June 19, 2024


What do I do when “indulge”?

Indulging myself conjures up images of giving in, sinning, or breaking a rule—doing something I’d not ordinarily do.

Dictionaries use words and phrases like “spoil,” “mollycoddle,” “pamper,” “baby,” and “give in to something” as synonyms for indulge.

Indulgences for me come into play when I’m trying to rid myself of some bad habit. Take, for example, desserts.

I’ve been on a lifelong mission to figure out how to get remotely close to what government health agencies say a 5’8” American guy should weigh. I’ve rarely been within 40 pounds of that goal. So what does every overweight red-blooded American male do? He diets!

My current—and actually most successful—venture into trying to achieve an official status other than “obese” or “overweight” is a low-carb approach and counting calories. Keeping my intake to 500 calories below what I think I burn each day.  According to the diet gurus, that should result in dropping one pound a week.

And over the past 30 weeks it has accomplished just that.

In this discipline I have to change my (Knower/Judger) habits. They’re not actually “habits” in my mind, but really just “who I am”… or more specifically, “what I eat.” Lunchtime is for sandwiches, right? New lunchtime: No bread.

Fine dinners have delightful desserts right? New fine dinner: Black coffee.

Ever try to change a personal (K/J) habit? Nearly everyone I know has at some point aspired to be thinner. Have you tried to ditch a habitual mindset that things never work out? Or that a class of individuals at your work is incompetent? These are the kinds of things that get stuck in our K/J interpretation of our worlds that sometimes we want to shed, like an extra 40 pounds.

So I make a decision to stop eating most carbohydrates, and stop eating when I’m 500 calories under my daily requirement. Or we promise to be aware of pessimistic thinking and instead think positive. Or we challenge ourselves to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Making that decision and charging off with all the best intentions is the easy part. Now to make it stick, right?

I found that there are two ways I fall off the wagon. The first is the accidental sneak attack. I have literally accidentally consumed too many carbs. The culprit has been foods like meat loaf. Protein, right? Do you know how much bread products end up in most meat loafs? (“Meat” loaf should be charged with false advertising!) So, yeah. I accidentally consume too many carbs and temporarily unbalance my diet plans.

I can leave home with all the best intentions and positive brainwaves I can muster up and be stuck in a traffic jam around the corner and BAM! I go into a pessimistic tail spin. You’ve been there. I perceive these as sneak attacks. They’re triggered by things that, with a little more work, we could prepare for and avoid in the future.

Then there are the “on purpose” stumbles off the wagon. I can’t really call them falls of the wagon, because that would indicate some chance occurrence. No, I’m talking about making a deliberate assertive choice to jump off the wagon. These are what I see as indulgences.

Consider Easter Brunch 2017: I’m doing well on my low-carb diet. I’ve planned my attack. And it includes an indulgence: I will have dessert. But sensibly—I will not overdo it. I graze the fabulous buffet and walk past all the general carb things I’d normally eat. I even take the guts of eggs benedict off the English muffin and enjoy them. I’ve got this, right?

But wait. There was an entire room full of fresh desserts. German chocolate cake. Chocolate mousse. Carrot cake. My indulgence was no longer under control. Suffice it to say I was in a carbohydrate-induced coma for the rest of the afternoon. My indulgence—giving in to my K/J “this is what we really need, let’s get back to our baseline” cravings—sent me off the edge.

I indulged myself right into blowing the whole week. I clearly remember using the term “indulge” as if it were a right. “I’ve been good for four months,” I told myself. “I’ll just plan on having a dessert today.”

I know peoples who have “indulged” themselves in nervous breakdowns just because they felt they were due. Or folks who teed off on a fellow employee because they hadn’t done it in a while. Or ate a donut when the low-carb diet is working marvelously.

To me, indulging is internal code for failing to hold the course. It’s an indication that my desire to accomplish change isn’t strong enough to ward off my old K/J when it wants to do what I’ve always done.

Accidental falls off wagons are inevitable. Jumping headlong off them by choosing to indulge just makes little sense.

Have you indulged yourself recently with anything you were trying to shed?


2 thoughts on “Indulgence

  1. Chocolate. If I could suddenly wake up and be allergic to it, I’d be much closer to my goal weight.

  2. As you know I’ve been following the “Forks over Knives” food plan and the Dean Ornish food plan for almost 3 years now. Here’s what I’ve learned: 1)There is no perfect weight, only a weight that you can sustain without incurring health issues. 2) Any food plan you follow will not be followed perfectly. 3) It’s easier to succeed with a cheering squad or support 4) Have a big enough “Why” (I want to live to see my grand children grow up) to get you through the rough patches, and 5) And slips or indulging usually starts with crazy thinking….oh it won’t hurt me that much….oh it’s just this one time. 6) Never let yourself feel deprived or hungry. That will set you up for a food frenzy every time. 7) What’s worked best for me as a substitute for sugar to develop a palate for certain spices and savory foods. Sauerkraut anyone?

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