“that smells like popcorn and revolting pizza”

i was somewhere around the bouncy castle, on the edge of the blowers, when the hunger began to take hold. i remember saying something like “that smells like popcorn and revolting pizza.” then my stomach betrayed me. it growled with lust.

sometimes, i’m great and i stick to it and everything is perfect and space and time aligns and i ride a unicorn on a rainbow to the gym. and sometimes, i end up in my personal hell where there’s a buffet bounty of delicious homemade cookies and i can’t help myself but indulge. every time, i’m always immediately sorry i ate for my mouth and not for my body. always. it doesn’t stop me from doing it once and a while. most of the time, the smart side of me wins. but sometimes, i succumb. it’s what keeps me human. it’s what tells me that i’m still recovering, not totally recovered.

i looked at my pregnant friend and said “do you smell that?” she moaned, “it smells so gross but i want some. of course they had to make popcorn.” it was like if you microwaved movie theater popcorn with that grease that isn’t butter and then had it pumped into the air vents in the indoor playground filled with bouncy castles. and then someone made a lean cuisine pizza right after.

i had packed snacks. i knew that there was a no “outside” food policy, but i never go anywhere without a snack. i have a toddler, who runs hard, plays hard and always is hungry. plus, we only eat REAL food. and sometimes, aside from the lone banana, raw almonds and kind bars you can occasionally find in a gas station in desperation, REAL food is a little harder to come by in the wild.

i had us stocked up. we each had waters. we had a cache of those homemade pb&j granola bars and chocolate coconut non-candy candy bars i make, roast chicken breast cut up into slices, blueberries and cantaloupe (all in one tupperware) and a couple bananas. i figured that should carry us through until lunch six weeks from now. or worst case scenario, until actual lunch. either way, we wouldn’t starve and i wouldn’t succumb to easy choices.

we went to the bouncy castle mecca, and it was everything you would imagine it was. candy bars were the prize for winning skee ball. their only food choices for kids were the aforementioned popcorn, pizza, slushies, and full-sugar juice. OH! and they had gluten-free chicken nuggets for the “health conscious.” i laughed so hard when i saw that sign.

the old me, it’s crazy, the old me would’ve just said, “so what the food is crap? we’ll eat when we get there.” i might’ve been swayed by the revolting, yet still somehow delicious aroma of the cardboard popcorn with non-butter grease and bought a bag. i would’ve played skee ball for ages just to win a candy bar and then eat it with gusto, even though i could’ve just bought a candy bar.

food to me is a reward and a pleasure. i always thought of people who ate as “fuel” were nerds, in like the classic 1980’s way with pocket protectors and snort-laughs. people who read food labels were lame. the new me wishes i wasn’t such an idiot. the new me wishes i always read them. the new me wishes that i would’ve taken care of myself ages ago, because then maybe i wouldn’t be here recovering from two surgeries but might instead have always been healthy. but now, all i can do is onward and upward and make great choices moving on.

after the bouncy castles, my preggo friend was having a craving for taco bell. far be it for me to stand between a preggo and her cravings. i told her to get whatever she wanted, lil’ flipper and i were fine. he was happily eating the chicken and blueberries and cantaloupe in his car seat.

she said “won’t he go nuts, not having any?” and i explained “no, he doesn’t know what a drive-thru is. we’ve never taken him to one.” she looked at me like i had three heads. i explained “when you used to be over 300 pounds, and you had to work as hard as i have to lose not quite all of the weight i want to lose, you start to view what you eat differently.” she looked at me like i was pious and like i was full of it. but honestly, i would rather rip my own arm off and eat that, than ever eat taco bell. i mean, i felt that way at 300 pounds. i feel that way at 200 and i’m sure i’ll feel that way at whatever weight i end up. taco bell isn’t my bag.

mcdonald’s is my bag. i love a hamburger. i love a quarter pounder with cheese with the big mac sauce on it. yeah, they’ll totally do that for you if you ask. and then dip that in the sweet and sour sauce, and you’re talking my love language. so much. like it’s the stuff i dream about when i allow myself a rare, unmitigated moment of weakness.

but then i remember what happens to me when i eat that stuff and the dream crash-ends. not just how fast i pack the weight on – because it’s basically instantaneous, but what it ACTUALLY does to me. and then i’m too grossed out to want to even take a bite.

my body immediately aches from the processed chemicals. my hands swell from the salt. my stomach immediately bloats from gas. when you’re heavy you’re bloated all the time. you don’t realize the effect certain foods have on you, until you give them up. the second i put a piece of processed white bread into my body now, within three minutes i’m all bloated and gassy and it’s unpleasant for everyone involved. the last time i ate commercial pizza, i actually threw up. i’m not dramatic, i literally threw up. my body was all “uh, poison!” and then i just threw up. and so, never again. it’s just not worth it to me to feel that sick just for pizza, especially when there’s 10,000 other things i can eat that are more delicious and don’t make me feel that way.

cleaning out my diet, my life, means not only that i’m choosing to do better for myself, but it means also choosing a better life for my family. and part of that choice means taking 5 minutes before i leave the house to make sure i’m prepared for whatever the day may bring for me and for lil’ flipper. eliminating the need for me to have to make “hard” food choices out in the wild.

if i looked upon this as a “diet;” as a temporary solution to a temporary “problem,” maybe i could burn it white hot until the “end.” but this isn’t that sort of thing. this is the way i eat now, every day for the rest of my life. this is the way my family eats now. we still have treats, i just make them myself and remember to bring them with us when we go out. we have rich delicious and filling meals always. it just takes a little bit more forethought to set us up for success. and that’s okay. we’re so totally worth the extra effort.

when the drive-thru food came, and my son didn’t look up from his chicken to whine that he wanted what someone else was having, when he was content with the food that he had in front of him because it was delicious, when he and i were full and felt good and like we had enough energy to have a happy and fun rest of the day, i knew i made the right choice for myself and my family by cleaning out our diet.

i was so proud of the new me – the new us. the new me is awesome. the new me is rewarded not with candy bars, or taco bell or mcdonald’s but with spitty kisses from a healthy and grateful son and that, to me, is so totally worth more than the instantly gratification of mcdonald’s any day.