Thursday, December 30, 2010

Help Me Explain!

 Along the Venetian Waterway Bike Path - Venice, Florida
December 22, 2010

You are about to get a sneak preview of my 2011 New Year Philosophy.  Rather than making New Year's Resolutions this year, I decided to adopt a new philosophy, then develop monthly strategies designed to help me along in the shift.  But I've run into a problem and I need your help!  

Mr. B and I have taken some long walks this week and he has done a lot of listening.  I began early this week trying to explain and clarify my new philosophy to him and ask for his support.  The problem is - he can't see it.  No matter how I try to explain and give examples, he tells me he sees no difference between the two statements - they say the same thing to him.  

I believe that once you read this statement, every one of you will smile, nod and agree that you know EXACTLY what I mean and the difference between the two lines.  So I'm thinking maybe you can say it in a way that I can show him that will make it "click" in his mind.  So how would YOU explain this to a normal eater at a normal weight with a normal appetite and no desire or tendency to EVER overeat? 


Here are three approaches I've taken trying to get him to understand:

1) When you ask if we can have friends over for dinner Friday night and I say "no," you think it's because I don't want to put in the time to clean house, plan menus, go to the grocery store, etc., but that's not it at all.  I don't want to have friends over Friday night because I am currently "on-plan" and don't want to deal with the temptation or take the risk of messing up.  That is food controlling my life, NOT my life controlling food!

2)  When we get ready to take a weekend trip and you ask if just this once, can we be spontaneous instead of planning every meal ahead of time and lugging a giant cooler, and I say "no," you think I'm being cheap.  That's not it at all.  I don't want to deal with restaurant temptations and portion control.   I want to have all the "control" I need in that cooler.   That is food controlling my life, NOT my life controlling food!

3)  In 1982, when the American's With Disabilities Act was first passed, I was the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for a bank in our town.  In training for understanding the ramifications of that act, we were taught that a disability is anything that "substantially impairs any one or more functions required to perform routine tasks necessary for daily living."  (Please don't quote me on that - it's close, but that was a long time ago!!)  My last ditch effort at explaining to Mr. B what this meant was to tell him that according to this definition, my relationship with food could be classified as a "disability" because it substantially impairs my ability to perform normal tasks and have normal relationships.  Every decision I make and every thought I process is somehow related to food.  That is food controlling my life, NOT my life controlling food!

He is not being obstinate.  I've been married to him for 33 1/2 years - I know what obstinate looks like and this is not it!  (Obstinate was when we got in the car at Adcock Pecans last week and he pulled out that box of "Turtles" he bought while I was in the restroom!)   No, he truly doesn't get it and I need for him to understand before I have any hope of being successful - he is my cheering section and greatest supporter, but he has to know what he's cheering for. And he has to truly "get" that it's a whole lot deeper than just "stop eating."  People like us (me and you) don't just meet a friend for coffee at Panera and are so excited about seeing the friend that we don't even notice what's in the bakery case, do we? 

But I'm getting ahead of myself!  This post is not about HOW I'm going to get to this new place - that will come in a couple of days.  In fact, this post wasn't even intended until we got back from our walk a few minutes ago and it occurred to me that maybe one of you could explain in a way that would break through the mental block I seem to have created in his head.  Would you at least give it a try?????

BTW,  I'll give you one hint as to exactly HOW I plan to accomplish this shift of philosophy........................
Endangered Gopher Tortoise - Venice, FL
December 22, 2010


Any suggestions, examples, feedback will be greatly appreciated.   Maybe there will be a grand prize of some sort for the person who provides the comment that makes it "click" with Mr. B!   Thanks, friends!


  1. I've never thought about the difference between these two statements... mostly because the difference is so obvious to me.

    I'm not certain how to explain it except to say that in the first statement (food will no longer control my life), food comes first. Currently, food dictates how you live your life.

    Whereas in the second statement (my life will control food), living your life comes before food. In the second statement, food is an afterthought to life. Food is eaten in the course of living and doing the things you want to do with family or friends. But when food is in control, the things you'll do with family or friends is determined by your relationship with food.

    You're in a real dilemma, and I hope you'll find a way to explain this.

  2. Hey friend, it looks like you guys are having a wonderful time. Here's my go at explaining to Mr. B. In playing a piano piece, instead of plunking along to the metronome (being controlled by it's settings) you follow the composer's notations for different sections of the piece. Food temptations (dinner guests, meals in restaurants, and stray turtles) urge you to revert to the metronome's insistent beat, you need to control this part of your life (in regards to food) by following the markings in the piece (no allegretto eating!), or giving it your own interpretation. How's that??

  3. Scenario #1, the Friday night dinner party:

    Say, "Yes, dear, that would be great. I will be more than happy to clean the house, plan the menu, and cook and present the food to our guests, because it will be NO temptation to me. I am so focused and "on-plan" that I am sure beyond a doubt that I can sail right through that dinner party and not eat a single bite, lick or taste of anything not on my plan. Go ahead and ask them all to come at six. Dinner will be at seven."

    Sharon will say this with conviction, because she knows,


  4. I sooooo talk about that same thing so I get it! Of course, I LIVE it and Mr. B doesn't. Does he get the difference between eat to live and live to eat? Wish I had a great example for you. I am going to ask my husband if he gets it - maybe a male perspective would help.

  5. Well. I, of course, totally get the difference in the two statements.

    When I am in control of food, food is a matter-of-fact part of my life--not the central driving force that determines my every move and thought.


  6. Let me take a shot at this. I apologize in advance that it will be long. Also, I am inferring a lot of pieces that may or may not be true from my own personal experience. Please modify any of what I say to adjust for the inaccuracies that this causes… That having been said, here it goes. I tried to organize this into steps, but feel free to adjust the presentation order and/or method.

    STEP 1 – Ask your husband if he has ever felt completely out of control with respect to his behavior due to an outside influence – something that is truly like Romans 7:15 (I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.) I doubt if this is an example that he has experienced, but I hear that compulsive gambling is very difficult to stop. Even when all outside evidence indicates that the gambling is ruining the person’s life (as well as the lives of those around them), the gambler just cannot stop. Is there anything like this that your husband can identify with? If so, have him keep this in mind and imagine situations where he is certain to face these kinds of situations.

    STEP 2 – Think about all of the addiction stuff you hear about, see on TV, watch in movies, etc. I think about alcoholism, drugs, and smoking the most, but I think there are plenty of other examples too. All addictions are quite tough to break. Any reseach and most anecdotal evidence will bear this out. Unlike many (most?) addictions, food is not something you can do without. You can quit drinking. You can avoid bars and places where you are likely to encounter triggers. If you are a food addict or consider yourself one (as I do), I view what you’re describing in the examples in your post as something similar: you’re playing defense against something that you know has the potential to ruin your progress or upset the apple cart. This defense is what has allowed you to be successful so far. Lack of defense has not produced the desired results and, hence, you’ve been playing defense.

    STEP 3 – Revisit the three examples you had in your post, as they are all great. Now imagine that there were no food involved. Let’s pick your second example with the spontaneous trip. Imagine that you were faced with the decision to go on a spontaneous trip. You weigh the pros and cons and, even though it might be out of your comfort zone – you had stuff you wanted to do around the house, you didn’t want to spend the money (even accounting for a bit of extra expense equal to the cost of non-cooler food), etc – you would say yes and the desire for a fun, unplanned vacation would win out if there were no food involved. However, when food is reintroduced into the equation (and imagine that again, all else truly is equal – expense, time to plan, etc) then the outcome is different. The only thing changing the way the scales tip in terms of the decision made is food. This means that you’ve ceded control to food and that you’re no longer the one in control. Does this make sense? Again (as I mentioned in step 2), you’re avoiding situations that you think will cause you trouble and assuming a defensive position. What are you playing defense against? Food. What does that mean? You’re giving the control to food. Food has the offensive position, and you’re playing defense.

  7. STEP 4 – Consider the three examples again with the thought pattern described in step 3. Imagine that, in the absence of food and all of its spider-webbing implications, you would go on the spontaneous trip. Now of course, food is not absent from the equation. It is something your body needs, and something that will with certainty be present in the trip. However, with your new philosophy described in the post, you recognize this but say “You know what? I am stronger than the food. I recognize this will be a challenge. I know that there are not likely to be great choices. I will probably make mistakes I can learn from. But – in spite of this – I want to go on this trip.” You’re taking back the power and playing offense. You’re the one in control, not the food. That’s basically how I would summarize your new philosophy: you’re moving from a defensive position to an offensive one, and taking the control away from food.

    Does this make sense? As an engineer, I tend to think in bullet points and steps and perhaps this will be helpful as males tend to be linear thinkers (of course, people of all genders differ, so this may not be the case in your personal situation).

    I look forward to hearing how this goes and I hope that there is at least a little something in here that will help. Thinking and praying for you girl!

  8. Sharon, I go through similar things with my husband. Talk until I'm blue in the face and he still has a blank look....until, I turn the problem around and hypothetically make it HIS. Find some example for your husband and say something like, 'let's say that it was YOU who......' and then ask, 'how would YOU feel if that happened to you?' It's only then that my husband gets what I'm saying. He has to imagine himself in a similar situation. Maybe you've already tried this, but if not, it's worth a shot.....good luck!

  9. I've been thinking about this. It is so obvious to me and that makes it so frustrating that I can't think of the perfect way to explain it for your husband. Is he a sports fan? Maybe a sports analogy would work. Someone who controls sports can watch them when they want, enjoy watching or playing, but someone who is letting sports control them would be the person who might miss an important family event because a game was on TV.

    I was also thinking about myself and examples when I talked about this with my husband. If I controlled food - I would eat when I was hungry and for sustenance but also, at time, for pleasure. Because food controls me it has become a negative focus in my life. I think about it too much. If we get invited out I don't want to go because of what may be served. I ask my husband not to bring certain foods into the house because I cannot resist them - they are controlling me. If I was in control I could have anything around me and either not hear it calling or resist it easily or maybe even eat it in moderation. Maybe another analogy would be alcoholism.

  10. I get what you are trying to say and I thought your explanations using examples were spot on regarding what you are trying to change!

    I am not sure that the second statement makes sense even though I understand what you are trying to say.

    Right now food controls your thoughts and choices. In the future you plan to change your thought process regarding food and your new way of thinking is going to prevent food from controlling your every choice.

    Perhaps you need to just go with the first statement that "Food will no longer control your life."

    When you adopt the philosophy that your life choices and decisions are no longer going to revolve around food, the second statement isn't necessary.

    Does that make sense?

    Have you read Dr Phils Weight loss book The Ultimate Weight Solution? He talks about all or nothing thinking on page 68.

    This might help your hubby to understand how you have thought about food in the past. You are either being very strict in regards with your food and if you stray even slightly from your restrictive food regimen then you throw caution to the wind and it is a free for all where food is concerned.

    That is allowing food to control your life.

    I use to be that kind of person, it is exhausting to say the least.

    When you stop trying to be the perfect dieter it frees you up from this type of thinking and you stop letting food have so much control.

    Dr Phil says that our weight is managed, it isn't cured.

    When we change the way we think about our food choices, stop the on a diet, off a diet mentality there is a huge shift in our ability to eat normally. No longer are we in a feast or famine mind set.

    It is so freeing.

    I want that for you.

  11. It is tough to explain to someone who does not understand. I think if you say exactly those responses, I think Mr B will get it.

    Have a happy new year!

  12. This is a toughie--like trying to explain why you can't just eat one cookie, or stop at 1 or 2 turtles.

    I don't have any answers, but I tend to agree with Tami in that the first part of the statement might resonate more with Mr. B. (who earns my admiration for *wanting* to understand.) Maybe by rewording to a simple "My life is not controlled by food" and then enlisting his help by telling him when your inner food Nazi rears her head, he'll begin to see the pattern and grow closer to understanding.

    I'll continue to ponder. Maybe I'll come up with something useful. :)

  13. Sharon, I swear we were twins about this at one time. It wasn't just my husband, but my entire family that went into ecstasy nearly daily when discussing food and food-related events, and bringing treats into the house. I thought it would be easier when we moved away from our hometown, but it wasn't. We hooked up with a bunch of new people who partied constantly, and the spreads that were laid out for each party rivaled those of legendary Roman orgies.

    After I reached my peak weight of about 220, I worked hard at breaking away from the party group. They were all nice people, but we were very different in our interests and beliefs, so I wasn't leaving them just because of the partying.

    I also began begging my husband not to bring treats into the house. I told him he could buy anything he wanted for himself and keep it at work or in the trunk of his car. He would make an attempt to follow this rule, but I can see now that I wasn't serious about my commitment, because I would then bake wonderful, rich desserts and we would easily abandon our resolve.

    So more years passed -- I managed to gradually reduce to 208 where I pretty much stayed for the next few years, occasionally dropping 10 pounds, but always gaining it back. I went through menopause, which helped tremendously because it ended my food cravings. Still, though, I suffered because my husband was constantly wanting to eat out, or bringing treats home. If only he wouldn't....if he could just stop.... And then it hit me...and this is the best advice I can give you.

    I realized that THE WORLD WAS NOT GOING TO CHANGE FOR ME -- whatever changes I wanted to make for myself were going to come from myself. If my husband wanted to bring treats into the house, that was his business. I only asked him to keep them out of sight and not eat them in front of me. I stopped baking. I stopped buying ice cream (my very favorite food which I had eaten nearly daily since the age of about 10 or 11). Eating out is still a big treat for my husband when we travel, and we traveled a lot during the last 5 months of 2010, but it is no longer a problem for me. I plan ahead for this -- before we even get to a restaurant, I visualize myself taking a quick glance at the menu and then ordering a salad and asking them to bring me an appetizer as my dinner selection. I don't look at desserts, unless we are at a buffet and then I generally will have one scoop of ice cream.

    Oh, I could go on with little behavior modifications -- you've been doing this for a long time -- I'm sure you know them all. Honestly, the big thing for me was the "world is not going to change for me" thought.

    Please say that out loud -- say it firmly and positively -- repeat it till it becomes a lightbulb moment for you. When you finally accept that, you will see that, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you yourself had the power all the time to do the thing you desire.

    Once my husband saw that I was really serious about my weight and health, he stopped bringing treats home. Yes, he still likes goodies when we're out, but what he puts in his mouth has nothing to do with what I put in mine.

    I love how positive you sounded in your second statement -- "My life will control food." You will do it this year. I still need to lose about 40 - 50 more pounds. Let's make a pact to stay on track and lose our pounds together this year. Are you with me?

  14. I need to send a copy of this post to my Boyfriend. He just doesn't understand.