Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out Right, (and Sometimes They Do)

I have been a psychotic ball of stress lately.  Yes, it’s true.  With Christmas coming, with all of its monetary demands, with trying to buy the perfect gifts for teens, for spouse, for extended family and friends (when no one knows what they want and really, we have everything we truly need), for trying to maintain the perfect “Christmas feel” by constantly playing Christmas music while cooking up a storm, decorating the house, going out for meals and meeting for drinks—all this should have been fun for me, but instead I have been a mess. 
First, I was late getting my own shopping done only to find out neither of my teens had done any of their own and I lost my mind when I discovered I still had to take them out to help them finish theirs.  Why did I lose my mind over it?  Normally I would just roll with it, formulate a plan and then  get it done.  But this year I had no patience whatsoever for young Mr Indecisive and young Ms Respond-to-My-Freakout-With-a-Freakout-of-her-Own.  Which made me freak-out more, of course.  I don’t like to be that crazy parent who can’t stop yelling.  That’s a side of me that I don’t like at all (and I’m pretty sure the kids aren’t too fond of it either). 
But it didn't end there...
This whole past month I have vacillated back and forth between the whole “to bake or not to bake” debate that went like this in my head
·         if I bake it I will eat it and hate myself
·         if I bake it and don’t eat it , then the kids will eat it and I will be mad that I didn’t get any
·         I can bake everything “paleo” but we all know that it’s not REALLY paleo to eat that stuff
·         I will gain weight (even if the baking is paleo’ish--there is a limit on how much you can eat) or I will eat crap which will set off sugar-cravings that will ruin my day(s)
·         it’s not Christmas if there are no baked goodies because I have always baked goodies at Christmas if at no other time--this is tradition!
·         and my personal favourite crazy-thought; show the girls the recipes and THEY will want to bake it (why aren’t they baking for me, those lazy children...)
I hoarded paleo’ish recipes to try with the best intentions.  I stocked up on ingredients but ran short on time.  Then I caved and bought dark chocolate (in bulk!) and ate it all by myself.  No sharing allowed.  No baking done.  Then I felt guilty for not baking anything for anyone else.  Then I felt hostile that I should have to do all the baking alone but everyone got to do the eating.  Except I seemed to be doing most of the eating lately.  And so it cycled around and around in my head. 
Then I’d pour myself another glass of wine and sit there and brood over it all. 
So, aside from the PMS, how did it all go so wrong?
It was a slippery slope this month, a month of being surrounded with office treats-some of which I said no to, and some of which I caved and ate anyways, and so this month was filled with sugar cravings and failed denial followed by moments of regret, and of willpower, of exhaustion, of stress and days packed full of errands, of “I feel guilty” intermittent fasts, of victories at my own meals, of total “cheats” at the office feeds.  And down the slope I went.
And the month is not yet over.  There are still a few rocky days ahead of me.
But you know what?  For all the self-loathing I have had, for all of my failures, I am just simply going to forgive myself.  I’m not going to look back when this month is over and use it as an excuse to let everything go to hell.  Nope.  I’m going to use it as a lesson, and I will learn from it.  Let me review what went wrong, but then, also, WHAT WENT RIGHT...
It only takes 1 “cheat” to set off a sugar craving that will ride me all day long, so if I think I can have “just 1” I am sadly mistaken.
Blaming others for my mistakes does not make me feel better, it only makes me more angry.  No one put that food in my mouth for me, and just because my husband ate it doesn’t mean I should eat it too.
Baked goods are still baked goods, paleo or not, so either bake and enjoy, or don’t bake at all, just don’t vacillate and stew in the guilt of doing or not doing
Don’t try to be Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart if you are not them.
This was my Christmas Eve spread...  (Those are coasters in the right corner, and the centerpiece is china, not gingerbread, I swear)
...And thanks to my very patient husband who stood in the kitchen with me for 3 Herculean hours of prepping and cooking, helping every minute as I crankily gave orders, only to realize that finger foods don’t really work well with paleo.  The pigs in a blanket were dry (although there were no leftovers of these, the kids ate every bite anyways, but next time I make a finger food I will simply wrap the hot dogs with bacon...), the ranch dipping sauce was runny (silly me thinking a salad dressing was thick enough to be a dip—but the taste was perfect), the sweet potato chips did not stay crispy, no one liked the meatballs with bbq sauce (because I should have baked them right in the sauce and I didn’t—I added it at the end) and most importantly, we were all full after about ten bites each.  Because it was real food and not empty filler.  Three hours of cooking for ten bites each.  The feed was over in about ten minutes.  What a lunchbox letdown.
Alright, enough berating--now to focus on the good stuff!  I did manage to have several good office feeds where I said no to chocolate, cookies, donuts, bagels, pastries, etc. 
I ate the food that I brought from home, and ate my tuna in a cup instead of on the bagel.  I had my pita fillings on salad instead of bread, I had my Mr Greek gyros and grilled chicken on double veggies, and I had a cappuccino with no sugar for the first time ever, and liked it that way!  
I had one stellar week where I managed to fit in 4 WODs, and they were very creative, very challenging WODs (thank you Steve) and I felt amazing for doing it. 
On Christmas Eve I went trail running with my brother, sister-in-law, and two of their kids (and their two dogs)—this is the first time ever that Steve and I have included anyone in our WODs, and I LOVED IT!  I wasn’t having my strongest performance day, but we still shaved another minute off our last time, and I really had to push myself to keep up with everyone else (I seem to be the only one of us with any exercise-induced asthma who was struggling with the -8 weather).  So thank you, guys, for coming along with us—I want to make it a regular thing now!
And finally, not one but two people have started to hear what we have to say about why we are eating a grain-free, sugar-free, processed-food-free lifestyle.  People have started to listen--and even more important--ask questions!  We’d stopped telling people because no one wanted to hear it, but someone did hear it.  Now they just have to go ahead and try it for a month and see how they feel.  I know, I know, don’t worry about other people, you can only worry about you on this paleo/primal journey, but sometimes it’s nice to be heard, isn’t it?
And lastly—even though my month was full of mistakes, I know that this whole paleo thing is the right thing, and even if I have put on some weight this month (I’m sure there’s around 3 extra pounds, maybe more, I’m afraid to find out; I know I don’t like how my belly looks right now)—I know that getting right back into it, really whole-hearted, will resolve any evils that I have done to myself.  I know I have a solid solution, a healthy solution this time.  I’m thinking a Whole30, or something like it, for the month of January.  I will try extra-hard to break the sweet-habit I have fallen into over the holidays.  I will also try to make a clean break from dairy for the month, since I am lactose-intolerant, to give my guts a break.  Snow will fall and I will get out there more often and enjoy life, with less stress and more fun.  The days will get longer again.  I will have a positive bank balance again and I will try to go cross-country skiing and snow-tubing and snowshoeing.  In the meantime, I will continue to go trail-running so long as the snow holds off and be grateful for the unusually snow-free winter so far.

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