Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Me, Myself, and the Icepack

Well, it is official. I am a hopeless multi-tasker! I say this, because after a Tuesday morning trip to the doctor, and a two week condemnation to minimal activity, I suffer from a complete inability to just sit on the couch and do nothing. Now, during the day, there is really not a thing I can do to switch the setting on my hamster wheel to "slow"; I just gimp along as best I can at "lightspeed," hoping not to fall onto my nose. However, in the interests of being a partially compliant patience, I have determined to put the children to bed at 7:30 this week, and spend my evenings quietly, with an icepack on my elevated foot, enjoying some television.

Last night, as I prepared to carry out the first evening of my resolution, I discovered my fatal flaw. With the best of intentions, I got out my make-shift ice pack: a bag of frozen veggies. Then, I proceeded to spend the next thirty minutes piling the coffee table with projects to do while convalescing, and thus allowing my ice pack to melt. I returned it to the freezer, retrieved a fully frozen replica, and settled into my sick bed. There, with my foot above the level of my heart and propped on 12 ounces of mixed corn, peas, carrots, and green beans--I picked up my first project. I figured if I had to lie around all evening, I should at least be accomplishing something during commercials. See? Hopeless.

To add insult to injury, after all that preparation, I didn't get anything done anyway, because I fell asleep. My first self-appointed task was to read this week's Weight Watcher's booklet: Habits of Successful Members. They really do provide wonderful self-help materials, if you take the time to read them, and if you stay awake while you read. After browsing the first couple of pages, I took pencil in hand, and began to take the "Habits Profile Quiz."

First statement. "I always seem to put the needs of others before my own needs." Let's see. I'm the first one up. Last one to eat. Last one to pee. Haven't finished a book intended for an adult audience since my firstborn. Yep. Check.

Second statement. "I don't like to throw away leftovers." Hmm. What's in the line-up? Wade's leftover shredded wheat, uncrusted P&J from lunch, abandoned casserole from dinner, and if somebody doesn't hurry up and eat this cake, it's gonna go bad. That would be a crime against heaven. And hasn't the dog finished that kibble yet? Ahh! What am I doing? Guilty--yes, so guilty.

Third statement. "I eat more when I'm unhappy, angry, or stressed." Three words. Cookie. Moosetracks. Chocolate. The prosecution rests. Case closed.

And the list goes on. I rarely have time to myself. I usually put my own needs at the bottom of the list of what's important. I have high expectations of myself. I eat for comfort.I always expect to do well, and get very disappointed if I don't. I often give in to food cravings. I feel unlikely to succeed at weight loss. I'm very strict with myself. If I slip up even a little, I will give myself a hard time.

The parade of accuracies must have exhausted me, because soon I was asleep, and reading to my ice pack. Imagine my surprise when the cheeky little thing spoke up.

"Eating can be a problem for me." I read out loud.

"Naw, really?" said the icepack. "What was your first clue? The permanent necklace under your chin or the cinnamon buns you're propped up on?"

"Hey!" I sputtered, but the ice pack paid no attention.

"Keep reading," it said.

"If certain foods are around, I can't help but eat them."

"Yeah, honey. You need an armed guard in the frozen dairy isle."

"I do not!" I said, indignant now.

"Really. What about that bag of chips you bought--TWICE--for the family's road trip. If I recall, there were still no chips at the time of departure. Read on."

"In certain situations, I don't feel sure I can stay motivated."

"Guess this bum ankle is gonna be the end game this time, huh?" asked the ice pack.

"What are you talking about?" I said. I propped myself up on my elbows, only to find the ice pack smirking at me. I never knew vegetables could smirk.

"Well, it's always something with you," said the ice pack. You quit, because you didn't lose the weight the book said you should; or you didn't lose the weight your friend did; or it's your birthday and you shouldn't have to be on a diet on your birthday; or you got sick and you'll never catch up for the lost time now; or you followed Santa's bad example and ate everybody's cookies and now you're definitely on the naughty list; or--"

"All right! All right! I get your point!" I moved my foot off the ice pack. "But it's gonna be different this time."

"Ooohhhh," said the ice pack, dripping condensation and sarcasm. "Sure it is. I'm sorry. I'm just the stupid pack of veggies, icing the foot that's gonna keep you from making any progress for the next two week or MORE!"


"Really?" it said.

"Yes, REALLY."

When I woke up, I had kicked my ice pack onto the floor, and though it now lay in a comforting heap of inanimateness, what the dream revealed to me about how I saw myself, where I went for comfort, and how I had undermined my own efforts again and again, haunted me.

I decided right then and there, that things WERE going to be different this time. Immediately, I picked up my calendar and began planning my recovery. I was going to expect set-backs and have a plan to overcome them. By ten, I'd finished planning the short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals for exercise that I was supposed to plan out last week. I don't expect to be perfect, but I am going to PERSIST.

And what about that cheeky bag of vegetables, you ask? Let's just say, I took care of them. They are silenced forever.

Num. Num.

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