Monday, April 27, 2009

Binge Management

Yes, you read the title correctly. Not Waste Management or Time Management, but Binge Management. An oxymoron. Binges are episodes of indulgence; if they were managed, they wouldn’t be called binges, would they?

Binge Management Step 1.
Get rid of the trigger food in my environment.

I am addicted to some foods, especially chocolate. Recently, I had the opportunity to try out a new low-fat dessert recipe which included a small amount of mini chocolate chips as one of the ingredients. I was excited to try something new, salivating at the thought of the chocolatey treat. Carefully measuring the chips, I knew I needed to discard the rest of the bag. Yes, it’s wasteful; however, my binge management system requires me to have my home environment be free of over-the-top addictive foods. Wasteful or not, I made the decision to do it—I tossed the rest of the chocolate chip bag into the depths of the trash can.

Binge Management Step 2.
Check that Binge Management Step 1 has been completed.

The rest of the bag of mini chocolate chips was safely disposed. Or was it? Moments after the gentle thud, the mini chips used their mini voices to call my name from the depths of the trash can. “Rescue me.” The whisper from the Waste Management system confirmed for me that the Binge Management mission was not yet complete. I needed to proceed to step 3.

Binge Management Step 3. Use only when necessary.
Remove the binge item from its current location and make sure it’s completely inedible.

I flipped up the trash can lid. Seeing the chocolate package, I went in. I found and removed the chocolate chip bag. This step was a dangerous one. I knew it could easily lead to the binge I’m avoiding. Time to make the chocolate inedible. Those chocolate chips were feisty; they required the Dirty Harry weapon of all time: Dish Soap. (music in background: dah dah dah duuuuuuhhh) A long time ago, I heard this suggestion which has forever been helpful in emergency situations like this one. Holding open the rescued bag of chocolate chips while attempting to avoid the decadent scent which already activated my salivary glands, I made my move. I poured the Dish Soap into the bag. This, I knew, was the only way I could quiet those cocoa morsels once and for all. This time, the bag was discarded with a thump.

At the dinner table later that evening, my children’s version of rationality changed the action adventure into more of a comedy. “Can you believe what Mom did? She poured dish soap into the bag of chocolate chips and then threw them away!”

I smiled and mentally blew across the muzzle of that smoking gun. Dish Soap is the 44 Magnum of my food addiction battle. I felt lucky.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Strawberries and Lard?

Strawberries. Ahhh—the scent. Fresh-picked strawberries from the farmers’ market, still warm from the sun and ready to ooze red juice and satisfaction in an instant. Paired with whipped cream, strawberries are a beautiful sight, indulging the tastebuds of young and old alike. Cut vertically, strawberries reveal their heart shape in the center, symbolizing how deeply we love them. They’re healthy, too, which only enhances my personal enjoyment of these fruity treats.

Lard. What IS it? Defined as “The rendered fat of hogs, esp. the internal fat of the abdomen.” Yuck. It’s white, pasty with little odor or interest. Perhaps I could spackle the wall with it, I thought. Cook with it? Who would’ve imagined…?

My grocery shopping cart on a recent trip contained both strawberries and lard. The strawberries were on sale, and are always enjoyed in our home. The lard? Part of an old family recipe to make a traditional Italian Easter bread containing eggs, butter, cheese and the finale of the cholesterol-enhancing recipe, lard. I could have substituted lower-fat alternatives, I thought, but this was the real deal. I was baking something that was an old family recipe from my in-laws. This does not allow for change, I thought. How could I change a tradition?

I struggled with the crazy dichotomy of food in my cart. For so long, I’ve practice and mastered the art of making good choices at the grocery store. Why didn’t the cashier even give a second glace when she scanned the lard? I felt like a hypocrite, purporting to be a healthy example of low-fat living with a wad of the white stuff being placed in my bag. Somehow, though, it makes sense. Something about balance. I cannot be perfect like those strawberries all of the time. Sometimes I simply make decisions that are like the lard: boring, bland, unhealthy and messy. Tradition or not, we’ll have lard in our lives from time to time. It’s what we do with the rest of the time that counts. For me, it's faith in the Lord that helps clean up the messes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Get Out Of Jail Free card

Several years ago, I started a new game. Losing weight.

Like Monopoly, it goes on and on. A long game. A game with some objectives, but most times I have no idea how it’ll turn out. It’s familiar, though, not only to me but to everyone I know. It’s sometimes mundane, sometimes fun.

I picked my favorite playing piece, the shoe.

I like the shoe, not because of the implied exercise and health associated with it, but because it’s easy to hold. I simply like it. Reminds me to move in my own way, one little step at a time. I gathered my stash of cash: two $500s, two $100s, two $50s, six $20s, five $10s, five $5s and five $1s. The play money, like the weight loss training, support systems, healthy food and exercise plan, will buy me long-term investment in this weight loss game. I put the shoe on GO. It’s a new beginning; a chance at a healthy life.

I rolled the dice quickly and headed for Reading Railroad.

Full steam ahead. Gotta love those railroads. Like new habits, the more railroads I own, the better the results. I learned new ways to eat, cooked food differently, and enjoyed fruits and vegetables again.

Rolled the dice again. Landed me in a spot where I’m “Just visiting” jail.

I’m somewhat safe. The prison that I call a binge is a mental barrier that sees no light. All that can be seen is food and more food. All that can be done is the consumption of it. Since I’m just visiting, I can see what it’s like to be stuck in old habits, but still have the energy to move on. I survived a few events where old habits of overeating could have taken over but instead I managed: weddings, family holiday gatherings, picnic buffets, restaurant outings.

Rolled again. Headed down the stretch to Free Parking.

I stayed and rested a bit. I re-evaluated my new eating habits. I enlisted the help of friends and family to support me on this weight loss ride. I researched food information: calories, fat, fiber, nutrients.

Rolled again. Down the last corner, heading towards ‘GO’ again. Passing GO, I collected my $200 of new motivation to go around again. Time for a CHANCE card this time.

Ugh. Go to Jail, Go Directly To Jail, Do Not Pass GO, Do Not Collect $200. JAIL. The binge begins. I start to eat some food, then some more, then more and more until I decide to eat whatever I can find that doesn’t walk away from me. Stuck in the prison of my mind, I chew until I can’t think anymore.

This is the time for Get Out of Jail Free card. This is the time to simply throw down that yellow card and move on. No waiting three turns until a possible double shows on the dice. No paying my way out. Simply place the card and move on. It is the same “free” card I get with the gift of salvation. By accepting it, I get the chance to live my life differently. I’m so thankful.

Here I am, several years after starting this game, and I still need the reminder of this card. It’s worthless unless I use it, so I motivate myself to remember it exists and simply allow the freedom it provides.

I like this card.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Water, Water everywhere...

Okay, it’s April, and we know what that implies: April showers, right? Since I’m not into gardening, I don’t think about the resulting May flowers. Instead, I wonder about water. Lately, the phrase: “Water, water, everywhere…” has come to mind. What’s the rest of the sentence?

“…and not a drop to drink.” Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. What does that mean? I envision a bobbing sailboat with dehydrated vacationers out for a longer journey than they ever expected, in the middle of the ocean gasping for their last breath of life. All they need is water for refueling and all they have is an ocean of water surrounding them, keeping them from life. There’s no way to boil the salt out of the salt water to make it drinkable in this scene. Water everywhere can mean I’m drowning in the essence of my own life without the refueling that comes from having a life with purpose. Water everywhere can mean I think I’m pursuing a healthy lifestyle but instead am being sucked dry by the very information I crave. Water everywhere can mean I’m volunteering my time and energy to seemingly good causes, like feeding the poor, but instead am poor in my own spirit.

Water is critical for health, and I am very aware of drinking it to obey the eight-glasses-a-day-for-better-health rule. I have trained my body to be in need of an abundance of water, and am used to drinking it all day long. When I am thirsty, I am reminded that I’ll immediately get a drink of water to take care of the thirst, but I might not take a minute to sit and pray to take care of a spiritual need I might have today.

That ocean symbolizes the abundance of God’s love and availability in prayer, more than I could imagine. It surrounds me, but is not available to me unless I make myself available too. I have found that forcing myself to be still for a few minutes allows my thoughts and emotions to focus back on God who is always there. I believe He knows what’s up every minute of the day whether I’m thinking of Him or not. How cool is that.

Water, water, everywhere… I plan to drink more and drown less.