Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas at 265 pounds

My weight fluctuated around the 265 pound mark over the holidays. I want to capture a couple of things before the new year gets underway and I forget.

I wrote about my hopes for Christmas 2011 in this post. To be honest, most of the things I hoped to accomplish did not happen. I did eat crappy, packaged, processed treats throughout the month. Yet I am certain that without keeping records on this blog and making something of an effort, I would have done far worse (eaten far more junk, and likely every day).

I did put on a nice Christmas for my family, including a lovely meal and homemade cookies and eggnog. The house looked nice. But I want to be honest here: my ankles and back hurt like hell from standing in the kitchen. At this weight, I have very little stamina and my body aches when I exert myself more than usual. I also wore lounging clothes and the apron I cooked in during Christmas dinner because I didn't have the energy to fix myself up. I don't say these things to berate myself, but to get real. I tend to look at pictures of the cute little cookies I made and forget the rest of the story--that I looked and felt miserable making them. Others enjoyed them, but was it worth it to mess with sugar and eat scraps of damaged cookies and taste test and generally hurt my health? I'm not so sure.

The day after Christmas, I took my guests grocery shopping to stock up for the rest of their visit. They threw TONS of packaged junk into the cart: cheap ice cream bars, brownies, snack cakes, spice cake, sugar cookies. I'm not used to having that amount of stuff in my house and I'm trying to give that crap up for good, so I'm ashamed to say I ate more of it than anyone else. I have more difficulty than they do eating it moderately; for whatever reason, it's more stimulating to me. When they left a few days later, I did pack what was feasible for their road trip and threw the rest away. But not the remaining ice cream bars. Those I ate, when the house was finally quiet and I was alone. I did it to de-stress and promptly felt sick and depressed the rest of the day.

On the Wednesday after Christmas, I took them sightseeing and was hobbling by the end of our tour. Walking and standing for several hours in the cold caused me to be stiff for most of the next day as well. So stiff, in fact, that I couldn't walk down the stairs normally. It's frightening. Getting 70 pounds off my joints (i.e. getting down to 200 pounds) would be a massive favor to my body, wouldn't it?

My dad's addiction to cigarettes really saddened me on the day of our sightseeing tour. He wasn't able to truly enjoy himself because he was constantly focused on when he'd next get to smoke. I couldn't help seeing the parallels to my own food/sugar addiction. I understand the feeling of "IF I DON'T GET MY FIX RIGHT NOW I'M GOING TO LOSE IT", and I know I've failed to appreciate many interesting and beautiful things on trips (and during everyday life, too) because I'm too distracted by my addiction. I want better for myself, and I want to be a better example to others. I also want better dental health than he's got in his middle age; smoking has done a number on his teeth, but how can constant sugar intake be much better for the teeth and gums?

Last thing...I did not complain when people wanted to take pictures and videos of me during these activities, but I know they will be hard to look at. And if I have to watch video footage at some subsequent family gathering in the company of others --even the very people that were there with me, in person-- I know I will feel mortified. I kept telling myself "these are your 'before' photos, this will be your 'before' video too", just to get through it.

My home scale now shows something closer to 270 pounds. It's a basic analog scale that I have trouble reading; I rely on the gym's digital scale for official records. I'm eager to move on and start shedding this weight in earnest. I've got some ideas and plans for 2012 that I will write about soon. I know next Christmas doesn't have to be this way.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When substitutions work

Really late last night, I had a fight with my husband.

After our fight, I headed to the pharmacy to pick up my thyroid medication refill. I knew I was in a vulnerable place and a binge seemed inevitable. I've bought junk from this particular pharmacy many times, and those big bags of red and green Christmas m&m's were on my mind for some reason. I sat in the car a long time outside the pharmacy, thinking "I don't want to do this. I want the pain to go away, and I know the binge is probably going to happen, but I'm so sick of being a slave to this compulsion." When I finally headed in, I had decided to go ahead and let whatever happen.

I walked the aisles stocked with cheap, mass-produced Christmas candy. I spotted the m&m's--the regular ones, the peanut butter ones, the peanut ones, the coconut ones, the mint ones, and the pretzel ones. (By the way, have the m&m, pop-tart, and Oreo minions decided to just keep "innovating" until every last American has diabetes, or what?) Nothing was looking that appealing. Then, lo! A thought occurred to me: this candy isn't going to change anything. The problem I'm having with my husband is still going to be there, whether I eat this crap or not.

I shuffled over to the other side of the store and picked up my prescription. Then I wandered the aisles that contain ice cream and packaged snack cakes. And THEN I remembered I had dark chocolate cherry Kind bars at home, and that I had planned to start using some of the more decadent Kind bars (there are a few varieties that are more dessert-y than others) to ward off binges at night. Something for those nights when I feel like I will go crazy if I don't have something comforting. I left the pharmacy with no junk food in tow.

I got home, ate the bar even though I was not hungry at all, and felt relieved. It was still emotional eating--still taking in calories my body didn't need at all--but it was 170 calories instead of however many are in a large bag of m&m's. I didn't feel compelled to have another bar, I didn't feel terrible about it afterward, and I didn't have a food hangover this morning.

I have days where nothing but full-on ice cream, chocolate, etc. will quiet the beast. PMS days come to mind. But there are days like yesterday and today where the beast is whimpering for a little something and is actually satisfied by a small taste/amount. NOT a small taste or amount of actual dessert, because that sets me off wanting more, but something dessert-LIKE. This afternoon, I was experiencing my millionth craving for eggnog so far this month, so I went home and made a whey protein smoothie with milk and a frozen banana. It was thick, cold, and slightly sweet, so it hit the spot. It worked today; it wouldn't have worked a couple of days ago in the midst of the PMS crazies. And frankly, I wouldn't want to be drinking a banana smoothie on Christmas while everyone else around me is having eggnog.

It's amazing to me that reasonable substitutions work sometimes. I hope I can get better at figuring out what kind of day it is, so to speak, and not going further with the comfort eating and indulgence eating than I need to on any given day.

Jim Gaffigan on the holidays...and food, as always!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My struggle with basic functioning

This is hard to explain.

I have steady low-grade depression, with periods of major depression mixed in. I'm doing better than I have in a long time when it comes to thinking positively/neutrally, and not identifying with transient negative thoughts and feelings. I'm more mindful than I was a year or two ago.

But I'm not that much more functional. My sleep cycles are messed up, I have trouble getting stuff done, and I struggle with consistency and routine...for starters. What I'm writing about today sits at the intersection of these problems: I do not get up in the morning and get ready for the day (take a shower, get dressed, perhaps apply some makeup) like a normal person. I haven't done this with any regularity for a long time. It's insanely difficult for me. Ask me to do this for 30 consecutive days--or ask me to complete a major home improvement project in a month's time or write a book in a month's time, and I would find the latter two challenges easier.

This has consequences. I usually only get cleaned up and dressed in non-lounging clothes right before I have to go somewhere. This could be rather late in the day, or not at all. (If you are wondering about work, I currently write from home.) There are so many days where I don't have to be anywhere, so I wear the same thing I slept in the night before all day. Guess how motivated I am to attend a class at the gym when it means I have to shower and make myself presentable first? I would say sleeping in late and being too grungy to go out in public accounts for 75-85% of my pattern of skipping the gym despite good intentions the day before.

It's not just the gym, obviously. Everything is made more difficult by this; running errands, having an impromptu outing with my husband, answering the front door when someone rings!

This behavior was modeled to me by my mother. She and my sisters are still very much this way; it's not just me. But I'm an adult now and pointing fingers will get me nowhere. I want to change.

I'm not sure how I'm going to fix this. I need to sleep like a regular human being even though my body wants to go to bed at 3 a.m. and wake up in the early afternoon. Even though it resists all attempts at reform. I need to take care of my grooming in the morning and at night like everyone else does, and make full use of the day instead of letting it pass me by.

I'm going to start tracking some part of this puzzle in a tab above labeled "basic functioning." (Edit: tab has now been removed. I tracked my odd sleeping patterns and concluded I have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome.) This is the direction I see my blog heading, by the way. I want to explore (and fix) the ways in which various areas of my life drive and sustain my eating and weight problem. It's all connected--my thoughts, habits, identity, binge eating, depression, family history, dietary choices, hobbies, physical activity, grooming, career, spirituality, home environment, relationships... It's a tangled web with each point connected to every other point.

I'm talking about everything in relation to weight as though weight loss is the central goal, but really I hope to improve it all. Besides, I don't think I can keep excess weight off for any length of time unless I become a different person in several ways. I really don't.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The pain of shopping as a fat woman

Tuesday was difficult for me. My husband and I went out on a little day trip to see some historical sites, which was fun. But it didn't take long for me to feel tired and sore from standing and walking so much. I kept lagging behind and feeling annoyed at him for blasting past me, and ashamed of myself for my inability to keep up. My ankles hurt so much that it was hard to focus and fully enjoy the things I was seeing. I didn't complain out loud or betray my shame and annoyance--I did the Nice Cheery Fat Girl thing and kept it to myself.

Until I couldn't anymore.

After a day of sightseeing, we headed home. It was dark and cold, and I was beyond tired. About halfway home, my husband spotted an outlet mall and pulled off the highway to check it out. He'd been meaning to get a winter hat and some better shoes for awhile, and promised he only needed to duck into a couple of stores. I didn't need anything, and told him I was tired and that I'd wait in the car.

But he insisted he wanted my help in choosing stuff. So for the next two hours, we walked almost nonstop in the dark and cold and visited one store after another. I. WAS. PISSED. After the first three stores, I told him I was done. And he'd insist we go "to just one more store." Not only was he not respecting my feelings, he wasn't listening to me in other ways: in store after store, he pressed me to look at and try on clothes after I had already explained that the stores didn't carry things in my size. (There were no plus size stores at this mall, unfortunately.) I know my body and women's clothing lines way better than him, but in each store I had to repeat and reiterate and explain and persuade him on this point, again and again. It was humiliating--WHAT was he not getting? Why would I say Aeropostale (only one example) doesn't carry anything that fits me unless it were actually true? Why would I make up something that is embarrassing to say?!

He kept insisting he was in the mood to buy me something since we so rarely go clothes shopping together. Finally, in American Eagle I let him buy me a men's sweatshirt in XXL. It was the only thing that fit me--the largest men's size in the store and the most shapeless garment available. The XL was too snug. The shirt is soft and snuggly, but it has the giant brand logo across the chest, which is something I stopped liking after high school. What's more, taking it home reminded me of all the painful years that I wore men's shirts because I couldn't find women's clothes that fit me...even though I longed so much to dress and feel feminine. I've since learned where to look--Lane Bryant, online sources, some department stores--but I'm not happy with the selection available to me. Never have been. And more and more, I'm slipping back into non-feminine clothes because I'm tired of trying to "make it work"--tired of fitted clothes that show my rolls and/or require support garments (hence sloppy hoodies and jeans as my default outfit), tired of underwire bras that lift but are miserable to wear (hence my wearing a sportsbra 99% of the time), tired of the pain of low heels and even flats (hence tennis shoes daily)...

It sucks to go to an outlet mall with fifty stores carrying women's clothes, and not be able to buy ANYTHING. There was a time he and I could shop together and have fun. Even when I was 70 pounds lighter than I am now, I still had to buy the largest women's sizes available at a select few stores, but at least there were some options at places like The Gap.

All this was swirling in my head as we drove home. I cried quietly in the car, which led to my husband and me snapping at each other. What a way to end the day, right?

I have to change, but I know the more dramatic and self-hating my attempts at change, the more they backfire. I have a long, slow trek ahead of me, and I'll be making it in men's shirts and sportsbras and saggy jeans and tennis shoes for awhile yet.

Enjoyed this post today by Kelliann. She is handling holiday craziness without losing sight of what's important.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Dec 12 food log:

hard candy
chocolate bar
chicken burrito with cheese

Prediction: tomorrow will go just fine, and the day after tomorrow will be cravings hell yet again. Don't know what to say.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Damn hyperpalatable foods

December 11 food log:

vada with coconut chutney
turkey chili with shredded cheese
broccoli; chard sauteed with onions and mushrooms
apple with natural (just peanuts) peanut butter

It was sort of hard to eat my vegetables today, after the hyperpalatable burger, fries, custard, soda, and eggnog latte of yesterday! It's scary how that works. I wrestled with the desire for eggnog again tonight. I protected myself by simply staying home.

Something else to chew on: this post from Skinny Mini about the importance of pleasure.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 9 & 10

December 9:

scrambled eggs
Mexican meal--included strip steak, mushrooms, spinach, guac, etc.
almond coconut kind bar

December 10th: I attended a seminar and then ran around the city with friends, all on no sleep. My eating reflects that!

eggnog latte from Starbucks
2 kind bars
burger, fries, and half a frozen custard
orange soda
6 inch chicken sandwich from subway

I need vegetables.

Friday, December 9, 2011


December 8 food log:

scrambled eggs with Canadian bacon
mini cupcakes
mini candy cane cookies
nachos with melted cheese

Moving on...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yesterday's descent

I'm full-out eating sugar today, but the downward spiral began yesterday.

December 7th food log:

Indian buffet for lunch: chicken, rice, vegetables, naan
octopus (part of an appetizer shared with others; I'm not insane.)
root beer
skinny peppermint mocha frappuccino
a few mini candy canes

I woke up today still feeling the "itch" and thought to myself that I had to get rid of it. It's been bugging me for days now, and it presents a real dilemma. The choices?

a) eat sugar, possibly worsen my cravings, and mess up my effort to avoid desserts until Christmas (and store-bought crap in general)
b) don't eat sugar, keep white knuckling it, and risk feeling so crazy and desperate that I fall into a massive, multi-week binge in the near future.

I chose to eat sugar. Clearly I'm not going to make it all the way to Christmas without sweets; I've given in a couple of times already and we are only about a week into the month. But I can aim for minimizing my consumption--to rack up as many days as I can without the stuff, and thereby prevent December from becoming a free-for-all. I don't have to gain weight this month and start 2012 off with more of a burden to carry.

So the new question is: how many days in December can I avoid sweets?

I'm going to buy myself a little reward for each day I successfully avoid sweets. A song from iTunes is only a buck, for example.


I haven't had this blog for very long, but already I am frustrated with how much I contradict myself on this thing. I declare one thing one day, another thing the next. It reflects how much turmoil there is in my life regarding food, weight, etc. and how desperately I am grasping for workable solutions.

I don't see how it can improve, however, unless I keep putting the whole mess out there. I need to keep stripping away the hold that shame and perfectionism have over me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tough day

Today was so much harder than yesterday. I was crave-y, pissy, and dissatisfied. I developed a headache and for about 20 minutes this evening I felt like I was going to cry for no apparent reason. Nothing really hit the spot in terms of food, and I felt ill at ease in the grocery store. I wanted egg nog, but have already decided to try making my own this year.

Today's food:

some potato chips in the morning (why?!)
bowl of oatmeal
orange and dark leafy greens
nachos with low fat cheese, salsa, and guacamole
cup of herbal tea
boiled potatoes with gravy and broccoli
Kind bar and a glass of milk--this calmed the sugar cravings a little bit, but they returned a few hours later.

Meh. Good days, bad days. Moving on. I'm proud of myself for not getting a bunch of crap from the store. That much I can say!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Does this body look cared for?

Monday, December 5 food log

pork chop with warm apple-cabbage slaw
an orange
homemade chicken tacos

Today was the easiest day I've had in awhile. Having solid leftovers (the pork and cabbage) helped tremendously. And I was looking forward to my taco dinner all afternoon, which helped me not graze mindlessly. I was good and hungry when I sat down to eat...and that's rarer than I care to admit.

One thing I was pleased with today is that I caught myself wolfing down my pork chop too quickly and decided to try taking a drink of water between every mouthful. It slowed me down and I found myself chewing everything more thoroughly. By the time I was finished, I was pleasantly full and the portion I had consumed seemed just right. I didn't want or need any more. Remember this technique, self! What's that thing "they" say about a twenty minute delay between your stomach being full and your brain registering the fullness?

Other things from today:

1. I was taking a long look at myself in the mirror after my shower today and feeling down about the alarming state my body is in. I have really abused myself, and though I know things can improve, there is no way to undo all the damage. Nevertheless, a thought occurred to me: what if, instead of assessing whether this or that part of me is attractive (my thighs, my stomach, my nails, my hair, whatever), I simply assess whether it looks cared for? Striving to look and feel genuinely cared for is probably better for my mental health than striving to look somehow "hotter." (Whatever that means. And hotter for whose benefit, by the way?) Today, I could see clearly that the body reflected in the mirror hasn't been tended to and cared for in a long time, and that was the saddest thing of all.

Declaring it now: I want to look, feel, and be cared for.

2. My gym activity has cooled off considerably. I keep telling myself that I only have to go three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Just show up and do whatever. But I'm resistant to it because deep down I think the only things worth going for are the classes, and I guess a part of me is lazy and another part of me resents having to plan my day's schedule around a BodyPump or yoga class.

Even though I had plenty of time to get a workout in today, I didn't. I didn't because I didn't want to go to the gym, so I decided not to exercise at all. Typical stupid, perfectionist, all-or-nothing thinking! I have stuff at home I can use, and nice places to walk near my house...and somehow I think it makes sense to not use these resources because I'm paying for a gym membership and should be using THAT resource. So illogical.

I'm thus dropping the pressure to go the gym three times a week. I expect myself to exercise three days a week, whether at the gym or at/near home, regardless of the weather. I'm going to give it a couple of months, and if I find that I don't use the gym often enough to justify the cost of membership, I will cancel it and continue to do whatever is working for me at home, in the local parks, or at another facility.

Enough of these silly games!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I've been here before

Sunday, December 4 food log:

2 scrambled eggs, mixed leafy greens, and an orange
pb & j on wheat
pork chop with warm apple-cabbage slaw
mug of tea
too much ciabatta bread with butter
bowl of cheerios

This evening I just couldn't get satisfied and kept reaching for the one thing that always eggs hunger and craving on further: carbs. Frustrating!

But I'm not going to get all down on myself. I've been in this place enough times before to recognize what's going on, and this time, I'm going to handle it differently.

When I stop binging on sugary foods, even for just a few days, I feel extra hungry and crave-y. I would estimate that eliminating the daily binge shaves off anywhere from 500-2000 calories that my body is used to having, typically late in the day. That's a big adjustment, and it's no surprise that I succumb to the bread and cold cereal when I'm only a few days into the change. There's a whole lot going on with sugar, insulin, and my brain chemistry, as well.

What has happened many times in the past is that I get mad at myself for replacing pints of ice cream with bowls of cereal, I don't give myself enough time to build new habits, and I have no patience for my body's desire to adjust to fewer calories gradually. I berate myself for my meal choices (there is always something to criticize!) and for not being a super dieter all-around. I expect too much too soon, and fail to live up to those expectations.


I don't want to do that this time! I want to love myself down the scale, not hate myself there. I'm in this for the long haul and I have a realistic goal set. I'd like to reach 200 by my 30th birthday at the end of next summer. And then I'd like to stay there awhile to give myself time to adjust and time to practice maintaining a stable weight.

There are so many aspects of my eating that need to be changed, but it can't all happen overnight. Cutting down on the desserts is a great first step. If I can prevent December from becoming a month-long binge on packaged holiday "treats", that itself is a vast improvement over every other December I can remember!

Keeping that in mind, some things that might help me going forward:

bigger meals (focused on protein and veg);
a fourth meal late at night;
or having the right kinds of snacks on hand, like boiled eggs and celery with no-sugar peanut butter;
more water

Calorie-free holiday enjoyment

Saturday, December 3 food log:
Mixed greens--collard, turnip, mustard, spinach sauteed with onions
satsuma mandarin
some brie en croute (I'd never had this before. Not sure I like it.)
cheerios with a banana
mug of Yogi calming tea

I decorated the tree tonight--glad that's done! Gonna curl up by it to read for awhile: one of my favorite calorie-free holiday pleasures. :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Frightening Hungers

First, let me get Friday, December 2nd's food log out of the way:

a fried egg, satsuma mandarin, and 2 pieces of toast
a bowl of cheerios with a banana
a Kind bar
Dairy Queen double cheeseburger, fries, and a small blizzard
hot cocoa with mint marshmallows (this was gross)
a few crackers

The Dairy Queen meal was unplanned, as was that blizzard. I could dissect the whole incident at length--the way I was tempted by the novelty of a blizzard flavor I'd never seen before, the way I should have ordered the mini size instead of the small, the way I thought "fuck it" and had hot cocoa a few hours later since I had "blown the day." But I'd rather just brush myself off and move on, and not consider December ruined; my effort to limit desserts to just Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve is restarted as of this morning.


Sometimes I'm frightened by the amount of (metaphorical) hunger I feel. It seems I want so, so much from life. Knowledge, experiences, relationships, feelings, and of course, material pleasures too. There are so many things I'd like to master, so many things I want to do, and so many places I want to see that when I contemplate them, I feel crazed with lust and full of fear and despair at the same time.

How will there ever be enough time and resources?!

But I have to choose among these desires and prioritize. We all do. This isn't a bad thing; it's just reality. I'm lucky to even have all these possibilities open to me! I want life's array of possibilities and pleasures to be a source of joy for me, instead of a wellspring of anxiety and depression. Working on that...

It's amazing how binge eating dulls these hungers, though, isn't it? When I binge, I don't feel the overwhelming pangs of lust for life as sharply. It's there, churning and moaning beneath the surface. But if I'm physically bloated and slow and miserable--if I'm obsessing over my next sugar conquest--if I'm worrying about how I'll forever be fat and blow my knees out by age 35--I can't really focus on my deeper desires.

That's a big part of why I do it, and the biggest reason I've got to stop.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I want to weigh 200 pounds

Just typing that is a relief. It's also invigorating, because it seems attainable.

For a long time, I've been focusing on 175 as an initial goal and 150 as an eventual ideal. Those numbers have danced in my head for years now, and meanwhile I've gained weight or stayed stuck at the same high numbers. I was at my highest, 275, for a long time. I'm around 265 now, so I have my work cut out for me.

But losing 65 pounds doesn't seem as impossible as losing 110. Also, life wasn't easy at 200 pounds, but I can now say from experience that it's a hell of a lot easier than life at 265 or 275.

Frightening how numbers that used to horrify (200?! shit!!!) become something to aspire to after awhile, huh?

Numbers are useful, which is why I'm talking about them. But at the end of the day, what I want even more than a particular number is the security of knowing I'm no longer a binge eater. Knowing I can trust myself--that I'm an advocate for myself, instead of an enemy and saboteur. Knowing that I'm not a slave to certain foods and the companies that make them.


I didn't want to post my food for December 1st, because it seemed like so much. The whole point of the logging exercise is not about accountability to others and self-shaming to keep myself in line, though. (As I once thought.) It's about overcoming shame and secrecy, not feeling apologetic for being hungry or for eating, and no longer thinking I need to prove to anyone how hard I'm trying to be "good" (i.e., thinner, more ladylike).

It's still hard to do, though, especially on days like December 1st.

Anyway, this is what I ate between 3 a.m. on December 1st and 3 a.m. on December 2nd (my sleep is messed up right now):

a slice of gouda cheese with a slice of turkey
a bowl of bean soup; an apple with a bit of peanut butter
small amount of rice, seaweed salad, and roasted duck
curried paneer with spinach rice; a naan with a slice of cheddar
a bowl of Cheerios with honey and milk
3 Kind bars

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The holidays ahead

Today, the last day of November, was more reasonable than the last two days. I had a coconut-almond Kind bar, a bowl of bean soup, turkey/cheese/spinach on a bagel, a tall caramel brulee latte from Starbucks, and Turkish "pizza" (ground lamb and vegetables on flatbread).

So now December has arrived. Do I have the strength to limit myself to only homebaked goods (made by my own hands) on just a few special days this month? Some family members are planning to travel to my house for Christmas, and I'd like to make a couple kinds of cookies and try my hand at making eggnog from scratch for the first time. Maybe a red velvet cake, too. Homemade goods have become something of a rarity in my family, as most of our parties feature store-bought cakes, cookies, etc. But now that I have a house and the opportunity to play hostess, I'm trying to establish new traditions; when the people I love indulge at my house, I'd like it to be with something real instead of with various combinations of high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Not that I don't dump those very things into my body, but I'm trying to change. I'm trying to create an emotional association between those kinds of cheap mass-produced goods and the phenomenon of people not caring about one another. (Which, if you think about it, makes perfect sense. The companies that make these treats don't care about you or your health. And even though cake shouldn't be equated with love, more effort and care go into a homemade cake than into a package of Little Debbie.) I want cheap sweets to become emotionally repellent so that I don't have to struggle so hard with temptation anymore.

To get through December, I'm going to have to stay busy, engage in exercise for stress relief, and create a new habit like drinking tea each evening (my most vulnerable time for eating sweets). Oh, and remind myself that I'm NOT deprived in any way--that I'm CHOOSING to do something good on my own behalf because I care about myself. Perhaps most fundamentally, my vision of Christmas needs to change, to include a picture of myself enjoying and modeling vibrant health in the midst of all the festivities. My tendency is to fantasize about making the house, the meal, the everything (except me, of course) look like something out of a magazine. To make those things the symbol of a perfect Christmas, and not even think about my own well-being--if anything, to sacrifice my well-being in the service of ridiculous Martha Stewart-esque Christmas visions.

I will still endeavor to put on a lovely holiday for my family, but I want to be able to enjoy it. And I can only enjoy it if I'm feeling good. And that requires decent food, exercise, sleep, grooming, de-stressing...and reasonable expectations for myself and the holiday season in general.