Leaf-changing season fills my calendar with more activities than Christmas. Fall festivals, raking, homecomings, raking, apple orchards, raking, pumpkin patches, raking, day trips on the Harley, raking…I pack my days with things that keep me outdoors before the cold comes and chases me indoors.
That makes a lot of sense…on paper. What’s really going on in my head is a little darker. Packing my days with busy distracts me from thinking, or more specifically, thinking about and acting on that which is most important to me. I’ve convinced myself that all the walking and raking excuses me from a formal workout. And, of course, with festivals, fairs, and homecomings come cheap eats on wheels: food booth upon food booth of candied apples, caramel apples, steak sandwiches, fries smothered in cheese and bacon bits, cinnamon almonds, kettle corn, sausages, fudge, gyros, wings, pizza, deep-fried pickles, “homemade” lemonade, pierogies…did I miss anything? This does not bode well for maintenance, especially when that little voice whispers in my ear, “It’s OK…It’s only once a year.”
Splitting a Poor Man’s Caramel Apple with my daughter at Clarion’s Autumn Leaf Festival OR eating a few fries at the Indiana County Fair OR a pierogi at Homer City Days won’t break the scale. But this year, those “or”s have become “and”s, and for the first time in 8 years, I’m struggling with making good food choices in all the busyness, and am a little freaked out by the ease with which I justify the cheap eats.
I could simply say I’ve gotten lazy and vow to put on my mindful eating cape again, but there are more deep-seated reasons for my actions than simply, “Ooops! I forgot!” As I strive to find comfort and normalcy amongst some of the physical challenges I’ve been facing this year, Old Habits are always there, happy to offer me their services, and sometimes I accept their “helping hand.” I understand the immaturity of the thought, ‘If she can eat that, why can’t I?’ But lately, more often than not, that understanding comes after I’ve eaten the goat cheese crostini.
When I pulled my head out of the proverbial candy bowl in 2005 and started eating mindfully and with a plan, I found comfort in healthy habits rather than a bag of Doritos, and I placed more value on the positive effects of eating a salad than I did on a few hours in a chocolate coma. Those new behaviors and ways of thinking served me well for 8 years, but I got careless by thinking those changes were permanent just because I wanted them to be. Permanent change doesn’t work like that. It takes constant vigilance to maintain change. Old Habits know that, thus the reason they are so quick to offer us their help. They know we prefer the path of least resistance.
It was in the circuitous writing of this month’s AIM post that I discovered just how much my Old Habits have influenced my food choices recently. I started off writing a “Rah rah! Isn’t fall great!” post, and then yesterday, the Irishman and I took the Harley out for a spin and we ended up at Luigi’s in Clymer for lunch. After we ate, he said to me, “I don’t remember you eating so much white bread and pasta before.” He wasn’t judging me, but I can see how he’d be confused, especially after I went on and on last week about how the fall eating frenzy had to end and I needed to get back on my food plan. I see now that my rant was merely me blowing smoke. They were words without a plan of action. Rote, like reciting the multiplication table.
Bottom line: I don’t like that my body hurts, but feeding it crap is like lying to Santa. It knows, and it responds with negative consequences. So the Pirates will have to win the World Series (or at least today’s game) without me eating my way through a bag of Pop Chips and the leaves will have to fall without me munching on apple crisp. It’s time to show Old Habits the door. Again.
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!