When I first embarked on my lifestyle change, I thought trips to the grocery store would be the most difficult of all. I was sure that aisle upon aisle of sugar-filled kryptonite would be my downfall.
But you know what? The place that proved to be the most challenging was entirely surprising -- work. On my first day back in the office after the holidays, I walked into one of the kitchens in my building to find a table piled high with sweet treats -- the things people could clearly no longer have in their house but instead had decided to foist upon unsuspecting coworkers. The company where I work also happens to offer free, unlimited soda. Gem-colored cans glinted and gleamed from inside of refrigerated cases, attempting to lure me away from the lemon-flavored water I've begun carrying around like a security blanket. I won't lie, turning away from double chocolate-chip brownie bites was difficult. In fact, I'm sure that if anyone had taken a photo of me at that exact moment, my facial expression would've indicated that I was looking at a long-lost boyfriend and not a dessert item.
Though the holidays have long since passed, my job continues to provide myriad distractions from my route to a healthier life -- a cafeteria with every conceivable form of delicious, subsidized, portion control-free food, donuts at meetings, vending machines that serve as sirens during the dreaded 2-to-5 p.m. slog towards freedom.
Part of my workaround? Preparation. I have assembled a go-to snack kit that satisfies my cravings but keeps me on track:
- Around mid-morning, I have a small Fuji apple with a tablespoon of almond butter
Much like the rest of life, however, not everything can be controlled, but you still have to respond to unexpected situations in a reasonable manner. Last week brought the first challenge to my carefully regimented lifestyle -- I woke up late, forgot to pack a lunch, and was then invited to eat lunch with some friends. When I walked into the cafeteria, I became overwhelmed with choices -- burgers and fries, pizza, AN ICE CREAM BAR. I thought about all the options, remembered how groggy I felt after eating huge, heavy lunches filled with fried food, and made a beeline for the salad bar.
On the surface, the reward seems simple enough to understand -- a nice, big salad is far healthier than calorie and fat-filled chicken strips and fries. As I walked back to my building from the cafeteria, I thought about how, more than anything else, my goal for this whole change was to teach myself to make the right choices in what I eat. I haven't felt sluggish after lunch, and with the right ingredients, a salad can actually be filling and doesn't have to feel like a form of punishment. I am two weeks in, and by no means are the choices a reflex, or really easy (I mean, these particular chicken strips are really good), but rather than feeling like I've been relegated to life as a bunny, I am learning to appreciate and understand the full impact of everything I consume.