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Eating, Alone April 17, 2010

For the first time that I can remember (really!! It’s been over ten or fifteen years), I am passing the weekend alone at home. All of my family members have other places to be this weekend, and so here I am.

It occurred to me that when this happened in the past, even for a single day or evening, I would find myself “stocking up” on food that I would only eat when alone. You know, the forbidden stuff. And I’d eat things that I wouldn’t eat in front of other people. I thought of this when I was in the grocery store this week. And it actually made me stop in the middle of an aisle and half-laugh, half-cry.

Because now, I need to eat food that I can eat in front of myself. If that makes sense. Someone once said that a great cure for binge eating or overeating is to always eat in front of a mirror. (ACK! right?) But really, at this point, if I am going to overeat, the person who is going to care the most (this was probably always true, but I didn’t think that way) is ME. I’m the one whose clothes won’t fit. I’m the one who will feel sick and disgusted. I’m the one who won’t be able to show my face in the front of a WW room. I don’t want those things to happen.

So, MIRACULOUSLY, even though I am spending the weekend alone, I am… guess what? Eating just like I would if everyone was here. In fact right now I am cooking up this fabulous asparagus wild rice salad. Just for me! Yum!

Last night was a different story. I was realllllllllly tired after a very long week of lots of work and early-morning workouts. I was totally pooped. I just hung out in my pajamas and had a little Hulu-fest. I watched Glee (yay) and the first two episodes of Top Chef Masters. (I adoooore anything Top Chef!) One of the challenges is that the chefs had to create original and amazing versions of grilled cheese.

Grilled cheese is right up there in probably my top five favorite things to eat (short list also includes mac and cheese, and cheesecake – are you sensing a pattern? :-)) As I watched, the little grilled-cheese chorus started up in my head. After I finished the shows, I realized I was really, truly hungry. And guess what I wanted to eat?

Right! GRILLED CHEESE!

So I came downstairs and made myself a divine grilled cheese sandwich, using a combination of whit cheddar and LaTur cheese (from the milk of 3 animals! Fancy!!), some country Dijon and amazing bread.

And I enjoyed Every. Single. Bite.

I pondered this after I ate. Had I just engaged in some Solo Bingeing? I thought about it very hard. I decided that no. I had just made a choice to eat something, which coincidentally in the past may have fallen into the binge category, but I did NOT feel like I was bingeing because:

  • I didn’t feel sneaky or surreptitious. Just happy.
  • Because I used my amazing panini grill and no butter or oil, the sandwich only had the calorie equivalent of the bread, the cheese and the mustard. It came to about 650 calories. Which was not so horrible considering it was my entire meal.
  • I ate it when I was hungry and stopped when I felt satisfied. Which is to say when the plate was empty of all crumbs.
  • It did not lead to eating anything else.

So! That was a revelation. It made me happy.

Another thing that happened this morning is that I discovered the joy of Exercise TV. Woweee! It’s just been sitting there all along, and I never knew, although I had this vague notion it was in there. What happened is that I slept in to the VERY LATE hour of 7:30am. I doodled around online (oops). By the time I looked up, it was too late to run and wayyyyy too late to go to the gym. I really did not want to break my streak of morning workouts, even though it is the weekend. I did not have much time at all. I thought, what about that TV exercise thing?

Found Direct TV. Found “fitness and exercise.” WOW there were so many options! I chose “Biggest Loser.” Anyone surprised? :-) There was something called the Last Chance Workout. How fun! 30 minutes with the cast of Season… 7? 8? (the one with Tara & Sione and Danny) They were about mid-season and nobody looked as super buff as they did at the finale. It was an amazing workout! I loved it. I loved having Jillian yell at me and everyone else, but with LOVE. (ha) And at the end of 30 minutes I was sweating like CRAZY. Convenient and FAST. Yay for morning workouts.

And yay for being able to be left alone without eating the entire house.

 

The Ghosts of Old Triggers June 21, 2009

At this point I am not feeling very triggered by old foods anymore, although I feel there are “phantom triggers” lurking around old spots where I used to binge/overeat/comfort eat. They sometimes call out to me in these faint little voices.

Yesterday I was at this mall and kind of stressed out because I went into Sephora, the huge makeup store. I am SO NOT a “makeup” kind of person but the day before I was at a different mall and on a whim, I got myself made up at another makeup place.  The next morning morning I realized I did not own any makeup remover of any kind, and realizing I’d have to go BUY some annoyed me and stressed me out.  So I went to Sephora to buy said makeup remover and the whole place – with its million products, just freaked me out and made me feel ugly (unless I buy at least 100 products).  So when I left, I headed over to the cupcake store across the way. This place has offered me a lot of solace in the past. I didn’t go in. I just stood and looked in the window. I remembered how I’d go in there and get a cupcake or a huge, warm snickerdoodle cookie.

Jokingly, I Twittered “Talk me down!” and amazingly, it worked. As soon as I put it out there that I wanted a cupcake, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I just couldn’t imagine then typing, “Sorry too late!” and admitting to the whole Twittersphere (800 followers!) that I’d succumbed. It helped me keep walking, and go into the bookstore. I got an iced coffee. I felt better.

These geographic reminders are everywhere. It’s kind of sad that no matter where I am in about a 20 mile radius, I can point out a place where in the past, I would have beelined for a specific food to use for comfort or stress-reliever. But of course they would increase my stress over 200% because of the immediate guilt and disgust I’d feel right after. It’s taken me a long time to truly understand on a deep level, how the thing that SEEMED to be comforting would produce the polar opposite sensation.

When I was driving home, I passed a Jack in the Box. I remember the many years I used to teach at night at the nearby University. I’d rush to class without dinner, because I’d be prepping until the last second. The class would get me all jacked up on adrenaline. When I got out at 10pm, I’d be starving, exhausted and amped up.  I started going to Jack in the Box because it was on my route home, it was easy and it was also one of the few places open that late. I’d go to the drive through. At first I’d get Teriyaki chicken bowl. That was sorta healthy although wayyyy too much rice and gloppy teriyaki sauce. But then one night the bacon-cheddar-potato wedges caught my eye and that was that. I started ordering them (760 calories, 53g of fat) as a SIDE to my chicken teriyaki bowl (585 calories, 1461g of sodium!!).

This happened pretty much every week. For years.

Sigh.

When I pass JIB now, I feel sad remembering that. Really sad. Of course what was really going on was that I was hungry (duh) and anxious, wondering if the class had gone well, and overstimulated and all sorts of things. It would have been so much better to make sure I ate before class. To talk to my friend/colleague about class, or write it down. But I just didn’t have those internal resources or any awareness that there was another way of doing things. I just kept driving through, feeling icky and guilty, and the pounds packed on, and well, it’s not hard to see how.

I see these places all around me, and it’s kind of crazy the way a visual image of those foods will just float up like a transparent photograph, when I pass by. They don’t hold the same kind of charge, and I don’t REALLY feel the same pull, but it’s a sad kind of nostalgia as well as regret.

 

 
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