With one week to go, it is more difficult than ever to stay focused. For example, I'm taking my family on a hayride Saturday night, and the highlight every year — for me — is s'mores by the bonfire. I believe s'mores made by a bonfire taste different than s'mores made on my grill. The singed eyebrows and burnt fingers add to the experience somehow. And yet my diet runs through Monday, so I shall have no s'mores. Imagine the thought process: Saturday will be day 138. I will have been on this diet for 137 days at that point, with only two more days to go. What's one gooey marshmallowy chocolatey treat at that point? Of course, if that logic works for day 138, why not day 135? Or day 100? The standard I've adopted is that I can endure just about anything for 20 weeks, though I did make one exception in week 18.
I spent a long weekend in New England, a part of the country in which I've never vacationed, and in which I may never find myself again. In my mind, New England is inextricably linked with clam chowder, so I decided that I would have a small amount of clam chowder. I'd been on the diet for more than sixteen weeks at that point, and had done far better than I could have dreamed when I started, but most importantly, this was a rare-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. I'd never "cheat" with barbecue or anything else I could get here in my home state, but I've never been to Boston, and might never be again.
While sitting down with my brother in the bar where the exterior shots for Cheers were filmed, the rationalization began. I was already planning to cheat by eating clam chowder. Most recipes have more carbohydrates in a half-cup than I usually allow myself all day, so that's a definite cheat. Since I'm already cheating, why not add a pint of stout? The logic here is suspect, I know, but I was hungry by this time, and I was a tourist in a tourist trap. I'd been walking for hours, and would walk for hours more, burning calories all day long. I told myself that this would be a valuable opportunity to demonstrate for you, dear readers, what happens when I don't just bend the rules, but flat-out break them. A mug of clam chowder might have put me over my daily limit, but that mug plus a beer certainly would. I caught myself buying the rationalization and laughed about it, then ordered a pint of Guinness anyway. No rationalizations, just an acceptance that I was going to blow the diet for the day, and would enjoy it.
As a result, I can now tell you what happened to my weight loss, but that is completely secondary to my enjoyment of that Saturday. I was also very careful for the rest of the day, to attempt to keep my total carbohydrate intake from skyrocketing too high.
For months now, I've advocated a no-cheating approach to weight loss. Now I've revealed myself as a hypocrite, but I don't regret my hard-line approach. Most people read "occasional exception" as "as often as you want," especially where diet is concerned. There were consequences to my choice, but I must admit that that the aphorism Nothing tastes as good as being thin will feel presents a false dichotomy. I was able to enjoy the taste of clam chowder and Guinness, and I still weigh less today than I did two weeks ago. However, it did set me back an entire week, so cheating even once a week looks like it would completely cancel out the hard work the entire rest of the week.
I'm not actually sure whether or not I slipped out of ketosis. I know that I'm in ketosis now, having checked myself for the first time. I didn't feel any different after blowing the diet that Saturday, so it doesn't seem that I slipped out and had to work to get back in.
One sensation that tends to disappear while on a low-carb diet is crispness. Not the crispness of fresh lettuce, but the crispness of crackers or toast. I recently learned of two "tricks" for creating cracker substitutes that won't break the carbohydrate bank. They work best with a paper plate; I've had mixed success on a normal dinner plate.