Tag Archives: routine

Control Is (just a) Key

Sometimes the universe reminds you (or me) that control is nothing more than a key on a laptop that somehow gets a virus and will require $150 to fix only to be returned to you completely “renewed,” as in, all of your settings, downloads, documents, drafts of blog posts and some pictures are no longer part of the deal.


The mixture of this event and several others might leave you (or me) lying on the floor in the fetal position next to the cat, cursing Comcast while sobbing and apologizing for being a horrible cat mom.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

But then once you get those sobs out, you (or I) might realize that people in third world countries would kick your ass if they knew you were upset over losing half-written blog posts, having your credit card hacked (a different story) or cleaning up cat puke.

It could always be worse, but sometimes that’s hard to remember. Things add up and the straw that broke the camel’s back can often break you down. The realization that things are out of your control and less than ideal is annoying and frustrating.

It’s also pointless to fight.

A lot of my stress (and maybe yours) isn’t because I honestly feel like physical chaos will ensue when things go wrong, but rather that a situation won’t be (my version) of ideal and mental chaos will ensue.

So I plan things like having a post ready, make sure I can workout or that a meal won’t be rushed, eaten later than preferred or (gasp!) a disappointment. I like knowing that I can do “A” at time “B” and the result will be a predictable “C.”

Hello? Laptops getting sick, credit cards getting hacked and Snooki getting a spin-off show fit nowhere in that plan!

Anyway, after finding myself lying on the floor in the fetal position next to the cat, cursing Comcast while sobbing and apologizing for being a horrible cat mom—hypothetically speaking, of course—I had a thought. Well, two of them actually.

1) Wow, there’s a lot of catnip in this carpet.

2) How’s “predictable C” working out for me?

Of course at this point it wasn’t only about the laptop—although I was (and am) still kind of freaking out about that. No, it was the general realization—again—that sometimes you (or I) have to let go and just go with the flow.

Learning to accept the world as it is rather than being annoyed with it, stressed by it, mad at it or trying to change it into what we want it to be is really all we can do.

And I have to admit that my computer is running much faster. While this stinks, I can turn that around and say now I have an uncluttered canvas that can be filled with whatever might suit me right now. And we can continue the cheesy metaphor and say doing  a different “A” at time “B” can result in a new and improved “C.”

Exclamation point!

Of course at this point it’s still not only about the laptop and I’m still lying on the (now freshly vacuumed) floor. However, it’s not because I’m sobbing and losing my shit, but simply because I stood up and a piece of broccoli fell out of my shirt.

I can’t find it.

I’ve learned to accept this will happen. Not being annoyed with it, stressed by it, mad at it or trying to change it into what I want it to be is really all I can do until someone sends me a bib that can double as a superhero cape.

You pick your battles, people.

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Shiny Things Distract Me

Alternate title: Sharing my OCD—Obscure Creative Directives

Get inspired to write something brilliant at a completely inopportune time. Forget about it for a bit.

Start doing something else, remember your idea and head into the living room to turn on your computer.

While waiting for it to boot up, go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea.

The water takes a minute to heat up. Notice that the shelf next to the sink is dusty, grab a rag and quickly wipe it down.

This leads to cleaning the whole counter, as the power of Lysol 4-in-1 knows no bounds.

Remember the water is boiled and make your cup of tea.


Head back into the living room (still inspired.)


Decide to check your e-mail for just a second before really settling in for the composition of brilliance.

Twenty minutes and a witty Facebook status update later, return to your writing.

Write without self-editing. Just write.

Realize you have the word “spatulate” stuck in your head and decide that yes, it can be used in a sentence.

The word “spatulate” makes you think of cake, which reminds you of the Sara Lee commercial, the jingle of which is now stuck in your head.

Remember that until you saw it in print, you thought is was “Nobody does it like Sara Lee” because “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee” is a double negative and doesn’t make as much sense. 


Focus; not on the grammatical shortcomings of the Sara Lee Corporation.

Start writing and soon realize you forgot about your tea, so go into the kitchen and throw it in the microwave.

Fill the 30 seconds by getting your lunch containers ready for the next day, and while you’re at it, fill the lunch containers so you’re good-to-go.

Notice the shelf in the fridge could stand to be wiped down. Call in Lysol 4-in-1 again; it’s power knows no bounds.

Remember about the tea, retrieve said tea and head back to the computer.

Focus. Write a bit.

Bite your tongue—literally.

Tea makes you pee, so go relieve the problem—among other things.

Wash your hands and decide to replace the Glade Plug-In in the outlet.

While in the closet, take note of the Swiffer and decide it’s time to go for a ride.


Turn the radio on—loud—not because it’s a mandatory step, but because it makes you happy.

Swiffering also makes you happy, so clean, sing and dance around your kitchen with your freak flag flying high.

The floor needs to dry, so head back into the living room.

Remember you were writing.

Turn the radio down. Find yourself humming.

Bite your tongue again in the exact same spot. Curse—loudly—not because it’s a mandatory step, but because it makes you feel better.

Turn the radio off.


Write without self-editing. Just write.

Decide you don’t want to overdo it, so hit “save” and go put the kitchen rugs back on the (clean) floor.

While you’re throwing things, throw your yoga mat on the living room carpet as a reminder that you are going to do it later. If the mat is on the floor, you will do it later.


Light the “Fresh Baked Cookies”-scented candle in your living room, not to set a romantic mood for yourself, but to make it smell like delicious baked cookies you didn’t bake (as nobody does it like Sara Lee has given you a temporary  inferiority complex.)

Return to your computer and read what you wrote without judgment, and then read what you wrote with the addition of judgment.

Decide it’s not brilliant, but it’s you.

Marvel at how much that candle really smells like Fresh Baked Cookies and resist the urge to lick it.


Attempt to add an image into your post, as you’ve heard that people like to see images in posts.

Shrug and decide you don’t care what people like to see in posts.  You can’t please them all.

Reread your words one more time.

Brush off self-doubt and embrace what you are.

Hit “publish.”

Start doing something else until you get inspired to write something brilliant at a completely inopportune time—maybe yoga.


Tennessee you later

This will be my final trip post, as the gnome is getting annoying and there’s really not that much to talk about. It’s not like I attended a fabulous food festival or anything…

Anyway, my trip was full of snags—from work stuff to lost luggage—but all in all, I survived. (And even though the food sucked, at least I didn’t get food poisoning or schedule wrong this time.) No big deal.

But I was also quickly reminded of a couple things that I had conveniently pushed to the back of my (often muddled) mind. It seems that any chance I get to slip back into slightly “just in case” behaviors of eating a bit too little or walking a bit too much, I take.

True, there was no “structured” exercise with a timer or yoga mat, but there was a lot of walking around and standing on my feet. True, there were meals eaten out, but they weren’t indulgent and the majority of meals eaten in my room weren’t as much as they should have been. I knew this, of course, but for some reason I justify it with being  work-related or just a short-term thing.

While it is a short-term thing, it’s still an unnecessary thing, and it carries over when I get home. How? I start doing the comparison thing—not to others, but to myself. If I walked all day yesterday but sat on a plane all day today, I feel like my food has to reflect that. Once I get home, I feel much less active and that I eat much more in comparison to what was done on my trip. I fall into that stupid game of comparison that only leads downhill—physically and mentally.

But now I’m home and I’m aware, so I’m trying to get back on track. This is a good thing. 

What else I remembered is that most of the things people stress about are things that haven’t happened and might not even happen yet. Yes, I said “people,” as getting out and observing others on this trip reminded me that a majority of personal stress is caused by the people themselves. They worried about what someone would say before they even met them, they worried about the weather three days in the future and possible flight delays, etc.

And oh, how I can relate.

I don’t like how the second I got home, I automatically wanted to start planning my meals and keeping things structured. Those meals hadn’t happened yet, but I still wanted that mental security of structure and control. Instead of resting up and letting myself “be,” I wanted structured activity because I felt like if I could, I should.

When I take a step back and a deep breath, I realize I don’t like that.

It stresses me out almost more than not planning at all. If the “real” me  was allowed to stick her skinny neck out, I (probably) wouldn’t be as neurotic as I appear to be.  I’m actually quite “hippy-dippy” in my attitude. Yet most times with food, work, family, etc. I tend to hype situations up in my head that aren’t even situations at all—at least not yet.

I can’t use every day stresses—as serious as they might be—as an excuse to self-destruct. I have a lot of things going on right now that I could fall back on as anxiety-provoking—moving my grandma from her current room to the hospital side, the fact that my work computer is on the fritz at the worst time possible, an unexpectedly large car repair, etc.—but all I can do is deal with it when it comes.

Working out won’t help me work out an issue. Restricting food will not restrict the snags we’re all exposed to on a daily basis. For me, this is what I have to remember. For you, it might just be the opposite.

A big part of stress is thinking your needs are the same as others.

I can’t fix my computer, I can’t predict how other people will react to things, I can’t fly the damn airplane. What I can do is take a deep breath and remember that I have to take care of myself so that I am prepared to deal with the situations when they arise.

And if all else fails, there’s the gnome.


I have another post planned on the topic, but I would like to know how you let outside factors influence your personal outlook and health. Do you create a lot of your stress by how you deal with stressful situations?

If it stresses you out to share, tell me the best part of your weekend. If even that stresses you out, you might want to seek professional help. I’m just saying…

Go Away

Next week at this time I will be traveling, but not to the FoodBuzz Festival that so many of you are attending. No, I will be in Sevierville, Tenn. for work from Tuesday until Friday.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a big fan of traveling. In fact, the only time I’ve traveled the past 10 years it has been for work; never for a vacation. Expenses aside, I like my routines and any disruption annoys me.

But what I usually find is that once I settle in and have my bony fingers grasping just a bit of control over the situation, things are manageable. When I travel somewhere with viable food options, I actually even enjoy eating out and trying different things.

So, minus the fact that I’m stuck in between nowhere and  a tourist trap full of pulled pork and BBQ joints every 10 feet, this is a relatively low-stress venture in theory. I’ve done this show a couple times before and the fall colors are usually quite pretty, even if the restaurant options aren’t.

However, whereas a lot of people worry about gaining weight while traveling, I worry about losing weight and usually end up feeling like I got hit by a truck upon my return.

I tend to get stuck in an all-or-nothing mindset when my routine gets broken and I don’t have my staples or normal times. Even though I’m walking around for work all day, I don’t consider it exercise because it’s just “work” and not scheduled exercise.

I skip snacks or overestimate my meals and try to compensate, not because I want to lose weight, but because it feels uncomfortable to change things up. Even though I’m okay eating different things, it’s usually actually less than I would eat during a “normal” day at home. So…

Underestimated activity + Overestimated food = the fact that traveling isn’t healthy for me.

But for some reason, I’m not that stressed about this trip. I found out my room has a mini-fridge, so I’ll hit the Wal-Mart and buy a few things to have on hand—yogurt, fruit, veggies, water, etc. For everything else, I’ll play it by ear and try not to be neurotic if my meals are less than perfect or not exactly what I want.

It’s only for a couple of days and worrying about things that haven’t happened yet is the most unhealthy thing I could do.

In fact, I only get stressed out over things (work, time, family, etc.) because I feel like I have to do so many things at a certain time and a certain way. The phone rings, I have to answer it. An e-mail comes in, I have to reply that second. I ate this earlier, so I  have to eat this later.

I’m so busy trying to prevent stress in the future that I end up stressing myself out in the process. Counterproductive, don’t you think?

So, this is a pep talk to myself for next week (and to anyone who might be traveling in the near future):

  • Prepare for the situation, but don’t do “normal” if an adventure awaits.
  • Take advantage of the change in scenery and the ambiguity of being somewhere new where no one knows you. 
  • Just because you’re not in your own bed doesn’t mean you aren’t in still in your own head—be responsible for your own health and make no excuses. 
  • since you have to do it anyway, enjoy it for what it’s worth (you’ll be back home before you know it.)

And hey, even if it stinks it will make for an entertaining blog post.

P.S. Baby goats make me happy.



(I drive by them every day on my way to and from work—no kidding. Get it?)

Case Closed

I had jury duty this week, which amounted to two days of sitting in a room for a few hours with 250 other people and never getting called. To be honest, I was kind of bummed. I thought it would have been interesting to actually sit in on a case.

At any rate, any time I’m taken out of my element and thrown into a random mass of humanity I always end up shocked and it always ends up being about food.

One man next to me was swearing on his cell phone, pulling donut holes out of his bag and already complaining that he was bored. Another man was dressed in a crisp suit, but dropping peanut M&Ms into a Styrofoam cup of court-issued coffee and fishing them out with a plastic cutlery.

It was 8:00.

A lady grabbed a Snickers and some Sun Chips from the vending machine for her meal, the guy next to her bought a pop and a bag of cookies and others went to the cafeteria for sandwiches and assorted baked goods or vending machine items they had for sale. The court also offered everyone free coffee, tea and hot chocolate, but had only three stalls in the women’s bathroom, causing quite a backup.

I consider the bathroom situation to be the greatest injustice of my experience.

Anyway, I ate a big breakfast that morning and had snacks packed to hold me over until lunch. For me, even if I’m not hungry, food is always a priority — especially breakfast— and the fact that a majority of my “peers” were so ambivalent towards it amazed me. I shouldn’t say “amazed,” as I know that’s how a lot of people are, but I still just felt…weird. Regardless of the issues that I have, food is important to me and I have a hard time understanding people who don’t care.

Who doesn’t look forward to breakfast?

I’m guilty of loving breakfast and could basically eat “breakfast” food every meal of every day. More than the actual food itself — I stick to a few of the staples and don’t ever get too creative — I think I just like breakfast because in my OCD-mind, it’s a fresh start.

Sorry, I thought it was funny.

No matter what happened yesterday, I can usually kick-off the morning with a blank canvas and create a base on which to start my day.

But I’m also guilty in that if I have a weird-to-me breakfast or something that mentally throws me off, it can affect the whole rest of my day. Yes, I’m working on this. However, with breakfast I feel like I do have the whole rest of my day to readjust and take positive steps forward.

I’m also guilty of keeping a cumulative tally of what I’ve had, what I need, etc. as the day goes on, with each decision being based on the one before instead of what I might want/need at that moment. Years ago when I worked with a dietician who had a lot of younger clients–and who also used plastic food as props–we came up with a slogan to keep in mind each meal: TOMATO. Take One Meal At A Time Only.

Corny, but it worked (Even though I’m not a big fan of the tomato, I could create nothing sensical with ASPARAGUS.)

But I also confess that I never skip a meal, and the fact that so many people skip an opportunity to eat — and breakfast, nonetheless!— is bordering on culinary crime to me. I guess I can’t imagine there being a time when food wasn’t something that I planned into my day or haphazardly left to chance.

Me? I’m not proud of this, but I was guilty of feeling a little superior to them, knowing I had oatmeal and they had Milk Duds. I was also guilty of worrying about having to go to the bathroom too much and that I was forced to sit for hours without a walk. Plus, everyone was coughing — all the time.

Anyway, the verdict?

I make no apologies for my love of breakfast and aversion to sitting in a room full of coughing people fishing M&Ms out of a coffee cup with a Spork. I also stand by my theory that food is weird, but so are people.

Case closed.

Are you a breakfast person? (If you’re not, I promise not to judge.)

What are your go-to options or non-traditional favorites?

What I learned from zombies

I know I’m late to the game, but I finally saw Zombieland this weekend (and just for the record, thoroughly enjoyed it). At any rate, if you haven’t seen it, you are dropped right into Zombieland as Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) begins listing his rules to survive living among the zombies (trust me, it’s not as cheesy as it sounds.)

Zombieland-PosterOne of his opening lines is, “I survived because I followed the rules, my rules.” 

Hmmm…call me crazy, but this really struck a chord with me (and not because the undead were lurking around my neighborhood.) For me, I pretty much developed these maladaptive behaviors years ago as a way to survive, a way to cope with my situation and the world around me.

Things chaotic? I defer to overexercising, restricting or obsessing about food/numbers/etc. so I can’t focus on anything else. Making myself comfortably numb was the only way I felt (and still feel) like I can handle both the outside world and the inside turmoil. I feel like in order to just make it through, to survive, I can’t have it both ways—it’s either/or.

I survive because I follow the rules, my rules.

I have ridiculous rules about everything—if I worked out for 30 minutes last night, it can’t be 29 minutes today; I put limits on pieces of gum and tea that have nothing to do with calories; my meal rules are ridiculous and I won’t even touch on them (work in progress, most certainly.)

But how much are these rules really helping? Unless you’re new here, you’re probably thinking, “How’s that working out for ya, Abby?” and understandably rolling your eyes. My rules give me a false sense of safety, but they don’t keep me healthy in both body and mind.

So, I have decided to amuse myself by adapting a few of the rules of survival from Zombieland to my own situation, adding my own “healthy” twist to things. Once again, I feel like I have to do everything “opposite” of what we are traditionally told to do (“eat less, exercise more,” for example), but rules are made to be broken—or at least twisted to fit my purpose.


(Disclaimer: This is not a complete list of Zombieland Rules for Survival. If you are in need of those guidelines, I suggest you log off and report your suspicions to the authorities.)

Cardio—This one comes up a lot in Zombieland, and it makes sense. You want to be in good physical condition to outrun the undead. However, if you are trying to gain healthy weight, cardio makes no sense—especially when it becomes obsessive. You want to be in good physical condition and not look like the undead, so cardio is basically out of the picture…unless being chased by zombies, of course.

cardioBeware of Bathrooms—In the movie, the bathroom is the perfect place to corner yourself and negate any hope of escape. Similarly, the bathroom for someone in recovery can be just as unpleasant for a variety of reasons. (1) There is the shower, where one is forced to get naked in front of (2) the mirrors. There might be a (3) scale, possibly a (4) hair-clogged sink or drain and (5) the inevitable medicine cabinet that may contain laxatives, stimulants, sleeping pills or any other artificial form of “alternation” (or maybe just floss…floss is harmless). At the very least, there is (6) the toilet—a vehicle for evacuation, or countless hours spent wishing for such a, ahem…movement.

However, one must regard the bathroom as a place of comfort and not of temptation to nit-pick or obsesses over physical…stuff. We’ll move on.  

No Attachments—In the movie, it is advised not to get too attached to other people or things, as they are likely to slow you down. Similarly, with recovery from anything, you cannot be so attached to your routine and addictions that they slow you down and impede your recovery. In order for things to improve, you have to be willing to let go of the habits that grounded you where you are.

The Buddy System—But that doesn’t mean you can’t be attached to people. In the movie, you want someone watching your back, always on alert for the next attack. Similarly, those in recovery need to have someone they can talk and be accountable to. Going at it solo, listening only to what’s going on in your own head, is no smarter than trying to take on a mob of the undead alone.

When in doubt, know your way out—With zombies, nothing is worse than a poorly planned escape. Similarly, when you find yourself slipping back into unhealthy behaviors or questioning your motivations, know what you can do to find a way out. Nothing is worse than a poorly planned escape. 

Be Ruthless—Just as the weak and compassionate will not survive in the world of the undead, one cannot expect to make progress in recovery by giving in and giving up when things get tough. Things will be hard, things will be uncomfortable, things will suck. Be ruthless; show no mercy.

Enjoy the little things—Self explanatory in both Zombieland and Abbyland. Life is short—take time to appreciate the small things that make your heart happy. In actuality, they are in fact the big things.

What “rules” can you break for yourself?


What rules should you follow that you don’t?