Review. Yesterday I discussed some early warning signs that I am headed toward resuming my previously unhealthy lifestyle. I described how I began gaming the system to allow for a slightly-off-plan dessert and then allowed it to transform into a full-blown, nearly daily cheat.
Today, I’ll continue my introspection and see if I can find a solution.
The Subconscious Cause? Sometimes, in my past, I’ve partially noticed this pattern as it established itself. I’d see the cheats build and build and feel helpless to fix it.
It’s nice that I seem to be seeing it more clearly, and earlier this time. That doesn’t change the fact that the pattern is once again emerging, but it may offer hope that I can cut it off and be more effective in changing it before extensive damage is done.
As I was reviewing this post for publication, I realized that I might be subconsciously anticipating my impending dieting
doom challenge: how do I stay on my diet when my twins are born?
If you have kids, you may remember the situation: during and immediately after the delivery, I will spend several days and nights away from my house, away from the SCD food I’ve bought, and in circumstances where eating a proper meal will be:
- impossible (Ever tried to get a low carb meal in a “heart healthy” hospital café?!? Especially for breakfast?!?)1
- terribly difficult (Ever try explaining to your family or friends that it would be nice not to have to exert your willpower to resist the sugar-loaded treats they inevitably bring to the room?!?)
- really expensive (Ever try to make a meal out of just the dogs from half a dozen $3 hot dogs from the aforementioned hospital cafeteria?!? And to do it for every meal for 2-4 days straight while worrying about paying massive hospital bills?!?)
Even when I get home, lack of sleep will play havoc with my exercise and running, sap my willpower, and generally lead me down a road paved with good intentions but lined with Krispy Kreme shops.
The question looming overhead is simple: How to fix this?
Salvation in a Comment. Enter the Full Diet Break.
First, contrary to what I thought when I read the title, this is not an extended “Free Day.”
It is a conscious movement from weight-loss mode to maintenance mode even though I haven’t yet reached my goal. It is a time to increase calories, let up on (or at least hold steady but don’t increase) activity, and purposely go into (what is hopefully, mostly,) a plateau.
Lyle covers the physiological and psychological reasons for allow yourself freedom from the diet for a few weeks. He talks about resetting your hormones and about giving yourself a break from the mental stress of constant dieting.
It sounds a bit like something I wrote about Free Days way back when I when I was just 23 days into the 4HB program and this blog — Thoughts on Cheat Day:
- Physiological reason: ….By cheating, I (metaphorically) confuse [my body] and it stops adapting…. By tossing it something totally random…every week, I keep it guessing and give the rest of the diet and exercise a better chance to work.
- Psychological reason: ….If I thought that my cheat days were wholly undermining my success, I would not be able to continue this program. Day upon day of nothing but chicken breasts and beans would drive me crazy if there were no hope of relief in sight.
In describing this tactic, Lyle says:
Let me put this in a slightly different context: it would be a rare coach indeed who would expect their athletes to work at 100% 7 days/week, 4 weeks a month, 12 months a year. Athletes have light days, perhaps one day off per week, perhaps every 4th week with reduced loading, they usually take 2 weeks completely off every year. Sure, some of this is to allow physiological adaptation but some of it is psychological; you can’t maintain that intensity every day of your life without burning out.
So why should a dieter expect (or be expected) to do exactly that?
Now, we all know that the 4HB program doesn’t expect this. We have a built-in release valve in the Free Days we enjoy once per week. Still, there may be something to taking a more extensive break than a 24-hour mini-vacation.
Lyle also talks about timing these breaks:
[Should] the full break . . . be planned or unplanned[?] . . . it can be used in situations (such as the holidays, or vacation) when someone knows that they won’t be able to really stick to their diet.
In those sorts of uncontrolled situations, I find that people tend to feel a real sense of loss of control and they can go off their diet never to return. The full diet break can simply be planned around those time periods and suddenly the control has been returned to the dieter. They can do their best damage control knowing that, if anything, the 10-14 day period (or whatever) is finite and won’t do that much damage, returning to their diet when it’s over.
Luckily for me I have just such a situation coming up which I cannot (and would not if I could) change: the birth of my second and third sons.
The Plan. So the plan to keep me from abandoning my project altogether is simple:
- I will keep on keeping on until my boys are born. Then I will give myself two full weeks off the program, including off of IF.
- I will still eat extra protein when I can just because I happen to actually like refried beans and steak, but I will not stress out about extra carbs (Lyle recommends 100-150 grams of carbs/day) as they come about.2
- I will workout as the opportunity presents itself but not worry about it. If I can, I will. If not, I won’t. I hope to keep up with my MCT workouts (since I do them at home in less than 20 minutes) but I don’t expect to get to run hardly at all.
After two weeks, if all goes well, I won’t have gained too much weight and my resumption of full 4HB SCD + IF + MCT + running will result in accelerated fat loss, even though I will have to cover some of the same ground as before, losing the weight I put on in those two weeks.
This scares the hell out of me.
But it makes more sense than having the exact same problems during and after delivery, then abandoning my project once I realize that I’ve jumped off the wagon and it never stopped.
We shall see……….
I did my run today that I missed yesterday. Stats for today:
- Distance: 5.94 mi
- Duration: 1:23:40
- Average Pace: 14:06 / mi
- Average Speed: 4.26 mph
- Calories Burned: 841
- Elevation Climb: 303 ft
It sucked. No supplements before. No coffee during. I trudged along, walking large portions, and finally made it home.
Plan (and Reality) for Week 27:
Red indicates a negative deviation from the plan. Green indicates either a positive deviation from the plan or a measure of achievement according to plan.
NB: I changed my planned runs this week to be on MWF, just like my MCT workouts. I plan to give my body some rest on Tuesday and Thursday. All of this is, of course, subject to change according to the post above.