One week ago I drank the last Diet Coke in the fridge and made the conscious effort to not head out to the store to buy more the next day or the next or the next.
At this time I can officially say, “I’m off the stuff,” until I am in a position where one is presented to me or in my general vicinity, upon which time I’ll be faced with making the right choice; a conscious choice to say, “No, thank you,” and drink something else.
I’ve had a hard time lately using food for reasons other than hunger. Hunger? I have no idea how that should feel.
Yesterday, sick and tired of being a slave to the pantry, I chose I to spend the day free from my biggest food challenge; sweet sweet sugar.
In order to set myself up for success some planning was involved.
Before morning yoga I headed to Whole Foods where I made myself a big green salad with garlicky kale and a boiled egg for protein. I bought a gigantic water, but decided against the little bags of mix nuts at the check out as they were full of added dried fruit (high in sugars and carbohydrates).
After yoga, I ate my salad and later had a bowl of pasta with a few turkey meatballs that Brian had made for the girls the day before. I had a scoop of peanut butter when I thought I was hungry (that hunger thing again…) and mixed up chia seeds with almond milk for later.
My goal to steer clear of ice cream and chocolate (in any form) was successful and by bedtime I fell asleep feeling a bit more confident in my ability to make better choices. I probably did eat too many calories, but I didn’t count, I didn’t get on the scale, I tried to stay present and listen to my body.
I wonder if the diet doctors would consider this approach to gaining back control of my food issues to be half-hearted. It doesn’t much matter. My conviction was strong, which is what is important.
Today is a new day and the planning has begun. Ezekiel bread, half a boiled egg, avocado, tomatoes, and some turkey sausage for breakfast. I’ve got a fridge full of juicing ingredients; spinach, kale, beets, carrots and celery. Apples are waiting on the counter for a late day snack. I haven’t figured out lunch and dinner, but I will try my best to make good choices for both.
How is your diet looking? Do you get that hunger thing? How do you know when it’s true hunger or bored/something to do hunger?
Instead of running on Saturday I headed over to Evolve Movement (North Raleigh) where I paid the drop in fee to attend Tina’s (one of my favorite teachers of all time) class.
Before savasana and after our flow (complete with what felt like a hundred or so chaturangas), Tina challenged the class to a bit of core work that I had never tried. In the background she cued up Eminem as the audible motivator for the upcoming task (my kind of girl).
With thinly folded blankets placed under flattened feet (off the mat and on the slippery floor) she demonstrated for the class. Beginning in straight armed plank the goal was to muster as much core strength as possible to keep hands planted in place while pulling straight legs into downward dog. From dog, by sliding the blanket back along the floor, we were supposed to end with straight legs in plank, core engagement creating the steady smooth movements. Back and forth (slowly, as it is difficult) Tina made little grunting noises (more for our benefit than hers I think) and told us to pray to whomever we needed to pray to for strength during what would turn out to be an incredibly intense ab workout disguised in a sneakily fun package.
I could barely get the blanket to cooperate. As I tried to pull my legs into dog my knees buckled and bent to the floor. The blanket slid everywhere but where I needed it to go and as I maneuvered back to plank, slipped too far off course and again ended on my knees. Back up I went to try try again, sweat dripping down my face, determined to get the blanket and my body to cooperate. When I was too tired to continue, smiling and exasperated by the degree of hidden toughness, I sat to watch the attempts of the others who to my relief were also fighting to control the blankets underfoot.
Two days later on this Monday morning I can still feel the effects of the class from deep within my belly. My side abdominals pulled and engaged when I reached up to get out of my bed and I can feel the deepest part of my core, my support, alive and engaged.
Ab work ranks below arm work on my list of favorite things to do, but after a summer of little running and lots of S’mores, they are at the top of my goal list (at least until marathon training kicks into full gear at which time I will try to maintain balance by continuing the practice).
“Blanket Sliding” is being added to the arsenal of healthy activities to make me strong and centered as I enter back into the land of personal health and well-being.
Lying in my sick-bed feeling all sorts of phlegmy, I looked out my window to the sprawling Long Island Sound and noticed the faintest splashing blip looking all sorts of familiar.
The blip was daughter A, first-born Sophie, easily recognizable in her red and blue life-preserver, but way far out in the sea. She was kicking her feet behind Macy (age seven) who was kneeling on a paddle board and expertly stroking her way perpendicular to the shore.
To the far right was daughter B, second born Grace (not as fearless as her sister), being pulled in an inner tube by her dad whilst sitting close to Macy’s sister Ruby (age nine).
I resisted the urge to run out to the beach and yell something like this:
“That water is over six feet deep! You are over six feet deep! The weatherman says to stay closer to shore! There are sharks on the Cape! I don’t want you to be eaten! Get out! Get out! Get out!”
It is true that there are Great White Sharks on the Cape this summer and people have been bitten!
Not eaten, no, but still…
There were baby seals all up and down the rocky Maine beaches that were most certainly fleeing from those enormous and mysterious creatures.
But I, as energetic as a baby seal who’d just finished swimming for her life, am too sick to run anywhere. If there really was a shark out there I could only hope that Brian would fight it off, protecting all the little ladies with all his might so that the girls could safely swim to shore.
I could only hope.
Sophie kicked and kicked as Macy expertly guided their board. I was astonished by the ease in which she switched her paddle’s grip from left hand to right.
I watched as Sophie reached and stretched her body throwing one leg up onto the board, then two, before kneeling to ride behind Ms. Macy; the two of them out there like kick ass little women on the ocean, in the sun, free like birds and cool like cucumbers.
Brian pulled a long red cord that maneuvered Grace and Ruby around and around and around in swishy circles and now that they were all in my direct view, it seemed that they were agreeing on a plan to head toward land.
I sat back relieved that they would be home soon and within moments the slap of the front screen door alerted me to their arrival.
In our kitchen stood four brown berried bodies dripping heaps of water onto the floor while digging ferociously into a bag of honey pretzels.
I didn’t mind.
They were happy.
So I fed them as many carbohydrates as their bodies could consume and they are again back out there on the Sound giving me a moment to rest and watch and feel thankful.
Thankful for kick ass little girls and for my cold (it really is a horrendous cold) that gave them this experience today.
This morning when I rolled out of bed my first thought was coffee.
When I came downstairs, groggy still, I auto piloted through the making of a new carafe.
As is my ritual, the next thought was breakfast.
Usually I’d go for my Greek yogurt concoction, or a measured bowl of cereal, maybe some Ezekiel and peanut butter. I had to remind myself of the smoothie challenge I began just yesterday.
A cup of kale and banana and berries was not what I wanted.
It got me thinking about habits; good habits, bad habits, auto pilot habits, and make life easier habits.
When the coffee was ready I poured it into my sunny yellow cup and added skim milk. Then I waited, taking a few minutes to think about the challenge and why I was doing it.
I took yesterday’s second kale portion out of the fridge and gave it a good whirl with a spoon.
Having just drunk it down I can honestly say that it was good. I feel satisfied and full despite the fact that there was no chewing involved.
Habits are hard to adjust. They take thought and work and in the case of yesterday’s trip to Target I was able to avoid the toy buying habit, but fell victim to the children’s pleas for checkout candy (I caved and I can admit it). Rome was not built in a day.
One habit I am not ready to break is my fairly regular visit to Lululemon.
This week’s upload showcased a whole lot of dots. From what I’ve seen, I’m not a fan, so the girls and I will visit the store today to check them out in person.
Of course, I will let you know what I think.
What habits are you working to change? What are some of your rituals that you do on autopilot and take concentration to do differently?
It’s raining and pouring and since I’m not in the midst of serious training I’ve canned the morning run.
Instead, the girls and I have rolled out the old yoga mats and cued up the Jillian Michaels Boost Your Metabolism DVD.
It’s been a long time since we’ve burpied and Jack jumped, but we are ready.
I’m wearing my pink run swiftly and black (and ancient) Hind shorts. Grace is still in her Boden doggy nightgown and Soph is wearing her Barbie high heel underpants and chicken socks she rummaged from out the back of my sock drawer. I’m not really sure why I have chicken socks. They’re probably from my teacher days.
I’m determined to start the day off right and try instill good habits in the kids today (it’s really more like a minute at a time thing).
Good habits will be challenged on our afternoon visit to Target. I’ve already said, “No,” to any more toys. I’ve also said, “Absolutely not,” to Swedish Fish. We are going for milk, bubbles, and band aids. I’ll spring for the Spongebob ones, even if they aren’t on sale. This is the line. Temper fits be damned.
Julie Armer; young, long red hair, Birkenstock wearing, wise and able to call me on my chit.
We started meeting when I was on the tail end of a semi nervous breakdown. At twenty-eight and with my life far from where I wanted it, I needed help to sort stuff out.
My coping mechanism was food.
At night I’d curl into bed with a bag of Teddy Grahams. I’d watch t.v. and devour the bag until all that was left were bear legs and bodies; tiny body parts crumbled against the bottom of the metallic bag.
Julie and I had long talks about the Teddy Grahams. Why did I do this? What compelled me to keep eating?How did I feel once they were finished and expanding in my belly?
The conclusion we came to was that I was filling up my stomach in an effort to control something in this uncontrolable world. What I really needed was to fill up my heart, not my gut. I know it sounds sort of ridiculous, but she was onto something. Eating to the point of fullness left little room (body and mind) to dwell on the emptiness elsewhere.
Her solution? When being pushed toward a tryst with Teddy Grahams I was to go and hug my nephew who happened to be living upstairs from me at the time. Filling with love would quell the urge toward food as a love replacement.
There’s a lot of talk online and amongst friends about losing weight, calorie control, and diet management.
I very seldom read about the emotional aspect of food as a drug, as a coping skill, as a way to manage feelings.
On Wednesday I ran into Whole Foods with my girls and a short list.
Sophie had requested the organic Blueberry lollipops we like, Grace wanted some animal crackers and I needed apples and greens.
We left with our bags filled, but instead of traditional animal crackers chose two bags of 100% natural, made by Barbara’s since 1971, Snackimals Animal Cookies in vanilla and chocolate chip.
On Thursday, after a few really stellar days for me in the healthy eating department, I went searching the cabinets for a snack. I picked up the cookies and portioned them out in a pink plastic bowl. With them I poured a cup of milk.
My intentions were pure. I was still on the straight and narrow.
When my bowl was empty I stared at it feeling blue. They tasted just like Teddy Grahams, if not a little more crisp. They crunched the same, melted on my tongue the same, tasted just the same.
Without thinking, I started to eat them out of the bag until they were gone. And then the next bag. Gone.
As if something had triggered my good sense, my managed eating habits earlier in the week had vanished from my being.
Like an alcoholic might fall off the wagon after succumbing to the pull of a little sip, I spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday in compulsive eating hell.
Unable to feel the food that I consumed, I ate more. My head knew what was happening, my alter ego (I need to name her) didn’t care. I was aware that I was spinning, but continued to find more to fill myself up.
When Brian came home with a huge lemon cake and chocolate covered Oreos it didn’t take long before I was going at the cake with a fork and eating the cookies without even checking the calorie content and fat grams on the back (130 for 2 and 13 per serving I now know).
My stomach hurt badly, so I’d give myself a break. And then start up again. A cycle of pleasure and pain and exhaustion and energy.
Why did it happen? What was I really searching for? Aren’t I happy? Don’t I have enough love, friends, health, family?
I have heard that food is the good girls’ drug. This is true. It’s not even about the food. It’s not about weight. It’s about control.
Teddy Grahams, those sweet little bears manufactured for children’s lunch boxes are as dangerous to me as crack or heroine or a bottle of pills to another person searching to fill whatever is missing inside them.
Last night after two pieces of pizza, a couple of bread sticks and three ranger cookies I fell into a “food coma” as I put the girls to sleep.
When I woke later in the evening, the mania was done, just like that. I drank a big bottle of water and settled back to sleep.
Today the food mania has stopped completely and I’ve woken up feeling better and able to see the light through the fog of the past few days.
I drank my coffee with skim milk and ate a lemon 0% Chiobani with some blackberries and half cup of Go Lean Crunch.
I sat down to write as I always do and this post came flowing out.
Since I try to speak the truth, though, I figured it might be helpful for anyone else going through a similar struggle. It also might be helpful to people who view over weight folks as food mongers and sloths. It isn’t about the food at all, so try not to judge.
In fact, a hug or a meaningful conversation about something other than food might snap them out of the cycle.
Most importantly, it is helpful to me to be able to recognize the triggers and the patterns and do what I can to avoid such occurrences in my future.
Total control will never be mine. It doesn’t exist. Not for me and not for you.
It’s a new day and I am off to yoga.
My solution. My church. I will Om with the group, get centered, and try not to judge myself or others.
But as they say in church, which will be my mantra for this Sunday, “Peace be with you. And also with you.”