So all the month of January, we’ve been travelling around the Big Fat Cycle. So far we’ve discussed
Step One: Panic–(“Oh my gosh, I got fat over the holiday–I need to lose 50 pounds by Valentines day”)
Step Two: Fantasy–(“When I lose 50 pounds by Valentine’s day, an Arabian Prince/Oil Billionaire is going to sweep me up on his horse by the seaside and take me to his yacht and introduce me to a casting agent who’s going to put me in a major movie in time to walk the red carpet at the Oscars.”) This leads us to the major downswing that appears next in the cycle–Step Three: Surrender.
The act of surrender can mean a lot of different things. Usually surrender starts when we’ve given up everything we ever wanted to eat at the start of another stupid deprivation diet. And continues when we get hungry, and I mean really really hungry for something “bad”. And since we’re really, really hungry and we’ve given up something we love–like ice cream, when we finally give in to eating ice cream we don’t eat just one scoop. Oh, no. We eat a pint, or a gallon or all 123 flavors at the local ice cream shop. And at that point, since we’ve already been bad, totally give in. What the heck? The diet is blown anyways. We’ve already RUINED the day. Might as well EAT EVERYTHING THAT ISN’T NAILED DOWN.
We eat things we aren’t even hungry for. We eat way more than we really want. We eat waaaayyyyy past full. Because we know that tomorrow, we might have to be “good” again. We may never get to eat ice cream again as long as we live. Better tank up now so we don’t ever forget what it tastes like.
I used to call Sunday, “stuffday”, because that’s the day I’d overeat in anticipation of the Monday diet.
But nowadays, I participate in a different kind of surrender. I surrender the idea that I can precisely control every morsel of food I put in my mouth. I surrender the idea that everything in my life, including what my friends think about me and if whether my colleagues approve of me and what my weight is (in ounces) is completely under my control. I try to do what I can and release the rest. I say “try” because, this whole “Zen State of Surrender” thing is also an aspiration I can’t always control. Sometimes I even have to surrender the idea that I can successfully surrender. I just do my best and take it as it comes.
If I want a donut, I have a donut. I don’t freak out about it. And you know what? I can almost always stop at one donut. Sometimes I only want HALF a donut. Because I know, if I want a donut tomorrow, I can have another one. And you know what else? Forbidden donuts taste WAY better than allowed ones. Now that I can have a donut any time I want, I don’t really want them that often. They just don’t taste that great. I sometimes go MONTHS without eating one.
And since eating a donut isn’t a sign of great weakness or total failure, it isn’t a signal to eat more. The donut hasn’t blown my diet, because I’m not on one. There’s no deep sense of accompishment, failure, joy, fear or sorrow attached to the dumb donut. It’s just a round, fried bakery product that once in a while I like to eat.
So yes, I’m going to recommend surrender. Give up on the idea that you can weigh, categorize, catalog, ascribe emotions to and success to food. You can beat an egg, but you can’t beat your need to eat food. Surrender all the emotional baggage you currently swallow with every stupid potato chip or truffle. Start to get used to the idea that food is just, well, food.
Easy to say, but hard to do. But that’s okay. We don’t have to get it all done today. Let’s give up on the notion of instant fixes too. We’ll just take our time and get there eventually.
The Fat Chick