Monday, November 21, 2011

A Weighty Issue

It's the holidays. This week is Thanksgiving, which means turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, potatoes and all the things that have evolved to become part of our traditions.

Last week I broke the types of Yeses down into three categories and this week I'm looking at the Yes of indulgence. Will it make me happy, more fulfilled to have second helpings and an extra slice of pumpkin pie?

The average American gaines 8 lbs during the holidays. A quick Google search for Weight Watcher's blogs resulted in close to seven million Google hits. The fact that Americans are overweight and ruining their health is old news. I personally follow no less than five blogs whose authors are concerned about their weight.

Despite our national weight crisis, it would be easy for me to say none of that applies to me. I'm not overweight. By any standard, in any country I'm thin. Every so often the scale edges up to 110 lbs, but most of the time I hover around 108. So why, of all people, should I be concerned about my weight? Why do I feel the need to turn down that second slice of pie?

And this is where I get into the personal own demons that, while private, are probably shared by most of the women I know.

The first issue is one of balance.  It's hard to achieve that perfect balance. The time that I'm most desperate for a second cookie is after I've eaten the first. And if I have a second cookie, then I'm desperate for a third. Sometimes it's easier to just avoid all the cookies. And yet, I love cookies (and cake, ice cream, pie, brownies, chocolates). But if I give into my sweet tooth, say YES to all those indulgences I'm afraid I won't be able to stop.

Balance, by itself, is hard to achieve. The second part of the equation is even trickier, probably because it is so deeply rooted within our society.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

You can never be too rich or too thin.

These are the messages that bombard women. I've watched friends lose twenty pounds, hit their goal, only to decide they would really be happier if they could lose another fifteen. I myself, occassionally wonder, "Maybe I'd look better if I just lost five pounds." Maybe the magazines are right. Could fulfillment be just five pounds away?

And those are the moments when I have to step back and ask, when is enough, enough? We all know this kind of thinking about weight isn't rational. And it isn't healthy. And yet almost every woman I know engages in it, on some level.

I wish I had an answer about the YES of indulgence but I don't. The best thing I can come up with is my own personal guideline...which I will share with you tomorrow.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're right, sometimes it's better to just say no right up front. And if that's your real weight, you definitely don't need to lose any. Besides, a woman with a little bit of curve is better than a stick figure.

Beylit said...

I don't so much have a sweet tooth as a general over indulgence problem. If I start to eat something I like I REALLY do not want to stop. This leads to so many problems.

I have had to teach myself to stop and look at it and ask myself if the temporary pleasure is going to lead to long term fulfillment or utter regret afterward. If eating that pie now will make me sick to my stomach later, or lethargic, or miserable with guilt, it probably isn't worth it to me anymore. Sometimes though I can look at the pie and say "Today is a pie sort of day and I don't feel guilty about indulging." On those days, pie beware.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I know I'd look better if I lost 10 pounds, but I've also come to grips with the fact that I'm probably not going to. I have dropped those 10 pounds at various times during the last 20 years, but they always come back.

I have gotten better about not stuffing myself at holiday meals. (And I don't like turkey, so Thanksgiving is not much of a temptation.) It's all the snacking in between that does me in ...

T. L. Cooper said...

I think the occasional indulgence doesn't hurt anyone...
That said, indulgences must be kept in check. I've found if I really listen to my body when I'm eating, I will stop when it's had enough. In my opinion, saying yes to an indulgence is saying yes to your own worth and pleasure as long as you enjoy it and don't feel guilty. Saying no to overindulgence is really saying yes to your health and happiness...

Hart Johnson said...

I have more trouble with that balance, I think--because in the MOMENT, lots of things taste better than skinny feels... because skinny is so darned far away. I do okay with holiday meals, largely because it isn't my favorite type of food. I mean I have my meal and enjoy it, but one piece of pie is fine. My TROUBLE is that the whole season I want an eggnog here and a microbrew there... cookies, candies, FREE FOOD at WORK, and the splurges I don't usually engage in add up fast. I intend to try to Weight Watcher through this one (it's all okay, as long as you're within points, eh?)

Johanna Garth said...

Alex, I think the point is that no matter how thin (or not thin) most women's still hard to be satisfied and/or maintain the status quo.

Beylit, good point! Feeling sick after over-indulging is definitely not in the spirit of the Fulfillment Project.

Dianne, I'm a sucker for the snacks too. I'm also the one who loves the hors d'oeuvres in a restaurant.

T.L., absolutely. I think it's so hard for most people to figure out what the lines if between indulgence and overindulgence.

Johanna Garth said...

Hart, yes it's the slippery slope! By the way, on of my best friends is on weight watchers right now and she swears by dried dates. They're sweet and zero points!

Sarah Tokeley said...

As someone who said yes way too many times and is now dieting, I know exactly where you're coming from with this post.

The Bookworm said...

You know what, balance is key.
I don't particularly like that Kate Moss ad. That woman is unhealthy looking, way too skinny.