I returned home on Thursday night after a week long trip to China. 2011 has proven to be a tough travel year with (so far) three Asia trips, multiple Europe trips and I don't know-how-many domestic trips under my belt. I feel like every time I get back from a trip, I say the same thing: "I was good about exercise, but not always so good about food choices." How did this trip compare? Remarkably similar! It's almost as though there is a pattern at play here! I'm feeling like quite the detective.
So how did it go?
On the exercise front...
Bless me, I'm disciplined! I almost wrenched my arm cleanly out of its socket patting myself on the back after all my exercise this past week. I arrived in China on Monday night after a 15 hour flight. I somehow managed to get some (maybe four hours) sleep, and I was ready to roll the second the gym opened at 6 AM. I lifted weights for an hour and then headed over the exercise bike for 30 minutes of additional cardio. I did the same thing on Wednesday morning. By Thursday morning, I had already finished my four day weight split for the week, so I was in cardio-only mode. I cranked in another 45 minutes of reasonably intense action on the bike. I arrived back home Thursday night, and I was back in the gym again for more cardio on Friday morning. I even made myself workout again on Sunday even though I was feeling kind of sick. It was truly a display of sheer willpower.
Or was it? In truth, I was waking up on my own in China around 3 to 4 AM each day due to heinous internal clock issues. What else was I going to do at 6 AM? I had already done a ton of work, email, calls from my room, and I didn't feel like watching yet more CNN. It was easy to make the decision to jam in a workout because simply stated, that's just what I do these days. It's pretty automatic.
On the food front...
Typically spotty food behavior reigned once again. I tried to be good at the breakfast buffet and choose healthy stuff (on balance, I may have had a bit too much healthy stuff). I was pretty solid on my choices during the day because I was too busy to be bad. Dinners degraded a little bit, but I guess they could have been worse. However, what's up with the Budweiser & Snickers mini-bar routine right before bed time? Very NASCAR of me.
|Some other lucky person's airplane meal. |
Is this worthy of Clean Plate club status?
Therein lies the story of my life. Mindless grazing after meals and gorging on aircraft. How many times have I decried my own inadequacies in these situations with bold promises to fix them? Right now, my best solution is to never fly again and to eliminate all snack food from existence. This would obviously be a great plan except for its divergence from reality -- unless I flee society and open up a small shack somewhere in the mountains of Montana.
All of this got me thinking? Why so good about exercise and yet still so stumped about food?
My latest theory! I'm wired to do stuff. I have a hard time not doing stuff. Huh? It's easy for me to get a spark of motivation or a whiff of impulse to jump off the couch and go do some exercise. I've got lots of nervous energy, so this feels like the most natural action in the world. Exercise and I were made for each other. True love!
I have a much more complicated relationship with food. If it is on a well-worn habit tread, like breakfast or lunch, I can nicely make the proactive decision to order up something healthy. A good breakfast is no longer a decision, it's merely something I do by habit. However, not snacking requires not doing something. Not eating wholly unappealing food on an airplane requires saying "no thank you!" and then watching someone else eat it. It requires not doing something. As I said, I have a lot of nervous energy, so not doing something does not come naturally.
I guess I am the human embodiment of entropy. This works well for exercise but not so well for food restraint.
This got me thinking even more. What if not doing something, like mindless eating, could be reframed into doing something? How can I make the act of not acting on a food impulse an actual action? I'm starting to wonder if I should identify these not-so-healthy habits and create some kind of tracking mechanism that allows me to get credit for not falling prey to them. I'm not sure how this is going to work, but I'm going to give it a try.
Does anyone else relate to this, and if so, what's worked for you?