Friday, January 07, 2011
Several of us post-holidays have been kicking around the perennial issue of giving into temptation --and since this is Spark People, that would be primarily in the context of food, of course.
Let me be frank: I don't have any will power. And probably for that reason -- because I prefer to make excuses for my own moral weakness -- I like to believe that will power is highly over-rated.
For me, it's all about evading temptation. Avoiding it. Because it's been well established. I can resist. Anything. But. Temptation.
But if the tempting food is in the house --if I've bought it at the grocery store, or brought it home when someone gave it to me, or failed to throw it out when someone brought it to me -- then I intend to eat it.
I've already decided. It will happen.
It's not a question of "if". It's a question of "when".
And the answer to when is probably late at night. Furtively. And guiltily. Without a whole lot of pleasure. On automatic pilot. Which is, come to think about it, such a waste of calories!!
Remember the baseball movie, "Field of Dreams" and the inspiring message that "if you build it they will come"?
Well in the context of food, if I've bought it, I will eat it. For me, the chow down will be a completely predictable variant on that field of dreams doctrine. Just not so inspiring. And then I'll try to tell myself I'm not culpable because . . . . I didn't mean to do it. I just gave into temptation. As we all do.
But of course I did mean to, at least at some level. And I am culpable. I meant to eat it and I had decided I would eat it because I had brought it home knowing I cannot resist temptation. Just like the drunk driver is culpable because he had too many drinks. He may not have planned to drive after all of those drinks, but the drinks impaired his judgment before he got behind the wheel. And he knew they would. So, knowing that about himself, he knew or reasonably ought to have known that the time to establish an alternative driver was before he had the drinks. And for me, knowing what I know about myself, the time to say no was before I permitted those irresistble trigger high fat/salt/simple carb foods into my house.
Who am I kidding when I buy the stuff? Or fail to throw out trigger gift foods? I can leave it at the store. I can thank the (sabotaging) food givers politely and pitch it out in the office dumpster. Or donate the items to the food bank. Or wrap it up in the garbage after they've gone home. I don't have to hurt anyone's feelings. And I don't have to keep the food. But if I keep it I will eat it.
Do I really believe I've gotta have it in the house because all the neighbours are going to show up at my door this evening demanding fattening stuff? Quantities sufficient for 12 or 20? Ooey gooey triple cheese pizza, chips and dip, whatever? No. They won't. And I don't really believe I have a duty to have all the ooey gooey stuff in stock for my family members either: they're adults, if they want it they can go out and get it for themselves. And then they can eat it, please, somewhere else. Somewhere I don't have to see it. Or smell it. Or hear it crunching.
Think about all the other situations in which we might be tempted. Situations in which because we know we'll be tempted and might give in to the temptation, we don't ever put ourselves to the test. Would not dream of it, in fact. Never.
I don't slide that pretty one carat ring into my pocket and edge nonchalantly towards the door of the jewellery store just to see if I could get away with shoplifting it -- and then put it back before the alarms go off -- all to persuade myself of my superior moral powers of resisting the temptation to be a thief. I don't check into a motel with that attractive stranger I picked up in a bar and then wave a cheery goodbye and exit at the very last moment possible before . . . um . . . well you know. Just to persuade myself I'm not a . . um . . well you know. Not happening!!
So: do I need to bring home the chocolate brownie cheesecake icecream and bury it in the back of the fridge and try to persuade myself it's not there until . . . it really isn't there . . . because I've eaten it?? Using the rationalization that if I don't eat it I'll be demonstrating to someone how strong and determined and morally superior I am because I didn't?
No. I don't. A results-based analysis coupled with a little probability prediction tells me that I shouldn't bury the cheesecake in the freezer because more often than not I will eat it. In fact, almost all of the time. And the results will be self-loathing, rage, despair, a downward spiral. Plus, did I mention, weight gain?? Which I'll wear around my waist and my hips and my thighs?
(I might get away with stealing the ring or . . . the other. But the evidence I've given into food tempation is going to be apparent to everyone. And most of all, apparent to me.)
I can resist anything but temptation. So I have to avoid it. And avoiding temptation is quite likely the best I can do.
Which is, actually OK. Because nobody is twisting my arm and making me buy the chocolate cheesecake icecream and bury it in the freezer. All I've gotta do is leave it at the store and refuse to let it into my house.
Avoiding temptation might not make me virtuous: I'm not fooling myself about that. But avoiding temptation is doable; more doable than resisting temptation. And that's (most of the time) good enough.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
It's what we need, it's what so many of us find here on Spark People.
And here's a great blog on that topic:
Sunday, January 02, 2011
Remember that old song by the Temptations? Also known as "My Girl"?
Well, my guy presented me with a light box beaming out a powerful 10,000 lux, which I've been using every morning. Sunshine bright!! I've positioned it over my lap top, so the middle of the screen is at eye level about 12 inches away from my face -- nice for illuminating my morning SP login while I sip my coffee and scan the newspaper, Charlie curled up at my feet!
There's a lot of interesting research on the use of light boxes for treating a wide range of full blown clinical issues including depression, seasonal affective disorder, jet lag, shift work disorientation, post partum, PMS and even senility. Here's a link if you'd like to read more: there are a couple of scholarly articles and the second one in paricular cites the literature quite thoroughly.
As for me, I'm pretty sure that I don't have any of these clinical conditions. But I am the original sunshine girl -- love sunshine, crave it, thrive on it. When other people want to be closing the blinds, I'm basking in it. Generally speaking, people tell me that I've got a pretty sunny disposition. (Dunno, but I've been spontaneously nicknamed "Sunny" in so many different contexts, from little girl days onwards, that maybe there's some truth to it.)
Anyhow, April through September mornings after the gym often find me and Charlie on our east-facing verandah with my coffee and newspaper. But no question even for sunny types it's harder to feel sunny when there isn't any . . . um . . . sunshine. For weeks. For months. Which had made me curious about use of a light box to help me keep my mood upbeat during our long cold dark winters, when day after day we head off to work in the dark and come home again in the dark.
But there's more. In addition, light box therapy may help with winter weight loss or weight maintenance. That's because sunlight deprivation seems to be associated with carb bingeing. Apparently there is some research evidence that the long dark days tend to trigger a craving for more comfort foods . . . and more sleepiness too (so less exercise). The big ol' bear hibernation effect, I suppose. We are circadian-sensitive mammals, so that makes some sense to me!
Added on to my multivitamin and extra vitamin D and calcium, I'm now experimenting with 20-30 minutes of 10,000 lux light box exposure early every morning . . . getting my days off to a bright start So far, it does seem to be waking me up, cheering me up, and helping with the excess carb control.
The light box was a total surprise from my guy. Truly, I've now got some sunshine on a cloudy day. In the words of another fine old song, it makes me happy when skies are grey -- which as I mentioned (yeah, I know I mentioned it, wasn't whining, just mentioned it) is in this part of the world at this time of the year, kinda constant.
So I do appreciate the thoughtfulness of this gift. I do appreciate the sunshine. And if in addition the light box can also help me control the carbs, emerging from hibernation without any extra winter weight would make me even happier!!
Friday, December 31, 2010
I will turn 60!! And how is that possible?? Gotta be delusional: almost-sixty still feels so so young, yes it really does!! Although if you'd told me that 60 could feel young when I was 25, I'd never have believed it. But given that I really am almost 60, I do have a substantial past and so I will reflect on what I've done and where I've been, keeping in mind: "The past was the best thing that could have happened to me". Even for those parts of my past where believing that to be so is a willed choice . . . I'm choosing to believe it.
I will actively seek out every opportunity every day to notice and to value all that is beautiful, all that is meaningful, and all that is zest-inducing in my life as I experience it: "The present is the best thing happening to me". Yeah!!
And: I will continue to maintain my weight loss and fitness levels: nothing new, but for me this will always be one of the toughest goals of all. It's not trivial, it's essential because I am a body and I cannot value my past or experience my present without cherishing the body that carries me forward into the future. Keeping on keeping on, keeping as healthy as it's possible for me to be. Exercising eternal vigilance to avoid the temptation that I know I can't resist. Exercising of the cardio and strength-training varieties too because (as I read in the Toronto Globe and Mail this morning), the unexercised life is not worth living. The unexercised life really is the unexamined life. Eternal vigilance and exercise so that "The future is the best thing that's going to happen to me".
Friday, December 24, 2010
My son and I took Charlie to the off-leash dog park this afternoon for a long romp this afternoon: he loved it! So did we.
The place was teeming with other similarly-beloved dogs: pugs, a beagle, a South African Babul (?? big sweetie, like a fawn Great Dane with jowls. . , never heard of it, can't find it on google, but that's what his peeps told us), an Australian shepherd, two other goldens, a chocolate lab, a Boston terrier-type (but beige rather than black and white) and lots of assorted "originals".
Our fenced dog park area is a generous size and an interesting terrain but quite a long hike away from the parking lot. We took the route through the woods to get there: up and down steep hills. The white pines were heaped with snow, the sun dappling through their trunks.
Charlie certainly knew where we were headed and wanted to zoom as quickly as possible: easier for him than us with his claw-equipped traction paws!! But he waited for us as necessary, smiling and wagging every step of the way.
We rewarded him for his patience with two complete circuits of the dog park path and lots of play time. Then took a different long route back, this time beside a gurgling brook with acrobatic chickadees on the overhanging branches.
The new happiness research tells us what we already knew: doing stuff creates more pleasure than acquiring stuff. I'm pretty sure that the hike through the sunny woods to the dog park with Charlie and Dave will be one of my best memories of this holiday season.
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