“I am changing my relationship to food,” I told a couple coworkers last spring.
I was cutting a donut in half, something I had never done before.
A couple weeks back, I’d stepped on a scale and seen “191,” a new frontier for my six-foot frame.
Something had to change.
In high school, I ate anything I wanted. I would plow through a row of Oreos while watching TV after school. Buffets trembled when I darkened their doors. I ate seconds on sundaes. A whole pizza was no match for me. I was never full.
I weighed 165 lbs.
In college, this continued. I spent 90% of my annual food budget in the first semester. When I graduated four years later, I might have been up to 175 at most, but I still pretty much ate all the food I could. I got a bit nervous and twitchy around food. I was accustomed to needing more. If there were shared food at a party, I needed to be near it.
It was like my body was holding me hostage. If I didn’t get to food before the timer went off, something happened. Maybe my blood sugar dropped or my body started pulling on its own fat reserves. But I had a hard time thinking and some sort of primal hunter-gatherer reflex kicked in.
I feared being hungry, not having enough to keep me focused.
Then, in my twenties, something started to change. I realized I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted, of any food I wanted. I sometimes actually felt full. At one big summer party, I ate a lot all evening and felt really ill later on. I was in a new season.
But it wasn’t a radical transformation. Instead I shifted from overdrive down into fifth gear. I probably gained a few more pounds in those years.
Sometime in the last few years, though, something has shifted radically.
I was in my early thirties. I realized I was not exercising quite as much, but I wasn’t eating as much as I could all the time, either. But stepping on the scale this spring was a shocker. Despite slowing down my consumption, pounds were slowly layering on.
No one would say I’m fat. But that’s what makes this so hard. (Click to tweet this.)
This is a hidden struggle. I’m trying to rewire my brain to want what it needs, to turn off that fear of hunger. It feels nearly impossible. When faced with a serving spoon, I often still stack it on, out of habit and that fear. And I don’t think I’m alone. I think a lot of people probably go through a similar metabolic change at a similar age. A coworker is experiencing the exact same thing, and another has just dropped over 20 pounds.
Gluttony needs to be addressed. And it starts with me. (Click to tweet this quote.)
For the past seven months, I’ve made a conscious effort to exercise more. And I’ve been shocked at how little I’m eating. I’m usually eating the same amount as Chrissy and the kids (who are 8 and 10). I have even eaten salads for lunch at times, unthinkable a few years ago. You’d expect some results from months of all this care and attention, right?
I have gained a pound.
I’m frustrated. (Granted, I don’t want to think about how I’d feel if I’d not been trying or paying attention.)
What I need is self-control, that virtue listed in the Bible (Galatians 5:22) alongside other elusive attributes like joy, patience, gentleness, and faithfulness.
How do you grow in self-control?
Well, I don’t know, really. I’m praying about this. And I’ve started using an app called MyFitnessPal, at the recommendation of some friends. The saying goes that you get better at whatever you measure. So I’m measuring my exercise and food intake.
I’ve also joined Planet Fitness, that new purple and yellow chain that’s just $10/month with no contract. I figure getting out and sweating during the long Wisconsin winter can’t hurt.
How do you rewire your brain from wanting what it shouldn’t have, what it doesn’t need? (Click to tweet this.)
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