AIM: Kickoff to the Eating Season

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!

Lori @ Finding Radiance
Debbie @ debby weighs in
Shelley @ My Journey to Fit
Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

10 thoughts on “AIM: Kickoff to the Eating Season

  1. Once I removed the judgement about myself (in my own mind)and started thinking about the cell biology, metabolism, and correlated that “S” foods caused me to have joint pains AND gain weight- weight maintenance became back to the basics.

    More than just a lean body, grains and sugar were causing disease, pain, and a lot of belly fat. I didn't give enough credit that bio-chemistry was bio chemistry and my cell singaling would say “store the fat” rather than “burn the fat.”

    My cells do not know that it's Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. I've tasted all that and had the doughy body. I still eat seasonal fruits, meals, etc- but cutting out the “S” foods means my body stays lean rather than doughy. No pain from inflammation.

    There's NO better time than the holidays to adopt a “Tough” not moderate stance on grains, sugars, and chronic illnesses.

    I raise my coffee cup to you, Lynn, that you'll raise to the occasion and be tough not moderate and get back to basics. No judgment- just thinking that your body will heal faster without the cell inflammation. Long bike rides, long walks with the dog and just overall mobililty with your grandkids. The basics. The cells biology signal 24/7. There is no paid holiday.

    Don't discount the effect of “S” foods on your mind and mood either. Being tough not moderate effects my brain and thoughts.

    Onward and catching yourself early- the speed of the response is key- IMO. Your Irishman friend is a good observer. Safe travels this holiday season.

  2. Yeah, that “once a year” food can really get you. I keep telling myself that most of it isn't as good as I remember it to be…and truthfully, it isn't, because my taste buds don't appreciate fried foods like they once did (traitors!).

    Lying to Santa…you are killing me with that one. Perfection!

  3. Time and the environment are not on our side, are they? The habits of a lifetime (eating junk for pleasure) pair up with the unrelenting environment (i.e. the fudge festival sign!) to constantly challenge us. One thing I like to do (when I am operating at my best) is to try to figure out how I can make a really decadent treat into something I can enjoy without guilt and which will not make me want more. The other day I saw an apple tart somewhere, and I REALLY wanted one. So I chopped an apple, coated it with cinnamon, and cooked it in the microwave. Topped it with a tiny bit of granola and the need for the tart passed. At least for this week : ))

  4. Yeah, once a year food can become 4 months of eating if you aren't careful. It seems to take extra discipline in the fall because you have the traditional eating holidays looming and it's hard not to get into holiday mode…in September.

  5. I commented to a friend a few weeks ago that I'd had a few too many snacky-foods the day before, and I'd had another day like that the week before. She asked, “So the moderation thing isn't working anymore?” Something about the way she asked the question made me realize that it wasn't that moderation wasn't working for me, it was that I wasn't working for moderation on the snacky days. I have no idea why, but that subtle shift in thinking helped me bring things (mostly) back in line.

    My mind confuses me sometimes. 🙂

    I know that you will figure out a way to manage what's important to you, Lynn.

    Also, I confess that I have no idea what 'S' foods are (and probably don't want to), but I am intrigued by that Poor Man's Caramel Apple thing. Off to google…

  6. About 14 years ago, after “once again” losing a significant amount of weight, I decided in my infinite wisdom that I was going to eat whatever I wanted during Thanksgiving and Christmas and in January I would put on the brakes and do better.

    I gained around 15 pounds, discovered the brakes were nowhere to be found, and those darn pounds hung onto me for the next four years until I completely changed everything about my eating. I won't say I didn't enjoy the eating but it was definitely not worth it. Hope you can get back on track soon. I know how hard it can be.

  7. Hi, Lynn. Debra, here.

    I think I got into a seasonal circadian rhythm in childhood that to this day makes food more challenging at this time. Each autumn, for roughly 18 years in a row, I'd have been back in school for a few weeks and things were getting challenging academically or socially or both — not playing out as I'd fantacised in the summer — and food became relief from that stress. You are right about “permanent changes” — they have to be permanently re-activated. My prayers are with you. I hear your struggle in my bones.

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