Friday, December 23, 2011

Overindulging, Staying Positive, Trying to Change


In the past couple of days I've written about how to get going on something. Writing was my first example. I said, there's no such thing as writer's block, it's just a writer not writing, worrying too much about his words not being worthy. The solution, I said, was simply to write and accept. That works for me. I've been writing a lot lately even though I haven't felt especially inspired or inspiring. Still, because I keep writing, the occasional good thought occurs to me and goes down on the page or up on the screen.

This morning I'm thinking about something over which I'm not so sure I have a good plan. It's especially apropos now, around the holidays, as I tend to over-indulge around this time of year. I'm wondering how to have control and how to stay in the moment especially when it comes to food and drink.

This morning, I stepped on the scale and read 209 which is heavy for me. I can pull off 209 without looking particularly bulbous, but it's not a weight at which I feel healthy. Here's what I mean: 209 is the kind of number I see when I haven't run in a week, when I have been eating late in the evening, and when I notice that I'm having an extra glass of Bailey's each night. 209 isn't a number that says, "hey, fatty." Instead, it says, "don't you think you ought to get off the couch and put down the Doritos?"

Stepping off the scale I felt energized rather than depressed. This is good and not always the case with me. I often see the number and dwell on what has passed, the mistakes I've made, the cookies I've eaten, and so on. Today I must have slept well or the stars were aligned, because I clearly thought, "yeah, this is doable." I went into the kitchen to make my lunch. I measured out portions. I packed some fruit in place of a other things I might have brought. I chose to not make coffee and filled the water bottle instead.

This is all good, but I worry about the rest of the day. It's like when I get ready for bed at night and carefully lay out running clothes for the morning. I'm absolutely sure as I do it that I'll wake up and put in five miles. But when morning comes, the bed is warm, I'm sleepy, and I can hear rain on the window. I reset the alarm and go back to sleep. It could happen the same way with this eating thing. Sure, right now I'm energized and certain about things, but later I'll be tired, bored, anxious, or something else and there will be chocolate chips handy, a cookie on a Christmas tray, or a vat of spinach-artichoke dip and tortillas. Something will come along and, if I'm not ready, if I don't have some sort of plan for things, I'll be 209 tomorrow and probably not as sanguine about it.

So I need a plan. Not a plan where I have everything worked out ahead of time, but a plan like the one I have for writing. There it's easy: just keep writing. But with eating and drinking, with overindulging, the mantra is tougher because it's a negative: don't overindulge. I'm no good with that sort of thing. I can follow a plan that says to do something, but I'm nowhere near as good at one that says don't do.

The obvious thing is to be present throughout the day. That's the over-arching goal. That's what really happens when I write. I'm present enough to know that one word leads to another and that writing creates ideas. With eating, it's another story. I need to build to presence around food and drink. I'm not there yet. So, how do I become present?

I've tried writing down my food, but that's easy to defeat: if I want to eat something, I choose not to write it down and then I go eat some more. Besides, that feels unnatural and punishing.

I feel right now as if I should be wrapping this up with some grand idea that solves the problem. Life, and writing, don't work that way sometimes. At the end here, I'm left with a feeling that I should be good to myself. That I should be kind. A lot of my eating around the holidays comes out of anxiety: I'll be at a party and the thing to do is to keep my hands busy because otherwise people might notice me. I'll be on my own and not sure what to do with myself and so I'll entertain and distract myself with food and drink. I do a lot of my eating and drinking out of a lack of appreciation for myself and the kindness of others. Being kind is the first step. And for now that's all I've got.

But as usual, you know I'll write on.