Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Good News All Around

After a couple of really lousy days, too much bad stuff going on, a morning of really good things. Michael's weight is down to 488; mine is down below 280 (if only fractionally), and my publishing contact is supposed to call me today sometime about a bunch of new contract work. Now, if I can get everything planted in my garden and figure out why the outside tap is leaking without having to call the plumber, life will be momentarily semi-perfect. Whew.

The last few days, which have been pretty emotionally lousy, have made me think a lot more than I have in some time about emotional eating and the ways in which we habitually sabotage ourselves. They say that it's harder to lose weight when you're over 40, and I suppose that there are probably metabolic truths to that, but I wonder sometimes whether it isn't just as much about breaking lifetimes of really ingrained habits. Food is such a part of life, such an aspect of so many things we do (and this is even more true if you're the designated cook in the house) that it's hard to separate it from all the little rituals of the rest of the day. And with a lifetime of rituals behind you, creating new ones, losing old ones, is more difficult, through sheer habit and inertia. Even when you think that you've broken something, it's still there, lurking in the recesses of your mind, just like all those old TV commercials and useless factoids that are stored there!

When we were eating low fat (and I'd just like to throw in here that our life is unimaginably better, as is our marriage, since we stopped obsessing about every gram of fat and extra calorie), I tried very, very hard to break myself of what I call the spoon habit. I'd like to think that everyone does this, but it's probably not true... you spoon out the sour cream or whatever, measure it carefully, and then you lick all the excess off the spoon, thus about doubling what you actually counted. It's the "broken cookies and anything that you eat while you're standing up doesn't count" theory of diet. Admittedly, this is not such a huge issue on a low-carb diet, but metabolic advantage or not, at some point the quantity of food really does count, and if you cook and you lick every spoon or whatever, you are ending up with a fairly significant amount of extra intake. I'd gotten just wonderfully good for a while about eliminating this, but I noticed the other day that it's back, one of those habits that just creep right in when you're not looking. Bad habits require constant vigilance; that's the hard part. Just like I still look longingly at cigarettes even though I quit years ago and would probably throw up if I actually smoked. But in some part of my brain, it still looks good. The funny thing is that the pasta and so forth actually don't look so good any more... I occasionally wish I could eat a little rice, mainly as a complement to other foods, or, this time of year, new potatoes... but it's a passing whim, more of a cooking thing than an eating thing.

But that longing for comfort is still there. Food used to be my... oh, I can't even think of the right word. Everything I pick seems wrong. Friend? No. Comfort? No. Opiate. That's a lot closer to the truth. I used to sit down with food and a book, and that combination of mental and physical engagement just made the world go away. (On a tangential note, I've often thought that if I had never gotten into the habit of reading and eating, I would never have gained so much weight.) These days... well, there's nothing that really does that, not in that kind of way. Racquetball, a little. But there's nothing else that gives me that ability to just shut off all the things that nag at me, not in that kind of way. And we wonder why this thing is so hard to give up... Everyone always says things like, "nothing tastes as good as thin feels." Well, sure. But that's not what it's all about, is it? Not all of it, anyhow. It's easy to find substitutes for the pleasure of taste. It's a lot harder to find substitutes for comfort.

What's for dinner? Roasted chicken with Dijon sauce, if I have any white wine. Cauliflower mash, and maybe a few Brussels sprouts.

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