Thursday, September 04, 2008

Living on less.


I've done it.

Between being extremely stressed out, eating restaurant food approximately five nights a week because we're not up to cooking, and yes, consuming box upon box of Croatian wafer cookies, the inevitable has happened. I've gained weight.

It's funny; so many of my non-veg friends, especially the ones that don't see me often, assume that now that I'm vegan I must be "rail thin". Ha. I wish. The fact is that going vegan didn't have the slightest impact on my weight. It was such a gradual transition, and by the time I 'officially' made the switch I was practically there, so it just didn't have any punch. Plus, in this glorious modern age of ours and especially in New York City, there's plenty of vegan junk food around.

I don't have a scale, so it's none of that malarkey. It's that I've been interviewing lately, and therefore putting on my office clothes again. And they don't fit like they did in March, nosireebob. No, some of them I can barely get on. I can feel it too, and see it.

So now what? Well there's Adkins, and I hear there's this great new pill on the market... psych! As if. No, I think I'll go in for this radical idea of eating less. Possibly getting more exercise. Crazy, I know. Sadly, I seem to take on weight much, much, much more quickly than I'm able to lose it. My metabolism is such that I can put on ten pounds in a matter of weeks with no problem whatever, but it will take me a couple of months to shed it. Frustrating.

At least we're heading into winter, where temperatures and clothing are on my side. Having a job may help, by providing me with scheduled mealtimes - it's just up to me to fill them with fresh vegetables and home-cooked meals instead of takeout chinese. And, of course, I have to actually get a job.

It's just so hard. Food is where I go for comfort; it always has been. I'm a classic emotional overeater. Websites, self-help books, and therapists alike seem to agree that once you make that connection you can do something about it. Well, I've known since I was about 14 that I was eating for emotional reasons, and knowing it really hasn't helped me to stop it in any way.

I mean, I control it to the point where I haven't become obese or anything, but I've teetered on the edge of "overweight" since I was nine or ten. I'll come back briefly into a healthy BMI, but as soon as a period of stress hits (which, let's face it, never takes long) I'm right back on that edge. Yes, when I reach for the pint of ice cream I know exactly why I'm doing it, and I know when I get to the bottom of it I won't be satisfied in the least. Knowing that doesn't stop me from wanting to dig in, doesn't cure the craving or the anxiety that drives it.

I don't know what the answer is, other than to learn 'better self control'. This phrase comes with connotations of overeaters behaving like raging maniacs, which I really don't think is fair. Most people could use more self control - to yell less often, get out of bed earlier, jog more, watch less TV. It's not something unique to people with this kind of problem; lack of self-control seems to be a universal human problem, at least in western culture. It's difficult to break patterns that are set in your life, especially those that you've been acting out for ten or fifteen or twenty years.

And let's not forget that food is a physical addiction. I crave sugar like other people crave cigarettes. Really. Especially if I've recently been on a cookie or ice cream binge; if I don't do the same thing the next day, I go through a form of withdrawal. By about 8pm I'm seriously jonesing for a fix, and nothing else satisfies it. (There's of course the oral aspect of it too, and you smokers know exactly what I'm talking about.) It makes perfect sense: eating sets off a whole series of chemical reactions in the body. Physical addiction is dependence on a chemical. Just because it's one that your body produces doesn't make it any less potent - the body produces some seriously strong shit.

So. Anyway. That's my current struggle. I can't afford to buy new clothes, and I don't really want to anyway. Not office clothes, ugh. So I need to wrangle this thing and get back down to a healthy weight - and of course fitting into clothes is the least of the reasons. Let us not forget that I have chronic illness (or several, depending on who you ask), and every extra pound is that much more strain on my already overtaxed body. Of course I shouldn't be eating all that sugar in the first place; it's terrible for me.

The daily task of eating is so bizarrely difficult. To eat multiple times a day, every day, without overdoing or underdoing any major nutritional aspect - I feel like the more I learn the more lost I am. Often when I try to take control I go too far and drive myself crazy; I'm not good with happy mediums. But I suppose, one day, I'm just going to have to learn.

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