh natural foods. No more dairy, carbs, processed foods, gluten, refined sugar. and meat. No pizza, fast food, and no ice cream. All the things that I absolutely love.
Why did I want to do this? Because I’ve been feeling like 100% crap. Not just recently, but for the past three years. Ever since I ran my last half marathon in February 2011, I’ve slowly gone downhill.
When I finished my last half marathon, I was in amazing shape, but then I went to Taipei to visit Eleanor and slowly went back to my old ways. When I got back months later, I couldn’t run a mile without being out of breath.
I love to eat. When I eat, I don’t just eat a small portion. I eat until I can barely breath. If there’s opportunity for dessert, I always say yes. It’s a terrible cycle.
I’ve gone through phases since college when I’ve been in great physical shape. That’s how I’d love to be all the time. However it’s always been an up and down roller coaster.
But as I’ve gotten older, my body started to change. Not sure what factors but maybe metabolism slowing down, exercising less, and eating more junk. Probably all three.
Because of the way I was eating, it had side effects. I remember last year being on vacation and I’d get these really bad headaches after taking a nap. Felt like migraines. I’d want to take a nap often because I had a huge meal. I noticed that when I went to bed, my heart was still beating really fast. That wasn’t right. I should be relaxed and calm.
I didn’t like how I looked either. I had this beer gut without drinking any beer. I looked at pictures of me and couldn’t believe this chubby guy I was looking at. It was embarrassing.
Willpower alone did not work
It seemed like everyday I’d tell myself that I was going to change.
I’m a sugar addict. I feel that is my biggest problem. I’ve tried just using willpower to eat less sugar. I sounded like a broken record cause I would always say, “No more sugar for a week” or “I’m not eating this much anymore.”
Yet I’d be back the next day doing the same thing. How good I felt while I ate sugar overpowered any thoughts of long term consequences. I only looked at instant gratification and the more I did, the weaker my willpower got.
I truly believe that sugar is an addiction just like a drug. I always thought just using willpower I could cut back on sugar. It’s not that easy.
I’ve wanted to do a 3-day juice cleanse that has become so popular. Surely I could handle that. I tried once and I made it only one day.
I tried fasting 24 hours twice a week. I survived for a couple weeks, but the problem was after a fast I’d have a huge meal.
I kept looking for a quick fix where I could still eat the foods I loved and still lose weight and feel great.
I had to stop trying that.
21 Day Cleanse – The First Attempt
In October I saw on Facebook a friend’s wife going through the 21 day cleanse. She’d post daily photos of what she made and commented often how good it tasted. I read more about the program and seemed like something I needed.
The benefits of 21 days were:
- reboot my body
- clean out whatever toxins I had built up
- feel great
- lose weight
- get rid of food cravings
That’s exactly what I wanted.
Buying the program was not going to guarantee success. Sure I was motivated, but I’ve been motivated before when starting.
But could I do it? Could I not eat meat for that long? What about rice or bread? Would I feel irritable cause I couldn’t have sugar?
For the 21 day cleanse, I liked that it gave me a lot of recipes with great photos. It had a day by day plan of what to eat each meal. I looked through the recipes and some looked good, while others I wasn’t sure about.
I would give it a chance.
I started in November. We went to the health foods store to buy all different kinds of nuts, seeds, and other foods I’ve never bought before. My wife wasn’t going to do it. She looked at the meals and knew she couldn’t survive. She did try some of the meals and snack and loved them.
The first three days I felt fine. I thought I can do this. I wasn’t having headaches or dizziness that some people reported because of withdrawals from caffeine.
The fourth day I hit my wall. Hard. I was so hungry. Anything I couldn’t have sounded so good.
My family wanted to eat Chinese buffet on the fourth day. I hadn’t told them I was trying to do a 21 day cleanse. We go occasionally and I always eat too much. I was torn. It sounded so good. I could have said no.
Then my instant gratification side starts coming up with excuses. My thinking was I’d get rid of my craving and pick back up the day after. I’d be like a cheat day once a week. I eat clean the next six days, but this cheat day would help the cravings.
That was not part of the 21 day plan. I was bending the rules.
I went and it tasted like a 5 star meal.
The day after I ate healthy, but the day after that I had a pizza. The craving came back and I made an excuse that it was okay to have it. So much for going six days of healthy eating. I don’t know what it’s like to be addicted to drugs, but I felt like I needed my pizza to calm down. After that, I never got back on track.
I went back to my old ways. Eat out a lot. Big meals at home. Eating ice cream, chocolate and cookies.
Then we went to London, Paris, and New York in February. It’s easier to eat a lot on vacation and that’s what I did. I had the headaches and just overall discomfort again.
While on the trip, I told my wife when I got back I was going to do the 21 days. She said okay sure, but I don’t know how much confidence she had in me that I’d stick with it. Since we’ve been married, she’s heard me complain about my weight.
I was serious this time. I had my breaking point. This madness had to stop.
I needed to. I hated how I always felt. I especially hated how I looked. I’ve been complaining about it for so long. I got tired of hearing myself complain.