Dieting and Moving from One Extreme to Another

Dieting Extremes.Why is it that I flip-flop so quickly and easily from one extreme to the other? It’s either Whole Foods or Meatheads for dinner — pure and healthy versus burgers and fries. I go from wanting to keep all the snacks and foods possible in the house that the baby likes to wanting to get them out as quickly as possible so that he’s only snacking on fresh fruits and veggies (organic when it counts, of course). I have a healthy breakfast, and then I ruin the rest of my day on jellybeans and pretzel clusters. I want to be the super-healthy, super-clean, super-organized, super-fit dad – so why aren’t I?

An article in the latest issue of SELF magazine shed new light on this topic for me: Ever seen the bumper sticker “I don’t want buns of steel, I want buns of cinnamon”? I had never heard that saying before, but it struck a chord with me in the way the author explained how it related to her, because I find myself facing the same dilemma — the all-or-nothing thinking, which is actually a symptom of generalized anxiety disorder.

I know I’m not the first person to associate anxiety with food, and I’m certain I won’t be the last. But last week, sitting in a steam-filled bathroom with my poor little (now one-year-old!) baby trying to ease him through his third-in-a-lifetime (which is three times too many) bout of croup, I thought to myself for the thousandth time, No more junk food. We eat crappy food, we don’t get enough rest, we don’t stop stress from entering our lives and this is what happens: We get sick, the baby gets sick, we’re all miserable and I’m sitting here, again, wondering if I’m going to have to rush my crying child to the ER, this time on my own while Daddy’s slaving away at his wretched job.

With a heavy sigh I can say there are a lot of things I’d like to put an end to in my life right now and a lot of things I’m taking steps toward to do just that. But here in these pages, it’s very hard for me to say that I need that balance between buns of steel and buns of cinnamon — because (a) I feel like I’ll never have buns of steel, although I lust after them so longingly, and (b) I’m not really a fan of cinnamon buns in the first place — but I have overdosed on cake, brownies, ice cream and cookies all within the span of one week. Anxiety, birthday parties and baseball games have drowned me in a sea of no self-control, old habits and muddled thinking.

The thing is, I don’t know how to work through it. I have been good at reminding myself to try to do what makes me feel good, per a previous post, but sometimes I ignore that knowledge and other times I think that digging into the candy jar WILL make me feel good for a moment, so that I’m thinking about something other than X, Y and Z. I have bigger fish to fry right now, I think, than trying to tackle how emotions and stress are wreaking havoc on my waistline — although you would think that’s a pretty good issue to deal with any day, right?

I just have to have faith that some day I’ll get there. And I also need to give myself props for the fact that for the most part, I am healthy. I catch the family cold, yes, and I’m still on my thyroid meds (will I ever get off of them?), but I have low cholesterol, low blood pressure and I’m hoping to get back on the exercise wagon again today, now that I’m officially off the nasty orange cold medicine. When I go too long without exercising, this is what happens — I start to ruminate, feel bad about myself, lump all the issues together and let them swirl around like a Blizzard at DQ.

I know I’ve been jumping around on here from writing brief, informative posts to a smattering of these whiny but heartfelt ramblings, but as I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, I’m always trying to find a little bit of me while I go through each day. Have you ever heard anyone say that you can never really see yourself? Like when you look in the mirror, or stare down at your feet, or how you smile, how you laugh — it’s you, this person you’ve been living with for however many years, and you have no idea how everyone else perceives you — not in a shallow, superficial sort of way, but in an objective therapist sort of way. Maybe I’m too hard on myself. Maybe my house IS clean and organized, I’m just prone to pointing out its flaws. Perhaps someone looking in from the outside would say, you work, you write, you exercise, you cook — what DON’T you do?

So with Father’s Day coming up, I’m going to compliment myself on whatever comes to mind: all of the cake and cookies are out of the house now, so I won’t be tempted to eat them. I bid on a jogging stroller on eBay, and within a day or so I’ll know if I can now add that option to my stockpile of workout choices I can actually do with the baby. And, the only snack I’ve been keeping on hand for him these days is a container of Puffs, because without them we’d need some serious rescuing every once in a while in the kitchen, car seat and grocery store. Thank God for the inventor of Puffs.

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