Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Impulsiveness and dieting don't mix

According to the deadline I've set for the end of my public weight-loss battle -- which is the first week of August, as you may recall -- the clock is practically ticking in the back of my brain at all times.

As I sit down to write this column, it's exactly one month until the finish line (publicly, anyway). Exactly 31 days to go. This is one of five columns left to be written in this space about my journey.

In reality, these numbers are arbitrary. Just a measurement of the passage of time. But it's funny how much pressure one puts on herself to achieve something within a given parameter. I guess it's that basic human need for order.
Regardless, the ticking clock has brought with it reflection, of course. I was thinking about why this whole process is such a battle for me to stay on task. Why it’s often such a battle for all of us.

It's not that we don't have the information. We certainly do. Eat X amount of calories. Do X amount of exercise. Do eat this. Don't eat that. Voila! You'll be fit as a fiddle in no time.

Psha right.

Here's why it's so hard for me:
One afternoon four years ago, I thought, "I wonder if I should be spending rent money on a mortgage?" The next day I had left a bank with a preapproval for an obscene amount of money to buy a house. A month later, I moved into one.
Four weeks after that, I thought, "It would be so fun to have a puppy!" The next morning I was driving to the humane society in Fairmont to pick up my Lab-husky mix, Squishy.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I thought, "I wish I had a new couch." An hour later, I had a leather couch and two La-Z-Boy recliners ordered from Slumberland.

Catch my drift? One of the qualities I enjoy about my personality is also one that gets me into pickles. I'm quite impulsive.

It makes me buy a 12-foot backyard pool that I swim in twice, get tired of maintaining and then sell for half of what I paid for it. It makes me paint my kitchen yellow and then blue and then wonder if I should have stuck with yellow.

And it makes me think, "Oooooh, cotton candy ice cream. I'll cut calories tomorrow." Or, "Who can watch a movie without popcorn? No one would begrudge me that."

It's fun to live my life with instant gratification as the daily goal. It's a blast to have fun ideas pop into my mind and then act on them without much concern about recourse.

But that kind of mentality is just absolutely brutal to combat when trying to lose weight. Absolutely everything about dieting goes against my nature. The whole process is about delayed gratification. What I do for months and months will reward me later on. Laaaame.

So, given all of this, I think I'm doing pretty OK. Every day I'm winning these little battles in my mind, fighting against the urge to drink a Summer Shandy on a sunny patio somewhere, or sit on the front porch with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and watch the sun go down.

I will say, though, that sounds like a lot more fun than I've been having.

But, the healthier I am, the longer I'll live, and the more time I'll have to sneak in the occasional splurge on popcorn and cotton candy ice cream. And painting my kitchen yellow. And then blue again.

1 comment:

  1. Amanda, I read your column with interest. I've lost 65 lbs over 3 years. Here's a tip- try listening to Inside Out Weight Loss podcasts. You can find them on i-tunes. Permanent weight loss is about creating lasting change from the inside. Like, maybe you can be impulsive, enjoy the sunset without missing the Ben and Jerry's?