I’ve always loved turtles/tortoises. I had one as a pet growing up, his name was Timothy the Turtle, and he was a Red-Eared Slider. When I was wiccan I often went back and forth between horse, wolf and tortoise as my spirit animal.
I loved horses, and aesthetically there was a time I wanted my spirit animal to be something cool, or majestic, like a horse or a wolf. But my introvert nature, my slow-moving sluggishness, my hide-until-it-goes-away defense system. I think we know which animal I am more like.
The story of the tortoise and the hare is one almost everyone knows. For those that don’t it’s simple. A hare challenges a tortoise to a race. The slow moving tortoise agrees, and the race begins. The hare, so full of himself and arrogant, so sure of his success, lays down to take a nap. He’s pretty sure he can catch a few winks before finishing the race and still win. But while he sleeps that steady old tortoise meanders right past him and across the finish line first.
That is the aspect of the tortoise I do not share, but I need to embrace: patience.
I’ve never had much patience in my life. I always want it and want it now. That goes with weight loss, and with eating.
One wizened old southern wizard told me to just count calories. He’d seen me struggle, watched my attempt to starve myself eating nothing but kale soup, or salads. He told me time and again to just count calories. Measure and weigh and count. My impatience didn’t want to hear it. Didn’t want to hear that he and a friend had already lost a good amount of weight doing absolutely nothing but calorie counting. I wanted a magical cure that would make me lose 10 pounds every week.
In the middle of last week I decided to give it a shot. I got the MyFitnessPal app and started counting. So far only one day have I succeeded in staying within my calorie limit. But this weekend I went grocery shopping and prepared. Starting today I intend to succeed.
This was my lunch today. Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers. They are 230 calories, with a decent amount of fiber and protein, not a whole lot of sodium and carbs, and it was damn tasty. That and it fit my lazy nature of not having to prepare it.
I realized something while eating this. As I took that last bite, chewed and swallowed and looked forlornly down at the bowl, I really grasped my food addiction. It’s said that eating food creates feel-good chemicals in your brain, a high (if not as strong as a real drug high). But that these feelings only last as long as you’re actively eating. They go away as soon as your done.
This is my problem. I love that feel good feeling while eating. I want it all the time. Watching TV, playing ESO, drawing, reading, working. I want to eat tasty food all of the time. I never feel satisfied, even if my stomach feels full. The only times I really think “No, I don’t want food right now” is either when I am already so incredibly uncomfortably full I’m about to be sick, or I’m sick for some unrelated reason.
Right now my stomach is full. I’m not hungry. And after that tasty lunch I’m not fighting with myself to go downstairs and get a snack. But I know in an hour or so I’ll begin to get that itch, and the vending machine will be all I can think of. Luckily I brought further snacks. And not carrots or celery that I wont actually look forward to. I brought a 100 calorie single serving popcorn and a clementine (40 calories). So I can have the clementine around 2pm and the popcorn around 3:30-4pm and that should keep me from hitting up the vending machine.
Most of all though, I need to be patient with myself. I need to realize that losing weight is going to take years, not weeks or months. It’s a slow and steady race, I just have to keep trudging.