Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Had a Moment

This afternoon, I had one of those defining moments where a split second decision is desperately important. It was a moment with chocolate frosting.

My daughter had three cupcakes leftover from her birthday party, where a large pack of toddlers and preschoolers decorated naked cupcakes with pre-made frostings, candies, and sprinkles shaped like butterflies and flowers. It was a great activity for the party, and not something that tempted me in the least (because while I have eaten a batch of frosting by myself more than once, it was always homemade). I would generally say I don't "like" that canned stuff at all. So, as I was saying, we had 3 cupcakes left, and the leftover containers of chocolate and vanilla frosting sat in the fridge waiting to be used on a cupcake or a graham cracker by one of my kids. Until today.

After lunch my daughter asked if she could make herself a cupcake. I got out the cold chocolate frosting and nuked it for 11 seconds to soften it up. I opened the lid and started to stir it. And I had the most unsettling reaction as the scent of warmed chocolate frosting hit me.

That switch I talked about in my earlier post today? Yeah, that switch, I could feel it getting flipped back. The smell, the sight of the creaminess, the way the light reflected off its glossy surface. I had this sort of flashbacky type of feeling, how great it feels to eat that stuff *in the moment* and right then I WANTED IT. I felt my brain slipping into that very strange place it goes when I am about to binge. I dished a bit of frosting out for my child, and then I looked at the half-full container and I thought, "I am going to eat this whole container of frosting RIGHT NOW." In just a few seconds my head was spinning with visions of the remaining two cupcakes smothered in 3 inches of frosting; of heaping spoonfuls of thick, glossy chocolate going into my mouth; of an empty container in front of me. I shook it off and stuck the container back in the fridge, but I WANTED IT.

Parts of me battled that old familiar battle, with the same old lame arguments in my head:
I can eat that and then start over.
I still ate healthy *most* of the day.
I wonder if I can go to the bakery and get a whole cake to eat?
I could eat crap for a few days and then get back on track.
I won't lose weight anyway.
I have to eat that frosting.

I sat down and was typing a message to a friend, still having major frosting distraction, when it hit me: a split second of determination. I've talked about this before on my blog: how all you need to really succeed is a SPLIT SECOND of determination to throw out the candy bar, smash the cake down the kitchen drain, put the Doritos back on the shelf. One split second. And in that split second I dashed to the kitchen, got the frosting out, grabbed a spoon, and scooped it out into the trash. As fast as I was able, I threw trash on top of it, and stuck the loaded spoon into a sinkfull of soapy water. And it was done.

But it seemed like it took forever, and it felt like two people fighting inside me over that container of frosting. Part of me was yelling "don't do it!! Don't throw it out! Stop! Stop!" in complete horror as the chocolatey goodness plopped into the trash can. It was like on those cop shows on TV or in the movies where the drug addict's girlfriend grabs his dope and flushes it down the toilet, and the druggie runs to the bathroom, kneeling over the swirling toilet screaming, "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! How could you do that!?! What have you done???" It was like that, only I was both people. A huge part of me was trying to eat that frosting, but some small part of me just FORCED my arms to get rid of it.

Yeah, it's ideal to never put that kind of trigger in the house, but life happens. I've made a decision to let my kids have their cake and ice cream once in awhile, and not to try and stop everyone around me from eating pizza. I am responsible for *MY* behavior. And I am proud of my victory today.

Tomorrow (Thursday) will be one week since I started calorie counting and exercising again. I am excited to step on the scale and see if the results are showing yet!


seattlerunnergirl said...

I love that - it only takes a split second of determination to throw away whatever it is that's tempting you. I am writing that on a sticky!

My fiance never understands why I buy tempting foods and then throw them away. He's never struggled with his weight so he doesn't get it. Thankfully I am not keeping that stuff in the house these days (I don't have kids so I don't have to deal with that part yet!), but it is oh, so hard to resist when it's there.

So, yet again - nicely done!

Carrie said...

I agree, I think that that is something that should be written on a bathroom mirror, stickies on the fridge... you are very inspirational, Doe your husband/Boyfriend support your dieting by not bringing sweets and other things in the house? My boyfriend wont stop!

Suze said...

Good on you - a great split second decision!

Lesley said...

That is a great illustration of what I've spent the last 4 months trying to learn! I'm doing a TV show over in England for Sky with the British Cycling team and we're learning about how our brains work (or don't) and how we can learn to control part of our brains which want to eat and not exercise! It's a bit complicated for a comment but your post just totally summed up the dichotomy which is going on in all of us between our frontal lobe (ourselves, our modern human, rational personalities) and our "inner chimps" the primitive, animal sides of our beings that we as humans have evolved from.

Obviously our chimps have very different animal type motivations to ourselves - and these, for women especially, do not fit in with the modern world. Our female chimp's drivers are basically: food, insecurity and the maternal instinct!! For men - sex, power and!

You just demonstrated how your rational side made a decision and carried it out against your chimp's wishes. The trouble is, your chimp is very strong (I'm told 5x stronger than you!) and you won't beat her all the time with willpower alone. You have to start to understand what she needs and wants and learn the tricks to work WITH her to achieve YOUR aims.

Sorry, it's too complex to go into in more depth. I'm only a beginner myself. It's a theory that is being used extensively with sports people (in particular our British Oympic Cycling team which did amazingly well in Beijing) but it hasn't really hit the public domain yet.

I just wanted to say that your desire to binge is not YOU but your chimp. So, if you ever feel guilt or shame about it, don't. What you have is a perfectly functioning chimp. You just need to develop your human, rational side to learn the skills to work with her and control her more unhelpful urges.

Well done in your journey. I've been reading you for a whle and am constantly impressed by your fortitude and resolution. Keep going chuck.

Lesley x

Saje said...

You actually made me cry with this post... and I had my husband read it to try and help him understand my struggle a little better. Thank you.

Angel Jem said...

It's that choice between two paths... past KFC or straight home? Well done on the right decision, and good luck with the weigh-in tomorrow... (although sometimes life's a bitch and you don't lose weight, so don't panic!)

screwdestiny said...

Lyn, you're an incredible writer. I myself have never experienced a craving or an urge to eat something that strong before, but the way you wrote it made me completely understand (or at least as much as one can from reading about it) what you were going through. It sounds like it was terribly hard to do what you did, but that is what will lead you to the success you achieved before, and even beyond that.

Betsey C. said...

I hate that feeling, the urge to binge. It's almost a panicky feeling -- you are very strong to be able to beat it into submission and throw the frosting way.

I'm so glad I read your blog, I get strength from it. If you can do something like that, I can too!

anne h said...

These moments define us. And reveal us.
It sound like you finally whipped that "mommy cupcake" syndrome! Heartfelt congrats!

South Beach Steve said...

All I can say is WOOT! You are awesome! I knew as I was reading this that you did not give in. Your post yesterday showed more resolve than that, and this post today proves it!

Chavonne said...

This is so great. I hope that the next time I'm faced with a decision like this, I show your strength. Keep up the great work!

Lynne said...

You are GOOD! I am glad you were able to control what in the past was out of control. I feel you are in a groove, I look forward to your progress! (Hopefully it will spur me to DO SOMETHING... ANYTHING to get myself losing again as well!!)

Joy said...

yes Lyn, this sounds so horribly familiar, it's deja vu.

Gave up wheat a week ago and have found the frequency of the switch flicking has decreased greatly, while my strength to resist and make the right choice is increasing.

Am really grateful to you for writing this post - really behind you, cheering you on to keep this level of mindpower!

VeeGettingHealthy said...

I hate canned frosting. And I'll eat it by the tub-ful. That's why I can't even buy it anymore.If I'm craving chocolate and have nothing else, I've been known to take a spoon and sit in front of the TV with the tub of frosting and a gallon of milk, and just go to town.

I need to find my switch.

Vee at

Lisa said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!!! I loved how you explained it as two different people. One saying yes and the other saying no. You WON this battle!

Thealogian said...

I remember reading this article in Vogue several years ago about women thin women poring salt or putting out cigarettes in half-finished desserts. Someone else who had read the article said, "isn't that crazy." Honestly, I thought it was a good idea. Its great to be able to have a taste of a dessert, but like everything else in America, portions are over-sized, even sharing. Having three bites of a dessert and then disposing of it seems like a great strategy to enjoy indulgence and then not feel guilty about too much indulgence.

With your daughter's cup-cake treat, it was great to have the cup cakes and frosting (with super cute sprinkles) for the party, but days and days of treats hanging out at the house isn't good for anybody.

Treats should be just that, treats--meaning occasional, but something to be enjoyed. When they become oppressive, lingering house-guests, well there's no treat in that.

spunkysuzi said...

I have to admit i've done the 100 meter dash to the garbage can and quickly thrown coffee grinds and whatever else i can get my hands on over it!! It works. I just wish i did it every time.
And i know how huge this was for you. I'm so proud that you were able to do it!!

Matilda444 said...

You might want to read "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite" by David Kessler.

Rachel said...

Thanks so much for your honest description of that erie battle our brains play out on the brink of a binge. When I read words like yours it helps me to recognize those key moments in myself and remind myself that I have the strength and ability to turn it around. Well done!

Juice said...

Way to go! Awesome victory. :)

Hallie said...

I gained 2 pounds just reading that 4th paragraph

AGirlWorthLosing said...

Go you! I needed to hear this right now, I am looking at a plate of leftover blueberry muffins and I need to get them out of my office pronto before something bad happens! :-)

Anonymous said...

yea lyn! one victory after another and before you know it, you can quiet that "beast chimp" of midbrain before you know. it has to be tamed by consistent programming by the neocortex.

our reptillian mid brain controls automatic breathing, sweating ect, and it also drives our pleasure centers. it craves pleasure at all expense. it doesnst remember pain, or consequenses, so if we leave it unchecked it will drive us to drink, smoke, snort , over eat bad foods, sleep in and not go to work, cheat on our get the picture.

im very delighted that you are working on this lesley. its very cutting edge.

heres a good site that delves into the theory. a doctor who was alcoholic developed a program, to "reprogram" that part of the brain into submission. groovy stuff!

great victory lyn!! keep striving!

rachel said...

You are right. I swear when I am reading your blogs I wonder if you are reading my mind. When I successfully lost my weight the first time.. (lol).. I would pour tons of salt all over my food as soon as I realized I wasn't 'really' hungry anymore. It took SO MUCH EFFORT to pour that salt instead of eating the last of the food! It is exactly a split second that I had to get the food ruined, because if I thought bout it at all I would eat it. It's like telling a crack addict to throw out the pipe while they still have more crack left. This is hard. Thank you for being so honest and open about you own personal struggle :)

Fat Girl said...

I can relate to all those thoughts (except maybe the bakery one - I would bake a whole cake).

Way to go!

I had a similar experience two weeks ago and I had forgotten about it. There was a slice of pizza left and I was going for I covered it in Tobasco sauce (so I wouldn't eat it but my husband still could). That was that.

pattypan said...

Thank you once again for your inspiration. I am having my own wrestling match with a rolled up batch of chocolate chip cookie dough in my fridge that my daughter made. Can't throw it away. SHE MADE IT.

Maybe I can stash it in the freezer in the basement?

Barefoot Pixie said...

Yes! That is awesome! Little moments like that added up together equal an all new you! Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Well done, and excellent attitude re kids and ice cream. I've had a few moment or two like that where I've watched in stunned horror as I've made inedible some yummy good stuff, but it's liberating really. And at some point, you learn a lesson like I'm learning right now, where I decided that a bacon cheeseburger with fries is a reasonable meal. I'm so full and sick to my stomach, I won't be very surprised if I don't go yak this up.

moonduster said...

Good for you! Just reading your description of the frosting in that moment had me salivating! LOL!

Anonymous said...

YEAH!! Proud of you!! Kick Fat-Girl's ass!! You go girl!