Sunday, May 15, 2011

New area of focus: my flabby brain

I find myself writing this as I sit in the American Airlines lounge on a four hour layover enroute to Sydney, AU from NYC.  I love Australia, Sydney and Australians, but I hate the flight that gets me there.  24 hours of commuting is always a bear, followed by a few days of rough jet lag.  Perhaps I need to be reminded of the ridiculous hardship that this journey would have spawned had I made it 200 years ago.  Scurvy seems like a rough travel affliction in comparison to a little sleep deprivation.

As always, I don't have high expectations for my nutritional intake in the 16 hour leg from LAX to SYD.  That said, it's only one day, and I've been living the straight and narrow for the past couple of weeks.  I will be fine once I get to Sydney.  I've already found my gym (Fitness First), which will let me buy day passes.  I find it sad how relieved this makes me feel.

Browsing through the American Airlines magazine, I was reading an article about Naomi Watts, who is now an ageless 42 years old.  She's had two kids, and she leads a pretty kooky schedule and lifestyle.  According to the article, she works out pretty consistently, and she tries to take in decent nutrition.  She also made of a point of saying how she avoided depriving herself of any foods because she claims that this act causes her to crave.  She seeks moderation and balance.

I have to admit that every time I read an interview of a beautiful (and thin) celebrity talking about how they don't "diet" that I am always a bit skeptical.  What else would they say?

In this case, I am hoping that everything she said was true.  Why?  I am starting to relate to it -- or at least I aspire to.

When I hear people talk about living their healthy lifestyle, they often talk about balance and not over-stressing about food.  There is something about them that sounds a bit like a Zen monk who has found balance and grace in the world of overly abundant junk food.  I'm jealous of them because I'm not there.

My issue with food always seems to come down to the fact that I'm a pretty compulsive eater when I let myself go.  When I start on food my head gets buzzy, and I find myself in a frenzy of food lust. One of these days I am going to video tape myself eating a meal.  My guess is that it will look a sped-up video with a person eating at 3X speed.  I literally have to focus on slowing myself down or I run the risk of eating through my plate and possible the table beneath it.  Does it matter?  There is certainly research that suggests that eating to quickly does not allow your body time to tell you it's full.

I also tend to be a pretty compulsive eater when I'm bored.  I have immense nervous energy.  It's hard for me not to play with things constantly, and my office is full of small gadgets and toys.  When I'm in the kitchen, that energy can quickly get channeled into grazing and drinking.  For example, I almost always have two diet Mountain Dews for lunch during the week.  Why two?  Frankly, I have a hard time stopping at one.  Ironically, this just gives me more caffeine which in turn creates more nervous energy.

At this point, you should be picturing someone who is a thousand miles away from being a Zen monk -- more like a Tasmanian Devil.  In truth, of all of the dimensions of a well lifestyle, stress management is one of my big unfinished projects.  I'm not a deep breather.

I've started my own exploration into finding a more centered approach to life.  Over the past couple of years, I've begun to poke around Eastern philosophies, and I've even tried meditation (which I actually found surprisingly relaxing).  My premise is that just as there is fitness for the body, there is also fitness for the mind.  I have found a way to exercise my body just about every day of the week.  It seems only logical that I should do the same for my brain.

I am gradually approaching the realization that a model for taking care of myself is one that encompasses sound nutrition, sound body and sound mind.  It is increasingly clear to me that it's hard to really achieve the nutrition and body bit without the mind part.  Just as I take time to get my body fit, it seems only reasonable to endeavor to keep my mind fit as well.  For some people, mindfulness comes naturally, but for most of us, it requires effort and training.  So I hereby aspire to get my mind seriously fit.  I just wish I could sport it in a swimsuit once I get there.




  1. " head gets buzzy..." Perfectly put.

  2. Holy cow. That sounds so much like me it isn't even funny. Even when I was at my very heaviest, I found it hard to sit perfectly still and just BE. Imagine how it is now (okay, you don't have to imagine....). I really cannot sit still. I'm trying my hand at veggie/herb gardening this year, and I kind of hope that one of the side effects is a centering of my energies.

    One day. One day.

  3. I am not the type who moves constantly. I can sit at the computer for hours on end working and zoning out and barely moving. Exercise is a struggle for me. I CAN totally relate to eating too fast and not giving my brain a chance to catch up to the fact that I'm full, done, food is gone. :0 I'll never be able to just "moderate" my food and eat anything I want. Weight Watchers to the rescue.

  4. Wonderful article! I feel this way a lot and it's good to read it, makes me feel better that I'll get there some day. Also, side note. I'm incredibly jealous at your job of spreading the weight loss love to the world!

  5. Amen, brother!

  6. Entertaining, as usual! Your posts leave an upturned crescent on face, which then gives a happy charge to the last half of my day. I'll be ironing with a grin (I know, who irons?!)! Now... Naomi is right; you are right. I am a fun mix of the two, though I couldn't always say that. What I've learned from WW, from meetings, from friends on the WW site, I've taken to heart and apply most of the time. But when it's time to have fun, I go for the gusto. Life is way more enjoyable when I can drink that champagne and nibble parmesan and not give a thought to tracking, but just relish the moment, the tastes, the bubbles, etc. Otherwise, what would I be doing??? Yep, dieting, feeling deprived of fun (because fun often does include food and drink), and quitting WW yet again. Not this time! I'm heading for Lifetime, one relishing moment, one tracking moment, at a time!

  7. I so enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing your challenges and inner thoughts in such an honest way. I was a bit disheartened, though, that you found it sad how relieved you were to have your gym situation figured out in Sydney. Why does that make you sad? Being able to exercise will help with the 24 hour travel food situation, the jetlag, etc. It will burn calories, help your mood. Why wouldn't you be relieved? I guess you just sounded like you were being hard on yourself for something that seemed so reasonable. Cheers to you, happy travels, and keep it coming!

  8. If you found meditation relaxing, I highly recommend yoga. I am a high stress high anxiety person and I never thought I could relax enough to enjoy yoga. Now it is the workout I most look forward to every week. Hell, I would do it every day if I could work it into my schedule.

  9. I agree with Shelly! Yoga has really helped me to calm down. Bikram, or Hot Yoga, is my favorite. Once you get used to the heat, you can really focus on just breathing and being. Yoga is time for you, just you, not husband, ceo, etc. I hope you can give it a try!