Giving Myself a Break

What did I learn last week?  The main thing is that my eating habits are so ingrained and automatic that changing them is going to take some time and patience.  And a lot of giving myself a break or two along the way.

I thought I published an update about how last week was going, but it didn’t show up.  But I learned some things:

  • I like to munch when I’m at work
  • Being prepared is key
  • Being satisfied is key
  • Changing lifelong habits doesn’t happen overnight.

Today’s ramble is about that last point.  I like to eat. When I’m nervous, it calms me. When I’m happy, it reinforces being happy.  When I’m stressed, it provides momentarily relief.  I’ve turned to food for a very long time. Out of 1000 attempts at changing my eating habits, 999 have failed.  The only one that I’ve stuck with is to boycott McDonald’s.  And that’s an easy no brainer.  Who wants fake food drenched in sugar solution so you’ll eat more?

I also know that achieving and sustaining a healthy weight means that some of these eating habits are gonna have to change.  And I’ve decided to take a completely different approach:  I’m adding one teeny tiny small habit and practicing it everyday until it becomes automatic.  Then I’ll add another, etc.

One of the key rules of Donut Whispering is to eat what you love.  And NOTICE that you’re enjoying the food. I so did not do that this weekend.  Not at all.

So, this week, I’ve decided I’m going to eat what I love (Thursday’s menu is simple but oh so Yummy!) and I’m going to know that I’m really enjoying it.  And so that this becomes a habit – I’m going to do the Jerry Seinfeld thing of not breaking the chain.  This is all I’m going to do to start incorporating Donut Whispering principles as my new habits.  No worrying about bites left, etc.  Just remember to notice that I’m enjoying my food.  This is the break I’m giving myself: Add teeny tiny positive practices that are completely doable.  Well – that is as long as I remember to do them.

And well – that’s the crux of it.  Every time I eat and don’t follow the practice I want to practice, it’s usually because I simple forgot.  Technology to the rescue!

I’m going to set up a daily reminder that will gently remind me that I want to notice I’m enjoying my food.  It will ping on my gadget when pull into my garage at home after work. And again just before 6PM.    And I’ll have one that asks me if I noticed if I enjoyed my food ping me about 8 PM.

I’m taking a new medication that must be taken every day without fail and should be taken about the same time every day.   The first week was horrible – I kept forgetting.  I set up redundant reminders and I’ve been on track for over a month now.  This principle should work for my new practice of Noticing my food enjoyment.

OK – and for the reality – breakfast, lunches and workday snacks still need to be healthy and portion controlled.  That’s OK.  I had that habit a few years ago and can get back into it.

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Early Progress Report

Just a quick note – in the hopes it will help me stick with eating by the pleasure scale and leaving 3 bites of everything for dinner.


Oatmeal and boiled egg for breakfast:  √
Leftover Hunan beef and grapes for lunch: √
Carrots and peanut butter for snack: √
Olives for snack: :(  Someone threw them out! (along with my expensive container)
Only eating what I brought – eating yes – drinking no.  I had 2 cups of hot chocolate because I was HUNGRY.  I need to plan a little better.

Overall – I’m pleased with my workday.

Dinner tonight is leftover baked pork chops with rice.  It was delicious last week and I’m looking forward to it.  I plan to eat slowly, enjoying the food and stopping when the pleasure factor dips below 7.  I plan to leave 3 bites of pork chop and at least 3 bites of rice.

Yesterday’s treat at the Redd House went very very well.  I left bites of everything, at with relish and left with a smile on my face.

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Simple Pleasures Sunday

No picture this time.  Imagine the simple pleasure of not being bombarded by your own thoughts and the media messages that you’re broken and need fixing.  Think about how much more time you’d have to spend on things you love when you free up the time spent on sites/blogs aimed at telling you you’re broken so they can sell you the solution.  Here’s what got me to thinking about it:

An interesting conversation about the Live More Weigh Less scheme to part us from our hard earned money has evolved on one my first posts about it last year.  I don’t want to slam Sarah herself – I’m not sure her intention is bad, it’s just not realistic and the program is definitely for the privileged, not ordinary folks who don’t have $1500 to throw to a self proclaimed expert on how to lose weight.

I seem to invite being bombarded by the message “You’re broken and I have the key to fixing you. You just need to do this one thing and for x amount of your hard earned cash, I’ll help you do it.”  Rather than do self analysis about WHY I’ve invited that message into my life, I decided to turn it off.

This morning I edited my Feedly news feeds and turned off some of my favorite feeds: Already Pretty, The Sartorialist, Summer Tomato, Nourished Kitchen, the feed from Green Mountain, Lifehacker, and oh so many more.  The result:  I spent about 5 minutes skimming news headlines and then moved on to the knitting blogs.  And pulled out my knitting – I had to get a mitten ready for road trip knitting.  I have 18 more rounds of plain stockinette that is perfect car knitting.   The point -I didn’t take in any message about how to be better, live better, look better, eat better, anything better.  So my thinking isn’t full of that right now.  Except for being a bit smug about it. <smirk>

And this has also left me time to think about my healthy workday eating plan:

Breakfasts: ½ cup oatmeal cooked in half whole milk, half water.  Butter, brown sugar and cinnamon will get thrown on just before eating.  For some protein – a hard boiled egg.  Lots of healthy whole foods to keep me fueled for the morning.

Lunches:  sigh – I do have some leftovers this week.  But the portions are small – leftover hunan beef (I may supplement with some broccoli), leftover beef lo mien (D and I had Chinese for lunch yesterday), and leftover roast beef.  That’s three lunches.  I see a tuna sandwich or something coming into

Snacks – carrot sticks with peanut butter or olives.

This is so doable.  I feel good about it and and now look forward to my food today:  We are taking a road trip to Jefferson GA to have lunch at the Redd House.  The Redd House is a fish camp in north east GA (more east than north) and on Sundays, they open for a buffet luncheon of Fried everything: chicken, fish, chicken lives, green tomatoes.  There will likely be mac and cheese and either roast beef or ham on the steam table too.  The vegetable steam table will be green beans, collards, some kind of legume, creamed corn, candied sweet potatoes and either dressing, broccoli casserole or squash casserole.   The desserts – usually some kind of cobbler, yellow pound cake with chocolate sauce, strawberry shortcake and brownies.  And maybe some kind of pudding.   This is Sunday eating at it’s best.

Notice how I said Sunday eating?  People get the notion that southerners eat this way every day.  I can tell you that growing up we did not.  In the summer it was too hot for my mother to think about frying anything.  We might get fried okra every other week or so.  Fried eggplant, maybe once a month.  Only in summer.  Fried chicken – a few times a year. Mac and cheese – again, a few times a year.  We typically ate fresh veggies from the garden with baked chicken or a pork chop.  But the meat is barely a memory.  I remember the vegetables.  Summer time – green beans, stewed summer squash, field peas, crowder peas, cole slaw made with a cabbage from our garden, sliced tomatoes, cantaloupe, cucumbers and onions in vinegar, creamed corn, corn on the cob.  The table was filled every day with vegetables.  Not fried meats.

What’s changed?  Buffets like the one at the Redd House, as well as the inferior ones found in just about every town now. These types of foods – either well prepared the way they are at the Redd House, or badly prepared in other buffets – are now abundantly available every single day.  And well, baked chicken versus fried?  That choice is hitting us every day now instead of once a month or so.  Buffets did not exist when I was growing up, nor did the obesity problem.

Back to my food enjoyment today – I’ve decided to go for it.  I’m going to have a chicken thigh, a piece of fish, a few livers, and fried green tomatoes.  And I’m going to eat on the pleasure scale – the best bites first and then leave three bites of everything.  Hubby will clean his plate – and he needs too.  He won’t need to eat the rest of the day.  If I leave three bites of everything, I will likely get hungry.  And since I need to prep carrot sticks later, that’s what I’ll eat should I get hungry.

But it’s nice to be going to the Redd  House without a since of dread.  I can enjoy my food, knowing this is a once a year splurge for me.  I don’t need to leave stuffed and feeling guilty.  I can leave satisfied and with a smile.  And that feels good.

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Random rumination: Are my goals too demanding?

Adding to this - Accepting futility is so liberating!

Adding to this – Accepting futility is so liberating!

Sometimes I wonder if I set myself up to continually fail when it comes to my personal goals?  It’s a wonder if I last a week in doing what I say I’m going to do?  I’m not like that in my work habits or in activities that involve others.

D says I give too much to work and have no time or energy left for anything – including him.  That could very well be true.  And I don’t see the workload easing up.  I do know that I only work about 45 hours a week – and commute another 7 or so.  That’s nothing compared to others’ work weeks and commutes.   I think his point is that when I start working – I can pretty much work for 8 hours straight with just biology breaks.  He’s right there.  And my #1 biology break is food.  Looking for relief?

I came home from work early on Thursday.  I had a terrific scare in the office –  my near peripheral vision went kaleidoscoping heat-waving crazy. I couldn’t focus on the spreadsheet in front of me.  My distance vision seemed to be OK  so I drove home, where D met me.  He’s a former Army medic so he checked me over and he decided an emergency room visit was not necessary.  I took it easy the rest of the afternoon and took eye breaks in my work.

Research indicates this may have been an ocular migraine.  They come on fast and they resolve fairly quickly.  What brings them on?  Yep – stress.

So, each and every time I think go myself “I need to manage my stress better” I feel my body tightening.  Then I come up with grandiose plans:

  • Get up at 5 AM everyday to journal
  • Get up at 5AM everyday to work out
  • Remember to take breathing breaks though out the day
  • Eat healthy
  • Get up and walk

OK – the first two are the grandiose plans.  And they are so not gonna happen.  Breathing breaks – I set reminders and then ignore them. Eat healthy – the fried dumplings are so much more enticing.  Get up and walk – same thing as the breathing breaks: I ignore the reminders.  Stress grows.

What do I really want right now?  I want to get back to feeling healthy and loving. This post addresses the feeling healthy part.  And yes is supports all three of my core desired feelings: intensely feminine, light, connected.

OK -so when it comes to being healthy (i.e., not being obese), eating the right amount of healthy foods is key.  I know this.  I choose to continually ignore it.  If I don’t have lunch packed (leftovers are rarely healthy), I run downstairs to the cafeteria and ignore the salad bar for the hot bar, which is loaded with Asian dishes, usually prepared pretty well.  I almost always make the wrong long term choice.

There’s part of me that says the solution is to eliminate choice. Barack Obama does it in his  wardrobe – he wears only black or gray suits.  But you know, life is not without choice and decisions.  If I eliminate food choice – I’ll probably stick with my plan for 2 or 3 days and then break.  My head KNOWS there’s choice.  And my head knows that I’m not going to be satisfied with a salad more than 2 days in a row.  And the goal is broken and guilt floods the neuro-pathways and I’m hitting the vending machine for relief.  It doesn’t work.

I actually think the very best – and this is a big demanding goal – is to learn to embrace my preferred food choices without guilt.  And from there – learn to give myself a break with choice.

I’ve mentioned the Donut Whisperer and eating on the Pleasure Scale.  It’s all well and good.  Leave three bites (of everything that’s on the plate) and stop eating when pleasure dips below 6 (out of 10).  In my mind, I really like the concept – as it addresses portion size and paying attention.  Oops – paying attention.  That’s a biggie foe me and quite difficult to do since I do not take a lunch hour so I can avoid my commute being 10 hours a week instead of 7. BUT…

Here’s the give myself a break point I’ve been leading up to.  What would happen if I planned and prepared healthy breakfasts (I need to avoid sugar in the mornings as eating sweets for breakfasts sets up a day of sweet craving) and lunches that are appropriately portioned.  I don’t need to worry about remembering to leaving three bites.  And I don’t worry about the pleasure scale (unless its screaming at me that I can’t eat another bite). I set up a simple boundary for work eating: If I don’t bring it from home, or it’s not a planned (at least the day before) meal or snack, I don’t eat it. (No noshing in the break room, etc)  That takes care of the work day. What about dinner?

D is the primary cook.  He believes in cooking with real foods, including cream, sour cream, butter and cheese.  He doesn’t believe eating seafood when we live 5 hours away from a coast is sustainable and he believes most of our interior fisheries are overfished.  We don’t eat fish. Chickens are raised to be way to big and they have no flavor.  We don’t eat chicken.  And he doesn’t like turkey.  We eat beef and pork, cheese and eggs.  And rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes (yum), butter beans and English peas.  Yep  – leafy green veggies are missing from that picture.   But – what D prepares is almost always delicious and satisfying. What if I make dinner my Donut Whispering experience?  I leave three bites of everything – including the beer or wine?

I think this may be a great “give myself a break” plan for me.  Most of my overeating is during the day at the office.  My work life makes it hard to get away from my desk so I can be mindful while I eat.  Instead of trying to change that – I embrace it and plan for it.  And when I do have the opportunity to be mindful, I embrace that wholeheartedly.

We’re all busy.  How do you give yourself a break?

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Simple Pleasures Sunday

Halloween2014 I have the great fortune to live next to a delightful little girl who is always full of life and wonder.  She’s got boundless energy and loves to come say ‘hello’ whenever my husband and I are sitting out on our little porch.  A few years back I realized that she would want to trick or treat at our house and because we have the great fortune to share our home numerous 4-legged creatures, we don’t really participate in Halloween.  So I decided that Halloween would be what I do for our neighbor’s daughter.   This year – I had so much fun making 17 Tootsie Pop ‘ghosts’ to float on top of a caldron filled with an obscene amount of candy, a koosh ball like worm and a witch Pez dispenser.  Simple pleasures bringing back memories of my mom making those same Tootsie Pop ghosts for me to take to school.

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