Friday, January 7, 2011

The Banyan Tree

Thomas Edison, my MIL and me on the grounds of Edison's Winter Estate
Ft. Myers, FL - December 29, 2010

I think I may have had a major breakthrough yesterday.  I was getting close back in late July and early August, but life got in the way of deep introspection and now here it is January, 2011.  I am still the same control freak that I have been for years!  I could write a book on the subject, but the breakthrough I had was this: my most frequent and total relapses with respect to my eating habits, occur when placed (or forced) into situations in which I truly don't WANT to be.  The secondary breakthrough is realizing that a complete relapse that goes on and on for hours and/or days can, more often than not, be traced back to the original situation. 

Unfortunately, it took an eating extravaganza to see this, but I'm hoping that as I work out the intricacies of my 2011 motto, "FOOD WILL NO LONGER CONTROL MY LIFE, MY LIFE WILL CONTROL FOOD!", situations such as these will also no longer be about control.   Here's what happened!  The mother of a very dear friend of ours, died early Monday morning.  Immediately following the graveside service, I was invited to go to the home of some relative's where a meal was being served.  It was kind gesture, but I do not know the people whose home I was being invited to, I had eaten before going to the service, it was an unexpected invitation, we were expecting inclement weather to set in, and the truth is, I just plain didn't want to go.  I made every attempt to gracefully decline the invitation, but it became one of those situations where "no" wasn't going to be heard and it was beginning to feel awkward and rude if I continued to refuse.  So I went.  And I ate (and ate, and ate, and ate).  I was angry, frustrated and uncomfortable.  And it just snowballed from there.  By the time I left, the roads were becoming hazardous and I needed to make a quick stop by the grocery store for one item.  And it wasn't until several hours later, that I saw the consequences of the secondary issue.  Somehow that one item I needed from the grocery store became three items - two boxes of Triscuits, one of which is now gone!  And to complete the post of true confession.....when Mr. B got home, he was frustrated because I was stuffed and hadn't even though about HIS dinner, so he fixed a BOX of Macaroni and Cheese.  Of course, I finished off what he couldn't!  

Yesterday morning, had you told me ANY of this was going to happen, I would've laughed at you.  I felt strong, confident and had several days of good clean eating under my belt.  I had lost four pounds since January 1.  It all fell apart when I was forced into doing something I didn't want to do.  I was frustrated and I was MAD.

Now, we all know the easy answers here.  Of course, I had choices.  Of course, I could have stopped at any time and the outcomes would have been different.  But that's the whole point of this post.  It is a genuine roadblock in my journey to "normal" and until I take it apart bit by bit, I will continue to rebel when found in these types of "no choice" situations.   And if I look back over the past year, I can identify every single downward spiral and prove that it began in an instant with a situation almost identical to yesterday's.  It is NOT about the food!  It is about control and it is about anger. 

So what am I to do?  This will not be solved in a day or probably not in a year, but I still believe putting it together is a colossal step forward.  I've seen the pattern of one situation becoming a day/week/month long binge, but have always just thought, "I've messed up now, I'll restart tomorrow," and never connected the whole event to a single circumstance or event.

So here are my lessons from the Banyan Tree.  The Banyan Tree in today's picture was a gift to Thomas Edison from Harvey Firestone in 1925.  The most interesting fact about the Banyan Tree (native to India) is its aerial prop roots which extend from the main trunk and spread so quickly that it eventually becomes difficult to identify the original trunk.  The Banyan Tree at the Edison/Ford Winter Estate began as a 4-foot tall, 2 inch diameter sapling presented by Firestone to Edison in a butter tub.  It was transplanted on the estate and now it's prop roots cover more than an acre. 

1) Redirect Your Thoughts!
I have GOT to learn to do this.  These "no choice" and/or "I don't want to do this" situations are a very real part of life and allowing them to make me angry at someone else is childish.  It is a response that likely stems from something I haven't yet identified, so I can't discount the feelings, but I must redirect them.  And the thought to "redirect" must come instantly, intuitively and strongly enough to at least push aside the anger temporarily.  In yesterday's scenario, I actually had the luxury of time.  I was alone and it was 10-15 minute drive from the graveside to the home where the family was gathering.  Plenty of time to process and redirect.  Instead I used that time to fume and wander what food would be served.  
2) Plant Your Roots!
In my journey to a "normal" relationship with food, there have to be some non-negotiables.   These non-negotiables are "roots" which are planted and become so strong that one has no choice but to walk around them.  You certainly can't bend them or walk through them.  Those around you KNOW that your "roots" are immovable and over time, just accept that.  

I loved this picture and am willing it to come to mind when faced with one of "those" situations.  These are deep, deep roots, but there is a way through them.  Roots that began as a 2-inch sapling don't become an acre overnight.  
And I will do it one root at a time!

It's January 7 already!  Have you had any breakthroughs yet this year?


  1. I wish I could analyze the reasons I eat, the way you can. But I do know that when I am out of my controlled environment is (mostly) when I fall off the wagon. for thought. ;-)

  2. Okay - you figured out something big, something key. Seems to me that is major progress:) Now maybe you can come up with a breakthrough for me!

  3. Sharon,
    That is a huge breakthrough! I'm proud of you for getting to that point. Emotions are scary, and difficult to deal with at times. You're doing great and will continue to get to the 'root' of the issue!

  4. Sharon, That was a wonderful, very thoughtful and heart felt post. I do not pretend to be any kind of therapist, but it seems to me that the only way we can make our weight loss and getting healthy permanent is by having breakthroughs like you ha written about here. The more we understand why we do what we do, the more likely it is we can fix it.

    I would suggest that you make multiple copies of that picture and put one in your car, fridge, bathroom, and where ever else you go frequently to constantly remind yourself of your "new" roots.

  5. The only time we fail is when we stop asking ourselves 'why?' Even when we're on plan, it pays to stop and examine the 'why' of it all.

    Wishing you a smoother path ahead!

  6. Oh, Sharon. I so-o-o understand where you're coming from. This lack of control is exactly the sort of thing I posted about in my cranky, first blog of the year when I described how my New Year's Day and the day after that did not go at all the way I imagined. However, tomorrow I will post about the 3rd day of the month which went MY way because I MADE it happen. Visit me tomorrow, okay?

  7. I'm sorry for your dear friend's loss, Sharon.

    Your situation, afterwards, was not a complete disaster though. If opened the door to very good insight and an excellent analysis.

    So, have you figured out what you can do to train yourself to respond differently? I almost felt sorry for Mr. B and his box of mac & cheese, but then I remembered his fondness for snapping photos of your backside, and I got over my sympathy. hehehe

    Just teasing ...

    We've been to Edison's Ft. Myers estate. What's next? How about beachcombing on Captiva? Love that!

    You are missing snow, I hope you know. Enjoy the warmth for the rest of us. xx

  8. Hi Sharron,

    I kind of stumbled onto your blog, and have been reading it, and enjoying it for the last half-hour! I too am 55, and have let food take over my life more than once. In the past year I have lost 50 pounds, but over the holidays gained back at least 10 of that! I'm ready for a new start . . . I need to get back on track! Your blog is very inspiring and uplifting - thank you, I plan on visiting often!

  9. Great job Sharon! You are an inspiration to everyone!

  10. Huge breakthrough sharon. love it... FOOD WILL NOT CONTROL MY LIFE. I WILL CONTROL MY FOOD. If you don't mind, I'm gonna borrow that mantra and place it on my fridge.

    Sharon, thank you for commenting on my blog. I appreciate your support.

  11. MAD makes me eat, too!!!

    I've been to Edison's Winter Estate and walked among the banyans. Great analogy.

    Have an excellent week, Sharon!


  12. Great motto! That should be a lifelong motto! :-)

  13. Sharon, I love those tree pictures.

    I'm not 100% sure that my way is right, but can I challenge you? I have been in that same situation as you before, and felt the same way. Can't remember if it resulted in me overeating. But do remember the extreme discomfort.

    I did learn to say no to situations like that. You didn't even know those people. They would not have been hurt that someone they didn't know did not show up.

    Changes like this are slow to make. But now people know me and I think accept me as I am. I still occasionally get a nice invitation to things like this (social situations at work come to mind) but they pretty much know I will decline. I truly don't believe anyone is offended by the way I have chosen to live my life. Another part of it is my determination to simplify my life.

    I do have to chuckle because one time my determination to not do something social that would make me uncomfortable got me 'in trouble.' I decided not to go to a party that I had previously said I would attend. I called and apologized to the hostess for cancelling. She very aggressively asked me WHY I was not coming, and I said back (a little snootily) that I did not have to give her a reason for not attending.

    Evidently that really bugged the life out of her, and months later she went to our pastor and 'told on me.' My pastor called and wanted to meet with her and me together, which I initially agreed to. Then I thought about it, and told him I would not do that. It was not the Biblically correct way to handle the situation. But that I would go to her in person to apologize for offending her. We had a very good talk. But she told me later that that also threw her for a loop. Whatever...

    If you want to talk about this more, just email me.

  14. I have seen that tree and it is awesome.

    One root at a time, I like that!