One of the most important people I have learned about in my time as an instructional coach is a dude named Dr. James Prochaska. He has identified six stages of change, and the behaviors or mindsets that come with each stage of change. For years, this cycle has intrigued me because I have helped teachers and students achieve goals, as well as cycle through these stages to achieve my own goals (personal and professional).
Right now, I am in a full blown Action stage…and it’s making me totally mental.
Nine months ago, I decided to start seeing a nutritionist to get some legit coaching on how to eat better. Finding a great personal trainer years ago completely changed the way I work out, so why wouldn’t I want the same kind of expertise when it comes to nutrition?
We made some minor tweaks, but mostly she said I was already doing the right things. In January, I complained that I wanted more results, and she said I would have to work much harder – but at the time I wasn’t ready. I like to go out and eat and drink and celebrate with my friends. We can call this Contemplation. Yet, I let the idea roll around in my brain for awhile, and spent time daydreaming what it may look like to get on a super strict eating plan. Finally, I made another appointment with her and said, “Ok – what would this super strict eating plan entail?” We can call this Preparation.
And 13 days ago, I took the plunge and started a 9-week bodybuilding eating plan. We can call this Action. NOOOOooooo I do not want to get myself a bejeweled bikini and enter a bodybuilding competition. I just want to learn how to train harder, for a short period of time (although I do so covet those bodybuilder tans).
What does this mean, exactly?
1. No sugars, alcohol, starches, dairy (for the most part)
2. Lots of lean proteins, veggies, protein shakes, a gallon of water a day
3. One beloved cheat meal a week (sans alcohol)
She also praised my end goal of eating whatever I want when I finally get to Paris in July. A just reward to keep me motivated.
Up until yesterday, I was singing praises. It wasn’t near as hard as I anticipated; in fact, I might almost have called it easy. Until yesterday.
For my husband’s birthday, we had a few friends over and just because I’m on this whole eating plan doesn’t mean he has to. On the kitchen counter were two delicious, mouthwatering, cheesy pizzas, accompanied by a giant bottle of red wine. On the dining room table was one 6-inch tall ice cream cake, slathered in frosting.
I admit pulling the pizzas out of the oven was a little hard, but I had a turkey patty and some asparagus and thought to myself, “This is a good substitute.” I went to bed relatively satisfied.
Today the pizza leftovers taunted me. We went to a movie and the smell of movie theater popcorn assaulted my senses. As I discreetly snacked on my smuggled veggies, the woman next to me chugged a frosty beer. By dinner time, my body was roiling with pain. Headache, stomach ache, and a mental fog that could not be lifted despite all the tea and water and blueberries I attempted to distract myself with.
My husband has been nothing but supportive, but at this moment, I’m not myself. Is this what withdrawal feels like? A sense of being unhinged? I fully understand that this is my choice, and that I have the control here – but I can’t help but want to mess with everyone else who is eating.
At the movie theater, I wanted to swat popcorn out of peoples’ hands and ravage a bag (or five) of Reese’s Pieces like an animal.
Prochaska says if someone sticks with their action steps, there may be some failures in between but ultimately new behaviors can be adopted – moving to the Maintenance phase, where behaviors become normalized…
But I have a long road in front of me, and for now I’m just going to look at pictures of Parisian cheeses, wines, and chocolate as a reminder of what’s at the end of this bitter, hungry rainbow.