Friday, January 26, 2007

Celebrating the little victories

One of the things I've read recently about dieting is that you should celebrate your victories, even the tiny ones. I guess some part of me feels cocky or silly doing that--it's easier to give a cynical eye roll to my little victories even though I cheer on others celebrating their small ones--but I'm going to do it now. I think it can only help, especially as I fight the perfectionism that breeds negativity.

So let me tell you, I did well yesterday. In fact, I've been doing well this week in general.

I have my period this week, which is usually a time when I just let go and given in to temptations that plague me. They get stronger; I get weaker. I consume way too many calories and don't exericse.

But not this week. As I may have mentioned before, I'm trying a new tactic with cravings: I remind myself that living in a large city in the US, with restaurants all around me, with my ability to bake and cook, I can have pretty much any food I want at any time of day or night. My previous reaction to cravings was to chastise myself and obsess over where this random freaking craving had come from. "Why do I so desperately want a chocolate bar??"--that kind of thing.

Instead, now, I think, "You know what, Veg, you can have a chocolate bar any time you want." Then I picture the chocolate at my house, the chocolate at Whole Foods, the chocolate that abounds at the various restaurants that exist around me. It's counter-intuitive--I would expect it might up the craving--but instead, it calms my brain down, makes it go, "Oh, well, if I can have that food any time I want it, maybe I don't have to have it right this second."

My husband, who is used to me talking about avoiding 'bad' foods and then giving into them, is so surprised and impressed by my behavior this week. Of course, I told him, somewhat honestly and somewhat self-deprecatingly, "We'll see how long it lasts." But then I told him about a study I was reading of OCD patients, where the patients were shown scans of their brains being overactive. When they got OCD impulses, they were instructed to think to themselves, "It feels like I need to _____, but it's actually just my brain misfiring." Then they would do something else to distract themselves--and eventually, their brains started misfiring less often. I'm not OCD, but my random cravings of food might be similar neurologically speaking. So I try to calm my brain down in various ways, and it seems to work.

Yesterday, I ate a salad and a Moosewood organic frozen meal for lunch. As I always do, I flipped the Moosewood meal over to see what calories and ingredients I would be eating, and I was shocked to see the meal was only 160 calories. 160 calories plus my lettuce-and-dressing salad. 200 calories total? But that's tiny! Since we were eating dinner with some friends last night, I knew I wouldn't get dinner until 7:30 or 8--and I'm a 6 p.m.-dinner kinda girl. I felt a bit panicky about food and considered raiding our work kitchen for more food. Potato chips, maybe? Then I reminded myself I could eat a snack when I got home, if I wanted to. When I got home, I was pretty hungry, so I ate 120 calories--one serving--of wonderful gingercrisps. (See, I told you I always look at the calories lol.) Then my husband and I went for a walk in the park to distract me.

See, I knew at my friend's house, I'd be eating some unhealthy food: we were taking baked brie (baked with brown sugar and walnuts on top) as an appetizer (to go with apples), and my friend was making a tofu quiche to be followed by OATMEAL CHOCOLATE-CHIP COOKIES--my favorite kind of cookie. So I wanted to eat a fairly low number of calories during the day so that I could eat without concern at dinner.

And I did: I had two slices of brie with apples. The quiche-with spinach and parmesan cheese in it--was good; I was really looking forward to the cookies. And I did eat three cookies--cookies that were baked fairly small. I would normally eat more, but my brain seemed to tell me, "Hey, did you know you can get those anytime?" So I quit eating after 3.

Go me.


metamorphose said...

You are a strong woman, my friend. A strong woman! Rock on! And celebrate those small victories -although I don't think this one is so small in my humblest of opinions.

Renegade said...

Vegetables are great and all... but NOTHING is better than going out in the woods at 5 in the morning and having fresh deer steaks sizzling on the grill by 3 in the afternoon!

Check out Renegade's BS

the veggie paparazzo said...

Thanks, meta.

Renegade, I grew up eating fresh venison, and I'd have to disagree with you there. Besides, comments that are purely an advertisement for another blog are so spammy.

Anonymous said...

That is a clever little brain trick, I think I will try it! I have given in too many times this week - started off on the wrong foot and have been tripping ever since.

Cory said...

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog!! You are doing so well! I'm glad you are able to start curbing your cravings so well. That is fantastic.

As for my weight tracker, I have an account at that creates trackers from your weight log. Then it will create the html code and I post it in blogger. If you need any more assistance than that with it, just let me know!

~~Midnight Raider~~ said...

Go you, indeed! Way to harness all those different techniques to handle your cravings!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for checking out my blog!!!!

Kudo's to you for not giving into your cravings. Esp. at that time of the month!!!

RE: Swim Cap - the best investment you could make for swimming.
I wear the silicone kind as they do not pull out your hair.
As for the green hair - I use a clarifying shampoo/conditioner and have no probs.

have a great weekend.

PearShapedGirl said...

Hi Veg,

Yes, you (and all of us) deserve a cheer for the small victories. Because in the long run, all the small victories add up to the BIG victory, right? That is a cool mind trick, and it has worked for me in the past, but not always. Sometimes I just respond in the opposite way and decide if everything is so readily available - why not dig in?! But your example of OCD patients put a cool mental image in my head that I will use next time... anything is worth a shot. And, um, the description of that brie made my mouth water...mmmm.

Take care and have a great weekend,

Salma Gundi said...

Sometimes I tell myself in the middle of a craving, "Self, you've had this before. You'll have it again. You know what it tastes like. You don't need to have it right this very second."

I do like the whole thought of city girls surrounded by food - something about that is really resonating with my rational side. I'm going to try your method out - thank you for writing this.

the veggie paparazzo said...

turtle--it seems to work for me. kinda amazing to me, but it does.

Cory--I have one from extrapounds, too, but I am bad with html and am not sure how to insert it. I think I'll get my husband to help me today!

midnight--thanks. :)

lola--i like the idea of the conditioner and water in the hair before a swim. that might work for me. if only i can get over my anxiety about showing my body in a bathing suit at the college gym i use. stupid, but there it is.

pear--let us strive to live so that, when we want some delicious brie, we can have it and stay at a reasonable weight!

salma--sounds like you've got the thinking down!

csmc said...

I am super impressed. I love the reminder that you can have xyz food anytime and there is no reaosn to go overboard. Go you indeed. :)