Monday, October 19, 2009

On the Horizon...

I'm changing. I can feel it. Not just my body, not just my clothes. Me. The way I think, the choices I make, the way I feel about myself. Change is coming.

Writer Sarah and I were talking books one day, and she told me she was reading The Four-Day Win by Martha Beck. Always on the lookout for a life-changer, I rushed out to the bookstore that day and bought it. (Along with a couple more cookbooks to feed my addiction.) I took it to bed with me that night and started reading.

I laughed at the first chapter title: “Why are you so Damn Fat?” On page two, I had an epiphany. (On page TWO!) “Bottom line: eating is a deliberate behavior, however compelling.” My eyes got big and I dropped the book. I might have cried a little bit.

It’s true. Not matter how many times I’ve thought that I have no control over what I eat, I do. I have to make a conscious decision about putting the food in my mouth, chewing it up, and swallowing it. It isn’t like breathing or blinking. It’s something my brain has to okay before I can do it. So, why did it take a book to tell me that?

Chapter Five starts out with an explanation of “The Polar Bear Effect.” The reader is challenged to think of anything she wants to for the next ten seconds as long as it has absolutely nothing to do with polar bears. It’s impossible. The more you think about the foods you shouldn’t or can’t have, the more you will crave them.

The day after I read the chapter, we had a party at my office. I had offered to make dessert, thinking I could bring in some fruit or something else sensible that I could eat, too. I was told that cookies had already been purchased for the party, and imagine my dismay when I walked in that morning and discovered they were my absolute, all-time favorite cookies ever. I went into panic mode.

I thought about them all day. Oh. My. God. There are cookies in the break room. I LOVE those cookies. I haven’t had them in SO long…they are SO many points. If I have one or two, I’ll want more. I have to have those cookies. There are cookies in the break room. COOKIES in the break room.

Just before lunch, it hit me. Those damn cookies were my polar bear. I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about them if I kept telling myself I couldn’t have them. I took a few deep breaths and thought about what I should do. In the end, I decided I would have two cookies for 3 points. I ate them, enjoying every bite, and tracked my points. When they were gone, I flossed my teeth and popped some gum to get the flavor out of my mouth. The next morning, there was still an entire tray of those cookies left. Instead of being upset that they were still there, I was able to ignore them because I wasn’t still thinking about them and stressing over the fact that here cookies down the hall from my desk.

I feel empowered over food like I’ve never felt before. I am in control. I make the choices. And I can do this.

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