I skipped the fries at lunch. I ignored the rolls at dinner. I complimented myself that I was getting on top of the ‘I need something sweet to end the meal’ habit.
Two things happen.
First, every time I say “I’ll have the steamed veggies instead of the chips,” I carve a fractionally deeper groove in a new habit, which makes it just a little easier to do it again next time…
…and second, an unsuspected bean-counter in my brain takes a tiny little bead from a pile and puts it on a scale. That’s one. That’s another one.
Two nights ago, apparently the beads on the scale had reached a critical mass and the balance tipped. I was in the grocery store, tired after a long day. Demoralized by my empty house. Overwhelmed by the thought of more raw chicken breast sitting in my kitchen, all needy and pathetic and requiring of many pans, much ingenuity, and assorted spices in ill-defined quantities.
So I bought ice cream instead. And ate it for dinner.
I had simply denied myself too many things that I just flat-out wanted, and I was unable to deny myself any more.
I hadn’t eaten a good lunch; you know that’s a trigger. If I get too hungry during the day, by dinnertime I’m guaranteed to make a bad, fast, immediate choice.
As I stalked from the fresh produce side of the store to the ice cream side of the store, my inner justification panel heard the case. Among the defenses tried were “You can’t go through life without ice cream; there have to be occasional slips;” “this is a test of determination; you eat ice cream tonight and get right back to eating well tomorrow;” and “how bad is it, really?”
But the one that won out, as noted, was the denial defense. For months, I’ve turned away from tempting option after tempting option; I’ve lived a life of purity and virtue – my forays into decadence were planned and thoughtful. I’ve stood on the scale and felt proud. I’ve bought new pants that fit. There are constant, continual reminders of the benefits of doing better…
…but the new grooves I’m wearing into shiny bright habits are still dwarfed by the trenches through deep mud caused by 57 years of eating the entire container of Ben and Jerry’s. And that’s the groove that won out.
But yesterday I paid attention, and went back to scraping tiny curls of new habit into the obdurate hardpan of my brain, and I’ll do it again today. To do anything else would be denial of the worst kind.
That’s the one that got me. Ben and Jerry’s Oat of this Swirled. I ate the whole thing in one sitting. No bowl. Just a spoon, a book, and ample gluttony. And I liked it – I liked it! Father, please hear my confession…