The Season of Emotional Eating

Goodbye, January! You’ve managed, once again, to pull a prank on my beloved red maple – Climbing Tree #2, aka “Oscar” – with the kiss of sunshine and a few unseasonably warm days. February, be kind… you know this poor tree will never learn its lesson.

I’m not sure which people love more, in January: To make resolutions, or to hate on resolution-making. I intend to prove that resolutions are merely goals – purposeful intentions + commitment. The only reason to hate a resolution is that we weren’t committed to it in the first place, and it comes around in twelve months to shine a bright light on the fact that we didn’t mean what we said.

Perhaps we were drunk.

And perhaps that’s why I’ve always done best when crafting mine in December – gives me time to recant, before solidifying and posting them at the start of the year.  To edit out the starry-eyed aspirations of an enthused overachiever, and to distill the real intentions to their core. For 2015, there was one Non-Negotiable, 100% Committed, Do or Die Trying Goal. One. “Lose 78 lbs. by 12/31/2015 and become physically fit enough to hike to the top of Multnomah Falls without getting overly winded, or crochet a Pepto-Bismol pink amigurumi pig with a miniature, beaded tiara and a purple feather boa using embroidery floss and teeny-tiny seed beads, and auction it off to benefit Relay for Life in April 2016.” Someone said they kind of hoped I failed, because they thought that pig would be absolutely adorable. Nothing says I can’t make the pig if I succeed. Who knows? I might tackle the project in celebration – but God knows, I don’t want to have to.

Four weeks in – one month – and I have only 62 of the 78 lbs. left to lose. Still sounds daunting, but at this rate I’ll hit the goal before October. So far, so good.

Nothing like a long-running blog, though, to keep your cockiness in check. I’m now exactly where I was – physically and mentally – in 2013. I look back at posts about eating healthy, green smoothies and how many pounds I’d lost – that first week of February, 2013 – and groan. It’s Groundhog’s Day, today, all right. And it’s not as if younger me left clues as to where it all went wrong, though I suspect it was the Godiva truffles on Valentine’s Day. Knowing me, there was a Costco chocolate layer cake on my birthday. We have entered the season of sober celebrations.

In other words, the season of emotional eating.

In 2002 – Valentine’s Day – my mother died by her own hand. I can still remember my husband asking, a year later, “What do you want to do about Valentine’s Day?” I was torn between the traditional answers and the one I blurted out – the honest one: “Move it to St. Patrick’s Day? Give me a dozen green roses and enough green beer to drown in?” Twelve years later, having mostly reclaimed the day in the name of romance, there’s still an emotional disconnect there – a tiny little warrior of Cupid, battered and bloodied, yelling, “Chocolate, for the love of Romance! Let there be CAKE!”

In 2011 – that first week of February marked my first full week home after breast cancer surgery. By that time, I was grateful to be alive, and pretty certain I’d remain that way for some time to come. But when you can barely stand on your own long enough to take a hot shower, food prepared by others is a blessing. It is literally comfort food, reminding you that there are people who care enough to be sure you bother eating and staying alive. My husband had to go to Canada on a business trip, and Hell froze over. I mean Houston, of course – we had freezing rain and the city shut down. There were rolling blackouts. Neither my son nor I could drive. There’s a sweetness, even now, to frozen dinners microwaved by my son, to the food brought in by friends to nourish us both when the roads cleared.

Not being completely insane, I’ve declared a truce with Cupid’s battered little soldier and the recovering one who stared down cancer and gave it the triumphant middle-finger salute – instead of tossing the Godiva catalogue at my husband, like a mean drunk with a hangover, and muttering, “Think large,” I’ve asked for two toasted honey almond truffles from the kiosk in the Galleria. And a night out doesn’t have to mean rolling painfully out the restaurant door like an overfilled wine barrel.

Of course, there’s still the “birthday season” right around the corner. If I do only one thing right, it’ll be to not let that Costco chocolate layer cake darken my door…

My resolution for the next two months: Remember this.

On to The Smorgasbord of Aspirational Inclinations:

Volunteer one shift a month at the Houston Food Bank. For any month I don’t do this, I will buy 2 prepacked bags of food to donate to them.” In January, I donated two bags of groceries. Not nearly as satisfying as starting February by taking a Sunday morning volunteer shift, helping to pack 4,800 backpacks with food for the weekend, for kids who would otherwise go hungry.

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Be a better, more studious student, and a better, more patient mentor.” I wish we’d all stop lying to each other and get real. It wasn’t until I started talking with Master Technologists who quietly confessed to not knowing everything that I began to feel the cobwebs of “imposter syndrome” drifting away. And the funny thing is, I’ve rarely – very rarely – been conscious of suffering from “imposter syndrome,” at all! None of us really wants to be the only one in the room with Swiss cheese holes in a brain others find “intimidating” or “brilliant” or even “smarter than.” It’s not arrogance – it’s fear of being caught out, of disillusioning others, of letting them down. And it’s exhausting, trying to hide those holes. It’s also incredibly stupid – because once you share them, there’s a really good chance that two people with different holes in their brain can fill the other’s with exactly the information they need.

Finish crocheting the Owl Blanket.” No progress this week, whatsoever! I did start a hat… I should call it the “Procrastinator’s Hat,” I suppose. I just felt like learning a new stitch. And playing with yarn that wasn’t beige or green. I’m not even the teensiest bit contrite.

Resurrect the blog.” Well, now that I’ve drug it out of the ashes – out of the millions of obscurity and into the fairly competitive ranks of Alexa – progress has slowed just a bit. But progress continues! (For the Global and U.S. ranks, shown below, I’ve copied and pasted Sunday’s and Monday’s stats right next to each other below Sunday’s country rank.

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Interestingly, the U.S. (as of Monday morning) has taken the lead from India. But even as my U.S. rank continues to rise, my global rank has dipped slightly. It’s a three month rolling average – if I understand Alexa correctly at all. If I look at StatCounter, I see a much more interesting mix of origins – no doubt, Alexa would show more detail, if I paid them or if any of them made up a significant percentage of my readers, but I can hardly justify doing that for a primarily personal blog and a weirdly curious nature. According to StatCounter, recent visitors have come from Australia, Uruguay, Pakistan, Canada, China, the UK, Indonesia, Philippines, Germany, Nigeria, and Trinidad and Tobago. Welcome!

Attend the OWFI Conference in May 2015 and enter at least three items into the annual contest.” I squeaked in under the contest entry deadline with five. Aren’t I an overachiever? This included a contribution to my “Write. Submit. Rinse. Repeat.” goal, since several of the entries were written just last month.

The Final Analysis

Resolutions aren’t stupid or hard to keep, if you’re committed to them and don’t get tired, lazy, or discouraged because you failed to track your progress. Did you stubbornly refuse to make any, and now feel inspired? Here’s a hot tip: There’s nothing magical about January 1. Go on – it’s never, ever too late.

Pulling a Dean Koontz

The acutely observant among you may have noticed that I’m updating the extraordinarily boring titles of these weekend update posts. I like to think of this as “pulling a Dean Koontz,” since it seems not to have hurt him, any, to re-release old books under new titles and prank us all into buying them twice.

If you’ve already read these, please excuse the remodeling… 

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.

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6 thoughts on “The Season of Emotional Eating”

  1. You’re doing great, Holly! Your progress is inspiring me to do better at eating smart and blogging. As far as resolutions go, however, I’m going to stick to making a list of things I must do and then prioritizing the critical items with red stars. It seems to be working, because I’m getting stuff done.

    I read one more piece of advice this week that I think helpful: Do one extra task before quitting for the day. That would be one of those non-starred items on my list. The thought of doing 365 extra tasks over the next year felt quite good, even if some of them only take a few minutes.
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…Why I Write About Animals … by Pam WolfMy Profile

  2. “I’m going to stick to making a list of things I must do and then prioritizing the critical items with red stars.” Look up the definition of resolution and explain to me exactly what the difference is – provided you actually intend to accomplish what’s on your list, and aren’t just doing a “traditional New Year’s thing” for the heck of it?

    That was kind of my point. 🙂 Sounds like you’re doing just fine, too! For me, the “tasks” are the steps it takes to accomplish the resolution. WHY are you “eating smart”? Why do you want to do “better at blogging”? And what other steps might you take to achieve the overall purpose of doing those tasks?

    If I were feeling very ambitious, I’d at least do a little work on those owl squares at the end of the day… I think I need to break that one into milestones, and be slightly less ambitious about it. I’m also seriously considering making some of those into kitties – to call it “The Owl and the Pussycat Afghan.” My mom collected owls, but she also loved that poem.

    To diverge on a tangent – isn’t “runcible spoon” a much nicer sounding thing than “spork”?
    HollyJahangiri recently posted…Volunteer! Houston Food BankMy Profile

  3. You just keep progressing as you are and you’re going to be great; not that you’re not already awesome! 🙂 I have my goals also and for the most part I’m doing okay on all of them except one; the courage thing, which is actually the most important. Still, I have moments, and I’ll take what I can get.

    As for the cake… maybe a cupcake somewhere?
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Courage; Can You Be Courageous?My Profile

    1. So far it’s been amazing! Not always a “cake walk” (in fact, perish the thought…more like a “carrot walk”) but not HARD at all. And it has GIVEN me a lot more energy, too. Well, you know how hard it is to drag an extra 16 lbs. around? On nice days, when I have time, I’ve walked to the grocery store and made the mistake of carrying 35 lbs of groceries home with me – a quarter of a mile. Try that. Then think about weight loss in a different way. Even 15 lbs. makes a difference, when it comes to daily energy levels, strain on hips and knees, etc.!
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Weekend Update: Week 4 Down, 48 to Go!My Profile

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