Damned squirrel on the bird feeder,” I thought as I got up to raid the refrigerator, “Always looking for easy calories.” Oopsy! Just like me.
You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I struggle with my weight. I’m a compulsive nibbler, a secret snacker; convinced that cold leftovers eaten over the sink have no calories. Like my father, I weigh myself every day, and like him I cut back on calories after slipping into the high zone. Unlike my dad, I graph my weight on an excel spreadsheet.
As a teenager, I morphed from Twiggy-esque 12-year-old to plump 14, but quickly lost 25 pounds after I started dating, placing myself back into the fashionable underweight zone. Since then, my weight has been a yo-yo of highs and lows. I dance on the high side of BMI Normal, seldom resting in the coveted under-21 range. Of late, I’ve been stuck in a five-pound spread.
It irks me that I so frequently sabatoge my desire to eat sensibly. It’s not about the pounds, it’s my chagrin when I realized I just eaten something I wasn’t even hungry for or worse, the queasy bloat of an overloaded stomach. I’m smarter than this, disciplined in every other area of my life, and yet I continually lose control when it comes to food.
Sure, sure – it’s understandable. Easy calories are everyone’s bugaboo. We’re genetically programmed to eat, and unprepared to deal with an endless buffet of rich food. My culture is lousy with food, it’s all around me and ridiculously affordable. You can’t walk into a room without some free treat staring you in the face. No one goes hungry in a country where the impoverished are obese.
“Better than Before” to the rescue! I just finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s chapter on loopholes and learned that I’m especially adept at “moral licensing” (I earned it), “lack of control” (I can’t help it) and “this doesn’t count” (cold leftovers, chips and dip, food no one saw me eat – you name it.) So much food, so many excuses! “My friend made this for me.” “It’s free.” “We’re celebrating.” “I’m in a restaurant.” “Everyone else is eating it.” “I skipped lunch.” “We’re on vacation.” “I’ve been working SO hard.” “Loosen up.” “I’m starving.”
My challenge is to spackle up those pesky loopholes by making it hard to do the wrong thing (padlock the refrigerator?) and easy to do the right thing (drink more water.) Other strategies include going outside before reaching for a snack, doing yoga before meals, and no desserts in the house, ever.
I raise a glass of water in a toast to my own resolve. Here’s to leaping over the cheap calorie trap. Here’s to mindful eating. Here’s to freedom from temptation, an end to squirrely behavior, and lowering my five-pound spread to the coveted 20 BMI zone.