Every so often, life has a way of taking over, and sending me spinning off balance. These are the times where I reset goals in an attempt to regain equilibrium.
Now would be one of those times.
So I take inventory and line up my priorities once again:
1. To work 90 minutes per day. (Even though I am still technically on holidays, a teacher’s workload is intense, so I can always work. Here, I am trying to minimize it so it doesn’t take over.)
2. To spend 60 minutes per day writing. ( I see writing as a luxury because I do it mostly for self-serving reasons, therefore; I tend to undervalue it and it is the first to go.)
3. 30 minutes of exercise per day.
4. Choosing to eat healthy foods that support my well-being.
Number four is the clincher. I have some food allergies and a lot of sensitivities, so eating properly becomes really important for my health. Why then, is this goal so difficult to keep?
The intent is good, but what is it about food that makes it so difficult to control? If I had the answer, I would be rich, especially in this age of health and weight consciousness.
Yesterday, for example, I ate a healthy breakfast, and an equally satisfying lunch, and had planned my dinner ahead of time. I ended up being out longer than I expected, and felt the temptation to grab something “snackish” to fill in the gap, but I managed to hang on till dinner. Then the cravings started. I wanted something sweet to compliment dinner – a habit that dates back to childhood. So I ate the remainder of a chocolate loaf. I didn’t stop there. I had an errand to run and thought about stopping to pick up a chai tea latte, overlooking the fact that I had eaten dessert. I talked to myself about my goal, and settled on coming home and making a low-fat latte. I enjoyed my treat, and felt sated, but then remembered that there were potato chips in the cupboard. I convinced myself that a bowl of chips was better than eating from the bag, but of course, I wanted more. I was far from hungry at this point.
The resulting indigestion and inability to settle down for a good night’s sleep was not a new experience. Neither was telling myself that I won’t do that again!
The results speak for themselves. As much as I want to think I am conscientious about what I eat, I remain overweight.
What is the food replacing? I ask myself. What function is it serving?
A number of things come to mind. First, I am an emotional eater. I eat when I am upset, but I also eat when I am happy, especially if I have accomplished something and am proud of myself, such as keeping on track for an entire day. It is easy to see where this habit derives from by watching my grandchildren. Food is an easy way to console and celebrate. I have no doubt that is how my mother handled me.
Sometimes I eat to suppress needs. Now this is getting personal, but because of Thor’s condition, there has been no sexual intimacy for some time, yet the urge remains for me. Potato chips have been my go to food when feeling lonely for a long time. I know it, but still go there.
Overeating creates a cycle that is difficult to break. I feel good about myself, I self sabotage, I eat junk, I feel bad and indulge more.
There is also the problem I wrote about the other day: instant gratification vs long-term gain.
I have no self-control in the instant. If there are no chips in the house, I can usually talk myself out of the need for them, but if they are on hand, I have no self-control.
Why is it so difficult to shift my focus to long-term gain? Herein lies the complication. In order to be able to commit to something in the distance, I have to be able to believe in the future. (Boy, this is tough stuff!) Truth is I stopped believing in the future a long time ago. I have chosen, instead, to live for the moment. That way, I have convinced myself, I won’t have as many disappointments.
As a child of parents who were never able to follow through with promises, I first learned the pain of disappointment, but it didn’t end when I left home. I chose partners and built relationships that repeated the pattern. And then I took over. I proved again and again to myself that there is no gain in setting my sights on the future. The future is too intangible and unpredictable.
What I failed to tell myself is that not all of the future is foreseeable or predictable, but planning ahead (in the moment) can help prepare the way. Choosing not to eat those chips in each moment helps secure a healthier self in the long run. Eating the chips, conversely, will ensure that my goal is never met.
If I ever hope to see results from my intentions, I will need a new, and responsible attitude.