Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mental Health Day

I didn't post yesterday because I pretty much did nothing. I never set foot outside the house and spent a good part of the day playing my daughter's new computer game. (If you want a new non-food addiction it's called Bookworm -- it's basically Scrabble and Tetris combined. I adore the brainy word games!)

We normally have lots of things to do on Saturday; yesterday Mabel was supposed to be at acrobatics at 11 a.m. and was scheduled to cheer for pewee football at 1 p.m. But Thursday she got sent home from school with an unruly bout of asthma, and Friday morning she had a fever of 99.5 degrees F and I kept her home for the day. Saturday morning she still had the nasty cough, so I decided not to drag her out in the 40-degree weather and risk her taking a downhill plunge.

As a side note, we've been dealing with my daughter's asthma since she was 2. When she turned six she had her only hospital stay due to it, which scared me to death. It was at that point the doctor prescribed Advair, and that has amazingly improved our control of the asthma. This week's attack is due to the fact that Mabel left her Advair inhaler at her cousin's house last weekend. It was too soon to get a refill from the pharmacy (darn health insurance) and my sister and I have such hectic schedules that it's hard to get together to transfer our daughters' left behind items.

One more aside: I grew up with asthma, and I thought when I adopted a daughter I would prevent passing this joy on to my child. But some Higher Power decided I still needed to help someone else cope with this disorder, so HP gave me Mabel. Funny, huh? The good thing is, despite the asthma, my daughter is still very active and hasn't had the weight gain issues I had. (Of course, I come from hearty German stock and a grandfather nicknamed Tubby, and she's Asian, so there's a lot of other genetics at play there.)

Anyway, I took great joy in calling to note Mabel's absence at her activities and relished my time standing still. In the morning I read Jonathan's post from Friday the 13th entitled "Please Understand Me" and it gave me such validation. His descriptions of the difference between introvert and extrovert perfectly described my husband and me:

"[The] best way to think of it is this: at a social gathering, an extrovert gathers energy, whereas an introvert spends energy. So on Saturday mornings I may deal with 100 people and enjoy every minute of it, but by noon, I'm beat and I need to sit alone quietly for a couple of hours."

My husband literally thrives on being with people: he's told me repeatedly he could have his friends and family around him 24/7 and he would be thrilled. I'm the opposite. Even if I'm with my favorite people in the world, after a certain period I can feel myself dragging. Maybe that's why I never feel refreshed from the "typical" vacation that involves lots of activities, dealing with lots of crowds and being with your fellow travelers around the clock. In fact, I usually need a few days of inactivity to recover.

Even though I enjoyed my day off, I had one big challenge. I woke up ravenous. I ate one bowl of cereal and still felt so friggin' hungry afterwards I ate a second. It was measured portions of low-calorie cereal and skim milk, so I didn't cause any damage at all. But still, throughout the day it felt like there was a fierce lioness inside of me prowling the house for the nearest gazelle. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but last month I had at least two other Saturdays like this. I just couldn't seem to get satisfied, and both times I finished the day with an unglorified amount of food.

When I mentioned my unceasing hunger to my husband yesterday he wrote it all off as my body needing more nutrients and energy because I had "deprived" it all week. But something told me there was more to it than that. After reading Jonathan's post I was almost certain it really wasn't my physical body that was feeling starved. My weeks are so hectic with work, family, errands, etc., that by Saturday morning my mental batteries are drained. And from the time I was a baby, my comfort source, my relaxation and enjoyment have been food. And with fall here, my body's reacting to the new chill in the air and reminded of warm apple crisp or apple dumplings, pot pies and chili and all those satisfying, fill-your-belly foods. Face it, a salad just doesn't sound very appealing when the frost is on the pumpkin (ooh, don't forget pumpkin rolls with the cream cheese icing!)

So, even though yesterday was an R&R day, I still battled within and resisted my urges to overeat. I lost myself in the computer game, played with Mabel with her Bratz and Barbies, and amazingly, I made it through.

Today, however, is another story. I'm a church secretary, and today is Pastor Appreciation Sunday. I scheduled myself to be the reader/communion assistant at the service (because I didn't want to deal with someone else bailing out on me at the last minute), and I've also been asked to say a few words at the roast beef dinner to be held after the service. The luncheon is at our community building with the meal cooked by our volunteer fire department's women's auxiliary (yes, life in a small town). These women make the best stick to your ribs food -- and their dressing is coveted by everyone in town. As for vegetables, you might get some cole slaw or green beans, maybe some applesauce (?), but otherwise it's a protein and carb extravaganza.

I've managed to maneuver through these meals before while trying to lose weight, so I know it can be done (portion control!). But after yesterday's skirmish I'm feeling a little wobbly on my feet, so I'm a little cautious. And if I do indulge, by golly I'm going to enjoy it. I won't mindlessly stuff my face, I'll savor and really experience it. I'll walk away having a really good meal, and I'll know it doesn't mean I've sabotaged myself for the rest of the day/week/month/year. It's just a meal, and there's always a new meal on the horizon to redeem myself.

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