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Thinking Like a Thin Person

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Date of Writing: 4/20/2012
My "homework" given to me by my program this week is to think about how I can head off temptation. In other words, thinking about what I will do when I really want to eat but shouldn't or really don't want to exercise but should.

This has never been my strong suit. When it comes to school or work, I am incredibly disciplined. But when it comes to my own body, I'm queen of excuses. Here's how the conversation in my head goes when I want something to eat: "Mmm, that smells/looks good. I think I'll have some!" When I'm not trying to eat healthy (which I haven't been for awhile), there are no "shouldn'ts" that enter my mind. If I'm trying to eat healthy, I'm usually either 100% disciplined, or if I've already started to slip, the conversation in my head goes: "Mmm, that smells/looks good. I probably shouldn't have it. But I've already screwed up. It's too late anyway. Why not?"

When it comes to working out, usually it doesn't even enter my mind. I'm happy to be warm and snug on the couch. If I could choose my favorite activities, they would all be inside and sedentary (reading, watching movies, eating--of course). When I'm trying to be healthy, it's easy for me to just push it out of my mind, thinking, "I'll do it later," "It's late," "I'm tired," or "I can do it tomorrow."

The thing is, I don't think that's how thin people think. I've noticed that thin people say things like, "I've already had one, I don't need another," "I haven't worked out today, so I shouldn't," "No, thanks--I don't need any brownies because I just ate," "I'll just have half," "I'm not really hungry" or "It looks good, but I've eaten too much today, so I don't want any." Hearing them talk like that always surprised me, because they would then follow those comments up by NOT EATING something delicious, or at least not eating very much of it. It turns out that I think thin people either don't really care about food (my husband) or they keep kind of a running tally of how much they've eaten and stop at some point, choose not to eat things that are unhealthy, or they listen really well to their bodies and don't eat when they're not hungry. I was never capable of that--I was always either eating as much as I wanted, all the time or not eating but feeling bitter and hungry and just waiting until I could again.

Thin people also like to exercise, either that or they like to be outside and active. And the ones who don't actually like exercising seem to force themselves to do it, even if they don't like it. They say things like, "Well, I've got to go, even though it's cold and raining," "My plan calls on me to do 10 miles tomorrow, so I better figure out my route tonight," or "Do you think there'll be a chance for us to go running/biking/hiking/skiing while we're there?" They're always looking for something to do, sticking to their plans, and planning ahead to make sure they can get their workouts in, rather than looking forward to reasons why they can't work out.

So, I think if I'm going to make this a new lifestyle (which increasingly I think I need to, because otherwise I'm just going to end up where I was before), I think I need to start thinking like a thin person. So, when I'm tempted by food like I was tonight (Punch pizza--yum!), I could decide beforehand how much is within my "budget" for the day. Or I could eat something healthy first, and then just have a bite or two. Or I could make it a treat, and only eat it after I've had salad or something healthy on most days. Or I could just say no.

Today I tried seeing what that would be like. When I walked by a huge tray of treats (doughnuts, cranberry bread, Hershey's kisses, chocolate brownies with bananas on top, etc.), and of course I couldn't eat any. Usually, I would have looked at this as an unexpected feast: I would have had one of everything, maybe two brownies, and taken some Hershey's kisses back to my room for later. Today, all I did was let myself smell the basked. I picked up some Hershey's kisses and smelled them and held them, and then put them down again. Then I left. Here's the weird thing: it turns out that I could, in fact, not eat them. And five minutes later, heck one minute later, it didn't even bother me. I wasn't even thinking about it. I just walked away. That's what thin people do--they see food, decide whether it's a good thing to eat and how much is the right amount, and then they act on it and walk away. I think I can do that, if I make a commitment to controlling my hunger rather than letting it control me.

As for the exercise, I think I need to do what thin people do there, too. I need to keep myself on track (sign up for a race, for example, which I've already done, and also keep track of my times and chart my progress, which I'm doing now, too). I need to set out my clothes the night before, to figure a time when I can work out so that I can work around my other commitments and still get it done (like how Jason gets up at 6:00 for weekend runs, so that he can still get everything else done). I need to remind myself that I can't afford to take time off, because I've got a goal to work toward, and so work out indoors if it's cold, or force myself to go out in the rain, if I need to.

I can't say that this is going to be easy for me, because for many decades I have lived the lifestyle of, and have the habits of and self-image of a fat person. In some ways the self image is the hardest to change, because when I think about telling people that I'm going out for a run, I feel like an impostor. I am sure that people know me as someone who loves to eat, and what will happen to all the jokes about me finishing everything off? What will people say if I show up to a party and don't bring something rich and fattening? What will they think if I turn down delicious food? It seems odd, but I feel everyone thinks of me as fat and would be surprised if I didn't act like a fat person, like they'd think I was getting uppity to try to pass myself off as a thin person when I don't deserve it.

Maybe, the more I think about it, I'm the one that I need to convince.

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