I have become quite the domesticated man thanks to this Paleo Challenge, even if it is only the 3rd day… Last night I got home from the gym at about 8:45pm and promptly got out some ingredients and made some taco meat out of my remaining lean beef so I can steal Debbie Dove’s idea for tacos, made some salsa to use up the remaining onion and some older peppers, cooked up some chicken for my meal topped with the salsa I had just made (that was good), and whipped up a fruit smoothie as a test of my blender (it failed – the blender not the smoothie). As I was cleaning up all my dishes my wife asked me in her cute little innocent voice: “Will you cook like this for us AFTER the challenge?”. And you know what, I think I just might! Who knew I would enjoy this part? Beats coming home and going straight to the TV!

Hardly feels like a diet! Eggs with sautéed red onions covered in some salsa I made up last night. Yum. I am getting quite the reputation in the office cooking these each morning. Good thing I am the boss so they can’t complain. Besides, it smells better than the burnt bagel smell we usually have here!

OMG… My wife made me some sweet potato fries last night so I would have a side like theirs (they had regular potatoes) and WOW! I don’t think I will ever trade back! All she did was slice the potato into fire shape (I sharpened a knife for this), toss them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sea salt till coated then bake on parchment paper at 350 for about 20 minutes. Just wow on both the potato and my wife!!

So, I have come to a realization… You know how people often refer to stomachs as pits or holes? How it often feels like there is a well in our stomachs that fills as we eat? I often visualize the food slowly working its way to the top, or in yesterday’s case, overflowing the well, cascading down the hill and flooding the neighbors yard. Paleo has challenged that outlook. No longer do I think of my stomach in that same way. Now I think of it like a two story building. I am eating and the food is going into the house but without carbs, it seems the door (my mouth) connects only to the first floor and that little trigger that tells me I am full is stranded all alone on the second floor. No matter how much I eat, it just sits up there looking longingly out the window day dreaming about all those foods I DIDN’T eat today and ignoring the steaming mound of veggies, chicken and beef that are overflowing the main level… I hope I find the key to the second floor soon…

Well, this is it. Aside from some late night snacking (I have a bag of chips and some chive dip set hidden away from the kids), I have taken my last uncontrolled and guilty pleasure filled meal for at least 9 weeks. I promised you I would go out with a bang and I think if you read on, you will not be disappointed.

As we all know, the Paleo diet’s biggest limitation is that there are to be no grains or dairy. While other things are restricted as well, those two are the most common in MY diet at least. So, how do you prepare to go 9 weeks without something you are used to consuming in quantity on a daily basis? Why you stuff yourself to the point of nausea at the last possible moment of course! So for that I dragged the family to The Olive Garden! I figured that would be the best place to take my last supper.

As you can see from the picture attached, I left no stone un-turned. My goal driving there was to see if I could make them regret the “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” concept by eating their weekly stock in one sitting. While I may have missed that mark by far – I didn’t even take 1 refill of my pasta – I made up for that by stealing bites from everybody else’s plates and making a total pig of myself!

We started as one always does at the Garden with Soup and Salad. I love the Zuppa Toscana and my wife is a salad fan so I tickled both fancies there. This was followed by steaming hot breadsticks. Those sticks came out so hot that I had no choice but to dunk them in Alfredo Sauce to cool them off so I could eat them before they started to harden and cool. I washed that down with a Diet Coke (gotta love us fat guys that eat like pigs and drink like ladies) and prepared for the second course. Along with my drink refill, Erik our friendly waiter brought out our triple play appetizer. To the sound of much rejoicing he presented us with Stuffed Mushrooms soaking in butter, Fried Calamari with a side of Caesar Dressing and a mistake! The third item was to be Cheese Sticks but somehow we got some kind of fried Ravioli. Not to fear, all that meant is that I got ONE MORE INDULGENCE! Erik was more than happy to put in a replacement order for those Cheese Sticks and let us keep the Ravioli! By this time I am starting to second guess myself. Would I be up to the challenge? Could I possibly eat all this food and keep going? Well, it was a challenge and I am always up for a challenge or I wouldn’t be doing this darn Paleo thing now would I??? I pressed on.

After a quick trip to the restroom to freshen up it was back to the meal. While I was away Erik brought out the main event. For me it was Fettuccini Alfredo but there were 2 other plates being served and I am a greedy guy so I also sampled my son’s Spaghetti and Meatballs and my wife’s spectacular Steak Gorgonzola. I think I had to loosen my belt just to get through the entrees.

So there we all are, stuffed like Thanksgiving Turkeys when Erik comes along and asks: “Anyone up for desert?”. I looked at my wife. She gamely reminded me it WAS my last chance… So, DESERTS ALL AROUND!!! Beyond reason and with a touch of insanity we ordered a coma inducing amount of sweets. My daughter ordered the Strawberry & White Chocolate Cup, my son the Chocolate Mousse Cup, my wife the Dark Chocolate Caramel Cream Cup and me, I ordered the Black Tie Mousse Cake. My mouth was enraptured with the heavenly sweetness and my stomach is swollen with the decadence.

So now it is time to put this all behind me. I am about to spend the next couple of hours preparing food that tips the health scale 100% the opposite direction that tonight’s dinner did. I went out tonight and bought $200 worth of food, spices and Tupperware so that I could set myself up for the weeks to come. I say goodbye to grain, be it pasta, bread or cereal. With a tear in my eye I say goodbye to milk in all its many forms. Farewell to packaged food and fast food, our relationship was one of convenience and you no longer are. Now I welcome in healthy foods. Some of you went to the same parties as I did but we never made it out to the dance floor together. That changes now. Broccoli, Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts. Peppers, Tomatoes and Sweet Potatoes. Almonds, Fruits and more meat than a New York Deli – All of you are my new dates. Let’s paint the town red!!!

Delivery or Homemade… That was the dilemma that faced me tonight. Should my last pizza be a cheesy slice of heaven from Dominoes that includes the thrill and anticipation while we wait to see if the pizza guy can even find our address here in the Acreage (don’t ask, it really is a crap shoot with them), or should we take the time to make pizza from scratch and let the kids flavor them to taste (My son loves veggies and pepperoni where my daughter is all about the white sauce and water chestnuts – go figure)? Well, after much more thought than it deserved we decided that since my wife and daughter are still fighting the flu, maybe cooking would be a bad idea and Dominoes Pizza was the winner. Earlier I mentioned being less than satisfied with the meals I was saying goodbye to. Not so this time! Wow. I do love pizza. And because it was to be my last one for at least 9 weeks (notice I am starting to open myself to the idea of living this beyond the challenge), I splurged and got the Spinach and Feta Cheese stuffed bread… I think I will spend the rest of the evening on the couch with my hand in my waste band like Al Bundy while I make the sounds of satisfaction made famous by Homer Simpson…

So today I said goodbye to McDonald’s. Not really because it is a food love but because it is… was… a convenience love. My son and I often stopped there after I picked him up from the gym on Saturdays. And in case you were wondering, I used a whole TON of salt on those fries because salt is a food group and not a spice!! Only 32 hours left to cram in some good (bad) eats!!!

In my quest to make the most out of my remaining time as a free eater I took this chance to eat one last time at the Brazilian Sandwich shop by the office. I must say, the satisfaction I am deriving from these “cheats” is ever diminishing. Perhaps it is because I was halfway to eating well (low calorie though wrong form). Now I just feel over full, lethargic and uncomfortable. Fear not though, I will cheat at least once more in a big way. I am going out with a BANG!!

Well, last nights party was a smash, I think… To be honest I can clearly remember only the beginning. The last thing I can recall before the rest is shrouded in a carb and dairy induced haze was heading off with that sexy little glass of milk. I woke this morning in a tangle of sheets, stumbled out of bed bleary eyed (and honestly a bit bloated) and turned on the light in the kitchen only to be confronted with the horror from the nights debauchery. On the crumb covered counter was a griddle covered in congealed butter that reflected the light in a dirty rainbow reminiscent of an oil slick. The trash was over flowing with the little paper separators that are designed to keep your cheese in isolation in the package so that you can be assured of their purity. The refrigerator was hanging open, its wan light a sorry counterpoint to my sensitive sleep filled eyes. The sink was filled with its own horrors – bowls with a rim of tomato soup coagulated like blood on the shoes of a CSI tech, paper plates with the now indelible mark of the blade I used to savagely cut my grilled cheese, glasses with a coating of milk on the bottom that had dried like the paint at the bottom of a can left in the sun. The Coup de Grace, the knife I vaguely remembered wielding in my best impression of Jason from the horror series Halloween. It still had a hunk of salami on its tip that drew the eye and served as judge, juror and executioner. Just when I thought I was beaten as low as I could be by the debauchery of the night before I noticed my cat over by the stove with his back to me. I cautiously approached him to see what he was so intent on. He slowly turned his head and looked back at me with feral eyes like those of Church, the cat that returned from death in The Pet Cemetery. Not heading the signs I continued forward to satisfy my curiosity and was confronted with irrefutable proof of my crime. There on the counter where my wife bakes cookies for our children, where many a family meal has been made with love, where my daughter washes her hands after making the numerous objects of affection that adorn my office and where my sins lay under the harsh light of the new day on which my cat was gnawing on, daring me to try and stop him. It was the skeletal remains of the final grilled cheese wedge that escaped my carnivorous rampage only to serve as evidence that I need to make a change and that if I continue down the path I am on, I face the real possibility that one day I could find myself on a lifetime channel show about how America is eating its way into an early grave and how obesity is becoming the new norm. I take this all in and let it strengthen my resolve that starting Monday I embark on a journey of change and self discovery. But until then I am still the weak man with an obsession and a countdown. Only 3 more days to enjoy my old life. Armed with that knowledge I vow not to go without a fight. I will take these last 3 days to prepare myself while sewing my few remaining wild oats. Though it sicken me to do so, I WILL eat pasta one last time. I WILL go to Starbucks this morning and buy my last large iced coffee and I WILL have at least one doughnut washed down with milk so cold it threatens to shatter my teeth. Then I will say goodbye to the me of today and embrace the me of tomorrow.