Day 188 (R, 110707) — From Gaming to Cheating to Quitting, Part 2: Salvation??

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.

Two days ago, Jonas left a comment pointing me to a post by Lyle McDonald about 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:

Day Fast? SCD? Run? MCT?
Sunday Yes No No No
Monday Yes No Yes Yes (6.61) Yes
Tuesday Yes Yes No No
Wednesday Yes Yes No3 Yes No
Thursday Yes Yes No (5.91) No
Friday Yes Yes Yes Yes
Saturday No No Yes No
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.


1You know . . . the “heart healthy” kind of place that is full of sugary sweets like gigantic muffins with 2000 calories, mostly from sugar, white flour, and fake blueberries?  Or “healthy” carrot cake which has more bad stuff in it than any grocery store lard-frosted sheet cake with Dora on top ever thought of having?  Yeah, that kind of place.
2 Which is going to be tough for me.  I stopped counting carbs a long time ago, simply relying on avoiding the bad foods as my best method of keeping them low, that I am, unsure of the carb count in many things.  I guess I’ll have to go back to looking like a first-time Atkins dieter, carrying around a small carb-count book for a while until I remember how to estimate things better.
3 Wednesday, I broke my fast around 4:30 when I snacked on some salami.  Later, I had a tasty but too small meal of pork chops, broccoli, and green beans.   I also had nibbles of chicken tenders (with much of the batter removed), fried cheese, potato skins, etc.  When I got home that night, I had some hot dogs.   Finally, I had 1.5 Atkins bars.  It wasn’t a lot of non-SCD food but I still wonder . . . just how many BLTs (Bites, Tastes, & Licks) does it take to count as having had too many disallowed foods?

11 responses to “Day 188 (R, 110707) — From Gaming to Cheating to Quitting, Part 2: Salvation??

  1. Suggestion… This is coming from me who will live the SB diet the rest of my life. First off, I have to explain that I am gluten intolerant. This means that I allow myself to imbibe on wheat bread and pasta every once in a blue moon, but for the most part I’ve completely cut it from my diet. I do allow myself brown rice, but keep that to a minimum.

    With that said, it is obvious that low carbing is not as huge an issue for me as it is for some others. Going to a fast food restaurant takes some real effort since almost everything is on bread. Even some salads contain wheat. For example, the steak salad at Panera has those fake onion crunchy things on them. They are more wheat than onion. So my point is that I feel your pain of trying to find something low carb at the hospital cafeteria.

    My suggestion to you is to pack in your food to the hospital. I rarely go out anymore to fast food restaurants, because of the previously mentioned problems. Even at the hospital cafeteria, you should be able to find something healthy that still fits in with your diet. Pick salads over meatloaf, potatoes and gravy. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that eating correctly helps me to deal with stress better, because I feel better!

    When well intentioned people bring in all that bad stuff that you aren’t supposed to be eating, tell them that you are allergic. They can’t take offense at that. In essence, you are because your body does not react well when you eat what you shouldn’t.

    • Thanks for the tips, Chris. I don’t think I can pull off the “allergic” bit, my family knows my dieting history too well . . . but I can probably afford to ask more insistently that they be more helpful in watching what they bring to the room and the house.

      And I was planning on bringing some food to the hospital, but not much. Maybe I’ll need to rethink that.

      And thanks, also, for the tips about meatloaf etc. I sometime forget how much wheat is used in everyday things nowadays. Though I find it tough to forget how much sugar is used now that I am more sensitive to it. For example, I can’t stand jarred pasta sauces. They taste like someone made a decent sauce and then added two cups of sugar to the mix. Blech. 😉

      Have a great one. =)

  2. I think setting a timeline as you’ve done does put the control back in your hands. Taking a break, but being conscience of your decisions over the 2 weeks will go a long way. What’s that saying, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Well it sounds like you’ve got a solid plan. Good Luck!
    (I’ve got a similar situation approaching, I’m backpacking in south america for 4 weeks, and have already decided I’m basically going to shelve my eating plan.)

    • Taking control is exactly what I’m trying to do, H.I.

      By turning this impending interruption into a planned digression, I hope to minimize the damage and actually gain some mental (and physical) benefits from it. We’ll see if it works out that way.

      Everything I’ve “learned” about dieting in the past many years has “taught” me that Lyle is wrong, we can’t just take a break, not gain 200 pounds in three days, and, in fact, come out of it better than we went in. That said, taking a purposeful two-week moderate break is a damn sight better plan than trying desperately to stick to a relatively restrictive diet and exercise plan*, losing that battle, and causing massive mental stress because of it.


      * And let’s face it: as comparatively easy as the 4HB program is, any plan in which you do other than eat what you want and what is easily available is restrictive.
  3. I wouldn’t worry two much about being 2 weeks off diet. After months of exercising, I usually find that I lose more weight DURING my week off. The most important thing you can do is to keep blogging daily! That’ll definitely keep you motivated and on the right track.

  4. Gotta admit, I’ve felt myself going down this path the last couple of weeks. I’ve been eating this way since January 19, almost 6 months, which is right where you are. I think I’m going to join you in a sabbatical very soon. I’ve already decided not to weigh myself this week. I’ve cheated a little and tomorrow night is date night and I’d like to have a beer without worrying about what that stupid scale will have to say about it Saturday morning. I’ve been saving something for a post and I think I’ll crank it out in the next day or so, maybe even later today. Could you go without weighing yourself for a while? Would that reduce your stress, or add to it? What if you took a 2 week break from the diet and then another two weeks from the scale? At the end of 4 weeks, it is what it is, but you don’t have the stress of weighing in right after the break.

    Thanks for this excellent post.

    • An interesting, idea. Mark. Believe it or not, had an article about this not too long ago:

      How to Ditch the Scale in 30 Days

      1. Store the scale out of sight.
      2. Start your day with a positive ritual.
      3. Start measuring other healthy accomplishments.
      4. End your day with a pat on the back.
      5. Weigh in after a month.

      They go into detail about each point and give a pretty good rationale, IMO, for doing this.

      I’ll consider your suggestion, Mark. But I can’t promise I’ll do it.

      As always . . . we shall see. 😉

      Have a good one!

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