Week Six - wrapping it up for now
I'm ending this phase of the "food vacation" experiment now. I know I said I would take it through to the solstice, but that looks logistically difficult and frankly unpleasant. The past week has been really hard, psychologically and physically, and due to social commitments December generally was going to be a bit impossible in terms of avoiding yum. I've also started missing the creative outlet in the past week or so and I want to get back into the cooking, and I'd like to be able to look forward to another food vacation fairly soon, so I'm going to stop now while it's still interesting.
The hard week started when I made my daughter's birthday cake - no, I don't force paleo/traditional eating on her, although she eats about 85% that way regardless. (Kiddo loves her fish heads...) Anyway, she wanted a white cake with chocolate icing, and frankly the thought of buying one never even crossed my mind. I went straight for the Cook's Illustrated website (a subscription I highly recommend on the one hand because it's full of recipes of awesomeness, but on the other hand helps people cook in such a way that their food is as chock-full of food reward as possible...). Doing the cake wasn't bad but the icing just about did me in, what with the melted Callebaut chocolate and butter and all. And the fact it kept getting on my fingers. Nevertheless, I made it through without a single lick or taste. The next day, with hot dogs, ramen and cake on the beach, I watched everyone else enjoy their crap while I ate lukewarm tasteless stew. That wasn't so fun - not that I really wanted the crap, but I felt left out of the celebrations somehow.
I think following a low food reward diet would be a lot easier if everyone else in your tribe did it too, and birthdays and other celebrations didn't happen while you were doing it.
But, regardless, I had six successful weeks of absolutely no tasty foods, I feel culinarily refreshed and rejuvenated, I've lost a little over 15 lbs and my palate has certainly adjusted. Tonight, after my last meal of tasteless stew, I had a treat - some frozen cherries. After a few I realized they were too sweet. I ate some more anyway and now I feel vaguely ill. I am, however, very much looking forward to breakfast tomorrow morning, which will consist of an omelette with caramelized onions, goat cheese, and bacon, and COFFEE. Oh, coffee, how I missed you. (The truly pathetic thing is, I only drink decaf...)
So the next phase of this will be trying to eat normally, and see what happens to my weight. I will be following my usual diet of paleo plus dairy, and I will be working especially hard at avoiding industrial foods - anything from a package, sugar, and refined stuff, including cornstarch etc. (Grains are totally out, of course.) Some of my social obligations include eating restaurant food, and there I won't be able to completely avoid industrial stuff like vegetable oils and sauces, but I'll do my best.
I mentioned that this week has been hard physically, and that's because I've started seeing a noticeable decline in my strength. A few weeks ago I could back squat over 100 lbs for at least 10 reps, and a few days ago, I couldn't. I felt energetic enough, the strength just wasn't there. Interestingly, though, the day before that, I did the Mackenzie Bight trail and the usual slog up beside the waterfall was much easier than it's ever been in the past. (And yeah, the thought occurs that my skippy-fast burn up a steep hill the day before might have something to do with a less-than-stellar lifting workout - but if so, it's still a recovery-time problem.) I'll be trying to put some muscle back on over the next month, so I'll be consciously eating more protein. While I dropped 15 lbs, probably 3-4 of those consisted of muscle, and I want that bit back.
In January, I'll do another 4 weeks of food vacation, and see how that goes. In reality, I should have probably only done 4 weeks this time - in terms of permanent weight-loss viability, cycling through low-food-reward phases and figuring-out-what-normal-eating-should-be phases makes more sense. But I needed a longer break from the food, I think, so I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out, and I've learned quite a lot.