Friday, June 21, 2013

Too much cake


This week has been shocking in terms of unhealthy food intake.

I'm still not sure if I am better off as an abstainer (just don't eat particular foods) or a moderator (have a bit of what you fancy). On the one hand, sometimes the thought of giving up favourite foods sends me into a deprivation panic binge. But on the other hand, telling myself that trigger foods are ok to have occasionally can be a slippery slope.

I haven't been in an active weight-loss mindset for a few weeks now, since I started working longer hours than I am used to in an office. I put concentrating on eating healthily on hold while I focussed on working and getting the kids to all their after-school activities, grocery shopping etc. It's not my usual routine and I guess I felt like is it very temporary state of things (only one week to go now before the end of this contract).


This week we had take-away on Monday. On Tuesday we had a play-date to which I brought (and ate) biscuits (cookies), and then had lots of junk at supper that night. And I think that was the day my boss brought cake to a meeting (luckily I didn't like it so only picked at a slice to be polite, but I would have eaten it if it was something nice). Wednesday is my long day at work so I had a packet of Cheezles to get me through the afternoon. On Thursday there was a big cake sale in aid of refugees in the foyer of my building. I went down and there was a huge queue (they ended up making $2500, it is a big building). As we all crept forward I started to get really paranoid about all the good stuff being gone, so when I finally got to the front I bought four things! Four! I gave one to a workmate, but ate the cupcake and two pieces of fudge. Then that afternoon grabbed fries from McDonald's with my daughter before we did the shopping -- at which I bought several packets of biscuits and ate some of those that night. Friday didn't get any better, my daughter had an extra dance rehearsal so after we dropped my son at gymnastics we went to a café for cake before going on to her dance. A drink and more biscuits in the evening.

This concept of having a treat occasionally, as part of being a balanced human being, obviously doesn't apply to that list!

Time to start turning it around.

I haven't mentioned zombies for a while. Walking to work doesn't really suit the program, I walk briskly but can't comfortably break into a run while in to work clothes and I don't want to get caught by zombies again! Also I am beside busy roads for part of the way, making it hard to hear, and it isn't quite far enough for a whole session. I've given up training to run for the time being but still want to listen to the zombie episodes at some point when I go for longer walks, when I can do a bit of jogging too if I feel like it or the zombies get too close.

There is an anti-smoking ad here at the moment that talks about will power being a muscle that you can build up with repeated use, and I think that is true, but studies have also shown that you have a limited amount of will power at any one time. If it gets used up, you are likely to give in to the next thing that comes along and tempts you. That still fits with the muscle analogy, it's like working a muscle to fatigue and you just can't lift any more that day. Like someone starting a fitness program from the couch, you can to work up to doing more reps of heavier weights but you can't do it all in one day.

I didn't really have a point there (I wasn't trying to say I can't resist cake because my will power muscle is too small!), I just thought that was interesting. The lesson, I suppose, is to reduce the amount of temptation you are exposed to until you can handle it. I'm definitely struggling with that aspect. I usually work from home where I have total control over what comes in, and it's much harder for me to access junk if I suddenly get a craving -- I would have to walk 20 minutes each way or get in the car. In the office, there are boxes of chocolates in the tea room being sold for charity, and vending machines, and cake sales, and a major supermarket just next door. And I am grocery shopping late in the afternoon when I am tired instead of first thing in the morning, and getting a snack with my daughter first. The opportunities for unhealthy food have gone from around twice a week to all day every day. It's something I won't miss when this contract ends in a week.

There is another reason to be glad it is ending. I left my full-time office job eleven years ago after two years of crippling pain with RSI -- or occupational overuse syndrome I think was the preferred term. I had numerous sessions a week of painful physio, plus aqua physio (physio in a pool), acupuncture, lots of anti-inflammatory and pain-killing drugs and I can't even remember what else. But as long as I still went in to work, even on part-time sick leave, I was getting worse and worse. In the end I couldn't dress myself or even sleep comfortably, the pain in my shoulders and arms and hands was so bad. So I quit work and got a pitiful amount of compensation - a couple of months salary. My husband worked long hours and then came home and did everything else as well. I was in pain all the time.

Over five or six years (during which I couldn't go near a computer) I got to the point where I rarely felt any pain. It was only occasionally triggered; usually by some combination of too much computer usage, being sick, having PMS and/or cold weather. I started working from home as a freelancer, which was pretty ideal as I could make my own hours.

I've been back in the office for five weeks now, five hours a day, and the pain has been creeping back for a couple of weeks. It is clearly too much for me, even eleven years later. It makes me a bit sad, I was enjoying many things about being back in a office. Being around other people instead of alone all day was a big part of it. My "dream job" was to get a part time job with a publisher. But I don't think I'm going to be able to do that. I can't imagine anyone wanting to hire me if I can only offer two or three hours a day. So it's back to freelancing from home, with its freedoms and its loneliness. And dealing with the occasional crazy.

The upside is I will have a lot more time to plan and cook healthy meals and exercise regularly.

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