Sunday, August 12, 2007

Who Eats Old M & M's?

I am questioned about my dieting habits by two major influences in my life. Richard Simmons asks my favorite question: "What did you have for lunch today?" That question, repeated day after day, week after week, turned out to be a profound influence in my life. I found it funny, and instead of shutting down emotionally like I normally would when asked questions about my eating habits, I rose to the occasion, and started making lunches that were healthy and good to eat, just so I'd have something to report. Then, after making my report, I'd turn the question around on him and ask him what he had for lunch. He'd answer me too, much to my amusement. And the openness of our exchange was the first step in looking at my food choices and making changes.

Recently, Lucy asked me if I liked dessert. That was an easy one for me. "No," I responded. "It makes me feel not good after eating it."

That question was actually way more profound than it appeared on the surface, because I realized that it was a 180-degree reversal from where I came from, 200 pounds ago. At that time, dinner was only an appetizer. Dessert was the real meal.

I must have felt awful all the time then, but was so used to the feeling that I identified it as being normal. How would I know the difference? I was diabetic and had high blood pressure, but so what? Nobody knew what kind of crap food I was "sneaking" into my diet (or so i thought), and if nobody saw me doing it, it didn't happen.

Now I acknowledge almost everything that I eat, and record it all on my food journals. And just by being constantly vigilant, I've managed to hold my weight to within 5 pounds of my goal weight range. But acknowledging actions and taking responsibility for your actions is not always easy. Especially when the food and reason for eating it is so stupid. If it's in front of me, I'll eat it. Simple as that.

And I'll eat almost anything, short of beans (do not even mention the green beans), beef, or bananas. Lord help me when I'm hungry or experiencing a craving... I'll grab pretty- much anything that is available. When I prepare healthy foods in advance, I'll eat them first, but if they're not there and ready, it's right to the loaf of bread. Or whatever else is available and there on the spot. And I'm also a stress eater. That point was driven home last March when I was trying to go to ASCH Conference.

I was packed and ready to leave. My dogs attended for, my home picked up and pristine, that only left me a couple of prescription refills to take care of. I would get them on my way out of the city. But fate was not to be kind to me that day. One of the prescriptions had not been authorized by the doctor (yet) when I arrived at Walgreens. The other was was fine, but their shipment of my medication had not yet arrived.

I was very upset, of course. I had made arrangements to meet friends for dinner at my destination in three hours. I didn't have the time for the works of this plan to be mixed up. I called doctors, in a panic, and eventually got it worked out so that they could refill me on the spot.

By the time I got out of there, I was extremely stressed. And I had a reaction that I hadn't had in years. I needed M & M's. Peanut M & M's. And not the regular size, either. I needed the big, two pound bag! I bought it and I ate it and I ate it and I ate it, most of the way to Visalia. First through the desert and over the Grapevine, through Bakersfield, through Fresno. I would stop on occasion, feeling ill, but then would commence again. There was no reasonable answer why I was eating those stupid candies except that they were in the car!

I finally needed a bathroom break, and I was also not exactly sure where Visalia was and thought that I had perhaps missed the turn off. So I stopped at a rest stop, used the facilities, consulted the "You Are Here" map, and common sense struck. I threw the rest of that bag (about 1/6 was still left) into the garbage, and left it behind.

That weekend, I planned to eat, knowing full well that I was going to gain weight. And I did. I had allowed myself five pounds, and that's what I gained. About half of it was the M & M's. The rest was "Continental Breakfast" and "Fish & Chips." I did promise myself that I would eat a salad for one meal each day, and I did exactly that. That's probably why I didn't gain ten!

The following week, I returned to home and reality and exercise class. We were talking about binge eating in the dressing room; N- made a sarcastic comment about how I never ate anything wrong and that's why I didn't ever gain weight. I responded that I had just eaten a 2-pound bag of M & M's. Much to the shock and surprise of everyone in the room. But again, I don't deny anything. The truth will out anyway, so what's the point?

Fast forward from March to now. I plan to have my car washed tomorrow. To be honest, I haven't had it washed since that fateful trip. There were a lot of suicidal bugs in Fresno County, and about 2/3 of them ended up on my car. It's also disgusting on the outside; covered in that oily grimy dust that you only get when you live close to a freeway. It's time. And so I went through my car with a fine tooth comb, looking for any odds 'n' ends that might be sucked up by a car wash vacuum. And I found a lone Peanut M & M on the floorboard underneath the front seat. I thought about it for a minute. Who would know if I ate it? And then I thought about Richard and his rhetorical question "Who is it that eats M & M's out of their sofa cushion when they don't know how long they've been there?"

Everyone laughs at that question. And I always knew that it wouldn't be me, because if I had M & M's in my home and was eating them on the sofa, there's no way that I would ever spill a single one! It would be a moral imperative to eat them all. But now, here was I, presented with the dilemma in person. What to do?????
Well, I know the answer now. I know who eats the M & M's out of the sofa. All I have to do is look in the mirror for the answer.

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