Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Like a lot of people I know who are managing their weight, I tend to cede control of what’s going into my mouth a lot more than I’d care to admit. Case in point, my office went out for lunch today as a “team builder” and while the restaurant my boss chose was quite good and had many appealing items, I felt a lot of pressure to eat, even though I was not at all hungry. I did order a small entrée, but I ate only some of it, and was subject to questioning about why I didn’t like the food and what am I ‘allowed’ to on my ‘program.’ I’d had a large breakfast and a snack mid-morning, and so it wasn’t hard to pass up the bread and the dessert from a physical well-being perspective. It was simply difficult because I had a sense that if I didn’t eat this food (which I didn’t want in the first place) I would be a bad co-worker, anti-social, and somehow would be rejecting the kind gesture of a free lunch. Walking away from the table, I felt great physically, but defeated mentally.

When I was in weight loss mode several years ago, I channelled every stubborn molecule in my body to withstand the onslaught of guilt, shame and inadequacy that came from refusing food when I wasn’t hungry. As a result, I seldom ate at restaurants, and I was very diligent about what I ate in the world outside my own kitchen. It wasn’t exactly that I was hiding from the pressure that other people put on me, but rather I was hiding from the assumptions and judgements that I put on MYSELF. While at that time I often succeeded in my goal to only eat when I truly wanted to, the psychological effort of doing so left me exhausted. After all, I had spent most of my life just giving in to the guilt.

In all of this I am reminded of my naturally thin partner, who loves food and considers himself a gourmet, but would never dream of eating something just because it was there. On many occasions I’ve lovingly prepared meals for him only to hear him say “You know, I’m not hungry this evening, sorry!” Rather than get angry, I’m always wondrous when that happens.

To be honest, I hate having to accept responsibility for my eating habits and I find it a great deal easier to blame people, circumstances, and my own history. The world seems filled with temptations that are certain to derail my best efforts. But the unfairness of it (and yes, it IS unfair) doesn’t mean that I am absolved of taking responsibility or that I have to throw in the towel and put on a dinner napkin. When I eat food that I don’t want to, how can I possibly blame someone else and consider that person to be a saboteur? Can I look myself in the eye and say calmly, truthfully and in complete candor, ‘I’m not hungry, I can’t eat’ and then send that message out into the world like I mean it?

How do you accept responsibility and banish the blame?

10 thoughts on “Who’s to blame?

  1. erica says:

    Jonathan:

    I can totally relate to that. Eating is so social. And when I’m the only one that doesn’t order dessert or another beer people give me that look like I’m spoiling their fun time. Somehow it’s socially acceptable to indulge and splurge when you do it in a group. When I turn down an indulgence, I’m non-verbally saying someone else is doing the “wrong” thing. They need me to do what they are doing to feel good about their own poor choices!

    Erica

  2. M says:

    Can I ask an unrelated question? I’ve seen some references to Skinny Daily’s “eight habits”. Is there a specific article I should look for on this site? I searched under those two words, but I didn’t see anything obvious.

    Thanks!

  3. mary says:

    Jonathon, I’ve experienced absolute control of this sort of intense craving when my overall carb intake and blood sugar is low, when I did Atkins… I would even go EIGHT hours OR MORE without food – and, I’d feel it but not anything like when I’d go just one or two hours without carbs when I’ve had a full blood stream of sugar!! Actually I’d feel very alert like the predator we all are (as meat hunters). I don’t know why this phenomenon is not written more about… I am adjusting to the fact that eating more meats and LOW Glycemic veggies, some fruits and cheeses makes me want to eat less. Carbs make me sluggish..isn’t it weird the big carb eaters in the wild like cows, gorillas are all very big and continuous eaters!! It costs a bit more and takes more planning because you almost can’t eat out at all or buy any conveniance foods.. It also has a little bit of withdrawal from carbs unless you do it over a day or so..When I ate just meat on induction phase I retained absolute control over these kind of urges no matter who was around me…I’m not promoting Atkins.. but low carbs! I got control back and water weight, blood pressure, eye vision improved, facial wrinkles reduced..its amazing…

  4. sandy says:

    Jonathan – good for you! You knew what you needed to do, and you did it – you showed admirable restraint.

    Social situations are difficult. It is hard to be unobtrusive when you are trying to take care of your own needs in a public situation. I find it is the most difficult when I am with family. My aunt once literally ripped a sandwich from my hands, stuck extra meat into it, and watched me while I ate it. I had just hit goal, and was “too skinny” in her eyes. This from a woman at least 75 pounds overweight at the time.

    I wish people would get over themselves, you know? It isn’t about them, it’s about you.

    Sandy

  5. jonquil says:

    Jonathan,

    Now playing: Attack of the Food Pushers, vol. 1. But is it? Were the people at work really deeply offended by your behavior, or is this a nasty script in your head? I’m suggesting there are 2 different issues here: a social manners problem and an internal psychological issue. It might help to separate the two.

    Is it possible, when the team asked about why you didn’t eat, they were simply curious, about you and your “program?” I’m not saying that people don’t push food, of course, they definitely do. But is it possible you are conditioned to massively over-react with shame/guilt/anxiety every time you’re in a food + people situation?

    Here’s an alternative interpretation of the incident. If you’re the new hire, people will rib you a bit. Your mere presence shakes up the social hierarchy, which leads to some acting out behavior… a nip and a bite… people are nosey and gossipy… but that’s life among the upright-walking primates, sadly. Even though they probably don’t really care what you’re eating, per se, they might say something to stir the pot, just buzzing away out of boredom, and the slight discomfort they feel at the presence of a “stranger” who has to be integrated into the group.

    And this might be a rather conformist group, where some management type has got it in his head that ritualized food sharing makes workers more productive: “eat this, and be one of us.” Sounds like something out of Lord of the Flies, or maybe Dilbert, doesn’t it? So food is acting as a proxy for something much more… um…. ancient and anthropological here. At least saying “no” shows you’re asserting yourself, which is no bad thing, from my perspective.

    You say you still feel bad about refusing, but your S.O. is fine with it. So why not replay the whole incident with him, tell him exactly what happened, and ask him what he thinks, and what he would do in your place. He can act as an objective observer, and as a role model for enacting polite refusal, no matter the agenda of the people you’re with. Because you can never really know what the agenda is anyway. Why sweat that and get paranoid? Just do what you need to do.

    Observe your S.O. Learn what it feels like to be comfortable saying “no thank you, I’m full.” He has obviously survived many encounters with “no,” and he’s still standing, evidently guilt-free and “naturally thin.” (Although I don’t believe there is such a thing– food behavior is learned, as you know.) And I’m sure he’s a solid citizen, he hasn’t been rejected by his workmates or hounded out of town as a social pariah. He’s your living proof that saying “no” is perfectly o.k., it’s your right– something you already know intellectually, but not yet in your heart.

    So act like, imitate, emulate your S.O. Go out there and politely say “no, thank you”– one zillion times. Pretend to be guilt free. Imagine it, rehearse it. It might seem fake, like method acting, but it’s really DIY cognitive restructuring.

  6. Nadya Woelfer says:

    I have a weird question. When I take a water aerobic class, I enjoy it. BUT, I have difficulty getting out of the pool after. My legs feel like there are elephants attached – I have to sit on the steps and work my way up out of the pool – it is very worrisome – no way I can just climb out of the pool – I’m sure I would faint. What do you think causes this? Anybody? Thanks

  7. purplequilter says:

    To answer “M”s question above–

    Click on “more about skinny…” in the 2nd box below the headline on the top left of this page, then click on “the program” in the list.

  8. Jane says:

    Jonathan –

    I’ve read this several times, and you’ve raised one of the Great Mysteries of Life. it’s hard to go against the ‘norm’ especially when it’s a team building exercise and everyone’s supposed to play the same. But I suggest that team building’s main goal is to learn the strengths and weaknesses of other people, and to balance the skills of the team. So cheer up! As jonquil said, you’re new to the group, and that whole trying-to-fit-in thing could be a factor. And what did you show them? That one of your strengths is tenacity and a commitment to a goal. Very very strong team traits.

    Years and years ago, when I was at my WW goal, there was an event at work that involved doughnuts. I’d evolved a strategy for those times in which I’d make a huge mug of tea, sit in an out-of-the-way corner where I could still talk with everyone, and hang onto that mug for dear life.

    On this particular occasion, my supervisor got something into his head. He walked over to me and offered a doughnut. I politely refused. But it wasn’t over! He kept sticking the plate in my face, ‘are you sure?’ ‘they look so good.’ ‘Have one.’

    I kept refusing and finally got angry enough to tell him to stop it, and I left the room. He went to the supervisor who was above both of us and told her that HE WANTED AN APOLOGY!

    When we finally discussed the matter, he said something to the effect that he was testing my resistance. My response severed the relationship forever: I asked him why he was so convinced that it was his business to monitor what I was eating, and to set up these tests for me?

    Thank goodness I was actually in the other supervisor’s department. I never apologized. And never heard a word about it from anyone else.

  9. Marie says:

    Hi,
    I go through this same thing when I’m trying to watch what I eat. I also have this problem when we have “beer day” after work..I’m one of the few people in the office who rarely if ever drinks, and really dislikes beer in any case. At first they razzed me a little when I showed up with my Diet Coke, and they may think I”m a bit of a prude or something, but I just feel no need for the beer. I think they are used to it now, and no one says anything, though still seem to think its a bit weird.

    I think Jonquil definately has a point..its easy to get caught up in what you think they are thinking, when really you have no clue what they are actually thinking. But having experienced a few donut pushers in my life (and the opposite..the food police) I know its not all in our heads. THere seems to be a tendency at things like this for people to want everyone to do the same as they are doing, and to want the same things. Especially in the work place there is a strong push for conformity, no matter what they tell you in diversity training. If you don’t participate, by eating, drinking, going to team outings, participating in some group sport, whatever..you are absolutely right..you sometimes get seen as somehow anti-social, or odd, or not appreciative or some other negative thing. It really is a real thing.

    Also – To Nadya- probably pretty off topic but I get that too. I think its pretty normal. Maybe the adjustment between being nearly weighless in the water, to going back to full gravity. Plus having a wet suit doesn’t help.

  10. Quinn says:

    Nadya?

    About the difficulty climbing up out of the pool? Have you mentioned this to the instructor? Might want to do that, as the instructor will probably have seen it before and have ideas of how to cope.

    Also – and this is VERY important – what does your doctor say? have you discussed it with her/him? Is there any heart disease in your family at all? Have you had a thorough physical recently?

    It may only be that you’re pushing your body to exercise a bit more/longer/harder than it is ready to do. (Been there, done that.) Or it may be something a little more serious. Best to get professional advice in any case.

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