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Overly Optimistic Thinking

Friday, December 23, 2011

I have been reading a couple of books about people's tendency to be overly optimistic about their abilities to do something, and about the world in general. No one ever thinks the house will burn, or the hurricane will hit THEIR home, and tend to underinsure. People always assume they will pay all bills on time, never overdraw their accounts, never lose their jobs, so never read the fine print in their documents. Then when something DOES happen it's someone else's fault for not explaining consequences carefully enough.

Alas, things DO happen. I always plan for the possible negatives. I give myself "cookie insurance" during the holidays: I keep them away from me, then give them all away. I eat very carefully and during this season I write EVERYTHING down. This is all in anticipation of the possibility that I may not live up to my own expectations without a LOT of careful planning.

Many people consider it "negative thinking" to even consider a less than perfect outcome, but I am old enough to know that I can "positive think" myself into a corner. I am aware of my weaknesses, and know all too well that I can put myself in an uncomfortable position where inner strength won't be enough. I know that sometimes I can't rely on "motivation" any more than I can rely on the weather or the guy driving the other car.

So I always carry insurance. I carry it on my life, my cars, my home, and my eating.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEADSBAY 12/23/2011 7:07PM

    Dang! You are (unfortunately) so right!
I am a 'head in the sand' type person.
thnx for the reminder.

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    Very good blog!

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SLENDERELLA61 12/23/2011 4:23PM

    Great blog!! I love the insurance analogy with eating. Positive thinking is a good thing -- up to a point. Sometimes a dose of realism is needed. Thanks for pointing that out. -Marsha

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BRATS4 12/23/2011 2:07PM

    love it

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ZUCCHINIQUEEN 12/23/2011 1:47PM

    I not only "liked" that blog; I "loved" that blog!

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DRKYASHI 12/23/2011 11:48AM

    'Precautions' are always good things to have in mind. emoticon

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FISHINGLADY66 12/23/2011 11:05AM

    Great Blog Nell.Thanks for the thoughts.

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Dealing with temptation

Monday, December 12, 2011

I just finished a great book by Stuart Vyse called "Going Broke". It is an economic and sociological discussion about why we spend, but also discusses why we succumb to any temptation. He talks about what we want in the immediate future vs what we want long term: the car now vs comfortable retirement, the drink now vs sobriety, or the food now vs long term weight loss. He says that surveys about why we do what we do don't work because you are talking to people when they aren't immediately confronted by temptation. Some people either inherently have or have developed not so much self control, but a desire for a long term goal that exceeds the pull of immediate temptation. There are some who want to ban credit cards or fast food outlets so that they are never confronted with temptation, and there are people who create temptation free zones: they don't have credit cards, they never keep snack foods in the house. Americans value total freedom of choice, but in the end are confounded by it, and allow themselves to partake simply because it's there.

I, for one, tend to allow myself to think that I am giving up so much for one long term goal that I should be able to postpone the realities of achieving another long term goal. It isn't so much self-control (I still don't know what that actually IS) but I have developed mantras and methods to keep my eyes focused on my long term goals, trying not to confuse one goal with another. I mean one order of french fries won't impact my savings, but it WILL impact another goal. Over the years and decades, they are ALL important to me. I just need to make sure they are important at that one brief moment of choice.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4DOGNIGHT 12/25/2011 12:58PM

    Very interesting. THank you for sharing.

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OOLALA53 12/25/2011 12:36PM

    This dovetails with the information I read in a book years ago called New World New Mind by the brain researcher Robert Ornstein. He did not talk particularly about food issues but about the fact that humans evolved in a world in which the immediate dangers were very important to deal with and there was little long-term vision in what we had to do to survive. Thus overall humans tend to be more compelled by the singular and immediate rather than the big picture: the airplane crash that kills 100 people (and statistically very few people compared to how many fly) vs. the 400,000 people (that's like more than 10 crashes a day) who die each year from mostly lifestyle-induced diseases. Some people will be afraid to fly but will eat, drink, or smoke themselves to death 1) because the body does reinforce the use of these sources of pleasure, esp. the manufactured foods of today, and 2) we are not in touch with the long term effect because of genetics, as well as a lack of training. Humans are capable of making conditions that are dangerous and have incredible costs to individuals and to society but we protect them because of this human tendency. A few individuals have a prediliction for foresight and many more could be trained in it. He and his co-author said it is becoming imperative that we teach more about probability and long-term decision making. I read the book in 1991. Much of what they wrote about keeps getting proved but not much happens because of it. It sounds like you have become aware of these elements in your life and are making use of your abilities. Great job!

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RR1_RR1 12/14/2011 1:13PM

    Cutting up the credit card is certainly something I need to do!

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SIMPLY-EVA 12/14/2011 12:18PM

  That sounds like a really good read. I think I know why I spend, its because for years I was on a tight budget, and growing up we were considered poor even though Mom always made sure we were never left without food or decent hand-me-downs. I am currently not a good example for my DD though since I dont have her on any sort of budget and she feels that there is always $ to be spent. On the days that I do "clamp down" she is shocked and wonders why we have to be so poor. I explain that this is not poor, we actually are doing pretty well... anyway, my point is that I should probably read this book and quick!

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BITTYGIRL51 12/12/2011 3:42PM

    Here's where I run into a problem with this thought provoking analogy:

I avoid temptation by not having the trigger foods in the house - good idea, right? So, then if I have a craving and want cake, I will buy only one piece at a restaurant rather than a whole cake, better option, right? But, I'm also trying to satisfy my budget and therefore can't stand to pay the price I have to pay for a piece of cake out versus making a whole cake at home for about the same amount of money!!

The only sensible answer is to not eat cake AT ALL!! emoticon Easier said then done some days.

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FISHINGLADY66 12/12/2011 2:57PM

    Your blog is very thought provoking. I agree with you and the book sounds like a great read. Thanks for the information.

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ZUCCHINIQUEEN 12/12/2011 11:55AM

    Your thought-provoking blog got me thinking! I enjoy reading your thoughts!

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Christmas Cookies??

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I notice that Spark's Recipe of the Day each day so far in December has been cookies. The serving sizes are one or at most two cookies.

ONE OR TWO COOKIES??? What world are they living in??? If I could eat one cookie, I'd never have gained weight. The only time I can eat one is if it's the last one and I brush my teeth immediately afterward, and the only time I'm there for the last cookie is if I've eaten the ones before it and the attitude is "what the heck might as well eat it".

Cookies, even homemade "lower calorie" cookies are finger food: no plate or cutlery necessary, only requires one hand. Very dangerous for me. Christmas is the toughest season for me because of the cookies my family expects. I make them the day before Christmas and send the leftovers home with everyone else. I'll let THEM deal with the sugar. I have decades of experience in not being able to control them, I'm not going to find the "secret" now.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4A-HEALTHY-BMI 12/12/2011 10:47AM

    Yeah, this site really isn't set up for helping people cope with food abstinence.

Is it any wonder so few manage to maintain their weight around here?

I ignore the "official" recipes here. I know what works for me, and I stick with it. I don't need the starches and sugars and fats they sometimes push at us in the guise of "healthy" alternatives.

P.S. A friend in my neighborhood has been baking cookies to send in tins as Christmas presents and posting photos on Facebook. A bunch of people asked him to make up tins for them. I did too.

I asked him to put ONE of each of the 12 kinds in the freezer and subscribe me to a "cookie of the month" club. As in, I get one cookie per month for the next year. He said he will even deliver them. LOL

That is the only way I can have just one - if someone else is rationing them and there IS only one! hahaha

Ron was one of my original walking buddies when I was just starting out with losing the weight, and he fights diabetes, so he "gets" it.

The other people on Facebook? No way. They think I'm crazy. I don't care.

Comment edited on: 12/12/2011 11:02:33 AM

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BITTYGIRL51 12/8/2011 4:30PM

    I would have to say that I don't have as big of an issue with cookies as I do with cake (and it's not really finger food) but doesn't matter, because once already sliced cake is "hidden" in the freezer it becomes finger food!! emoticon

Funny how timely your blog is, because I just made buttermilk fudge and thumbprint cookies with lemon curd this morning. I only ate two small cookies, but the fudge - well, almost a whole "row"...

December is a VERY BAD month for me. Lost my dad on Christmas eve 15 years ago. The only way I survive severe depression is to BAKE! It's been a Christmas tradition for my entire life and I have tried to give it up, and just CAN'T! Baking is therapy for me, especially with my 91 yr. old bedfast MIL under my full-time care here in my home this year.

I make up goodie trsys with most of the cookies etc; for gifts etc but there is some collateral damage that goes along with it. I've tried very hard to change it, but in my opinion it's better than taking anti-depressants or relying on other meds to get through the month. I also exercise feverishly to run damage control. Exercise is a great mood elevator, too. It's the best I can do....but I fully agree with what you are saying. Sugar and fat combined????? DUH, = TRIGGER FOOD! emoticon

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FISHINGLADY66 12/7/2011 10:35PM

    I guess we all can identify with this blog. lol.

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BRATS4 12/7/2011 5:45PM

    me too.maybe one batch or two,not one or two cookies

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DARLENEK04 12/7/2011 3:03PM

  Nell I am right there with you. If I take the first
darn cookie, I am done for...

I don't bake any more for that reason.


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MEADSBAY 12/7/2011 12:26PM

    Me, too!
Cookies are sooooooooooo dangerous and 'tis the season!

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JEANNE229 12/7/2011 11:10AM

    Yes, I am the exact same! Anything baked (fresh from the oven and warm) is an endangered species in my house. Can't have them in my reach at all.

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CHIEF_GEEK 12/7/2011 11:02AM

    Totally agree with you!!!!

There is no way I can eat only one or two of my wife's cookies, flat out no way. She loves to bake, so there is my problems. Even those cookies going into the freezer does not slow down the eating process that much.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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67CAMARO_SS 12/7/2011 10:50AM

    Funny & true Nell! You sound the like voice for so many of us!!! LOL
June :)

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SIMPLY-EVA 12/7/2011 10:34AM

  I love this! Its so true that cookies are finger food! So portable and they stay fresh for days. I make sure that if Im going to have a cookie its a decent sized one and that it really is my favorite flavor so that the calories are actually worth it. Right now, its oatmeal cranberry walnut which I get at Subway. I dont go there often and if I get a 6 inch sandwich I dont feel so bad about eating the cookie. :)

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Enjoy Trigger Foods?????

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One of Spark's news articles today was about how you shouldn't "deny" yourself trigger foods. Problem is, by definition if they are "trigger foods" they will pull the trigger on a full on binge. I had to find out what those triggers were and avoid them entirely. I have a couple: Reeses, Cheetos and Chex Mix. I cannot have even one or I will finish whatever is in sight, and crave more. Then I have to deal with that overwhelming craving. Not something I can "just be strong" about. And why? There is no essential nutrient found in only those foods (if only there were!), just the instant gratification found only in that wonderful combination of fat, salt and crunch, or fat and sugar. Only when I decided not to eat those things One Day At A Time was I able to leave that awful craving behind as a residual memory. It's a memory that can be resurrected in one bite, though. It may be hard to turn my back, walk away, but it's a lot easier than dealing with that craving. We are talking about a few seconds of NO rather than weeks of denial.

I am eternally grateful that I lost weight back when we had to cut out a lot of food rather than allow ourselves "just a taste every now and then". I had to learn to find the closest substitute for me: crunchy salad, salty olives, sweet fruit, rearranged into the infinite possibilities that are available. I don't need to pull that trigger.

Sometimes what seems like unreasonable denial can be the key to moving on.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JITZUROE 12/25/2011 8:15PM

    Hiya, I saw the title and had to read this. I also am like you and CANNOT be trusted around those dreaded Reece's cups and a few other items as well. I was reading the Four Day Win, and one if the chapters was telling me to have all of my trigger foods around me and to eat some of them- but just some, not all.
Needless to say, I bombed. I am just not one of those people who can do that yet. Maybe one day, but not today.

Merry Christmas

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OOLALA53 12/25/2011 1:03PM

    I do think some people are more susceptible to certain kinds of triggers, but just as most people are not overweight because of a glandular problem, most of them are capable of eating moderately of all foods. MOST, I said. I can't speak for those who have been morbidly obese. Obviously, their bodies can be different because most bodies will not induce the individual to desire the amount of food that allows them to get so big. Personally, I feel I was handicapped by the notion that I could not control my intake of certain foods. Yes, it's true that some foods can induce strong urges to overeat, but the urges don't make me eat. I have found that many foods that used to feel impossible to resist are not a problem anymore. The science shows that you either have to abstain forever OR realize that when you restrict for a period of time and then have the food, the brain will send out signals to overeat that food. That is what makes people feel they can't have a bite. If you do actually overeat it, you will make the urge even stronger later. But if you don't, if you resist in the face of the urge (just as you resist the urge to overeat in general), and do this repeatedly, over time, the urge to overeat it will subside. I admit that doing that process can be very scary and if I had been heavier to start or had a health condition that contraindicated taking any chances, I might have decided to forego those foods forever, but I didn't want to. I feel it has worked out well for me. Despite the fact that I do have them a few times a week, and sometimes even more than I am comfortable with, the pull is getting weaker. I can imagine a time when I have them rarely just because I just am more satisfied and content without them. But I totally understand the choice to abstain.

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    Doritos....keep the bag AWAY from me. The Nacho Cheesier they are...that first bite will do me in. I cannot moderate some for me to avoid them entirely.

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DARLENEK04 11/30/2011 5:35PM

  For me, the first bite of whatever the bad food is, and I
am sunk.
I can have a pint of strawberry ice cream in the freezer
til it is too old to eat, and I am fine with that, but take
that first bite and it is gone.

The foods that are bad for me, salty/sweet, whatever, I just
have to leave totally out of my food plan.


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FISHINGLADY66 11/30/2011 5:16PM

    I know where you are coming from Nell. emoticon

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 11/30/2011 2:27PM

    If you read that column closely you'll see that she doesn't even do this herself. She SUBSTITUTES one food for another. Chocolate instead of cookies, for example.

Which is a valid strategy, but it is NOT what the heading says it is.

I think building up an expectation that all of us will one day be able to "eat normally" or "intuitively" or "enjoy trigger foods in moderation" is horse pucky and unfair. It's like saying those of us who choose to abstain aren't truly "healed" or are somehow defective.

You know what? I LIKE this size, and I've worked dang hard to get here. I work dang hard to stay here, too. I don't appreciate being labeled as 'obsessive' for wanting to stick with what works. I do not label the "moderation" folks as "lazy" or "undisciplined," although I could.

Especially when I see the typical results in blog posts a few months later when they say, "Gee, I guess I need to get back to basics on this weight management thing." Ignore the scale and stop tracking - what did they expect to happen? Magic fairy dust? I've personally tried that experiment over and over and for me it DOES NOT WORK. It is an exercise in futility. Why would I want to do that to myself?

So thank you, Nell, for speaking with your years of experience on this and reassuring the rest of us that it is OK to continue to think and behave like a recovering overeater. Because that is exactly what I am.

Comment edited on: 11/30/2011 2:42:46 PM

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BITTYGIRL51 11/30/2011 12:56PM

    And I come from the other side of the fence from the MISSG180...I agree with you, there are certain foods that I have to AVOID at all costs! I cannot eat one bite of CAKE with ICING. Or even one small piece for that matter. I am the one wanting the corner piece with all the icing and will be scraping up all the extra icing when no one is looking. I am the one that will have 4 or 5 desserts at church potlucks - there's just so much to choose from that it's literally impossible to eat just one.

I'm the one that if bread and butter is on the table - I will eat it! More butter than bread!! But, as long as it is nowhere in sight I don't care anything about it. I do good with out of sight out of mind, except when it comes to CAKE! If it's been put in the freezer, it will still call my name, everytime i walk past the freezer! I cannot have it in the house!

So, what in the world was SP trying to say in that article? That denial of any shape or form is bad? I don't agree. In fact, I am reading a really good book called, Made to Crave that talks about this very issue. To deny ourselves is scriptural! We need to get our flesh under subjection and to do that we often must deny ourselves the very thing we crave! We are doing a book study on the Be Your Best team right now on this very subject. Feel free to jump in. emoticon

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MISSG180 11/30/2011 12:07PM

    I think that people are all different. When it was all about forbidden foods and never having things again, I couldn't diet with a gun to my head. I do much better with the intuitive eating and moderation model. But I'm certainly not everyone!

I think it's great that there are lots of different resources and people can find what works for them.

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Words of Wisdom from Alton Brown

Thursday, November 03, 2011

My father was a chemist, and some of my best memories of growing up were after dinner, when we'd push the dishes aside and he'd start explaining something and writing equations all over the napkins. An hour would disappear into his stories. Alton Brown picked up with food chemistry, but with puppets and models rather than equations. I read Shirley Corriher's book "Cookwise" (which, I think, was his model) when it first came out, and I was thrilled to see someone else who was as entranced by her approach to cooking as I was.

From Alton's "Final Thoughts" at the end of his last book:

"I do know that we have some pretty big problems in this country, and I think that at least a few of them could be solved if we concentrated as much on cooking as we do on eating. Food is fabulous stuff, to be sure, but cooking can also be its own reward. Cooking is an action, and it's time for more action and a little less consumption."

Truer words were never said. In our land of plenty, with microwaves and frozen and packaged food, consumption has been separated from creation. No wonder we are in such thrall to the food marketers! When we prepare our own meals, we have TWO joys: creation as well as consumption.

Alton ends with "And it wouldn't hurt us to be a little thankful every now and then."

I am far more aware of the bounty of today when I assemble my own meal than if I just stopped by the drive-in window. And awareness leads to gratitude.

All 3 of Alton Brown's books are fun and informative, and I only wish my father could have lived to enjoy them. And the food that resulted.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEADSBAY 12/3/2011 4:24PM

    I, too, love Alton Brown and his scientific mind in the kitchen (also love Bill Nye, the Science Guy).
And, I LOVE to cook- never buy take-out and rarely eat out any more- I can cook better than them, often.

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FISHINGLADY66 11/24/2011 8:07AM


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DEBBYFROMMT 11/9/2011 10:55AM

    I LOVE Alton Brown! I will look for his books. It's amazing when one cooks from scratch how much healthier it is! I've found I use a lot of fresh vegetables (in season) what I can find, and it tastes so much better. Thanks for the blog! emoticon emoticon

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BRATS4 11/3/2011 9:36PM


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CYNDERROSE 11/3/2011 6:01PM

    Thats awesome! I love Alton Brown.

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DEMETERSCO 11/3/2011 3:08PM

    Thanks for sharing this author. I will look into his books.

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 11/3/2011 2:59PM

    "creation as well as consumption"

I like it!

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 11/3/2011 2:27PM

    Thanks for a great blog entry and a wonderful quotation from Brown. I love the days when I am not too busy at work and I can relax and think mindfully and wisely about food and cooking well.

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