No one gets rewarded from a cheat day

granola barsI need help!  Under the auspices of having some shelf stable snacks for hiking, I bought a box of chocolate hazelnut-filled energy bars. Each one has 230 calories and, though touted as being organic and having a low glycemic index, each bar has 27 grams of carbohydrate. They looked so innocent sitting on the shelf in the supermarket. I rationalized that I would only be using them for serious hikes, and not as daily snacks.

I ate the first one while I was still shopping—because I went to the grocery store hungry.

I ate the second one in the car on the way home—wow, these are really good!

I ate a third one after dinner that night—I had not yet gone hiking, and I was already up 690 calories for the day.

I woke up in the morning and had two for breakfast, instead of my usual protein shake, then got in my truck to drive to the trailhead.

I ate another one on the hike, then two more in the truck on the way out of the woods.

Get this, I stopped at the supermarket and bought two more boxes on my way home!

I continued to eat two a day through the first part of the week (an extra 460 calories and 54 grams of carbohydrate every day), and I did not exercise to my target heart rate for two days because I felt sluggish—no surprise given the huge sugar spikes.

I got to my office yesterday and weighed myself as I always do, and I had gained 5 pounds in 6 days. In case you have forgotten, I am a bariatric surgeon. I specialize in weight loss surgery, and in counseling patients who are struggling with weight. I did not heed my own rules!

Many of those close to me are aware that I have struggled with my weight since the 5th grade, but that I have kept it under control (for the most part) with strict adherence to the same guidelines I recommend to my patients. I eat a high protein, low carbohydrate, moderate fat diet. I exercise to my target heart rate, at least 40 minutes per day, at least four times per week. I avoid caloric beverages, and I stay away from bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. Yet, here I am, a bariatric surgeon, up 5 pounds in less than a week, just from veering off the plan that I preach every day at work.

For those of us that struggle with our weight, there’s no such thing as a cheat day. Stepping off the path can start in the most innocent of ways, and then end up with a complete blow-out. No one gets rewarded from a cheat day. And, based on what happened to me this past week, you can see how easy those of us with a tendency to put on weight can get sidetracked.

Last night I donated the two boxes of energy bars, grudgingly. I felt like an addict throwing away his last fix. Obesity is a disease, much more complicated than calories in/calories out. Just like managing any addiction or compulsion, we must not deviate from our path to success.

Health is both a goal and a journey. Let’s all help each other, and let’s get healthy together!