Way back when I first started working from home, one of my worries was what to do about food, more specifically how to control my urge to cook and eat all the time now that I had ready access to my own kitchen all day long. Well, the first thing I can say is thank God I have a demanding, varied, and interesting job that doesn’t leave me bored, wandering around the house looking for ways to avoid working. Secondly, thank God for blogs and blogging, which seem to be occupying a good deal of what used to be my commuting time, so that between 5:00 and 6:00, I’m busy reading and commenting on extraordinarily wonderful stuff. Otherwise, I might be busy “cleaning the fridge.” You know, putting everything from it that isn’t rotten into my body, which doesn’t count as eating dinner before dinner, because I’m just “cleaning the fridge.”
Despite these two distractions, however, I still seem to have found some ways to take in more calories than I’m burning and have discovered I’ve been putting on about a quarter pound of weight every week since I started this telecommute. That may not sound like much, but it means ten pounds by the end of the year and twenty by the end of two, and God knows, I’d better get fired before the end of year five, because I don’t want to see what my 5’3” frame will look like with an extra 50 pounds on it. Nor do I want to have to be lugging that extra fifty pounds around with me.
The trouble is I’m lazy when it comes to weight control. I don’t start out that way. I’ll buy a special notebook meant to record what I eat, and I’ll meticulously keep it up for a day or two, noting even toothpaste as I put it into my mouth. But by day five or so, if I remember I have it, I’m picking it up at the end of the day, looking at it, and thinking “well, I didn’t eat that much more than I did the first day, so let’s not bother today.” For someone who likes to cook with fresh ingredients, counting calories is a royal pain in the ass, because nothing comes with a nutrition label and, chances are, each dish has at least six different ingredients that have to be looked up in some mammoth calorie counts book. This book will provide the counts for every frozen dinner Swanson ever made, as well as for such high-demand foods as pickled pigs’ feet, but doesn’t seem to realize mangoes or Smart bacon exist.
And then there’s exercise. It used to be that all I had to do was exercise, and I really didn’t need to worry about what or how much I ate. And exercise could consist of a twenty-minute walk to work in the morning and back in the afternoon and long bike rides on the weekends, and my doctor would proclaim me to be one of the healthiest patients he had. Now, I have to train for marathons and watch everything that goes into my mouth, and my doctor still warns me about my heart-disease and cancer risks.
The other problem is that, even though I’m one of those people who can find herself so involved in something that she forgets to eat, once my stomach starts to really growl, I can’t ignore it. Often, eating is something I’m doing merely to stop the hunger pains, which means I’m reaching for something convenient and filling, like chunks of cheese and huge slices of bread. (I’ve often wished eating were a little more like sex. When you’re in the mood to cook up a lavish seven-course meal and have the time to enjoy it, you could, but if you really weren’t in the mood or didn’t have time, you could just skip it, and it wouldn’t kill you. Or if you suddenly found yourself starving, and it was completely inconvenient to eat, you could just wait a little while and know it would probably go away without your having to do anything about it.)
So, what am I going to do? I’m going to try this. I just picked up the book at the library this week. It sounds easy enough. I think even someone as lazy as I am can manage to drink a little sugar water or take a tablespoonful of olive oil every day, and the theory behind it sounds right to me (address the need to eat less, not so much what you eat), especially since I’m basically a nutrition-freak by nature and believe whole-heartedly in the idea that everyone needs to eat a wide variety of healthy foods every day. Fad diets that restrict food groups aren’t for me. This doesn't sound like it should even be called a "diet."
If I start wasting away to nothing, I’ll let you know. Likewise, if that quarter-pound creeps up to 2 pounds per week.