Monday, April 21, 2008

Hungry as a Bear. Literally.

Near as I can tell, we had a bear in our yard last night. Here’s the evidence: This morning, our fence is bent, the pole the sunflower seed feeder dangles from is bent nearly to the ground, and the feeder itself is 20 feet away in my neighbor’s yard and has a perch broken off, the same perch that faces the fence. Our fence is four feet high so a black bear, on his hind legs, could easily reach over and grab that feeder. Our dogs were restless around 9:30 last night, whining, whimpering, so that’s probably when he was out there.

When I fetched the feeder out of the neighbor’s yard this morning, I noticed all the seeds were intact. The type of feeder we have makes it nearly impossible for anything but birds to get them out so that bear must have been pretty frustrated. Sorry, bud!

I put the feeder back up since this is the first time we’ve ever had a problem. If it happens again, I’ll move it. I don’t want to encourage bears to seek food in my back yard, but he and I had similar issues this weekend.

I was “bear hungry” this weekend, willing to bend over high fences to reach for something not on my regular diet. Like the bear, I didn’t get what I wanted, but unlike the bear, I didn’t get it because I chose not to get it rather than give up in frustration.

I have a lot of writing to do. Lots of assignments, deadlines, that sort of thing. My writing angst, as I call it, causes me to do two things: clean and eat. I can’t stand a dusty desk when I’m on deadline. I straighten pictures on the wall if they’re crooked, empty the trash can, clean the phone, set the clock if it’s off by a minute, you name it, anything that distracts me (which is almost everything) gets fixed or cleaned.

Then there’s the food. I used to slam down bags of M&Ms and sunflower seeds, my munchies of choice back in the day. These days, I try to eat a couple of Werther’s hard candies or a bag of popcorn, but they don’t satisfy that “need” like M&Ms and sunflower seeds. And while I know I can have a “few” M&Ms and sunflower seeds, a few doesn’t cut it when I’m in that frame of mind.

A couple of blogs ago I talked about binging and comfort foods and I said that I was not a binger, at least not in the way most people mean – binging to sate a deep seated emotional need. So I started thinking yesterday, as I was writing and fighting the urge to eat, if maybe binging is the term to use for that restless eating I used to do and want to do even now. Eating M&Ms and sunflower seeds kept my mouth busy while my hands worked. It satisfied some craving, some emotional urge, like scratching an itch deep in my brain. Eating didn’t help me write any better, but it distracted me or fed that feeling inside. It’s hard to describe.

I still have that feeling when I write. Just because I’m eating differently, that never went away. And it’s only going to get worse as more deadlines approach and bigger writing projects demand my time. It’s an all-over feeling of urgency and frustration as I try to piece together every word into every sentence into every paragraph into every story. I place such high expectations on myself that I can’t escape the stress, so eating M&Ms and sunflower seeds helped ease that stress. Now I’m left to deal with the stress without those crutches. And let me tell ya, it ain’t easy.

So yesterday, while I wrote intensely for four hours, I got up several times to wipe down the kitchen counters, straighten the tennis shoes in the foyer, hang a mirror, and pace the living room. I wanted to eat M&Ms and sunflower seeds. But I didn’t. And I won’t. But that doesn’t make the need go away.

It just proves what I’ve said since I got to goal: your life doesn’t suddenly get perfect just because you lose weight.

7 comments:

  1. Me also! What is it with intense cravings and unfulfilled needs this weekend? Yesterday while at a birthday party I had a slice of cassata cake. I rarely indulge, which I think is becoming a problem, so after eating my piece I just wanted MORE MORE MORE; it's like I was looking forward to a sweets binge.

    I had to pause and actually tell myself, "Normal people don't eat 2-3 slices of cake and then go home and eat even more sweets, Lesley. Don't you want to be normal?"

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  2. I have been writing my thesis for close to 2 years and all I can think of is food when I am writing (or to be more exact doing the rewrites). I was quite taken aback when I reached for white pants that I wore last summer and they are not wearable- too tight. Sigh.
    I have gained and lost so much weight and right now am fed up with it all. I need to loose 20 pounds (again) and that will only bring me down to a size 16 pant. Sigh.

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  3. I LOVE your blog, Lynn! I am swimming in a sea of lack of motivation. Your blog is helping. I even made my own about the "work dance" before actually losing weight for the last time. It is http://joyjournies.blogspot.com
    I hope that when I actually take care of business, I can help others get focused too. The struggle to get going is so insanely difficult when you are not centered and are still doing the work dance. I am getting close to making it happen, but I am not quite there. Your blog inspires me so much. Thank you Lynn!

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  4. A Zen teacher I admire said that the conditioned mind says "something's wrong" and "there's not enough" that give me that antsy feeling I try to squash with mindless eating. It quickly becomes rooted in my brain as "something's wrong with me" and "I'm not enough, I can't do this". It's sometimes called dukkha. How do I come to realize that all is well, nothing is wrong, I'm perfect for my life and I have what I need, no matter what the cirumstances? I try this: "What is life asking of me in this moment?" The answer so far has not been to eat a bag of potato chips and carton of dip. Sometimes, though, I forget to ask the question.

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  5. L, I read while I eat--and then I have to get another bowl of cereal or another apple or more crackers because I'm not done reading yet. Hello? Am I still hungry? Not really! Good grief. I've tried to just eat my food without reading and it feels all wrong. Time for a new habit, eh? love, V

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  6. Zentient, I'm putting that question on my desk and will look at it every time I'm tempted to eat for no reason as I work. "What is life asking of me in this moment?" LOVE it! Thank you!

    I love you guys. Your comments really make me smile. I feel so not alone, you know? L

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  7. I saw your story on CNN and tracked you down. This blog reminds me of a conversation I had the other day with an herbalist colleague of mine the other day. I mentioned to her that I used to love chewing gum. During school and college, I chewed gum all the time! I never smoked, but needed that oral fix. She told me a theory that when you stimulate the roof of your mouth, you are actually connecting to the part of the brain for learning. Not sure if that's true, but it may explain the oral fixation when you write.

    Congrats on your lifestyle changes!

    icatch22

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