“How can you live, knowing you will never eat another potato chip?” the reporter asks me, incredulously.
But I will eat potato chips. I certainly will. And I do. I know I can’t keep them in my house, but I encounter and enjoy chips now and then.
She’s confused because while I worked to lose weight, I didn’t eat one potato chip. I didn’t eat white bread, rice, potatoes in any form. I didn’t eat sugary things, candy, anything whose main ingredient was sugar. I ignored cakes and pies and all sorts of things. I still rarely eat these things.
But I didn’t give them up forever. And I always know I can have them.
I know pie. I know its flavor, texture. I know the ones I prefer (my daughter’s blueberry pie, my mother’s strawberry rhubarb), and the ones that are never worth the calories. I know cake, too.
I am completely familiar with the idea, experience, and satisfaction of “cake,” of “pie,” of “potato chip.” I am so familiar with these things, have had the experience so often, can recall many previous pies and cakes, that it’s really not a huge sacrifice for me to go without them for as long as it takes to bring my weight under control.
And the real secret to my success over giving up foods I love for a little while? Knowing there will always be more.
I knew that I could give up those foods for a year, because at the end of the year, there they would be again. The pie, the cake, the chips. I know today that when I enjoy too many of these things, I have to say goodbye again for a while.
It’s sort of insane to think of this as sacrifice or denial, when it’s always possible to have this food. When it’s always available, choosing not to have it right now is just a choice. Just one of a thousand choices you will make to get through your day. It’s no big deal.
Reader Liz wrote in last week to say her mom, who quit smoking after a long habit, knew that focusing on the whole rest of her life as a non-smoking woman wasn’t going to work for her. So she lived decision by decision. “Maybe later,” she’d say to herself when considering a smoke. “Not right now.”
While you’re losing weight, try not to get caught up in the idea of what you’re giving up. You’re not giving up anything but the calories you don’t need right this minute. It’s not a big deal. Not right now.