This is it.
That’s what I thought to myself on Thursday, sweaty-faced enough that I had to keep swiping away hair tendrils latching on to my cheeks and forehead, as the escalator carried me out of the metro.
It seemed absurd that it was so darn tough to not buy and gobble down a chunky peanut butter cookie (or two, or well, three).
It shouldn’t be this hard.
That’s a thought I’ve had a zillion times. Over and over again, as I struggle with cravings and binge eating, there is a detached part of me that cannot believe it’s actually this painful to just not eat something.
After all, the downsides of being overweight are always there: breathing hard, knees that strain and a back that seems overburdened. Vaguely, because now it is more than half my lifetime ago, I can remember not feeling so, well, weighed down. I can remember not noticing my body as I did things.
But already I am irritated by this craving, tired of it. I don’t want to deal with this, I am thinking. I’ll just get the cookies and start again tomorrow.
And that’s when it hits me: I’m never going to get to the tomorrow I want until I can handle this kind of now, the kind where I’m swamped with cravings and yet somehow don’t give in.
Oh sure, there’s been times when I ate too much because I had real sadness or genuine difficulties. But too often for me it’s the little things, the mild prickings that I somehow cannot just shrug off or accept.
After all there is nothing seriously wrong this Thursday. I am unpleasantly hot, and my decision to wear a long-sleeved dress—because how could it matter? It’s breathable fabric and a dress, what’s a few extra inches of fabric?—was a mistake, but even more so, I am grumpy about this muggy, swampy humidity that seems to want nothing more than wheedle its way into my skin, sucking out all the moisture and bringing it to blend with the atmosphere. It doesn’t have to be this way, I think once again: if you are going to live in a humid climate, I recommend not having spent your entire childhood and college years in California. Because then you know it doesn’t need to be this way, that the summer sun can beat, and yet not demand offerings of every scrap of moisture everywhere.
(A Weight Watchers-tracked summer sweet.)
I know that among all the things I ought to just let go, that this is one of the most obvious: I can move or I should learn to accept it. I am not going to change the climate of Washington, D.C. And yet … it baffles me. What good is served by humidity? Why must anyone ever in any part of the world live this way? (and yet I know there are people who strangely prefer humidity to dry heat!)
I am also tense because I am about to start the busiest part of my workday: one of the strange components of daily journalism is that it’s the afternoon and early evening hours where it’s the most urgent. I’ve spent my whole adult life accustomed to this reality, and yet there still seems to be a bit of shock, that in the waning hours of the sun, it’s suddenly time to be the most on, the most focused, and to have the shortest amount of time to solve what problems inevitably arise.
And I’m irritated because once again I’m dealing with an annoying eyes problem. I have a disease called Kerataconus, which I’ll probably go into detail about someday, but anyway for now here’s the gist: it’s made it so my non-corrected sight is horrible. And while I can see fine with contacts, there is the maddening reality that there is no way to cure or improve Kerataconus itself, except if you have a corneal transplant (which apparently is something your eye has a lot of drama about and aside from the general ick factor, is not a good idea until you’re much worse than I am). Oh, and doctors can’t predict how fast or slow your disease will progress.
So for someone like me, who is a little overly fond of having things controllable, this is a real bugbear. And now today I am picking up the latest test pair of contacts and I find out that there is a twist: there is a slight mark on these contacts and I’m meant to put that mark in a very specific place in my eye, presumably to maximize the vision I get from the contacts.
Here’s the twist: I can’t see the mark.
So, that’s great.
So I’m in the doctors’ office—which is a strange, slightly trendy, very sleek-gray-dominated place that also seems to be marketing glasses with a pushy intensity that always strikes me as a little embarrassing—and I’ve got my contacts off and people are assuring me, yes, there is a mark, can’t I see it, and it’s occurring to me that now I’m at the point I can’t see well enough to get to the point where I can see well enough because apparently that involves finding this darn mark.
This is a new twist in the eyes saga (and guys, I’ve had to tell to the doctor that sans contacts, the only letter I can make out is the top “E” on the chart, so believe me, I’m no stranger to facing my lack of sight) and finally I resolve it by putting the contacts on with rampant disregard for where the mark is and figure I’ll sort this out at some later juncture.
Right by my doctors’ are an abundance of bakeries and coffee shops selling cookies and pastries and everything decadently sugary; I march past the lot, descend into the metro.
But now, coming back up, I really, really want something to take the edge off. Something to obliterate my worry about how I am going to find this mark, and something to make me forget how muggy it is.
I know I have a Greek yogurt back in the office, a Greek yogurt that doesn’t taste bad and in theory, has 15 grams of protein, although I’ve never had the kind of fullness with this yogurt I feel like ought to occur after ingesting its massive amount of protein.
I know the fact that I do want a cookie and I don’t want the Greek yogurt means this isn’t about Real Hunger.
I know that I really do want to lose weight, to be healthier and feel lighter.
But oh, how I also want to take the edge off.
And then I realize: I can’t count on some mystical future where something like this will be easy for me. I can’t just get the cookies now and assume it’ll be easier tomorrow. It might be easier tomorrow! Some days I really don’t have much in the way of cravings.
But at some point, if I’m going to get to a healthy weight, I’m going to have to make it through the slough of cravings. I can’t talk myself out of this. I know it’s ridiculous. I get that I have a million things that make me #blessed. (Sarcasm aside—I do!) I know I have my yogurt and dinner coming up and I am not hungry, nor will I be.
I know, I know, I know.
And yet …
I still want the solidity of those stupid peanut butter cookies, that mixture of peanuts and flour and peanut butter and sugar. I want the brief escape; I want to not be reasoning with myself but to just simply feel OK, no brain exercises needed.
“I think if you have the expectation that you’re going to be happy throughout your life—more to the point, if you have a need to be comfortable all the time—well, among other things, you have the makings of a classic drug addict or alcoholic,” writes Carrie Fisher in “Wishful Drinking,” a book I was reading on the metro in commutes this week.
Ultimately, I don’t buy the cookies. I don’t know why. I’ve certainly had this same dialogue before and gone the other way, plenty of times. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trying to pray to want to be healthy. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trying to remember more why I want to be healthy. Maybe it’s because part of me is so darn tired of failing too. Maybe it’s all of these things.
I don’t eat the yogurt. But I do stop at Chipotle, get a burrito bowl I can justify on Weight Watchers, and bring it to my office. I don’t eat it until six. But it’s halfway compromise—something I want to eat that is there. It’s not the most healthy, for sure. But unlike a handful of chunky peanut butter cookies, it has some nutritional value—and is acceptable for dinner.
So that’s that.
I’ll go into more details later about what I’m trying to do with blogging about weight and weight loss—some kind of glorious manifesto that won’t sound too stuffy, but will also show I am Very Insightful—but in the meantime, I think my reasons here are two-fold: (a) I wonder if being more open will help me be more steadfast in my dedication to changing my life and (b) I love weight loss stories online, but I’m always annoyed about how they generally only arise when someone’s done or close to it.
Well, I’m in the trenches of the messy middle now. It’s often not pretty. It’s a lot of mind games about thinking about what it would be like to feel different in December or next June. It’s a lot of faith, and it’s a lot of trying to find some kind of strength within myself—when I sometimes feel there is nothing more to plumb. It’s a lot of bad days mixed in with the “good” days.
And oh, it’s really hard.
That fact often shames me. It shouldn’t be hard! Not eating piles of junk food every day is something loads of people do all the time.
But for whatever reason—genetics, personality, bad habits, etc., etc., — it’s tough for me.
So … yeah.
And welcome to My Journey.