Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Food Commie

In my history classes this week, we've been talking about the 1940's-60's in world politics - it seemed like in that time, you were either a Communist or convinced that everyone else was.  Communism was a society where the government decided what was right and wrong for you.  In capitalism, every right and wrong thing is presented to you, and it's up to you to have the willpower to ignore the wrong thing and choose the right one.  When there are incentives to choosing the right thing, it's an easy choice - Ryan chooses to work so that he can afford to eat and live in an air conditioned house and dress up like a stormtrooper.  But when there are incentives for choosing the wrong thing, or the wrong thing's incentives are more immediate, well, it takes someone of great integrity to do the right thing.

Of course, I don't care so much about politics, but about the politics of food.  Zack, bless his heart, left the scale in the middle of the bathroom floor and instead of nudging it back under the pile of toilet paper where it belongs, I stepped onto it.  Huge mistake.  Big, fat, enormous mistake.  I would tell you how many pounds worth of a mistake, but it's just not going to happen.  Let's just say, in years past this number would mean I was practicing my Lamaze and packing a bag for the hospital.  To make matters worse, the fat is showing up in places it never has been before.  Darcey spent one Sacrament Meeting waggling my arm flab and giggling, until I made her go sit with Ryan and I put my coat on.  No matter how much I weighed when I was pregnant, my arms never waggled like this.  Plus, the other night I looked in the mirror and I swear I saw the beginnings of a jowl.  You know the kind, where the skin hangs down and you look like one of those dogs with the floppy skin.  (Ryan says it was a trick of the lighting but whatever.  I know what I saw.)

What I'm getting at here is that things are getting desperate.  I know I've said that before, but that was ten or fifteen pounds ago, and I didn't know what I was talking about.  Something's gotta change.  But I just can't do it.  I can't pull the trigger and really commit to dieting.  And you know who I blame?  Capitalist pigs.

It's all those choices I have that are killing my weight loss dreams before they even materialize.  It's knowing that I'm going to drive by the taco place that has the delicious nachos every time I pick Darcey up from dance class.  Or the bakery down the street that just started selling cupcakes whose bottoms are dipped in chocolate.  (It's like frosting for the bottom of the cupcake! Pure genius!) Or the countless vending machines, fast food restaurants, slow food restaurants, church functions, grocery stores, and gas station quikie marts that line my entire existence, offering me something cheap and tasty RIGHT NOW!

What I want is a food dictator to rule over my life and tell me what to eat and when.  I want someone else to have full responsibility for my choices.  I want to have four things to choose from, all good, and then I won't have to think of food anymore.

All kidding aside, it was kind of scary to realize that a lot of my resistance to dieting is because I am afraid that I can't say no.  I'm afraid of how it will feel to not eat something I want to eat.  I'm afraid of deprivation.  I'm clinging to food as a way to say, in this one area of life, I have control over how I feel.  I can have what I want - that must make me happy!  Right?  Right?

Weight loss before was always about losing baby weight.  Yes, I had to diet, and yes, I did it successfully a few times.  This time is different, though - this fat is all mine.  The psychological component is making my head spin and I'm not sure what to do with it all.  So that's why I'm looking for a commie.  I want someone with an ideology to indoctrinate me to the point where I can obey blindly and not question.  Free will?  Who needs it!  It's free will that got me into this mess, free will and a side of nachos.  Someone else can take charge of my diet.  Someone else can hand me a bowl of cottage cheese, and I'll eat it because they told me to.  Someone else can feed my kids, plan the meals and stock the pantry.

Any volunteers, comrades?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Lure of 100%

You'll be happy to know that even though I've had a long six month break from blogging, I'm returning just as neurotic as ever.  And to prove it, I'm going to show you just how nuts I can get about perfectionism.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that perfection is a dangerous plaything.  It's a shiny bauble that the three-year-old in me is always reaching for, tempting me with its beauty and elusiveness, convincing me that once I have it in my greedy hands I'll be well and truly happy.  Being aware of the truth of perfection is possibly the only thing that keeps me from diving headlong into the pursuit of perfection with abandon.  Reality keeps me grounded, at least to a certain extent.

The problem is those rare occasions when something presents itself in which perfection is attainable.  I know I'll never be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect Mormon or Republican or Whack-a-mole player.  All of those things are subjective, and perfection isn't possible.  But if achievements can be quantified or measured against an absolute, then maybe a person can be perfect.  You know where I see this in my life?  School.

School, with its multiple choices, true/false tests, grade point averages and SAT scores, is my perfectionist's nirvana.  Every day I have the chance to turn in a piece of homework or take a quiz and get in return a piece of validation.  There is nothing that thrills me more than seeing a paper declaring "100%" or, less clinically, "A+."  You may as well slap a gold star on my forehead, it makes me that happy.

My adolescent lit professor made the mistake of indulging in my fantasy of getting a 100% not just on one test, but in an entire class.  She was an extremely liberal grader - every paper or project we turned in would get 100% if the requirements were met, but any bit of creativity that was above and beyond the requirements would earn extra credit.  I figured that a little bit of extra effort would put me on easy street for the class, and it did.  By the end, my grade was over 100%.  It's no wonder that this was one of my favorite classes ever.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to replicate my feat in any other class, and even though I know I am being completely unreasonable, I still go into every new semester thinking that this class I'll ace.

Yeah, I know, I'm messed up.

I learned that lesson in school, too.  My American Lit class was discussing something off-topic, I don't remember what, but I mentioned that I put my A papers on my refrigerator, just like my kids' good grades.  The teacher stared at me and said, "You don't really do that, do you?"  Well, if backwards bicycling was an Olympic sport, I would have qualified right then for how fast I backpedaled.  "Oh, no, I was just joking," I assured her, realizing for the first time that not everybody takes their grades as a measure of self-worth.

Today I'm shaking off the lure of 100%.  I'm working on a group project with two other classmates (aside- I am convinced that people in Hell always have to work in groups.  Or on committees.)  I'm already feeling antsy about the outcome of the project, since I'm not convinced that everyone is on the same page as to what the teacher is asking of us.  Then yesterday, I forfeited my assignment, putting together a slideshow of Vietnam War photos (which would take maybe an hour to do, tops), and instead took on the writing assignment, which is definitely the harder part.  Why?  Because I got a 95 on the midterm paper, and the girl who was originally going to write only got a 91.  Now I'm seeing the emailed slideshow that this girl is putting together and I'm tempted to polish it up a little, you know, tweak it here and there to improve it.  Why? BECAUSE I AM A CRAZY PERSON.  And a control freak.  And completely unable to even fathom the idea of getting anything less than an A on a project with my name on it.

Someone needs to help me.  Seriously.  Maybe I need to take a super hard class and fail utterly so that I learn that failure is not so bad.  Maybe I need to quit school and move to a Zen monastery where I can learn how to live in the moment and embrace pain and what not.  Although, knowing me, I'd be waiting for the monk in charge to give me a silent nod of approval at my excellent lotus position, which is at least 4% better than my Zen-mate's.

I definitely have a problem.