Deprivation and Discipline

I had promised myself that once I ended treatment, I would get back to the diet I was on prior to my diagnosis. I had been on a Mediterranean diet prior to surgery, begun when I had a cardiac scare a few months before that (which turned out to be anxiety, but still with my family history, I was being careful). And, as diets go, it was pretty livable, and I had lost about 22 pounds over the course of seven months, but still had more to go to be at an optimal weight. And swimming 4-5 times per week certainly helped things along.

Cancer — inactivity, steroids, chemo side effects, weird food preferences, even weirder food dislikes — put a few of those pounds back on, and while frustrating, I wasn’t going to worry about it until treatment was over since there wasn’t much I could do regardless.

Well, treatment is over, and I’m finally back to swimming the same distance I was before, although not quite as frequently — more like 3 times per week vs. 4 or 5 — and it feels pretty great. I’ve also added a tai chi class each week that I go to religiously. I am finally remembering that my body can be strong and capable and good for things other than cancer. But the diet business has been more of a struggle and it took a conversation with another breast cancer compatriot last night for me to understand why.

You see, I don’t want to deprive myself. While I do want to be healthy and lose these extra pounds at some point, I’m not willing at the moment to deprive myself of ANYTHING. The last year has been all about deprivation and pain and sadness and anger, and I’m just not going there right now. The diet I was on was pretty restrictive — no red meat, no refined carbs, no sugar — and I just don’t have the discipline or desire at present to make those changes in the same way. If I am having family for the weekend and we’re having a barbecue, you better fucking believe I’m going to have a burger or even a hot dog. I’m not planning on eating hot dogs three meals a day, or to stuff myself with a huge bowl of pasta, but if the day calls for a treat, I’m going to have one. Like today, when it was 85 degrees in the shade and a small vanilla cone was what was called for.

I don’t mind at all exercising discipline to get to the pool or to tai chi, but if I learned nothing else this past year, life really is short, and could be even shorter, so I plan to enjoy life’s little treats on occasion. And if that means a slower path to weight loss, so be it.

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