Archive for the ‘triggers’ Category

Can Someone Help Me Deal With Well-Intentioned Skinny People?

Or, rather, my reaction to them.

I am really not bashing skinny people – after all, I want to be one of them, right?

But if another well-intentioned skinny person comments on the quantity of food that I eat, I may scream.

I sat down to a meal recently with a friend of mine and brought out three raw cabbage roles (made with beet and carrot slaw and cashew cheez). All total, that meal had 255 calories in it, max.

My companion exclaims: “Wow, that’s a lot of food!”

I immediately get offended.

I remind them of how it annoyed me when my other friend had made a similar comment about my (“Wow, that’s a lot of smoothie”) Green Smoothie. I then defensively (and this was probably my mistake) pointed out that it only had X many calories and was extremely healthy.

“Oh, I get that,” they responded. “I just couldn’t eat that much food. My stomach’s just not that big.”


In less than 2 seconds I went from someone who was feeling pretty darned good about herself physically, to feeling like the 800 pound guy in the pie eating contest at the county fair.

I literally got sick to my stomach and pushed the food away. At that moment, you couldn’t have paid me to eat that food. I seriously thought I was going to throw up.

Luckily, my friend and I are very close and they are incredibly supportive of me. In fact, we were able to resolve it pretty quickly, even though my appetite never did come back.

Essentially, once I was able to breathe, I was able to tell them what was wrong (and why I wasn’t eating).

I first expressed my anger and annoyance.

I also mentioned how strange I think it is that people (and it happens a lot) comment on what I eat. And, because I do admittedly eat large portions of super low calorie food, the amount.

I also asked, quite pointedly, when’s the last time they heard me comment when they have McDonald’s fries or 1/2 a pint of Ben and Jerry’s (or both)?

I also expressed my hurt and even used the 800 lb. guy at the pie eating contest as an example.

Then I expressed my deepest and most irrational fear: is that what you (and everyone else) think of me when you see me sit down and eat a big plate of SALAD?

And then my other deepest fear, that is, granted, slightly less irrational: if I get judged for eating lots of healthy food (by volume, not calories) by my friends, then how am I supposed to feel good about adopting a lifestyle that (by definition) requires that you always have food – lots of food – with you, wherever you go?

Has anyone else come across this? And, if so, what’s the best way around it with everyone’s dignity in tact?

P.S. Now, admittedly, I did razz my father some over the holidays about eating bologna and white dinner rolls, though (at the time) I saw it more as a health issue than as a food issue! Note to self: call your father and apologize.

Learning to Say No (with grace)

Yesterday, one of my colleagues walked into my tiny airtight office with a plate of freshly baked (I mean, she had just baked them in the toaster oven in the main office–damn devoted mothers of three children who know such evil tricks!)–and said, smilingly, “It’s cookie time!”

“No thank you,” I responded sharply, through gritted teeth, holding my breath. I barely even glanced at her.

Just to provide a little back story, I gained twenty pounds last year eating chocolate chip cookies while I was waiting for my tenure decision. It’s not that I don’t like chocolate chip cookies. On the contrary, I love chocolate chip cookies. And, to add insult to injury, yesterday, I just happened to be a little tired and a lot stressed. Not the optimal time for someone to walk in bearing my own personal version of crack!

Anyway, back to the story. She said, “Oh, sorry.” Turned and immediately walked out.

So I got what I wanted, right? Not really. Because I had turned down her emotional offering as well as her baked goods. In a broader sense, I also rejected her (during a time when she, too, has a lot going on). Believe it or not, I called her back to explain.

“I’m sure they’re wonderful,” I admitted. “And normally I would love to have one–maybe even two–but in this case, I have to pass because I’m committed to maintaining my weight loss. But thanks.”

She accepted that. I had given her a reason that seemed reasonable. And more importantly, she felt like I had accepted her gift, even though I hadn’t.

All together it was a win-win and, fortunately for me, it was warm enough to open the window!

Speaking of Useful Acronyms….

When I posted the other day about C-A-N-I, it made me think of another anagram that I have used over the years. Back during my days at Weight Watchers, my group leader kept a big colorful poster on the wall. HALT, it said. Don’t ever let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Throughout all of my fitness efforts, I have tried to keep that in mind, because it’s when I’m really annoyed, hungry or tired that I tend to overeat. And not only overeat, but eat the types of things that do not support my body in a healthy and vital way. Unfortunately many of us have learned to manage our emotions with with food.

In coming posts, I will talk about the links between emotion management and hunger management.

Despite their seeming dissimilarity, they are surprisingly close. I’ll also share some strategies that I have learned/developed in order to combat both.

Talking Myself Back Down From the Edge (or at least from a chocolate croissant)!

Today was interesting. Today I realized why I am writing a blog. At first I thought it was just public accountability (assuming anyone’s reading). Second I thought it might give me a creative outlet so that I’m not always rattling on to Michael about nutrition, exercise, and weight loss. Today, however, I realized that I am writing a blog to remind myself of what I know is true.

While I was crewing a Tony Robbins event in New Jersey in March, I struck up a conversation with this gorgeous woman who just happened to be a weight loss coach. She gave me some free advice on how to lose ten pounds and told me to call her (in six weeks) when I’d done it. I have more to say about her and our conversation in future posts. Feeling a little skeptical (but hopeful, as she certainly looked like she knew what she was talking about), I wrote it down word for word. I even drew a little chart. I shared it with Michael. I shared it with a couple of close friends. That was March 18.

Today, after teaching a spinning class, I stepped on the scale and realized that in less than a month, following this woman’s advice to the best of my ability, I have dropped 9.6 pounds. It hasn’t even been four weeks! And these are technically 9.6 pounds of the “hardest” ones to lose!

Unfortunately for me, the number that I saw on the scale this morning just happens to be the one that in the past has always been a stumbling block. And this time was no exception. Immediately I started thinking about new blog post titles: This is Where the Rubber Hits the Road. Or thinking, ‘Wow! This is going to be a really short-lived blog! Bummer.’ I also started thinking about all of the other times that I got to this number and promptly put on 5 pounds (it’s happened at least twice before, why would this be different?) I started wondering if I was too skinny, ignoring the fact that I thought I looked great yesterday, before I stepped on the scale.

If I were going to be analytical about this situation, I would have to say that this particular number is a trigger for me and, like Pavlov’s dogs who always salivated whenever the bell rang, I started running my old patterns–you know the ones. The ones that we all have that, for whatever reason, work against us, rather than for us. If you don’t think you’ve ever been triggered by anything, you’re wrong. So, when you’ve been triggered and you didn’t know it, some of the key signs are that 1) your breathing gets more shallow, 2) your thoughts get louder and faster, and 3) your thoughts start repeating themselves. And we can get triggered in any domain in our lives–work, relationships, friendships, holidays, Mondays…. You name it, you can get triggered by it. The trick is to notice when you’re triggered before you do something you regret (like quit your job, walk out on a lover, or, my personal favorite, go to Dirt Cowboy and get a chocolate croissant).

So, in the middle of my triggered state, the thing that pulled me out of it was that random thought about my blog. And when I thought about my blog, I remembered why I started in the first place. I also remembered that these two pounds are not going to be any more difficult than the last 9.6. I remembered that I don’t need to change my behavior. I don’t need to eat less. I don’t need to exercise more or at a breakneck speed that might lead to injury or binge eating. I don’t need to do any of the things that will set me up for failure. And now that I have recognized that, I won’t.

What I am going to do instead is stick to the plan. I am also going to enjoy every healthy, nutritious, and delicious bite. And, assuming I can find her address, I may send that weight loss coach a big bouquet of flowers!

The Office Candy Jar

Most of us have them; they’re typically perched on a desk in the main thruway. I must walk by ours every day at least two dozen times. In the good old days, I used to grab a piece (or two, or three). Luckily, we have hard candy now (as opposed to the mini-Hershey bars that I used to delude myself about) and it’s easier to resist. But I still would pick up my requisite handful (some days one at a time, sometimes two at a time).

I started thinking about it and ran a couple of quick calculations.

The candy in our office candy bowl has approximately 24 calories per piece. Not so bad, right?

If you had one piece of hard candy every work day (252 work days a year), you’re consuming 6,048 calories of refined sugar a year; that’s 1.73 lbs.

But who just eats one? Two pieces a day is 12,096 calories a year: 3.47 lbs.

And my personal favorite (and I’ll stop here)–four pieces a day: 6.91 lbs a year! And that’s from the hard candy–butterscotch, peppermint, cinnamon disk variety that no one really likes. That’s all from stuff that you eat just because it’s there!

I cringe when I think about the years that we had mini-snickers, for example.

Again, let’s look at the numbers for those:

1 a day: 3.24 lbs a year
2 a day: 6.48 lbs a year
4 a day (because they’re really not that big, right?): 12.96 lbs a year!

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eat them, but just think about it before you pop one into your mouth!

Trigger Foods

When I was a teenager, I had friends who went to OA (Overeaters Anonymous) meetings. The premise there is that you are powerless over certain foods and, like members of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), you make the decision to abstain from a particular food, for life. At the time I thought, ‘This is ridiculous–I am more powerful than any food!’

As I have aged, I realize that during periods of my life, I am powerless in the face of certain food. Last season it was Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies. This season, it’s Once Again Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter (no salt added).

“It’s organic, how bad can it be?” you ask. Pretty bad when you’re eating it off carrots, fingers, spoons, knives, or anything else to which you could get it to adhere!

It was to the point that every time I walked by the counter, I would have to have a bite (or two). And when Michael (my partner) would empty a jar (leaving at least a tablespoon around the edges), I would oh so generously offer to clean it out for him. My tool of choice was usually a spatula.

Once I admitted that I was indeed powerless in the face of this particular food, things got better. With much chagrin, I asked Michael to 1) put the peanut butter away in a cabinet that I rarely use and 2) put dish soap in the pseudo-empty peanut butter jar and fill it up with warm water.

Fortunately for me, Michael is wonderful and agreed without even so much as a smirk.

I have other triggers, but this season peanut butter is the killer. It’s deadly not because it’s lacking in nutritional value, but because we keep it in the house. Most of my other trigger foods are easier to avoid–such as the “healthy cookies” that I made 36 batches of (and ate) last year when I was going up for tenure, the Dark Chocolate Dove pieces that I would occasionally keep stored in in my desk, or the chocolate croissants at the Dirt Cowboy.

A trigger is not a certain type of food (although most of mine involve lots of sugar and/or fat), but any food that you feel like you have to have whenever you see it. In fact, whenever you have to have anything, you are out of control. And when you are out of control, you are–effectively–powerless.

My first step, like my friends from OA, was to identify the foods not only that I ate uncontrollably, but also triggered the overeating of other foods. The second step was to avoid the ones that I could–that is, I stopped making cookies, I walk down the other side of main street when going into town, and I steer clear of the candy isle at CVS–and make contingency plans to help me deal more effectively with those that I couldn’t. The third step, which was probably the most difficult, was realizing that when I couldn’t manage it on my own, it was perfectly okay to ask for help.