DietBet Diary #8: Vacation, Addiction, and Being "Normal"

Heather's made it to the end of her DietBet! Did she win? Will she do another one? Did she like it? Read and find out!

I’m back from vacation! I’ve completed my final weigh-in with Sarah Gilbert’s You’re Still Worth It DietBet and am happy to report….I met my goal! In fact, I lost three extra pounds, on top of dealing with a feisty vacation that required cocktails nearly every evening.

I have to admit, going on vacation at the end of a game was pretty risky. But, I needed to know I could handle Big Food situations. It’s easy to maintain a healthy eating pattern when you’re just trotting from work to home and back to work again. Sure, a routine and ordinary lifestyle has it’s own challenges, but they’re more predictable and manageable. What about those times when things aren’t ordinary? What happens then?

I needed to know if I could handle myself and not feel deprived…or worse, feel like I wasn’t enjoying the whole experience because of my dietary restrictions.

The real challenge, for those of us who struggle with food and diet, comes at birthday parties and weddings, Thanksgiving feasts and celebratory nights out. And maybe there’s a formula there too: eat clean 90% of the time; have fun the other 10%. I can’t imagine what life would be like without a glass of champagne at New Years or a slice of wedding cake smooshed in your face on your big day.

I needed to face the monster of a big moment, and vacation provided me with the perfect opportunity. I needed to know that once I dusted the sand off my toes and hit those five-star restaurants, I could make good choices and still have fun.

And I did! Ironically, I enjoyed myself even more because I didn’t have to feel guilty later. I went to sleep every night, listening to the waves roll in, content with how the day had unfolded and blissfully happy.

I stuck to my game plan. I packed up my scale and a gazillion bottles of water. The protein bars I toted along were a life saver, no doubt there. Drinking water was tricky… because well, I had to pee a lot and it wasn’t always convenient. So I planned out water intake around our activities. We ate out every single meal and I’d take a look at their online menu in advance to make sure I had options, because I still wanted to be able to decide what food I was in the mood for. Thankfully, options were plentiful and I made sure to eat lots (ahem, tons actually) of seafood partnered with fresh veggies at each meal.

I did allow myself one cheat meal and it made me sick. Too much sugar and my tummy wasn’t having it!

Since I’ve returned home, I’ve been thinking about a news segment I saw on television years ago. A recovering alcoholic was curious to see if he could drink alcohol like a person who hadn’t battled alcoholism. In other words, could he drink and stop? Could he be normal and have a glass of wine with supper or a beer on Friday evening after work. Could it end there?

Everyone told him that after years of AA and rehab, he was mad to even consider an experiment.

But in the end, his personal quest was successful. Once or twice a month, he would have a glass of red wine with dinner. He was never tempted to drink more. Through years of counseling and learning, he’d achieved a new level of understanding and normalcy.

Of course it’s not my intention to lessen the severity of any addiction, but rather to highlight our ability to learn and change behaviors.

I wonder if through my years of absorbing diet information, surrounding myself with others who’ve struggled with their weight and my lovely support group in Sarah Gilberts You’re Still Worth It DietBet, have I achieved a new normal?

I’ve often considered that addiction, in any form, is still addiction. And while my own personal difficulty with food hurt no one but myself, it was still harmful. I can’t go through life avoiding food, so I needed to come to terms with my little pot-bellied demon and figure out how I was going to cope.

Most dependencies are considered a crutch; a way to manage an emotional or mental affliction. Food has been no different for me and I’m not proclaiming some miraculous healing either. I suspect I’ll face challenges down the road, and that’s fine. But now I’ve proven to myself that I have the mental agility to turn down food and still have fun.

As far as where I’m headed from here, well, I’ve fallen in love with these games. I’ve already entered another DietBet. In fact, I joined my second one the day I hit my goal weight from this game. I’ll be tucking away my winnings for a new and improved post DietBet wardrobe.

My weight loss attempts until now, have been ineffective. This effort, this success, has come with so much enlightenment. In the past, anytime someone I knew lost weight, I’d corner them to discover their weight loss secrets. I wanted to know their formula! Haven’t we all done that? What’s the first question you ask someone who is losing weight?

What are you doing?

I don’t think there’s a huge secret after all. We all get “there” when it’s our time. Sure, methods may vary, but the commitment to health is individual and broad in scope. The one thing I do understand is that like any other addiction, weight loss and food will be a life-long awareness for me, not necessarily a battle to fight once.

And that’s why I’ll stick with DietBet. I’m still new, still in that recovery mode. And for right now, I need the support of my peeps.

This is the eighth post in a DietBet Diary series that follows Heather through her whole game. If you missed Heather's earlier posts, catch up now!

DietBet Diary #7: The "Don't-Blow-Your-DietBet" Vacation Planner

DietBet Diary #6: Why Is It Easier to Talk to My Fellow DietBetters Than My Friends & Family?

DietBet Diary #5: Peach Cobbler for Dinner...and Breakfast

DietBet Diary #4: My Food Life Is Changing, and I'm Scared.

DietBet Diary #3: My Body Planned a Rebellion. I Shut It Down.

DietBet Diary #2: Chubby Girl Yoga

DietBet Diary #1: One Writer Gets Real About Life on the Chubby Side of the Fence

Make it WayBetter

What brings you joy and makes you smile that doesn't have anything to do with food? Whatever it is, try to have more of it in your life. Once you know you can enjoy yourself without derailing your diet, it makes events like vacation and parties much more manageable.