Tag Archives: self-control

So tired. Need chocolate.

8 Mar

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I was starting a food log as part of the Love to Eat, Hate to Eat book study I’m doing with my church, and as a way to be more mindful of what I eat. I have been faithful in logging my food everyday, even on Tuesday when I was stuck in a meeting in the same freezing room for 12. hours. straight. Well, we did get a few breaks. But it was a looong day. Everyone at work was still exhausted yesterday. I feel mostly recovered. Wowza.

At first, I thought that my eating log wouldn’t be a true representation of my eating habits – wouldn’t knowing I was going to write it all down motivate me to choose wiser than normal? Perhaps it did for the first few days. But just like I can slouch on an exercise ball, I can eat for emotional reasons even if I’m tracking it.

I have been encouraged to see that 85% of my eating is not emotional. Some days I don’t even make one emotional choice. But then I have days like yesterday, when I’m exhausted and grumpy, and I just want sugar, sugar and more sugar, and throw all discipline and control out the window.

The biggest surprise shock has been to actually see how many calories I eat. In the past when I’ve counted calories or tracked my eating, I’ve conveniently ignored the times when I eat a little bit too much, or regret my dinner choice. “The damage is done – I’m moving on” was my mentality.

But if I am really trying to please God with my eating habits, I can’t just ignore the ugly parts. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). So to bring everything into the light, I’ve kept track of everything – the little bites here and there, the candy, the condiments, everything (even Tums!).

During the first week, I counted calories as I wrote my food down. But I could feel the temptation to become obsessed with the numbers and this is supposed to be about gaining insight and not about making changes. So last week, I decided that I’d leave that part off.

This morning, though, I went through my log from last week and tallied it up (mostly out of curiosity). I don’t believe that our bodies operate on a 24-hour schedule like we do, so I am using a 7-day average as the measuring stick. While some days are scary high (pushing 3,000 calories), the weekly averages for both last week and the first week are around 2,190 calories a day. According to this calculator of Daily Calorie Needs for a moderate activity level (I sit around at work but am fairly active otherwise), I’m eating the right amount for my body size and activity level. My scale agrees. I’m still at the same weight I was 2 weeks ago, 2 months ago, and 2 years ago. My body just likes this weight. So while the sticker shock has yet to wear off, I think that I’m feeding my body an appropriate amount.

That leaves me to tackle the whole emotional aspect of my eating habits. I wish it were as easy to solve that issue as it is to tally a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper. But it isn’t. On days like yesterday, when I am so moody and emotional in general, the idea of not eating the delicious-though-they-cost-$1.25 Reese’s peanut butter cups awaiting me in the vending machine makes me want to yell or hit the first person who dares to annoy me. Glorify God? Respect the temple? I. Don’t. Care. 

Even though I don’t have the solution figured out when I’m already in a bad mood, I do have one insight into prevention: SLEEP. It is no coincidence that yesterday was my roughest day eating-wise, and also the day I felt like a walking zombie. I’ve known for a while that Tiredness + Kathy = Bad Life Food Decisions. I think I also channeled my frustration over having to be at work into eating – Maybe this donut will send me into a wonderfully numb sugar coma so that I don’t realize I’m still here.

“Need to get more sleep” has been written on my log more days than not over the past 2 weeks. I haven’t been doing my morning routine of Bible + writing because I wake up sooooo tired (which is not normal for me). Several days, I’ve woken up to see that I had been hitting my snooze for 45 minutes without even realizing it. Yesterday after work, I walked in the door and promptly laid down on the couch. I didn’t even take my jacket off. I seriously would’ve gone to bed right after dinner if I hadn’t had my ladies group, and I would’ve skipped that, if I hadn’t been the one leading the discussion. I left right after we were done, went straight to bed when I got home, and then… I couldn’t fall asleep. {My mind was running a mile a minute. Even about work stuff. Seriously? So I finished reading Robinson Crusoe. The book was okay. It was pretty slow moving, which isn’t that surprising since it was first published in 1719 (100 years before Dickens was even born!).}

Anyway, to sum it all up, my eating log has helped me be more mindful of what I’m eating, but I have yet to eradicate emotional eating. Stay tuned for more on that…

Do you like reading old classics like Dickens, Tolstoy, or Twain? Which book is your favorite?

Food is not a solution.

5 Mar

You would think that after a year of being at home everyday, I would have it figured out how to handle having the kitchen constantly ten steps away from me. Not so much.

Yesterday, Travis had to work and then he had a conference in downtown Denver. Since the company pays for the hotel rooms, he will just stay down there until the conference is over tonight. So after hanging out with a friend from church in the morning, it was just me and Katy for the rest of the day.

As I was watching TV, I found myself fantasizing about what I was going to eat for dinner. Should I go get curly fries from Arby’s? Maybe a blizzard from Dairy Queen? Or maybe I should make waffles and cover them in buttery, syrupy goodness… Whenever I am home alone for an entire day, these are the thoughts going through my head. Sad, isn’t it?

I took Katy on a walk and was pondering the state of my food-craving soul when I realized: the reason why I wanted fatty comfort food was because I was lonely and bored. That’s how it always is when I’m alone at night. I get lonely and bored. Besides showing me how much I love having my husband around, this also explains why there’s always a subtle feeling of disappointment left lurking underneath my full stomach. Food is not the solution. It’s not even a solution.

So what is the solution? Ultimately, it’s God. Only God can truly comfort my loneliness and entertain my boredom, because only He understands what I really, in my heart of hearts, want. (But He has also given me a wonderful husband and friends to help out as well.)

Nevertheless, a solution is nothing if not employed practically. So the way the solution of God works itself out with this struggle is through prayer, discernment, and flesh-control.

Flesh-control: The thing about using food as a solution is that it always make you feel worse afterward. Not only are you still left with your original feelings, you’re also stuffed and feel like a Goodyear blimp. My sinful nature cannot be bothered to reckon with these implications in the moment of a craving, however. That’s where the flesh-control comes in. Some people say self-control. But as I understand it, my true self desires God alone. My flesh desires food. So I have to control my flesh and let my self win. Flesh-control.

Discernment: My food battles are born out of legitimate, God-given desires. It’s not wrong to desire comfort and excitement – what’s wrong is turning to things other than God to fulfill those desires. I deceive myself by thinking that food is the solution, when it really isn’t (as we’ve already established). So discernment, enabled by the Spirit, is what helps me see the desire that I’m expected food to remedy. Last night, it was loneliness and boredom. Sometimes it’s a desire for comfort and warmth. Ultimately, it’s a desire for more of God.

Prayer: After I discern what my true desires are, I take them to God. Instead of denying those desires, I find the fulfillment of them in Him. I also go to the word and remind myself of God’s promises. Yesterday, I was reminded of what Jesus said in the desert when tempted by Satan to eat: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” This verse not only shows me that food is not ultimate (fear of God is), food is also not the only way to get nourishment. Physical nourishment is meant to come through food, but spiritual nourishment is through “every word that comes from the mouth of God” – the Bible. My spiritual desires can only be remedied with a spiritual solution. That is why God is the answer.

So what did I end up eating for dinner last night? A multi-grain tortilla with eggs, taco meat, salsa, cheese and spinach. Then for dessert, a banana dipped in chocolate. When I’m not grasping after food to fulfill spiritual urges, I actually do enjoy eating healthy food. Instead of feeling deprived, I feel good about myself. God truly knows what is best for us – if only we’ll believe Him.

Finally, peace with food.

5 Dec

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about my relationship with food. I wrote about my desire to eat intuitively instead of counting calories in February and then about my failure at doing so in March. After those posts, Travis and I went on a weeklong vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with my parents, brothers & significant others, aunt & uncle, 3 cousins, & 1 of their girlfriends, where I proceeded to overeat at every meal, despite my best intentions to keep things under control. Not only that, but my stomach was upset every time I ate for the next 2 weeks. Not fun.

After our vacation, my triathlon training began in earnest. I went gung-ho into training, so much so that I lost all motivation to do anything else. I went to work, trained, ate and slept. I didn’t want to grocery shop or cook. I didn’t want to blog or read. I just wanted to sleep and eat. I mention this because while training for the tri, I cut out my usual indulgences (ice cream and wine) for the sake of training but since I was burning anywhere from 300-800 calories in a single workout, I was eating a lot. Not more than I needed at the time but just more than I had been pre-training. Calorie counting was a joke. For me, my appetite fluctuated so much from day to day and workout to workout that I just ate when I was hungry and tried to make those foods ones that would help my training.

After my first tri, I realized that training had taken over my life. I love cooking but I had resorted to making Easy Mac and frozen pizzas for dinner. Something had to change. So I decided that I would do as much training for the next tri as I could without having it take over my life. Some workouts were missed or shortened but I was making real food for dinner. Travis was glad to have me back. My tri time may have suffered but I am not in it to win it anyway. The winners in my age group are WAY faster than I am so I would have major improvements to do if I wanted to be competitive. Do I want it that much? Not if it means it takes over my life.

I really don’t know what changed during that time. Maybe I became more adept at listening to (and responding to) my body’s signals. Maybe the eureka moment about my priorities helped cement my feeling about calorie counting being a waste of time and not glorifying to God. Maybe tri training took my mind off food obsession just long enough for me to conquer it. I really don’t know.

But I do know that my relationship with food is totally different now than it was back when I wrote those initial blog posts. I almost don’t want to admit it, for fear of jinxing it and having it go back to the way things were. In my post about wanting to eat intuitively, I wrote,

“Growing up, I had a fast metabolism and never worried about what I ate or how much. I just ate whatever I wanted. If I wanted a doughnut, I ate a doughnut. If I wanted a chocolate milk and PB&J on a bagel for lunch every day for months, I ate it. I was free from worry about food.

I envy those days. I want them back. My life now is consuming with thinking about food.”

I can honestly say that I have those days back and my life is no longer consumed with thinking about food (although, like the typical woman, I still do think about food quite a bit!). I am no paranoid about gaining weight. I don’t obsess over every little calorie. I don’t feel guilty eating a cookie…or two. I don’t feel the compulsive urge to eat everything on a buffet table before it’s gone. I can pick at my food. I can leave something on my plate when it’s not as good as I thought it would be.

For me personally, this is earth shattering. Even though I wasn’t overweight, my childhood and teenage years were frequently punctuated with eating so much, I only wanted to lie down afterwards. During my first year of college, when I was smoking pot every day and binge drinking every weekend, overeating practically happened every day. I gained 20 lbs in 3 months.

My sophomore year was the first time I was obsessed with exercise and counting calories. I lost all the weight I had gained my freshman year but my focus on weight killed any happiness that would have given me.

That struggle obviously lasted long after I became a Christian, since I was still struggling with it back in March of this year (and I’ve been a Christian now for almost 5.5 years). And I hate to say it at risk of sounding cliche, but reading the book Intuitive Eating really changed my relationship with food. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has had issues with food.

The authors start small and work up to the big picture. First, they tell you to get rid of the “One Last Diet” mentality. No diet is ever going to help you reach your natural body weight without you constantly monitoring what you eat. Diets provoke feelings of guilt and deprivation, which is why they never work long-term. Rather, by giving yourself completely unrestricted permission to eat anything, anytime (as long as you’re actually hungry), you destroy the power that food has in your life. You may not experience it right away but you will get to the point where you can turn down food or eat food, not out of guilt or adherence to rules, but because you honestly want to.

I experienced this most poignantly at Thanksgiving this year. We had eaten the Thanksgiving meal and an hour or so later, were going to have pumpkin pie. My former self would have eaten pie regardless of how full I was. But this year, I honestly did not feel like having pie because I was still full from dinner and would not be able to enjoy the pie as much I would be able to if I wanted until I was less full. So I had a cup of coffee instead.

What? Is that me making those decisions? Since when don’t I want pie?

Another instance was last night at Travis’ company Christmas party. It was at a bowling alley and the party package included appetizers like sliders (which I absolutely love) and pizza. Usually, I pig out when surrounded by food. But I didn’t last night. I ate just the right amount and when I noticed that I was getting full, I stopped eating. Maybe that sounds normal for you but it is a huge step for me. And not only am I more at peace with my body now than I have ever been as an adult, I have even lost 5 lbs! The weight loss is totally a bonus though because even if it hadn’t happened, I love feeling the freedom and joy in not being dominated by food.

I’ve been listening to sermons by Tim Keller recently and he often talks about the Greek word “epithemia” which means “overdesire” or “epidesire.” My epidesire for pleasure and happiness used to reveal itself in food. I used to (subconsciously) think that food brought happiness and that eating lots of good food would make me happy. As it turns out, it doesn’t. It actually just makes you more miserable.

And that’s not a surprise. Because true happiness and joy come only through having a relationship with Christ. Regardless of what we try to use to fill the void in our souls, whether it be food, sex, drugs, moral deeds, or material possessions, we will always come up empty at the end of it, inflated with a superficial joy that pops whenever a tough circumstance rears its ugly head.

I may not fully understand how I got here, just like I don’t fully comprehend how God sanctifies me,  but I do know that it has brought me joy and turned my focus back to God and His priorities. And that is a beautiful thing.