Friday, May 29, 2009

Substitutions

A couple of days ago, I found myself in an obsessive quandary. I have this thing in my head, where sometimes when I hear about a food or see a food, I start wanting it to the point where I will walk through fire to have it. It gets totally stuck in my brain. I used to see pizza commercials and then spend hours fighting off pizza cravings until I'd finally cave and order pizza. Over the past year and a half, I have gotten a lot better about just saying NO or distracting myself... otherwise, I'd still be morbidly obese. But occasionally I still get the "skipping record" in my head for a particular food... and I *think* I HAVE to have it or I will just DIE.

So it was that I read a post on the Pioneer Woman's site about making homemade fried chicken tenders... complete with pictures and step-by-step instructions. And I couldn't stop thinking about fried chicken. Now, I don't own a fryer, nor do I ever deep fry *anything* anymore, but these chicken strips were haunting my head, dancing around taunting me about how good they would taste with Ranch. I *wanted* them. I wanted them SO BAD. I started negotiating in my head about how many miles I would walk or what meals I could skip to have them. And then I got in my car and drove around thinking about it, and when my daughter fell asleep in the back seat I drove to the next town over because they have a KFC there, and I went through the drive though and ordered a box of popcorn chicken with a side of Ranch.

I parked in their parking lot like the desperate food addict that I am, opened the box and gazed down lovingly at the crunchy fried golden nuggets. I ate one. It was okay. I ate a second one. And as I stared out over the horizon at the blue sky and trees, feeling the grease and salt coating my mouth, I had the loud and distinct thought, "This is not what I want." I looked down at the nuggets. "I didn't want nuggets. I wanted love."

I sat back and thought about it. There are so many things I really, desperately want in my life right now. Peace. Quiet. Alone time. Love. Affection. A cleaner house. More communication with my kids. Energy. Time. But not chicken nuggets.

The chicken nuggets were a substitute for what I *really* wanted, but felt I couldn't get. I want to be rid of this blasted eye infection that came upon my daughter and myself, but I have to just keep using eye drops until it's gone. I want my husband to work on our marriage with me, but that seems more and more to be out of my control. That's it... out of my control. I want a lot of things I can't control. I want my son's disability to go away. I want my house to be bigger. I want my dog not to have heart problems. But I can't control any of that stuff, so my brain calls up something I CAN control, like, say, a Hostess lemon pie or chicken nuggets, and then I go all nutso getting it for myself because, HEY, this is something I CAN control. This is something I can want and get. Food. I can have any food I want, no matter what it is, I can drive around for hours until I get it. But it's just a substitution. A diversion that tricks me into *thinking* I got what I wanted, when in fact, I didn't.

Some things *are* in my control, but take a lot more effort than a walk to 7-11 for a donut or a drive to the grocery store for ice cream. But really, how much sense does it make to keep doing these substitutions? If you want a cleaner house, how about cleaning it? It makes no sense to go out for a hot dog because you want a cleaner house, any more than it makes sense to buy a new chandelier because your toilets are dirty.

I have to accept the things I can't control, and work on the things I can. Like my body. I can take walks, I can bike. I might *want* to jog or roller blade or do step aerobics, but just because my knees won't allow me to do those things doesn't mean I should substitute Big Macs so I can have what I "want." Taking walks and biking makes more sense. It gets me closer to what I *really* want. But takes more effort. It's simpler to buy a candy bar and feel momentarily fulfilled and indulged than it is to bike for 30 minutes. But the food substitutions have to stop.

I looked back down at the box of nuggets, and I took the remaining dozen or so and threw them away. Because that's the reasonable thing to do when one realizes that they do not *really* want chicken nuggets.

And then I came home and cleaned my house instead.

41 comments:

PatriciaW said...

I call that VICTORY! Because you stared down the enemy, saw it for what it was, and didn't believe for one second that because you'd slipped, you had to fall.

Yay! I know the feeling. Because I did the same thing, not minutes ago, with some Checkers french fries. In the garbage, goodbye!

Great uplift to start the weekend, knowing that you have what it takes to make good decisions and you've made them. From lying to crawling, from crawling to walking, from walking to running across the finish line.

whenilookinthemirror said...

Good for you! The fact that you identified the root cause of the craving is fantastic and I think it speaks a lot to your self-awareness.
I have noticed that a lot of times I will be very particular about a type of food I want -- for example, I love chocolate covered pretzels, but I would not bother with any chocolate covered pretzels, I needed to get ones from a particular store. I think a lot of this is indicative of using food to show yourself that you are special and that you deserve good things and to get what you want.
All of which is true -- you do deserve good things, you are special, and you can/will get what you want. But of course, our brains are just a bit habituated to think we want food when what we really want is so much more.
All of which is my long winded way of saying, I think your realization shows an awesome amount of personal awareness.

l. said...

Your posts so often leave me in tears, you are just amazing and brave and strong.

Hanlie said...

You really should write a book about your journey! You have me cheering! Another great post with HUGE insights... Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. You are such a blessing.

liz said...

Yay! Rock on with your self-awareness. I will try to remember this post the next time I start to fixate on something that is not on my plan for the day.

Saje said...

That is a huge victory! Your evolving self-awareness is inspirational and I thank you for continuing to post in such a raw and captivating manner.

Taryl said...

Good for you, Lyn! Getting to the heart of the emotional isses behind obesity is so difficult, but so necessary, to permanent weight loss. And though I hate it, you're right that substitutions will never cease to be exactly that - facsimiles of what we really need, and likewise, that subsitution will never give us lasting happiness that we crave.

That was a real victory and you should be so proud that out worked through your emotions instead of eating through them. Big hugs!

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Great job doing the only good thing you can do with chicken nuggets: throw them away.

Vickie said...

really good post and true for most all of us - I think.

I have stopped with the outside influences -

I do not watch ANY commericals - not even fast forwarding through them - because they impact me also.

I do not read magazines that are full of 'diet' information, buying MORE information, food information, gossip, nonsense in general.

I am careful about movies/shows that I watch and even stories on the radio - I watch nothing that will make me upset.

I do not live with my head in the sand exactly -

I filter -

DVD's from the library (TV shows and movies) and netflix

free downloads from NPR (car talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, Story of the Day, This American Life, etc.) that I listen to while I walk

Guidepost stories

I don't let myself get fixated on things that will sabotage me.

And I fixate very easily also.

I still carry NO CASH (after 4 full years) so that I can not impulsely buy food.

I only eat from home - always.

Miz said...

arm hairs are standing on end.

I was right there with you.

Carla

redballoon said...

Wonderful, Lyn!
Good for you!!!!
Hurrah!!!

herewegoagain said...

I have come to look forward eagerly to every single one of your posts. You are incredibly wise and thoughtful and always spot-on (for me, anyway) in what you write.

Thank you for taking the time to share these thoughts. They help more than you'll ever know.

Pubsgal said...

So, so true! (And so well-written, as usual, too.) How many times that has been my root cause of craving.

whenilookinthemirror said...

Check out: http://www.chefmd.com/recipe_display.php?id=53

For an healthy unfried crispy chicken recipe.

Deb said...

"A diversion that tricks me into *thinking* I got what I wanted, when in fact, I didn't."

This is my favorite line of your completely brilliant post.

Seeking Health and Balance said...

Congratulations! That was a definite success. You have blogged before that winning will occur when you make good choices consistently. It sounds like you are really making good decisions. Thank you for being such an inspiration to me and many more.

Jen, a priorfatgirl said...

AWESOME VICTORY! It's amazing what self-reflection will do. When we are struggeling, the trick is to stop what we are doing and just reflect. eck - that's a struggle of mine right now, I feel all the old feelings of being fat coming back and I have given in too many times to acknowledge out loud recently :(

GREAT JOB!

Larkspur said...

There's a school of thought that you should have a little bit of what you're craving... but that seems to backfire for me. It feels like an odd balance between enjoyable and satisfying food but limits on the really seductive, high calorie stuff.

I remember the graceful Lilias of Lilias, Yoga, and You (dating myself) writing that she put a piece of cake down the sink and ran water over it so she wouldn't dispose of it the wrong way. What works for the wand-like Lilias is good enough for me!

Great blog, always food for thought.

Me my fat and I said...

I Love Pioneer Womans website, to bad I just can't eat anything from it.

Congrats on throwing away the KFC!

clickmom said...

Good for you! What a little victory. Relish it! I'm hoping I can find that mind set.

Jenn said...

Amen. I've been in that car, staring at the food when I really wanted something else, just like you. But not like you, I didn't realize what was happening, I didn't throw away the food and deal with the problems.
Congratulations on acknowledging your feelings and doing what really needed to be done!

John's Weight Loss Blog said...

Oh my gosh you have to stay away from Ree recipes if you want to lose weight! I'm totally addicted to so many of her recipes. Creamcheese stuffed Jalepenos are a new appetizer staple for me. Sooo good.

cmoursler said...

That is a good example of eating not for nutrition, but for comfort. Good job on stopping at two. YOu know, you can make a healthy baked version with corn flakes and milk. sometimes a craving is a craving. I looove popcorn. I started getting these bags of popcorn that are 100 calorie packs. I eat on once a week or so if I get a craving. I am still looking for a decent sub for mexican. I love the taste of mexican food but can't find a decent healthy option. I will keep looking, until then, it's off limits.I do have an awesome recipe for a chicken wrap, granted, my calorie intake daily is 1700. I take a tyson breaded chicken breast (about 150 calories), bake it, slice it and then put it in a low cal low carb whole wheat wrap, put lettuce, red onion and tomato in it and mix up two tablespoons of mustard and one tablespoon of honey and viola one heck of a sandwich. grand total around 330 calories. It makes me feel like I ate a kfc chicken wrap. Just much healthier. Good luck to you.
chris

rmslil said...

Sometimes I think that you are my long lost sister. Your thoughts are the things I think about. Wow! I thought I was the only one with the crazy thoughts.

Dianntha said...

Wow, what a stuggle you are coming through...we have all been there-done that. Hang in there you are going to do this!!! Dianntha

Lisa said...

Awesome realization! God for you!

Twix said...

LOVE this light bulb moment!!! So true!! Happy for you! :D

Terri said...

That's wonderful!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, I think you get Super Extra Credit for stopping a self-defeating behavior in its tracks. That is MAJOR.

Congratulations on figuring out what you really wanted! It seems so worth two chicken nuggets to have that realization.

Fat[free]Me said...

Yes, I am guilty of the displacement activity thing. Going crazy doing something, anything to avoid what I really should be doing.

Glad you "clicked" just in time - hope I can do that when my next "wanna" moment strikes!

tidbitor said...

thank you for those words of wisdom-i am going through a rough patch, and you have helped me through it with your insight

John said...

I could have written this. I so know all about it. Food has been my best friend lately. And drink, but I'm trying hard to stop again.

Mama Bear June said...

WOw, that's an awesome victory. Now stuff like that just tastes like a ball of grease to me and I can't stand the feeling in my mouth.
Path to Health

dani31608 said...

That really resonated with me. Thank you.

Charleen said...

You are right on, and your ability to recognize it is the key to what we all need to do. Thank you for the great message!

MondayIsHere said...

Congratulations on such a monumental insight to yourself. That was very motivating for me as I had one of those moments on Friday, but I didn't come to my senses before I ate bad foods.
Way To Go!!! Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

You have much more control than me Lyn. I have never been able to throw out fast food once I bought it. I don't have your willpower!

Michelle said...

I just stumbled on your blog a couple days ago and I'm loving it!

Very inspiring. I'll be back for more. :)

Karyn said...

Bravo, Lyn!

Katie said...

Lyn, it's not long ago that I also discovered that I was using food for a substitution, too. I thought OTHER people did that and not me. :) When I don't want to think about or do something, food is my distraction, instead of just dealing with whatever it is.

Knowing that you do this now, what will you do the next time? I guess sometimes we NEED distractions, but food is a destructive one, and only makes everything worse. I'm working on just simply blogging at those times -- so far it's working.

I applaud your efforts at figuring this all out and never giving up.

Winderdoodle said...

I love this post. It's soooo true. I can't tell you how many times I ran to food instead of looking inside at what the real problem was. Thanks for posting this and being real about those feelings.

I've been in this same position a time or two. My downfall is always pizza. I've gone so far as to order it, get it home, and then decide against it. To keep myself from indulging later, I pour water or coffee grounds all over it before I put it in the trash. It helps. Then I'm not additionally tempted. I know it's weird, but simply putting the box in the trash isn't deterrent enough for a food addict.

Anyway, good job and thanks again for your honesty.

-Wendy

wendyweightlossjournal.blogspot.com