Week 1 Without Mountain Dew and Other Treats

When I signed up for the fit2fat2fit journey, I must admit that I had some preconceived notions regarding what the experience would be like. I assumed, probably arrogantly, that I’d learn a few things while gaining weight, but once the fit journey kicked in, I’d be able to prove to the world how easy a lifestyle change could be.

I’d like to amend that thinking, just one week in. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t buckled under the pressure, and my body hasn’t completely abandoned me now that I’m not providing it an endless cycle of “comfort” foods. Whereas I thought my mantra would be “see, I told you so!” it’s quickly turned into “see, you told me so!”

7 little days have passed since the zingers and Mountain Dew were put into retirement, and I’ve seen the curiosity start to build. How is he coping? Has he cheated? Is he somehow sneaking 3 zingers into the spinach shake before hitting “blend”? I could answer those questions with personal trainer speak – that it’s easy, and the hunger pains don’t exist. I could tell you that I don’t have any lasting cravings, and my energy is so through the roof that my house is spotless, my wife is treated to breakfast in bed every day, and I’m ready to workout 5 hours every day. But when I started this journey, in addition to making the commitment to gaining and losing this weight, I also committed to honesty. And honestly, that personal trainer speak is nowhere to be found.

The truth is much less glamorous, yet clearly much more common. So far, the fat2fit journey stinks. Yes, it feels good to eat healthy again. I miss the bloating about as much as I miss mowing the lawn and mentally, it feels wonderful to know that I’m starting to heal the damage done. But the withdrawals are taking their toll. The cravings seem to mock me like the Colonel did at the local KFC so many food challenges before. In just seven days, one of my biggest “a ha” moments has already started to occur – just how many times we’re tested every single day.

Earlier this week, I walked into a gas station to get my daily ration of water. For six months, this visit had a different purpose. This was my zingers/energy drink run. I think I actually topped my gas tank off 6 days a week just for the experience. Yet, this week I had to walk away. While at work, I walked into the hospital break room before changing into scrubs, and saw what I used to consider the greatest addition to the modern workplace – a fully stocked refrigerator that seemed to turn water, Coke, Sprite, and the like into my personal stache of Mountain Dew on command. I left the break room only with my scrubs (the hospital staff was clearly relieved that my loss of the Dew didn’t result in forgetting those). But in reality, those are only two of about a hundred situations I encountered this week.

Scarier is what I’ve lovingly dubbed the “amnesia snack”. When you eat without restriction, you develop habits. Certain snacks, foods, and treats in certain situations. We all have them – from the “hey, I just took out the trash, I should be rewarded with a can of Pringles” to the “after a long day of work, I park my car, kiss my wife, smile at the children, and eat 2 cans of Spaghetti-O’s routine”, there are just moments that we eat and we don’t even realize it. I attribute it most closely to how a smoker must feel when they discover a cigarette in their hand and don’t remember lighting it. Yes, I’ve had those moments too (although it helps when my wife swings like Mike Tyson to dislodge it from my hands (in a lovingly way, I’m sure).

I guess, after seven days, the biggest message that I can share is while I haven’t cheated, I have been tempted. And the journey back to fit isn’t about pull-ups or spinach shakes. It’s about making different decisions when confronted with these temptations. No matter how difficult it is. And I personally feel I owe you all a debt of gratitude. Because whenever I have those moments, you push me to “toe the line.” When I read my emails, Facebook posts, etc. of other #teamdrew members that are going through this, I realize I’m not alone and that I’m so supported. I’m thankful for all of you and know I’ll need plenty more support going forward.

Keep pushing – I’m confident that with each passing day, the old habits will continue to fade. Until then, I'll still dream of my Mountain Dew and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, hopeful that these amnesia snack moments fade first. My wife can throw a mean left hook when there are processed snacks in the vicinity.