The Wagon

‘On the wagon’ is a popular phrase used to describe the act of giving up alcohol. But I think this is the wrong way to look at the situation, as giving up something has a negative slant. It feels like something you’ve lost, rather than something you’ve found. But getting on that wagon, not just to forego alcohol, but anything you think isn’t right for you, and you’ve definitely found something. That wagon and those wheels will take you somewhere. It’s a journey to somewhere better. The wagon is a vehicle of change.

Lately, I’ve been eating pretty unhealthy. There are some foods that just don’t agree with me for whatever reason. And I know it, but I continue to eat them. So I decided to cut them out in an effort to change my eating habits. My first ‘diet’ in a while. The foods I eliminated are:

1. Dairy – I actually think I’m lactose intolerant to a degree (if that’s possible) but for ice cream and cheese, I tolerate it. Excluding dairy forces you to get calcium from other sources…i.e. bone soups.

2. Wheat – the dreaded wheat. Nothing seems as harmless to me as wheat. It’s natural. The pictures of it always seem healthy. And it’s in everything good to me. Bread, muffins, bagels, croissants, any other bread products you can think of…I like them all. And beer…which gets tricky for me. In my first week, I woke up dreaming about bread, which kind of freaks me out.

3. Refined sugar – Which is obviously anything sweet, like cakes, cookies, candy, but there is also a lot of sugar in ketchup, cereal, and so many other things. Again, all of which I like.

But that’s it. So it’s not about being crazy fat free or all protein or anything like that. I call it the hunters diet. I eat meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit. And it’s kind of hard to eat consistently unhealthy by filling up on meat and vegetables.

And these last 2 weeks, being on the dairy, wheat, and sugar wagon, I’ve felt really good.

But the other night…I went to the Knicks game at the Garden. And I didn’t eat dinner beforehand. And while I’m sure there are healthy options at the World’s Most Famous Arena, every person around me is eating popcorn, and candy, and ice cream, and hot dogs. It’s like giving a pedophile a tour of an elementary school. Even if I had eaten a full meal before I left, can you really expect me not to get something delicious?

My Dinner:

1 bacon cheese burger – dairy, wheat

1 French fry with ketchup – sugar

2 chocolate chip cookies – wheat, dairy, sugar

I woke up today with the ‘it’s over’ feeling. I’m done. I was about to get an egg & cheese bagel sandwich with a muffin for breakfast dessert. Then it occurred to me, why is it that when we fall off the wagon, do we have to blow that wagon to hell? Why can’t we just get back on and start rolling again?

Relapse is a part of recovery in the AA community, right? Wake up and be sober today. Be right today. Eat meats and vegetables today. And feel good about that today.

If you smoke one cigarette, you don’t have to smoke the whole pack. If you have a few drinks one night, you don’t need to go on a 9 day bender.

I know that it’s not good to go into any scenario where you are trying to change yourself with an attitude that you can cheat. But we have to be realistic about what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to build better habits. We’re trying to change. That’s the goal. And that’s not easy.

If you go on a diet to try to lose weight, you’re going in with a losing strategy. Even if you succeed in losing the weight, the second you come off that diet, what do you expect to happen? You should go in with the idea that you are trying to change your bad eating habits. That’s a sustainable way to keep your weight down.

This goes with all internal change. We have fallen into personal habits that we think or we know are bad for us and we’re trying to break them. Habits are formed by repetition. Do the right things on more days than you do the wrong things. If you slip up and miss a day…fine. It happens. Get back up and do it right today.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday this weekend…and I know what I’m going to do that day to any plate of nachos or cakes-shaped-like-footballs, not to mention beer. But it’s Super Bowl Sunday, not Super Bowl Monday. And I’ll be back riding on that wagon all next week.