Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dog in a Basket, or Old Habits Die Hard

I have a little dog that I got for my children when they were very small. Eleven years ago, Santa brought this tiny thing the size of a hamster into our lives, and he weaseled his way into our hearts. He goes on vacation with us (usually), he adores my children, he defends our home with his life. A loyal pup. And he sleeps on laundry.

Back when we got this dog, I was a struggling single mother. I was working or going to school constantly for a couple of years, and I hate to admit that the state of my home was rather chaotic. It was all I could do to keep up with the dishes and basic cleaning; I'd be up til 2am doing homework and washing clothes for all five of us. As a result, I always had baskets of clean laundry all over the living room. Didn't matter what day or time it was, if you showed up at my house, I'd be racing around trying to stash 4 or 5 baskets of clothes and towels into a back bedroom so you could come in and have room to walk. It went on like this for years. I just never had TIME to fold everything and put it away. So, the clothes and towels, sheets and blankets all sat clean in baskets.

The dog, as soon as he was able, learned that a nice warm basket of fresh clothing is a lovely place to sleep. And sleep he did! Burrowed into the towels, nose poking up through the socks. The dog was always in a basket.

Years passed. I got my act together. I taught my children, from the age of 8 up, how to wash and dry and put away their OWN laundry (a skill I know their future wives will appreciate). When life was less busy, I was able to start really keeping up with the housework. Towels got folded, my clothes were put away. Baskets were empty in the laundry room, and the dog was much displeased. We bought him an ultra soft, cushy dog bed. He liked it! But given the choice between a piece of clothing dropped on the floor and his cozy dog bed, he chose the clothing. We would often walk into the living room to find the dog lying on top of one stray sock, with the dog bed sitting empty in the corner.

The other day, my son brought up a basket of clothing that no longer fits him. He set the basket by the fireplace, and IMMEDIATELY the dog was in the clothes. Even when my daughter tucked him in and wrapped a fuzzy pink scarf around his neck, he stayed in the clothes. He looks so happy there, I don't quite have the heart to move it yet. But soon, he will be a basketless dog once again, relegated to lying on an old sock or washcloth on the cold, hard floor.

Are you like a dog in a basket, hanging on to old habits that no longer work for you? I know I was. Shoving food into my mouth instead of dealing with emotions was habit for so many years. It was comforting. It worked for me... but had consequences. I got fat. I gained 80 pounds in less than a year, and stayed morbidly obese for a very long time. And then when I *had* to stop bingeing... for my health, for my sanity, for my children... I had no warm basket of clothes to lay in.

My new healthy eating habits are much like a soft cozy bed... a fine replacement for a basket of clothes. But do I look at those cookies, those candies, that ice cream, and want to use it as a crutch? As a small but temporary comfort to remind me of the old binges? I do, sometimes. I read other people's accounts of eating cookies or pizza and I WANT IT. I think it isn't fair. I want to eat what I want. I want junk. I want to binge. I think, "I can do it for ONE day. I will go buy junk, whatever I want and eat it all day for old times' sakes and then I will get right back to healthy eating." But isn't that sorta like the dog, lying on a stinking SOCK for comfort instead of in his nice soft dog bed?? Yeah, it kind of is! It's habit, it makes no sense. Why would I choose those foods over what I am eating ... and ENJOYING ... now? Old habits die hard.

Thankfully, I'm a tad bit smarter than the dog. If he wants to give up his snuggly posh bed for an old sock once in awhile, so be it. But I am not giving up my comfortable, happy, healthy new way of eating to go back to some old sugary junk food binge. Not even for a day.

18 comments:

kelly said...

Great post - as always! Keep it up!

Diana said...

I'm glad. :) Keep up with the good job Lyn.

Steelers6 said...

I would love to see a picture of this tiny dog in the basket of clothes..hee hee. Esp w/a scarf around his neck.
Aw.
I want to stop kidding myself trying to make it work by laying on one little uncomfy sock, & get my new self in to a comfy, comfy pet bed of health & fitness. :)

Autumnforest said...

Pup sounds like a little sweetie, but his world is no doubt consumed with when and where he can get his next piece of clothing--very good analogy. I've found that when I'm doing healthy things, I concentrate a great deal on the high I feel from exercise and how powerful I feel and how limber I feel all day long after doing it. That kind of comfort replaces the food comfort. People wanting to make change just need to focus on the high they get from good things instead of comfort from bad things. It really does work great. That's probably why Bob and Jilian on "Biggest Loser" are such zealots. They're high on power and muscles. Doing pushups is kind of like their basket of laundry. (I have to smile imaging Jilian curling up in a bunch of dirty socks)

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

Good analogy, Lyn. All I can tell you is that it gets so much easier as these good habits get more and more ingrained. I rarely find myself even slightly tempted by the foods that used to cause me so much grief.

Good post.

Jenn said...

Love this post and the visual it provides. It's taken me a year to give up looking for my warm laundry basket, but honestly this comfy bed ain't half bad. :)

Vickie said...

I did (past tense I am pleased to say) the clean clothes baskets for YEARS too - you are not alone. Loved this posting.

Amy N. said...

Thank you! I needed this today; a day I decided to go lay in on my old sock. Thank you for reminding me that there is better, much better!

Melody said...

Great post. I am so like your dog, old habits do die hard. I'm slowy learning to replace them with healther habits, not easy.I have been following your blog on and off since 2007. I have just started my own blog on my weight lost. Good luck on your getting healthy adventure Lyn.

Melissa said...

FANTASTIC analogy & i love your dog. HAHA. :) :) So cute!

Julie said...

Wow,just found your blog tonight. You are me or I am you! You are saying what I am thinking but can't get the words out. Thanks for sharing your journey. You make me want to join you. It is time!

foolsfitness said...

I agree with another commenter... you need a pic of the tiny in a basket!

I also agree with you. I've been working hard starting from the ground up to rethink my thinking. To try to teach myself to be mindful and aware... and it's over 30 pounds so far that's gone.

I think I will always enjoy my laundry basket, but it will be a visit and not living in it any more.

At Foolsfitness our idea of matching socks is "two clean ones"!-Alan

screwdestiny said...

I, too, want to see adorable doggy pictures. I wasn't quite sure where you were going with this post, other than a cute dog story, but I liked it.

Deniz said...

Great post - it really made me smile.

Even old dogs can be taught new tricks - this old dog is happy enjoying her comfy doggie bed (even though she still does yearn for that smelly sock, now and again). It's so much more comfortable than the bad old ways.

Hanlie said...

Good for you!

I had to laugh at the comparison - my cats will settle on anything that is left lying around, even my oven mitts!

Anonymous said...

It's not just little dogs that love to lay on clothes. My doberman and husky do too. I think it's a dog thing. As for comfy dog beds, they would have none of it, they stole the couch instead.

Barb

oshea12566 said...

I miss my laundry basket-the Taco Bell drive thru. Good post.

Jenny said...

Love, love, LOVE your blog! Another great post.