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.

cntrlky

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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Tripping Out

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.

With that said, I have to travel for work a few times a year and Saturday I will be leaving for New York until Wednesday.

cash-cab

I always want to get the Cash Cab, but then I realize that unless the questions revolve around food, sports or things that go on in my house, I’m kind of screwed.

Before you get all, “Oh my gosh! New York is wonderful and you’ll have a great time!” on me, let me refer you back 10 seconds to “I have to travel for work.” It’s work—like 13-hour days full of work—and there is little to no time for myself. No shows, no great culinary adventures, no acting like an idiot in an effort to get on the Today Show.

I’ve been to New York—for work—and it’s lovely, but that’s not the point.

The point is that I am trying to ration out my recently delivered magazine issues for something to read on the plane. It’s not going so well.

But my other point is that I go through the same mental marathon each time I have to travel. While most of it revolves around finding vegetables to shove in my mouth and dealing with other people dictating my (meal and sleep) schedule without saying something that will get me fired, most of it is angst at an importance level comparable to accidentally swallowing a bug.

Not fun, but not detrimental.

mucus2

Unless this is the bug. How creepy are those commercials?

Anyway, things that the news people tell me I should worry about aside—terrorism, plane crashes, getting felt up by a TSA agent—these are the things that run through my mind:

  • Damn. I will miss at least three of the 162 baseball games that the Tigers play each season, along with a handful of hockey games. At least three games!
  • The new weekly grocery ad will come out on Sunday and I won’t be able to rush out that day and buy things I’m convinced they will run out of by mid-week (crazy exotic things like chickpeas, broccoli and butter.)
  • I will read about local events  happening this weekend and be disappointed that  I won’t be able to attend, even though I wouldn’t have attended them anyway. (I would most likely be watching one of those 162 baseball games.)
  • The local weatherman will piss me off, as I will not be here to experience whatever weather it is that he is so enthusiastically predicting. (By the way, rain is predicted in New York every day of my trip. Of course it is.)
  • Even though I basically eat the same things every day, I will miss the delightfulness of eating the same things every day instead of searching for semi-healthy things in NY like a squirrel seeks a nut. (No asparagus? The madness continues…)
  • If I’m not able to blog for a few days, all 12 of my readers will give up on me and vow never to return again to my aesthetically disabled little corner of the Interwebs.
  • I won’t be able to sit in my pajamas on the couch with no makeup on and watch “Fashion Police” while eating an organic pesto pizza (The irony of that situation is not lost on me.)

Plus, everything I do before I leave will inevitably be classified as “the last time” I do something before I leave and given great importance.

I have to eat up that last banana “before I leave” because, sigh, I won’t be here for four days to consume it. I have to take the dog for one last walk “before I leave” because, sigh, I won’t be here for four days to do it.

You get the idea.

But I’ll be home before I know it, right back to not attending social functions, eating my usual foods and doing yoga in my underwear.

I bet you all can’t wait for future rants, but just curb your enthusiasm (that’s what we call a segue so you can enjoy one of my favorite scenes.)

I love Larry.

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.

tea

Head back into the living room (still inspired.)

Focus.

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. 

header_sara_lee_desserts

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.

swiffer-wet-jet-1

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.

Focus.

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.

yoga

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.

Focus.

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.

Repeat.  

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.

june

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.

goat3

goat1

(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?

Wherever I go, there I am

There have been times I thought a physical relocation would be the answer to my problems, that getting out of a certain environment would also mean leaving any issues there as well.  And while it certainly is true that environment plays a large role in my emotional (and therefore, physical) state of being, there is no physical place I can go to escape being with myself, thinking how I think and feeling how I feel.

So when a physical move didn’t “fix” things, I thought that maybe simply ignoring them and wishing them away would make it so. While it works to put things on the backburner for awhile, they eventually just fall behind the stove and burst into flames, am I right?

Wanting something to change and waiting for it to magically happen while simultaneously ignoring the contributing factors to the situation is not going to work, at least I haven’t heard of it working yet. Things don’t just go away, no matter how much we try and physically and emotionally run from them.

Until we actually face them head on, wherever we go, there they are.

The kicker for me is that wherever I go, I also take with me every single tool I might have to use to change my situation. I don’t know how it is for you, but I could write a book about how to work through dysfunctional/disordered behavior. Every day I come to some new conclusion about myself and why I do (or don’t do) some of the things I do.

And days when I’m willing to listen to myself and even the words of others I trust, I tell myself that this time, this little revelation and nugget of knowledge will make the difference. I am always aware of what I’m doing and why and what I should be doing instead and how I can go about doing it.

But in all likelihood, I’ll keep on doing the same things. I am still the same person, only armed with a bit more insight into why I am that way. 

I might start with an excuse, something along the lines of the fact that I cling to my destructive behavior as a way to cope with “real” life so I can function and be a productive member of society. Then I’ll add that my emotional tie to my actions is much stronger than any revelation or logical explanation I might have come up with. Let’s finish it up by saying that all the irrational and stupid things I do to myself are the only stupid and irrational things that I do at all, that they keep me centered and hurt no one but me.

But if I look at that sentence and par it down a bit—I am into minimalism, remember—I might find “The irrational and stupid things I do hurt me.”

It really is as simple as not doing what you know is unhealthy and doing what you know you should do. If you drink, don’t. If you smoke, quit. If you need to gain weight, eat.

The actions themselves are so basic, but the emotions we attach and the way we can fall prey to the discomfort—physical and mental—is what makes it so difficult. It’s what makes us want to escape. 

But wherever you go, there you are.

And until you use those tools to step outside your comfort zone, you’ll always be where you were.

With that I shall leave you in the immortal words of my idol, Liz Lemon

I want to go to there.”

I’m so glad the new season started.

Do you watch “30 Rock?” What shows are you looking forward to this fall?

Already

I woke up extremely anxious this morning, much more so than normal.

Already?

Other than a looming weekend with boiling temperatures and no air/plans, normal family drama and the daily challenges surrounding food/exercise issues, there was no “real” reason I could pinpoint. Yet I woke up with memories of “food dreams” for some reason, a tight chest and the antsy feeling that I had to get up and do something, anything physical to try and make it go away.

I began rehashing everything I ate the day before, analyzing the caloric content in proportion to my physical activity and (non-existent) hunger levels. Even things I’m normally comfortable with suddenly looked too large and unnecessary and my walks inadequate in comparison. The LaraBar I had a 2am when I got up to pee sounded like a great idea at the time–it was really the only way I could reach my minimum calorie goal for the day anyway–suddenly weighed like a brick in my brain, not in my stomach.

Then I moved on to what that morning’s breakfast would be, trying to figure out how I could fix and shape it–not to meet a nutritional requirement, but rather to meet my psychological standards for semi-sanity. If I replaced this with that, it might not be that bad…

But what would I do with my day? With the hot temps, outdoor activities are kind of out of the question, as the closest thing to water I am near is my birdbath and the toilet. I refuse to go to the gym, so that’s not an option. I don’t want to wear shorts out in public, in part because my legs look sick (honestly) and in part because, well, I wasn’t that meticulous when I shaved last time. TMI? Oh well…I try.

Then there’s the blog.

I want to “spruce” it up somehow, but now I feel pressure. It’s ridiculous to say that, as no offense, but it’s the last thing that should be of such importance. I got motivated in thinking that it would be easy to figure out some cool new thing to do with it, but then I just felt “meh,” for lack of a much better word. It seems overwhelming. Other than changing a thing here and there, I have no idea how in the world I could actually “spruce” it up. Categories? Lump them all into rambles on life and you’re done. So, with the exception of a couple tweaks I might experiment with–there are a few minor additions I want to add–what you see is what you get for now.

These are the thoughts I woke up to.

Already.

And I hadn’t even moved out of my bed yet.

But once I did move out of my bed, I came downstairs and grabbed my food. I grabbed my tea (yes, I still drink hot tea on hot days) and took a deep breath. After I ate I plopped down and with my garden as my view (my squash plants are threatening to takeover the neighborhood, by the way), I rambled on and published this post. I want to delete it.

Already.

However, I won’t. Not because I’m proud of it, but precisely because I’m not. I have a whole day ahead of me that I can fill with anxiety or I can fill with small, tiny steps and things that may me bring some calm. True, they might not work and I might feel this way all day, all weekend even, but whatever.

I might not make any changes to the blog, do anything productive work-related or embark on some exciting outdoor adventure. Oh well. I can do what little things I want to do to make me feel better. And to be honest? I kind of feel better right now, just getting this out there.

Already.

Leaping Lizards

It’s been three weeks since I’ve tried to really switch things up with the food, and of course, I’ve gained no weight (or if I have, it’s negligible.) But that wasn’t really the point, initially. The point was to try and break out of some of my routines, which I have done more or less.

At least that’s the positive spin I’m putting on it—humor me.

Last week I set the goal of not going to the gym at all for seven days and honestly, I only went once. That doesn’t mean I didn’t go for walks, do yoga, etc., but it means I made myself break the habit of feeling dependent on the gym for validation. I’ve made that my goal again this week, as the weather is beautiful and I would much rather go for a peaceful little stroll outside than sit on a stationary bike in a stuffy room watching whatever sweaty “talks-on-the-cell-phone-while-running-on-the-treadmill” guy has on the TV.

Sometimes it’s OK to ignore the crazy part of your head and listen to the tiny little rational side that wants to stroll and soak up the sun like a lizard on a heat rock.

_____Lizard_copy_opt A skinny lizard with an attitude, but whatever.

I also talked about the sleep aid thing, so we can move on from there and get to food now, shall we? For those of you just joining us, I have a habit of  “saving up for a fun nighttime snack” thing. I would still eat all my meals, but cut back a bit during the day and default to “safe” things “just in case” I have something great come along at night. Like the food fairy is going to magically come and deliver some delicious item that I’ll never be able to have again.

So as part of this month’s meal plan goals, I told myself that I was going to make sure that my dinner was different, nothing “safe” and consumed only based on the fact that I wanted leeway for the big nighttime nosh. Instead (novel idea here), base my meal on taste and extra calories.

Why, you wonder? I’m glad you asked.

Because the irony is that even after playing it safe all day, I might not even have the big crap at night and just go with the comfort of routine, so it kind of negated my purpose. Plus, being underweight, it would be helpful to NOT play it safe and still have the big nighttime nosh anyway—despite a normal dinner.

pizzaIf I still want something different at night anyway, great, then I can have it. If I don’t, then at least I’ve challenged myself and didn’t revolve my day around one meal, so defaulting to something a bit safer but adequate before bed is no big deal.

But to me, it kind of is.

In fact, this is a huge challenge that I seem to face each and every day—especially when I’m not exercising before dinner to “justify” the extra calories. Sometimes I’ve let the anxiety get the best of me and defaulted, but sometimes I’ve decided to see what happens when I try the other door (the one with good food behind it, evidently.)

I haven’t found the magic solution yet, other than to tell myself that for just that one meal, I will challenge myself to do something different. When I want to go hop on the bike, I’ve told myself that just for that day I won’t go and we’ll see what happens.

Tomorrow, it might be different.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll go to the gym. Maybe tomorrow I’ll stand in my kitchen and let my indecision get the best of the tiny little rational side that wants to try something new. Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually change the shower curtain liner I’ve had sitting in my bathroom closet for a month (all those little rings are time consuming to unclip, you know.)

But just for today, I can challenge myself, always knowing that tomorrow can be different if I so choose. I can go back to doing what feels comfortable and “right” tomorrow, but for today I can challenge myself and see what happens.

Then when tomorrow becomes today, I can do it again with the knowledge that tomorrow still brings with it the same opportunity to choose Door A or Door B, but that’s tomorrow and I’m dealing with today.

Maybe I can outsmart myself somehow. Maybe I can actually take a leap of faith and start increasing the calories instead of just switching things up. Maybe I can take 15 damn minutes and change the shower curtain liner like a big girl.

Today I have a challenge, but I always have a choice. After all, no one’s promised a tomorrow–eat the pizza today.

What one thing can you do today that scares or challenges you? It doesn’t have to be something as monumental as changing your shower curtain liner or skipping the gym, of course. (We can’t all be Superwoman, now can we?) Just for today, what can you do?

Halfway There

I have a lot of things swirling around my head today and am trying not to come off as too scattered. Usually I think about too much, get overwhelmed at the thought of trying to articulate it in a post and end up not writing anything at all (this is also why I could never write a book, by the way. Well, one of the reasons.)

Instead of that, I’m just going to write down some notes, hope I remember where I put those notes, and ramble on one small thought at a time. Anyway, I came to work this morning and put my extra water bottle in the fridge (because I drink so damn much water that one just won’t do) and noticed half of a small Lender’s bagel in a plastic baggie. Next to that was half a banana in another plastic baggie.

I have never understood “half” of anything.

While you know I’m pretty much an all-or-nothing type of person, I’m really trying to work on this. If I have a project—personal or professional—I am trying to tell myself that it doesn’t have to be done at that exact minute. I can do just part of it without becoming obsessed and feeling like I have to do it all 10 minutes ago. I’ve had to fight off the feeling that not getting it done right away equates with laziness and ineptitude instead of balance and moderation, but so far I’m doing OK with this in certain areas of my life.

But when it comes to food, I have never been able to comprehend half of anything. This may seem to conflict with my certain restrictive tendencies, but I would much rather eat the “whole” of something than have the other half left over, staring at me. Half a small bagel? Half of a banana? Half a LaraBar (which would basically equate to one bite, with the way those suckers are shrinking)?

Why didn’t you just eat the whole thing?

I don’t know if I view their ambivalence towards eating the whole thing as a self control I think I don’t have or whether I just get annoyed thinking they are “dieting” and restricting in a way I know I can’t. Maybe I’m just a glutton at heart; I’m not sure.

This is why I like portioning out exactly what I have to eat and eating until my bowl is clean (I say bowl because most of my food is eaten out of bowls for some reason.) This goes against every conventional “rule” that tells you the “Clean Plate Club” is something you should avoid, you should always leave a bite left on the plate, etc. but I have to do the opposite of just about everything that is blasted into our heads about food and exercise.

At any rate, if something in front of me, I feel compelled to eat/drink it all.

When my mom made my meals post-IP years ago, it actually turned into quite the conflict, as her mentality with meals is to portion out ungodly amounts and “just eat what you can.” This is fine for most people, but didn’t work for me, as I couldn’t just leave it alone, couldn’t just stop without feeling like something was being wasted. It wasn’t a binging tendency, but rather a tendency to make everything clean and make everything…just gone.

One of the habits I’ve had to eliminate the past couple years is a bit embarrassing, but I’ve done it so I’ll share.

For some reason, I always had to throw away a little bit of whatever I was eating—just a small spoonful or rice, a corner of bread crust, a couple of grapes. I knew that tiny amount had no effect on my body, weight, etc., but I felt absolutely compelled to do it (much the same way I feel compelled to clear the remaining time off the microwave or say “Bless you” when someone sneezes.) Throwing away that small little piece literally gave me a feeling of extreme relief from the anxiety, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders instead of a cracker off my plate.

OCD and control issues much?

Needless to say, this behavior had to be eliminated from my fun bag of tricks, as it wasn’t coming from a healthy motivation. But I still can’t seem to grasp the concept of eating half of anything. Right now what works for me (relatively speaking) is having a specific amount to consume each meal — nothing more, nothing less — as it takes away the anxiety or pressure of worrying if I’m eating too little or too much.

I need to increase my food next week, but it seems a little less daunting when I can portion it out and know to eat it all instead of just plopping down with a big pile of food and eating “just what I can.”

I suppose that’s half the battle.

I know it’s my own hang-up, but do you do the “half-of” thing?