My friends' little 18-month-old seems to be going through a phase of whacking his forehead against various surfaces… tables, people, bookshelves. He just totters up and thrashes away like he's at a heavy metal concert. Quite often the surface is unforgiving and it all ends in tears. Then two minutes later he's back for another go. Whack whack whack. Same result.

That is how this weight maintenance malarkey feels to me: bashing my head against the same brick walls, over and over again; seeing how it feels and testing my limits, before eventually concluding, Actually, bloody hell… THAT HURTS.

I mentioned a month ago there's a little corner shop near our new place. It has taken me almost that long to be able to go inside said shop without feeling the need to buy Something Nice every single time. I kept dropping in for a pint of milk or a newspaper and winding up in front of the sweets display, flushed with the thrill of having goodies so conveniently close to my place of dwelling and feeling compelled to take advantage of it. A Twix here, a Freddo Frog or two there.

I've been fighting this stupid compulsion all my life. I've written before about growing up on a farm where the food was ultra healthy and the nearest shop was a twenty minute drive. Every second spent away from there – Chez Grandparents, friend's houses, in line at the school canteen with a fifty cent coin burning in my palm – was a precious, desperate Opportunity To Eat The Good Stuff. Of course it got worse when I moved to a big town for university – endless shops and possibilities with no supervision.

Kitteh Over the years l've slowly learned the obvious lesson that there is always going to be shops with delicious things in them… the supply is not going to dry up. The problem is I keep forgetting that lesson. I keep needing refresher courses. 

Last Wednesday night I went out for loo paper. The best value was KittenSoft, pictured here with the docile beast on the packet. I tried to interpret his expression as I joined the checkout queue. Yes, I am soft and fluffy, but must you wipe your butt on me?

The queue was conveniently located next to sweets display, so the familiar flutter kicked in. OMG! Chocolate at 20 paces! What do I want what do I want?

But this time, unlike the last bazillion visits, I stopped. Just like when my wee friend tested his noggin' on the washing machine, the novelty suddenly wore off. 

Hang on. I even don't want a chocolate. Sure the wrappers are shiny but the contents are not that thrilling. Also, I'm not stranded on a farm anymore. The shop will still be here tomorrow. So there's no need to stock up like the world is about to end.

But WHY do I have to experience the "thrill" of a dozen Freddo Frog expeditions before I remember this? And also remember that tight jeans feel unpleasant? That I don't actually like Freddo Frogs?

There's nothing wrong with eating chocolate. It's just the crazy brand of eating chocolate that gets on my goat. Just when I think I've figured it out, that I can have a calm and considered relationship with food, I falter. Like when the Christmas goodies flooded the office last week, I went all Free Food cuckoo and had to five different Quality Streets before remembering they're stinkin' and I've never liked them.

Well, no profound conclusions here, comrades. Just the endless frustrations of a slow learner.

32 thoughts on “Headbanger

  1. Hmm I do like Freddo Frogs but I get the point. I’m trying not to eat everything in sight right now and having some success. Little steps…Just like you always said.

  2. Girl, you’re singing my song! LOL – I need to relearn that eating well makes me feel better than not, and regular exercise is really good… on average, four times a year? Also, don’t let myself get TOO hungry, don’t shop whilst PMS-ing, caffeine is not the answer every time…
    What’s helped is to set up boundaries – so maybe once a week through the starbucks line up I let myself pick a treat, rather than every time… of course, I’m still TEMPTED every time, LOL.

  3. American grocery stores have all the candy and gum located conveniently at the check out. On my left, conveyor full of fruits and veggies and wise food choices. On my right, boxes and boxes of chocolaty goodness. It’s a battle played out weekly. Sometimes I win, sometimes not. 🙂

  4. I think if the deprived brat in me had her way, I’d just stop eating everything healthy and just survive on forbidden goods. Party all the time. Even that would get old!

    They should have raised us all opposite. Fed us junk all the time. When we finally found REAL food, we’d go crazy on all the spinach we could get our hands on. Apples would be sinfully delicious, and salmon would be tastier than sliced bread. It’s all in our heads I guess…

    Merry Christmas!

  5. The “something nice” for me treat is such a bad habit, I know! Supermarket shopping and especially when buying petrol… damn you Shell and all your specials on chips and chocolate!

    Ditch the junk and have a quality treat (not Quality Street!) once a week. Savour the niceness! Green and Blacks is your treat right Shauna? I think I have seen that here in Australia, is it organic chocolate?

  6. My non-scientific theory is that it is a matter of time. At the point where the number of years you’ve lived as a fat person equals the number of years you’ve lived as a non-fat person, the skies open, the angels sing, and all such food irrationalities disappear (or something like that).

    And I don’t like Quality Street either.

  7. Getting something nice from the shop is my reward … for going to the shop! Doesn’t make much sense, does it.

    It’s hard to resist sometimes though.

  8. Hey there folks! How’s it going?

    @Kathryn – That’s it! Shopping sucks so much, surely we should be rewarded!

    @Mich – that theory is SO depressing! This means I have like another 20 years to go! 😛

    @Cath – Yep it’s organic chocolate and it’s lovely! It is my once a week treat but I keep having these crappy treats as well, hehe.

    @Heather – I hear ya! Merry Christmas matey 🙂

  9. Yep, I hear you. I’ve been eating Roses (the chocolates, not the plants) which I don’t like – because they’re chocolate and they’re there. And ‘treat’ to me definitely means sugar+saturated fat+chemicals. No matter how much the ‘intellectual’ part of my brain points out that overeating leads to fatness leads to self-loathing which leads to overeating (in me I hasten to add), I still don’t seem to be able to escape that particular vicious circle

  10. local grocery store had a candy/snack free check out aisle for a very long time. the idea was to have it available for people that did not want to have their kids whining and begging – but I always wondered how many adults used it (like me!) for themselves too – to quiet that inner child.

    Some where I read a study where they had you eat ONE – SLOWLY to see if you even liked the things that people tend to eat one right after the other. The only example I can remember is Hershey’s kisses – that if you ate ONE and really paid attention – that it tastes waxy and not so good.

    I also have noticed that I associate places with food. There is a little town that I drive thru on occasion – and every time – I think of ice cream sandwiches. WHY I have no idea. I don’t remember even ever stopping in this town. I normally just drive thru – but the ice cream sandwiches thought – invades EVERY time.

  11. For some reason this reminds me of when I was a student, and decided that going to the supermarket was so unpleasant that I deserved a cake as a reward. The inevitable result was that I would go to the supermarket *more* to get cake. I would even offer to shop for the boys downstairs from us as well… who doubtless thought it was all their birthdays at once as they never had to set foot in Sainsbury’s.

  12. “The shop will still be here tomorrow”

    Yes, what IS IT about that concept? When I’m around sweets, I want to eat them all until there are NONE LEFT. It’s like their very existence offends me somehow and I must destroy them! Well, not really, but for some reason I can’t seem to permanently grasp the idea. It makes me realize how much food or a type of food can be an addiction – your description of every moment away from the farm being an opportunity: I can assure you that’s just what it was like when I was a smoker!

  13. I think having some Quality Street at Christmas might actually be compulsory in this country. A bit like having Irn Bru when you have a hangover.

  14. As it is Christmas, I am going to de-lurk with an unrelated comment.

    I just want to say thanks, really. I have lost 5 stone this year and part of that is down to reading your blog and your book and also joining a ‘posh gym’.

    Thanks for all the inspiration Shauna. Merry Christmas!

  15. Nodding my head here with you all!

    @Marla – Exactly! It’s permanently grasping the idea that is the problem. Do you think our brains only grasp an idea for a certain amount of time before they run out of steam… use up all their RAM like a computer – then you need a reboot. Or a boot up the backside! 🙂

    @Sheppitsgal – WOW… go you good thing! You must be feeling fantastic. All the best to you and merry xmas!

  16. I’m far too familiar with what I like to call “bloody-head syndrome.” This post is worth printing out in multiple copies, one for the fridge, one for the car, one for the pantry.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Shauna (and Dr. G), and thanks so much for your inspiration and honesty.

  17. I totally know what you mean about this. Then, how much of the sweet stuff you’re eating totally creeps up on you. Not everyone has to do this — some people are stronger than me! — but I just Never Eat It (a la the Food Addicts), and then I don’t get the siren call quite as much.

  18. I think I want to visit Scotland just so I can try all these weird candies you talk about. Freddo Frogs? They don’t have those in the shops around here.

  19. Where I used to live, I had several little shops about 30 seconds walk away.

    I used to buy my fruit and veg from one which had a big greengrocer section outside. (It sold all the usual stuff line crisps and chocolate too.)

    But hen I wanted greedy quantities of chocolate, I would go to a *different* little shop so that the fruit-and-veg shop owner wouldn’t be horrified…

    Thankfully, the corner shop near me now has such poor service I usually only go in for stuff I really NEED.

  20. Yep! It’s a bummer – the alluring relentlessness of ‘treats’. I totally know what you mean.

    But however ‘slow’ you feel you are learning, you’re still in the groove and your post reminded me of the tortoise and hare story.

    Slow gets there. And often faster than we realise. So maybe not so slow after all. : )

    Happy Christmas to you and Dr G.

    Big kiss.

    Mrs Lard xxxxxxxxx

  21. Augh, yes. Do you think The Darkness might be a factor at the moment? Body thinking “must compensate for lack of sunlight with sugar”?

    I’ve not been too bad since I’ve been off work, because the treats here are limited and have to last, if we have any. But at work, the siren call of the Caramel Rocky bars, which don’t even have particularly nice caramel in them… let’s just say, I know what you’re talking about, but not what to do about it.

  22. It’s tough. I had Christmas cookies and fudge this week and regained the weight I lost for December. But there’s still time to remove it again before the New Year rolls in. No use in waiting til January 1.

  23. I’m just dropping by to send lots of lovely Christmas wishes to you, Girlie!

    I hope you get to enjoy some traditional Aussie holiday cuisine over the break. You know: pav, Tim Tams, a sausage-in-bread-with-sauce ….that kind of classy thing.

    Here’s to plenty of DG wisdom and wit in the New Year! *clink*

  24. Have a happy holiday, Friend.

    Im off to total my donationdrivestuff and will post at the top of todays post!

    thank YOU for all your help.

  25. Story of my life! LOL

    I’m dropping by to wish you a very Merry Christmas! I’ve been reading your blog since for maybe 4 years now, and I got your book to keep me company during a business trip to Kazakhstan. You’re such an inspiration!

    Happy New Year!

  26. Yep, Roses knock Quality Street into a cocked hat. Those dark chewy ones with the nuts in….cor…

    Great work on nailing that impulse and overcoming it. You’re too hard on yourself methinks, you’ve come so far, don’t forget it! There are so many other sweet delicious things out there that ARE amazing and worth consuming with gusto (and it has taken me SUCH a long time to learn this too).

    Happy Christmas DG!

    TA x

  27. My particular version of this is going out for a coffee. Here they serve coffee, inevitably, with a little mini chocolate biscuit, postage-stamp-sized square of brownie or a chocolate wafer the size of your little finger. At least those treats are small, but actually they don´t taste that great, but I still go out for coffee primarily for the little sweet thing on the side, not for the caffeine. Crazy, no? On the other hand, I’ve been working hard on developing new habits and making some places food free. I now never eat at the cinema or theatre or on public transport (except aeroplanes). That has helped.

  28. This is a batlle i constantly battle as well. why is candy in a nicely organized shelf so hard to resist? It doesn’t help that it is staring you square in the face while you wait for an eternity for the old lady in front of you to pay for her groceries in coins.

    While it has finally started to sink in a bit with the office goodies, i still have alot to learn about chocolates and will power.

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