Friday, February 14, 2014

Food and Philosophy

Today is Valentine's Day, and there will be no chocolate for me. I don't mind at all.

I am by default a compulsive overeater. My adult life has been a fight to maintain a healthy weight and stay in shape. You might not know this by looking at me, but it would be a mistake to assume that a thin person has no such struggles.

If you read It Started with Dracula, you know that I have been on many diets, some successful and others just plain crazy. Weight Watchers is my most recent program, but lately my WW goal has been receding into the distance after nearly four years of successful weight loss and maintenance. Despite my attempts to correct the situation, it has persisted.

Emotional eating is eating that originates from feelings other than hunger; sadness, anxiety, and excitement are examples. Over the last few months I have seen the result of such eating: of the pants hanging in my closet, I choose the same pair—my mom jeans--every day. The others are too tight. Every couple of days the mom jeans go back into the laundry.

Yesterday was different. Oh, I still wore the mom jeans, but yesterday I ate reasonably: no binges, no frequent snacking, no bedtime treats while I watched TV. Even when I ran through the possibilities in my mind, no food appealed. I did not want to eat. That was curious, to say the least.

Sometime yesterday I also realized that my To Do list has been out of balance, weighted by too many things I dreaded. Every day I awoke to that checklist from hell: make doctor appointment, call insurance company, make other doctor appointment, get tax information together, write something brilliant before the deadline, find out why the contractor dropped off the face of the earth…

Should a retiree be stressed out? I don’t think so; aren’t these our leisure years? But there it was, and my nature also includes procrastination. I had been putting some of those hellish chores off for weeks or even months. The items that made me anxious sent me to the kitchen to make recipes instead. If I didn’t cook, I hid in a book or went out somewhere. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I called the two doctors, put the last of my tax documents into the 2013 folder, asked for help on a project, and completed other anxiety-producing tasks on my To Do list. The doctor appointments had topped the list. Even though I now have to GO to the appointments, my anxiety about making them immediately evaporated once I’d done it. Is that what made the difference in my appetite? It’s too early to tell, but I’m hoping to keep at this and work some variety into my wardrobe before spring thaw.

Here’s the point: We all need balance in our lives, and mine has been missing. Part of the reason might be the isolating winter weather, but the To Do list has been a factor, too. In addition to tackling the tough jobs, I (and maybe you) need to put more items in our path that we can look forward to--trips, time with friends, special treats—so that all the dates on the calendar won’t be for doctor appointments. 

Valentine's Day is a good day to begin.