“School days, school days Dear old Golden Rule Days. Reading and ‘Riting and ‘Rithmatic …..”  And buffets, and snacks, and brunches, and morning donuts. It’s back-to-school, but not back to the old eating habits. As I type this blog entry, I am proud to say I survived the first two weeks back at school and am still on my journey into my new lifestyle. Of course, I am exhausted, my feet hurt, my knees are aching, and I’m behind on my lesson plans, but that’s normal for the first two weeks. What’s NOT normal for me is that I have not once succumbed to the siren call of the morning donut or the afternoon fast food drive-through.

The first week back was just for teachers (no students). The week is always filled with a variety of meetings: staff, department, PLC, and professional development. And  each one usually features some sort of food. The first morning was the annual welcome back staff meeting, with the traditional breakfast buffet. The night before I was nervous about it. But I planned ahead. I know that pastries and donuts are one of my greatest temptations. I had gone cold-turkey on them when starting my journey. I had gone 30 days without any pastries or anything made from flour. I decided the night before returning to the temptations of the breakfast buffet, that I would break my pastry-fast, but do it on MY terms.

The night before, I opened up a single serving of yellow pound cake from Nutrisystem. I had portion control and knew how much I was eating: a lovely 160 calories. I put the pound cake in a bowl and poured a half cup of blueberries over the cake. I put all in the microwave for one minute. The blueberries became a beautiful chunky syrup that seeped into the pound cake. I topped all with two tablespoons of Redi-whip and sat down to a glorious indulgence. Oh, yum! It was so delicious and so wonderfully sweet from the blueberries.

I went to bed and felt primed to face the buffet the next day.

At the buffet was the usual spread: donuts, cinnamon buns, muffins, scrambled eggs, sausage links, fresh fruit. My planned indulgence from the night before did the trick. I looked at the pastries, figured in my head how many calories just one would be, and realized that if I really wanted pastry again, I could wait until I got home and have my portion-controlled, calorie-controlled dessert. Once I made that decision, it was easy to fill my plate with better choices and mentally calculate the calories as I added each item to the plate. Strawberries, grapes, pineapple, eggs, and two sausage links.

As I joined friends at a table, I ate slowly and enjoyed my fruit and eggs. I saved the indulgence of the sausage links for last. I cut them up into little tiny pieces and ate the first one before the meeting started. I decided to leave the rest of the sausage bits for during the meeting, taking I bit every now and then. ….. Well, that was the plan. As the principal started speaking, a gentleman at our table got up to toss his plate and, being a true gentleman, he picked up the other empty plates from the table, including MINE and all my carefully cut up sausage bits.

And, do you know what I said and did when he picked up my plate?  Absolutely nothing. I can remember from the past when I would have reached out, taken the plate and said, “I’m not done with that.” Instead, on this day, I just gave in to the greater power that was keeping my calorie count down and mentally subtracted those sausage calories from the day. Now that’s progress.

I survived the similar challenges of the first week back. But my greatest victory came the following week, when the students came back. During the summer, you always lose your “teaching muscles.” You forget how to keep mentally sharp. Your feet and legs forget what it feels like to be standing all day. And you forget just how exhausting it is to be in-charge and positive all day. The last thing I want to do when exhausted is go home and fix dinner. So, guess what I did every night after school? I went home and fixed dinner. No matter how exhausted I was, I fixed dinner every night. Not one trip to the drive-through, not one phone call for pizza or Chinese delivery. For me, that’s a major victory.

I’m beginning to think that this time, I’m really on my lifelong journey out of obesity.



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