Tales from the Backslide

Zombie snacking is a real problem for me.

In case you have absolutely no idea what I mean, I am talking about the act of eating a few hundred calories’ worth of food in such a way that you don’t actually realize how much you have consumed until you are done. It’s been a problem of mine for years. I would come home from work and stand in front of the fridge or pantry and then hoover whatever I could find with the ferocity of a particular cartoon feline. And by my estimate, in that time, I consumed somewhere between 500-1000 calories.

That’s twenty minutes, by the way.

“The hell you say!”

Oh yes.

My snack column on My Fitness Pal is one of those things that on a regular basis is enormously high and is the biggest contributor to weight gain, and it’s been that way for years. Talk about an insanely bad habit and a lack of self-control.

So in January, I came up with a solution–a bullet journal. Well, technically it’s tracking via paper, but I got it from a Pinterest post of bullet journal ideas. I don’t have the calligraphy talents that some of the people who pin those things do, but I was neat enough to get a piece of graph paper and a ruler so that I could create this thing, which is a series of boxes that use a “traffic light” system to determine how I did with my habit on each day of the year. I guess i hope to keep myself honest by showing the correlation between not snacking too much and losing weight. It’s a pretty solid idea, if I say so myself.

Does it work? Well, it’s kept me in the habit of tracking, but lately there has been a lot of red on the page and that’s not good.

When I see that, I get frustrated and another bad habit kicks in–being self-defeating. I struggle with stepping back and taking the whole “journey, not a destination” view of things because I am part of a culture that is results-oriented and have lived with the “getting good grades” mentality for way too long. Therefore, I find that measurables mock me, so I beat myself up. I have even found myself retreating from social media because I have so little to show for myself even though I feel like I’ve done quite a bit in the last year or so.

I try to combat this with mindfulness practices. Yes, I am on medication for anxiety, but my mental health issues over the last year or two have been largely self-diagnosed and the treatment has either been sought out or done completely on my own. That is not to say that I don’t have support from people, but instead means that if I hadn’t told myself, “This doesn’t feel right” and gone to a therapist as well as a doctor, then I would be more of a mess than I am. Therapy and mindfulness practices like journaling and meditation give me what I need to at least take a moment, step back, and evaluate. That helps me resist the pull I often feel to just give up, a pull that makes me wonder if I suffer from depression as well (again, never formally diagnosed with anything), because I have to consciously tell myself, “No, this isn’t you. Give yourself that moment,b ut remember what you enjoy doing.”

Now is a tough time for a project like this. I am a little more than a year in, and that means a fuller commitment, than say, the beginning. It’s easier to rash and burn close to takeoff because so many people have–after all, so many New Year’s resolutions are dead by February 1. But the further you go and the more committed you get, the more likely you are to fade away (and I sort of inadvertently quoted Neil Young there). You aren’t motivated as much as you are impatient and frustrated that it’s taking so long. But with this, I have no idea what is taking so long because I don’t know what the end of it all actually looks like. And that compounds the lack of motivation and desire to quit, which manifests itself in a backslide.

I have no conclusion to write here. I’ve always been terrible at writing them, and I do not subscribe to trite motivational sayings. But as I wrap this up, I keep hearing the words of a friend and former colleague, who told me after a particular awful day at work, “Find your center.”

That’s the best I can do at the moment.

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