Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Weigh-in Tuesday with the Very Hungry Caterpillar and the Chairman of the Board

It's Tuesday, and like every Tuesday, I hopped on the scale this morning for my weekly weigh-in.

Unlike every Tuesday, I was a little nervous, because yesterday was a VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR day.

Illustration by Eric Carle

Have you ever had a Very Hungry Caterpillar day?  When you've already eaten the one red apple, the two green pears, the three purple plums, yadda yadda... and you are seriously craving "chocolate cake, ice-cream, a pickle, Swiss cheese, salami, a lollipop, cherry pie, a sausage, a cupcake, and a slice of watermelon." i.e. everything in sight.

Alas, I am not a caterpillar.  If I ate all of that yesterday, I wouldn't have turned into Beautiful Butterfly today.  I'd just have gained more weight.  And I did not want to gain more weight after last week's one-pound gain.  I worked hard all week to stay in balance, to eat mindfully and to never surpass 1500 calories (which I stayed below each day, even at a party!)  Plus, I exercised incredibly hard.  I wasn't about to undermine that whole week of work.  Except that...

I did.  I totally did want to undermine that whole week of work.  Not all of me wanted to screw it up for myself.  Not even most of me.  But one tiny part of me seriously wanted food.  And not, like, an extra couple ounces of chicken or another peach.  It wanted crap.  It kept saying "heyyyyyy. I'm huuuuungry."  "C'mon, you know you want more food."  "SCREW IT, OK, IT'S PIZZA TIME.  GIVE UP.  WE'RE EATING."  But it was just part of me.  One tiny part of me.

Let's call that tiny part "Hungry Hippo."

My excellent friend Lisa once described a way she looks at making certain decisions.  It's called "the Board of Directors."  When you are confronted with a choice - for instance, when a food addict wants to eat more than needed - you typically fight with yourself about it.  You might have all different kinds of opinions about that decision... different reasons for doing it, or not doing it.  And these different opinions - these different voices within yourself - are your very own Board of Directors.  And just like any company or government, your board will need to come to a consensus for you to take action... whether that's unanimous approval, or a forged compromise, or even dictatorship on the part of the Chairman of the Board.

Yesterday, my board of directors was pretty loud.  The Hungry Hippo was seated in a wide, plush chair at the end of the table. She was trying her darnedest to usurp the position of Chairman, so she could ignore all of the other board members' appeals and move forward with a dictatorship of overeating.  But the rest of the board was able to see right through her. 

Today, I'm back down to 301, the lowest weight I've been in many years.  Hungry Hippo's hostile takeover has been prevented, and she's got a gag order coming her way... because I'm excited about the next weigh-in being lower than the lowest weight I've been in many years.  (Excited and scared - but again, thank goodness for that board of directors.)

How about you? Do you fight with your own personal Board of Directors?  What do you do on a Hungry Caterpillar day, or when your Hungry Hippo tries to take the floor?  What ever it is, I hope it's kind to yourself, in the best possible ways.  Take care of you!


  1. Unfortunately my hungry hippo is an emotional kind of guy and logic seldom wins out. The best I can do is to limit the hippo's access to his favorite foods. Except when the grand kids come over with Pizza, which I never get for myself. Your board did great mine needs remedial training!

  2. I can see this all playing out in my mind, and you're all dressed up to suit each role. :) Short movie or play, please!

    I have recently been struggling with my own body issues. Like many, I’m learning to live with a slower metabolism that only gets slower with every passing year, and I have to readdress my usual dietary habits and abilities to pack it all in because I’m not 20-years old anymore and I don’t walk as much as I did before I was licensed to drive. I used to eat my fill and then some and it had little to no impact on my weight so long as I wasn’t sedentary. Well, now I’m older and sedentary and both are taking a toll.

    I am not overweight. But I am not as healthy and fit as I could and want to be.

    The appearance of belly and thigh fat terrifies me a little, to be honest, but it’s not why I feel unhealthy. That’s what makes me feel like a stranger in my own body. What makes me feel unhealthy is my lack of strength and endurance, things I never totally lacked before. I helped E work on his couch this past weekend. I used a screwdriver to loosen staples in the fabric and used pliers when the staple was stuck. It was a simple/repetitive motion and I worked for about 10-15 minutes. 2 hours later my arm was sore, like I’d been lifting weights. There are many inactive parts of my body these days. Any movement is an exercise. It’s horrid. It’s atrophy. Our bodies are for using! ☺

    I’ve recently been at war with cravings, and find myself losing the battle because the loudest mouthpiece in my Board of Directors is a procrastinator. “Sure, sure, you want to lose the fat and firm up, and you proactively bought dumbbells and some exercise DVDS – go you! That’s great! So go ahead and have that piece of candy because you can always start the better eating and diet tomorrow. Or on Sunday! Sunday is a great day for new beginnings!”

    But I intend to win this time. A stronger voice is emerging, one that reminds me I am my own benevolent dictator.

    So, things that are helping:
    - MyNetDiary, a very good/free iPhone app that helps me keep track of my calories
    - Water. Fucking water. I have to force myself to drink it. I only crave it when I am at the point of dehydration. Frankly, I hate how much I have to pee when I drink 8+ glasses a day. It GROSSES ME OUT! But…I have noticed that during times when I force myself to drink more of it I crave certain things less. These things are:
    o Sugar (generally, sweets and Coca Cola, and the like)
    o Bread (or other filler foods)
    - Exercises I can do at home or in normal every da actions, so I don’t feel like I’m “going to the gym”, which I hate. I hate the very thought of getting ready to go to a gym.
    - 30 Day Photo Challenge. When my brain is happy, active, and creative, my body usually follows the lead.

    So, we’ll see how it pans out.

  3. I have Very Hungry Caterpillar days more often than not, I think.

    The Board of Directors is a good way to think about it. Perhaps if I think about it that way, it won't be quite so hard to so No to the Hungry Hippo.

  4. Yay! Good for you with your latest lowest number! Focus on the success and keep movin' along.

    But yes, I have the Hungry Hungry Hippo and Very Hungry Caterpillar days myself. Sometimes I cave and shortly after that, I go to the gym.

    Another trick - and this might be kind of lame - but if I brush my teeth, floss and use mouthwash, it helps me to not cave.

  5. Lately my Hungry Hippo has been very aggressive, but most of the time the Chairman of the Board wins. In the coming weeks, I'm hoping to cage that Hippo.