Ch-ch-ch-changes . . .

(Scroll down to the next post if you want DisneyWorld pictures.  :D)

Lately I haven’t been eating well.  I haven’t been going to the gym.  I regained the 5 pounds that I’d lost before my grandpa died.  I find myself standing in the kitchen late at night (well, late for *me*, anyway), inhaling whatever I can get my hands on: Doritos, crackers, spoonfuls of pesto sauce, butter right off the cube, mayonnaise straight from the jar, bacon bits from the bag, uncooked spaghetti noodles.  It’s not a matter of not having “trigger foods” in the house at the moment: I’ll eat LITERALLY whatever I can find.  It’s not a fun place to be. 

A few days ago I went to the bookstore.  I found myself in the cookbook section, poring over books.  When I looked at my watch, I realized that over an hour had gone by while I paged through book after book.  And I realized something else: I felt calmer.  I felt soothed.  I didn’t feel anxious or unsettled, although I had a list of things to do that was longer than I am tall.  And with a jolt, it hit me that I haven’t been cooking.  Not at all, really.  I’ve been heating up food, and assembling ingredients, but nothing much beyond prepared entrees (though if you have Trader Joe’s nearby, you HAVE TO TRY their Spinach and Salmon Crepes from the frozen section) and salads.  And whenever I do that, I get tense.  Eating becomes a purely mental exercise, a calculated intake of calories, carbs, fat, protein.  I forget that I LIKE food, and I LIKE cooking.  I like standing at the stove, smelling the onion as it cooks, chopping the tomatoes, reducing the sauce, searing the chicken.  I like the smell of a pork tenderloin roasting in the oven, coated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and bunches of herbs and spices.  I need that sensuality to override the monkey mind that tells me to eat less, less, less, OMG I ATE TOO MUCH I’M A BADBADBAD PERSON.  I need that sinking sense of relaxation, the smell of garlic and onions browning, the rhythmic sound of the chopping knife, the alchemy of disparate ingredients combining to create something bigger, something better,  the heat from the oven wrapping me in the curious warmth that only comes from a kitchen.  If food symbolizes love in American culture, then cooking symbolizes the process of loving someone – in this case, myself.  It is the physical manifestation of the idea that I am worthy of care.  And when I feel worthy, I binge less.

And curiously, reading certain cookbooks gives me sort of a contact high that way.  I’ve been known to read Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks as though they were novels, or more accurately, picture books: paging through them before bed, reading the introductions, drifting to sleep with dreams of sugarplums in my head.  So when I got home that day, I started looking around my kitchen.  My cookbooks fall into three distinct categories, with just a little overlap between: the ones I read, the ones I cook from, and the diet cookbooks that I hide away, only breaking them out when I really and truly hate myself. 

So I’ve been cleaning out my cookbooks.  Oddly, I find it hard to get rid of some of the diet cookbooks.  Some don’t fill me with self-loathing  (the Suzanne Somers cookbooks don’t have a single bad recipe, I swear), but others do, and even of those I find myself thinking, “But I might need something that drastic again.  I know the recipes aren’t very good, but ‘diet’ food shouldn’t be good.  I should hang on to that book.”  It’s been an interesting process, to say the least. 

In other news, I realized the other day that if I don’t deal with my internal bullshit now, I won’t for at least 5 years.  I won’t have the time or energy to change my eating habits or my thinking habits while I’m in law school, so if I don’t want to wait another 5 years (until I graduate), I have to do it now.  I picked up that Beck diet book at the bookstore the other day after flipping through it and immediately hearing the Crazy voice say, “NONONO, I don’t need that, that won’t work, those techniques are silly, that won’t help,” and so on.  So I figured that if it made me that uncomfortable, it was probably something I needed to take a longer look at.  So starting Monday, I’ll be following that program. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about how important it is to me to do this, and I’ve decided that it IS important.  I keep thinking that I don’t have the time, but the reality is that if it’s that important to me I’ll MAKE the time.  I’ve been spending the weekend prioritizing things, making sure that I don’t sabotage myself by pretending that the hard stuff will be easy (which I do by making the easy stuff – housecleaning, grocery shopping, etc. – hard and time-consuming).  I’ve rearranged my schedule to allow for extra time in the evenings so that I can do this now.  And conveniently, it will also allow me to go to law school next year without rearranging my schedule much.  (Well.  Except for studying and all that.  But at least I won’t have to figure a new time to do laundry!)

So I’m starting on Monday.  I’ve already skimmed through and read a few parts thoroughly.  I have an idea of what I’m in for (I do better with fewer surprises).  I’m planning on blogging every day (though probably shorter entries than this one!), because the program is a daily one and I need some accountability.  I’m not sure WHEN I’ll post though.  It might take me some time to figure that out: mornings vs. evenings vs. scheduling a post vs. publishing immediately (especially if I’m publishing immediately every evening instead of every morning).  So bear with me.

Like I said the other day though, I’m treating this more as an Eating Normally program than a Weight Loss program.  I’m definitely planning on losing weight, but I need to do it in a way that I can sustain.  I can lose weight – I’ve done it before – but I’ve never done it in a sustainable way.  And I think that sustainable way probably involves eating like a normal person, as opposed to a crazy person.  Huh.  Who knew?  😉  So it’s time to change some of my internal crap: my perceptions of myself and what I do, my behaviors, my coping mechanisms.  I think it’s funny that those changes take me back to the blog title: it’s time to take up my bed and walk. 

Wish me luck.  🙂

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4 responses to “Ch-ch-ch-changes . . .

  1. Good luck, Marste! I totally hear you on the crazy eating. I tell myself over and over that I need to eat like a normal person. Then I ask myself “what’s normal?” Is it the (ultra-thin) co-worker who glared at me like I was trying to poison her when I offered her a (teensy-tiny) home-made tart? Is it the other co-worker who eats nothing but processed food from the microwave, but remains thin?
    Sigh.

    I love to cook, and I love to eat. I love to feed people. Oops….. that reminds me…. gotta put something in the oven! 🙂

  2. I know, right? What’s normal? I’ve got to figure that out for myself. I’m pretty sure it won’t mean oodles of processed foods or turning down homemade tarts, though!

  3. I think it’s a great idea to get this eating normal crap down now before things get really stressful. Like I say to anyone who’ll listen, I think it’s really important to stop bingeing, even out of control eating, before trying to lose weight. I can put weight on very fast if my eating is spinning out of control, and I take it off VERY slowly.

    I love cooking, cookbooks, feeding people, eating yummy stuff. I’ve got over 100 of them, use about 5 on a regular basis. None diet, through a few are low fat, though I likely got rid of most of those already. I like salty fat, which may sound bad, but I have to remember that and respect it when I’m feeding myself. This doesn’t mean french fries, but more like Thai/Viethamese food, cheese, umami. I eat much less, and am much happier, than when I tried to “diet” (aka looking to binge). This is my “normal”.

  4. Julie, that actually makes a lot of sense. I tend toward a certain amount of salty fat myself. (Something about those two words makes me giggle: salty fat. Salty fat salty fat salty fat. It sounds kind of dirty. *cracks up*)

    But I’m more likely to eat buttered saltines than ice cream, which was not true a few years ago. Hm. I really hadn’t realized that until you said salty fat, and I found myself nodding. I might have to bust out my Asian noodle soup recipes again, because my main craving is the salt first, and fat second.

    Thanks!

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