Saturday, May 22, 2010


Last week, I had a day where I felt listless and out of sorts. I am used to having a lot of pressing things to attend to, always having a kid or two with me, being scheduled up with appointments, etc. But there was one day last week when I had nothing planned at all. I was going to have two and a half hours of free time while my daughter went to preschool! Since I had no pressing *stuff* to do, I thought I'd take the time to relax. A couple of months ago, this is what those hours would look like:

Drop off daughter. Go to the park and take a nice long walk. Go to Starbucks and get a tall nonfat mocha, and take it home to my wonderfully *empty* and silent house to sit in my living room and soak in the rare alone time while sipping my drink. Then pick up my daughter, refreshed.

Well, my house wasn't going to be empty. It wasn't going to be quiet, not this time. I didn't want to go home and sit in the living room listening to someone else snore, and I didn't want conversation. I wanted to be ALONE. Since that was not possible, I started feeling a bit irritable. I hardly EVER get time absolutely alone and undisturbed. In fact, lately, it's been *never.* Not fair. So I figured I'd just go take my walk in the park... and then as I was dropping my daughter off at preschool it started to rain. No way! I didn't have an umbrella or a raincoat or anything and was definitely *not* in the mood for getting cold and wet.

I felt aimless and sad that my oh-so-rare alone time was being spoiled. I didn't really feel like shopping, or need anything in particular, but I decided to go to Target and look around a bit, hoping the rain would abate. And a funny thing happened when I was in Target. I was walking past the food aisles and suddenly I had the urge to buy a bag of chips, some soda, candy and cookies and sit in my car and eat it all. I really wanted to, for just a moment. I remember when I used to actually *do* that, a couple years ago. I used food as my entertainment source... as my distraction. When I was feeling bad, I'd 'treat' myself to some indulgences and at least, for the moment, I'd feel better. It was my way of filling the time with something that brought me pleasure instead of the unhappy thoughts and feelings that might otherwise surface.

I walked past the chips and candy, got a couple of non-food items, and left. When I got in my car, instead of being giddy with anticipation and excitedly tearing wrappers open to give myself an endorphin rush, I was left with those uncomfortable, unhappy feelings about my day not turning out how I wanted it to. I looked across the street at the Starbucks and I got mad. A Starbucks latte is no way, no how on my eating plan right now. When I was just calorie counting, I'd treat myself to a nice latte from Starbucks 2 or 3 times a month. I'd budget it into my calories. It was worth it to me... it felt like a huge indulgence. It made me feel special. (Isn't that what Starbucks is all about anyway?) Just like when I'd buy some fancy chocolate truffles: it made me feel like I was "worth it" and floated me away to a different place. It emphasized the vast gap between the life of poverty I used to live and the blessed life I have now, where I have *enough* and can even enjoy a splurge once in awhile without fear of depleting my last cent and being unable to pay the utility bill. I *liked* feeling that sense of security. Maybe a Starbucks latte became my way of assuring myself that things are okay now. And I liked the warm sweet comfort as I sat relaxing and sipping my drink, too. I missed the comfort of both sensations.

I sat in my car being mad for a few minutes. I wanted to cry. This new life is kind of confusing at times... I have a body I don't recognize, my clothes are all getting too big AGAIN so I can't wear them much longer, I don't eat or cook or shop the same way anymore. I love the results, but the new mental state does take some getting used to. Finally, I saw the rain was letting up and the sun was coming out, so I drove to the park for a walk.

When I got there, I was torn. I did not FEEL like walking anymore. I was busy having a pity party. I actually parked my car, sat there a moment, mumbled "this is stupid" to myself and backed out of the parking spot to leave. I circled the parking area once, the battle going on in my head. "You should walk!" "I don't give a crap!" "Walk anyway." "I don't want to." "You'll feel better if you walk." "I don't care." "If you don't walk, you'll have to bike later." "Oh, dammit. You suck." Then I parked again, got out, and started walking.

After awhile I did feel better. I walked for 45 minutes. I liked the way my legs felt under me: strong and steady. I enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air. But when I got in the car, I still had this feeling like I needed, or deserved, something "special."

I drove to the gas station, went in, and ordered a small, sugar-free, raspberry Italian cream soda. It used to be one of my occasional treats back when I was doing the South Beach diet. It has no sugar and in fact almost no carbs; it's just soda water, sugar free syrup, tons of ice, and a bit of half & half. I took the pretty, creamy pink treat in my hand, took a sip, and felt better. Yeah, it was a self-medicating of sorts, but maybe that's okay once in awhile. I can tell you this: that drink gave me a lot of pleasure and comfort. I sat in the parking lot of my daughter's preschool sipping my drink with my windows down, the radio on, and the sun shining on my skin and I felt 100% better. All for the price of a little half & half and two bucks.

The rest of the day was great. Everything was fine. I think being aware of how I *used* to constantly and habitually use food as a soother/distracter is VERY important. Those emotions and that desperation was the basis of most of my binge eating behavior. I have learned to *usually* use things other than food to comfort myself, but the occasional cup of hot tea or icy Italian soda is not a bad thing. I believe we are meant to derive pleasure from food, in moderation. Finding non-triggering, on-plan indulgences is just another way I am learning to take care of myself.

I am feeling great today! Looking forward to weighing in tomorrow. See you then!


that TOPS lady said...

I could have written this post, except I haven't come as far as you have. Recently I found myself "kid-free" for an hour and I drove to Braum's (an ice cream store) and got a milkshake. NOT WISE.
I very rarely have anytime to myself either. And it makes me cherish my alone time a bit too much.
I'm actually thinking of calling my mom and asking her to watch the kids for 2 hours today so I can run errands and get my walk in. But mom has a way of making me feel like I am hugely making her day less convienient. So...I don't know.
Here's to us and our alone time. :) \_/ cheers

spunkysuzi said...

I must admit that when i'm alone it makes me want to snack when i know i don't need any extra. Happened today and i decided to just go make a cup of tea and get some extra water in :) It worked!

meleemistress said...

It's such a hard lesson to learn. There are times when food really does help, but our relationship with food is so broken that we can't normally recognize those times, and when we do, we get very afraid of what might happen if we give into that mind set.

Here's what I see as the most important bits of what you described:

1. When that first urge hit, you didn't give in. You recognized a reflexive response and overrode it. You exerted control.

2. You went for a non-food solution first. You did something for yourself that you thought might pay off in both the short term (making you feel better) and the long term (not eating). It ended up not working as well as you liked, but you tried it, which is what counts.

3. When you decided that food really was what you wanted, you considered what it was going to be, made a conscious choice, found something that would both make you happy and not ruin your day, and stopped there.

In short, you did exactly what you needed to do, and that should make you proud! Excellent work, keep it up!!

captcha: mantards

Anonymous said...

I am totally relating to the “body I don't recognize, my clothes are all getting too big AGAIN so I can't wear them much longer, I don't eat or cook or shop the same way anymore.” I always get discouraged when the clothing doesn’t fit! And even though my body is changing and I love the results, my emotions are conflicted about the journey to get there.

I’m so glad to read that you worked your way through the funk and moved on to have a great day!

Anonymous said...

For me, it's not about taking "control". It's about listening to my needs, and finding ways to nurture myself. It's about working WITH my body, not trying to control it into submission.

That is the difference between being *in control* (a form of domination and manipulation) and being powerful.

You opted for powerful.

Beautiful post!

Lily Fluffbottom said...

I also could have written this post, and I'm still trying to decide if I in fact, went the other way of success last night, considering my options. You made the right choices, and you should be very proud of that.

screwdestiny said...

Mmm, Italian cream sodas are my *favorite*! So freaking good. They're definitely an indulgence for me, too. And yes, I agree that we should be able to get pleasure from food. Just in moderation. It's when we abuse it that it makes it so we're no longer able to get pleasure from it lest it destroy us. And that would be sad.

Joy said...

You sound just like me. I hate the inner fights I have, with myself, when I'm supposed to do something. Way to push through!! Keep up the great work!! Hugs!

Dinah Soar said...

You did good Lyn. You figured out a way to comfort yourself with a food that wouldn't wreak havoc with your food plan. As for feeling at loose ends--those kind of days are tough. I have them every now and then and it's hard when nothing appeals except eating something indulgent.

SOMEDAY you will be able to have that occasional latte and it'll be here before you know it. As well that indulgence won't ruin your life or health because you'll be calling the shots instead of the food or your appetite.

Kimberly Knudson said...

Good Job Lyn!

Before I started the program, I went to starbucks EVERYDAY!!! So, in the beginning it was the one thing I miss most about my day, when I couldn't have a White Mocha. Then one day, I had the bright idea to have Starbucks blend my shake FOR me with iced coffee instead of water. Oh man. I found a way to stay 100% on plan, and still get my starbucks fix. Glad to see you went to the park to walk anyway! Your an inspiration!

Jaime said...

I love what you said about the emotional part of this journey , having a body you don't recognize , clothes that dont fit and all the rest. That is EXACTLY how I feel. I don't know me anymore. It is hard trying to discover exactly who the new me is. Great job staying strong.

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

Even now, after months and months of doing great, I'll have those odd moments where I find myself on the verge of slipping up. It's incomprehensible why those feelings still crop up, but they're not as overpowering as they used to be, and they're much easier to push back down.

Way to keep fighting the good fight, Lyn...

Eadie said...

I agree with what everyone's said about "This new life is kind of confusing at times... I have a body I don't recognize, my clothes are all getting too big AGAIN so I can't wear them much longer, I don't eat or cook or shop the same way anymore. I love the results, but the new mental state does take some getting used to."

It would be good to work how to deal with the mental changes that comes with losing weight.

Mishe@EatingJourney said...

I think the most important thing in this whole weight loss journey is that you acknowledge what you're body is wanting/needing. I think it's GOOD that you got the drink...because it's not about deserving or not deserving. I think it's more about honouring. If you constantly shut out a little something every now and again we actually aren't honouring our bodies and souls. It's a fine line, but I think that you're getting it. Keep up the amazing work :)

Kelliann said...

Thank you so much for this post. There are so many times I do a similar battle with myself, and you put into words that sometimes I cannot. You show what tremendous balance you have found in your life - which is so key. A little drink indulgence, yes - but accompanied by a 45 minute walk. Balance is something we should all look for.

beerab said...

*BIG HUG* I had a similar experience last week and I ate a slice of pizza cuz I was mad I couldn't run cuz my knee was hurting. It was only one piece but it made me aware of how much my mood affected me. You did very well :)