The Art of Self-Sabotage

A friend of mine who is dealing with a serious health issue promised that he would blog about his experiences, both good and bad. For this blog to mean anything, I have to do the same thing. That means blogging about last week and weekend, during which I forgot every single healthy eating habit I had acquired, including the rule about not eating when I’m not hungry. Especially the rule about not eating when I’m not hungry.

I was determined to break that cycle this week, so I spent my Monday treadmill time figuring out what knocked me off the rails. (Thankfully, the gym habit was virtually unaffected by my detour, although—as long as I’m being brutally honest—I did skimp on the stretching.) This is what I came up with: It’s all about numbers.

The first numbers were the numbers in my bank accounts. As a freelancer, I don’t have a regular income. It’s my least favorite and the most nerve-wracking part of what I do. There are often huge gaps between paychecks. I’m in one of those gaps now. I know the money will come in, but it’s not here yet and my creditors still must be paid. (Don’t you hate that?) That means dipping into my savings. And that means watching my savings dwindle. And that causes anxiety. It seems I’ve inherited some of my grandmother’s Depression-era mentality, the worry that I won’t or don’t have enough money. Most months I can talk myself through this anxiety without self-medicating with copious amounts of carbs. Not this time.

Why not this time? Because I did exactly what I said I was trying not to do: focus on the number on the scale. I noticed that I was thisclose to having lost 10% of my body weight, which is a significant milestone. I immediately got carried away with my success. I started thinking about other milestones—what I could weigh by the end of the month, and on my birthday, and at Thanksgiving. I was so caught up in what could be that I lost sight of the work I needed to do today. So the work stopped.

On some level, I think I was also a bit frightened by my success. As much as I want to reach my healthiest weight, I’m also scared to get there. I don’t remember being anything other than grossly overweight. (Just to be clear, that’s gross as in “way too much,” not gross as in “Eeeeewwww!”) I’m not sure I know how to be thin. Granted, I’ve got a long way to go until I get there, but I feel like I should start preparing my psyche now. That, however, is another post for another week.