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The same, but different

I used to get bored on long car trips as a child. This was before they sold SUVs with DVD players or iPhones or personal MP3 players. Back in the 80’s you played license plate bingo or you hit your brother. After 12 hours of driving from the Midwest to the east coast, this could get very boring and if I could have stopped the car and gotten out to watch some She-Ra instead I would have. I think this is one of the reasons people fail at weight loss. They get bored and they stop the car.

There’s a strange conundrum to weight loss, an oxymoron almost, that you must keep doing the same thing over and over again but differently enough to keep you interested. I have to exercise day after day, but if I do the same Pilates routine for too many weeks in a row, I start to dread rolling out my mat. I have to eat healthy day after day too, but if I eat the same foods over and over again my elation over Parmesan chicken breasts starts to wane. I have to remember to constantly challenge myself and try new things.

However, trying new things all the time can get quite exhausting too. I’ve been cooking lots of new recipes in the past month. While it’s been fun discovering some tasty new breakfasts, dinners and desserts, I’ve started to burn out. When I wake up in the morning I don’t always want to try something new. I want something familiar that I know I’ll like and I already know how to make. Learning new recipes and trying new sports requires a mental effort as well as they physical work of chopping vegetables or properly executing a sidekick. There’s a mental exhaustion and frustration that comes with learning new things. When I’m trying to follow a new exercise tape there are moments when I just want to hit the “Stop” button in frustration. Finding weird new items in the grocery store is tiring too. I hate scavenger hunts. I hate reading a million labels trying to figure out where they shelve the canned pumpkin. I still haven’t found it! (I should just ask a clerk, but half they time they don’t know either.)

I tend to go through cycles where I try lots of new things for awhile and then settle back into a comforting rut. Then I get bored again and start looking up recipes online or signing up for strange aerobics classes. I’m constantly fighting against boredom, but trying not to overtax myself and quit trying new things in frustration. It’s hard to live a life without boredom, in weight loss or in any aspect – be it love, work, or friendships. My mind always wants to be stimulated, to learn new things and face new challenges. But there is also comfort in a routine, of knowing what I’m going to do during the day and what I’m going to eat and not having to figure it all out on the fly.

I suppose it’s like a marriage. You’ve vowed to live your whole life with someone, but you need to keep some spice in the relationship to keep it from getting old. Or maybe it’s like being a musician. You don’t want every album you release to sound exactly the same. You want to progress and try new things, but still have your work reflect your unique voice. I’m always going to have to exercise and eat right, but I can’t expect to do the same things forever without getting bored of it. Parents sometimes threaten to stop the car if you don’t stop hitting your brother, but there’s no way I want to stop the car on this journey, no matter how bored I get from time to time. At least I have lots of exercise DVDs to watch, in my living room, not an SUV.

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22 Comments

Lisa • October 22, 2007 at 8:52 am

Try the baking aisle for the canned pumpkin – that’s where it’s kept here in the northeast! And good work keeping that car moving even when your inner children are fighting and whining!

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Olivia • October 22, 2007 at 9:04 am

Just gotta say, “I hear that”. I’m going thru a bad case of boredom regarding my exercise and weight loss efforts. Fortunately, my gym got a new machine that is pretty fun.

For the canned pumpkin, try near the baking supplies like cake mixes, decorations, etc. At my grocery store the pumpkin is on the bottom shelf with canned cherry pie filling.

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Amy • October 22, 2007 at 9:22 am

Canned pumpkin is probably with the pie stuff (crusts and mixes) and also probably on the very bottom. Apparently it’s not an impulse buy until November.

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Erin • October 22, 2007 at 10:06 am

There’s not bigger disappointment than trying out a new recipe, and then screwing it up, or finding out how much it sucks. Especially if you’ve been planning on it all day.

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Reb • October 22, 2007 at 10:46 am

I hear you on the boredom and so far my improvement regime is kind of hit & miss. Kudos on all that you have accomplished so far!

As pumpkins are in season, why not get fresh instead of canned? I always hated pumpkin pie until I tasted a friends. The difference was fresh pumpkin.

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mrs darling • October 22, 2007 at 10:53 am

Yep canned pumpkin is in the baking isle; usually on the bottom shelf.

You say its hard to live a life without boredoom in any aspect. Im not sure I agree. As a mother of three children, a homeschooler, a tutor, a wife, church nursery director, web manager, and a grandmother, I don’t know what boredom is. I love my many roles.

I do agree that the same thing over and over can be boring such as diet and exercise, but in daily life I never get to experience anything over and over. Every day is full of new challenges and life is packed with activites; the kids basketball, Awana Club, beginning strings class, violin class, parent teacher conferences, handbell practice, science class, art class, pottery class, meetings with parents of students, church meetings, field trips, ladies retreats, gardening, writing, and as I said before teaching and tutoring. I love my life and boredom doesnt fit in anywhere.

You may still find diet and exercise boring but I gaurantee that when you’re married and have kids you’ll be wishing for a little boredom! :)

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Reb • October 22, 2007 at 11:31 am

I just linked to you from my blog. I put up scratch pumpkin pie recipe there. (If you are interested) Sorry, not fat free by a long shot.

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Jenny • October 22, 2007 at 11:52 am

That’s why I keep my freezer full of Amy’s Organic dinners. But since cooking is not something I like to do, I tend to just change the entrees.

As for those ruts of life… yeah, they happen.

Nice post.

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Charity Froggenhall • October 22, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Excellent analogy. You’re smart. You must be a (pre)published author!

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Steve • October 22, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Very nice post. I totally agree with you, I get bored very easily. Especially with exercise.

Sometimes I think if I have to step on that treadmill one more time I’m going to scream.

As for the recipes, I usually have a default diet, 4-5 meals that I can make with my eyes closed. When times get busy or I just don’t feel like “trying” I turn to them until my interest and motivation returns.

Good luck PastaQueen, keep driving.

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Kyle • October 22, 2007 at 2:38 pm

True dat! trying new stuff all the time is so exhausting…but I love when I come up with a favorite that I know I’ll be making over and over and over in the upcoming years :) Makes all the experiments worth it.

off to read your interview!

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America • October 22, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Nope…REAL canned pumpkin is not in the baking aisle in my grocery store. I live very close to you so I feel your pain. The baking aisle shelves the pumpkin pie filling which is NOT the same as canned pumpkin. The only time I can ever find it is during the holidays when they decide to put it on an end cap or center aisle display. Aparently, midwesterners don’t eat pumpkin in anything other than pie.

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Lily • October 22, 2007 at 3:27 pm

That’s exactly how it is with me! I try something new, I settle into a routine, but then I get bored and have to try something new again. And, although trying something new can be fun and exciting, it can also be stressful and taxing.

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KatieG • October 22, 2007 at 3:49 pm

In Virginia, the plain canned pumpkin is with the other canned veggies and is available year-round. But I assume you already tried that aisle.

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Diana the Scale Junkie • October 22, 2007 at 4:19 pm

If you wait long enough they will soon have the pumpkin on the end of every aisle in grocery store right next to the mini marshmallows and canned sweet potatoes…

I think we are on the same page right now, I just blogged about having patience today. I think you are right, a big part of it is mixing it up so you don’t get bored. I’m plan menus in advance to make sure I try new things and get a good mixture and not get stuck in a rut. Add it to the collection of things we find along the way.

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Zanna • October 22, 2007 at 4:26 pm

Hi Jennette, Been lurking for a few weeks but just had to comment today – what a great post and you’ve just summed up all the highs, lows,, trials and tribulations of trying to ‘stay in the car’ Thank you Z xx

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Judynyc • October 22, 2007 at 6:23 pm

Hi! This is my first time reading you and I must say that I’m extremely impressed with your success and your writings. Way to go!!!

I too, have lost my weight using the South Beach Diet as my guide….total loss- 118 lbs and currently maintaining for 2 years….so I know all too well, about mixing it up to not get bored!! Start at 274 lbs/ current weight- 156 lbs, 5’8″/ 57 yr old female.

I will be a regular reader now!!

My very best to you,

Judy

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Cindy • October 22, 2007 at 7:31 pm

Hi PQ,

Great post. Finding the balance between boredom and overstimulation is the trick, always. I get nervous if I stray too far for too long from my comfortable “planned” foods—the things that have helped me succeed for the past two years. But sometimes I need a change… New recipes can be fun, but not too often, as you stated so clearly. Then the newness just becomes a burden or a chore. If I have to think too much, I might just shut down. There is comfort in chopping that same salad week after week. Or in that warm cup of soup at lunch every day. Tonight, I am branching out a little and making a meatloaf that will last me the week in various forms. One change at a time is enough…for now! Thanks for the opportunity to think this through!

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MB • October 22, 2007 at 9:22 pm

You always have such good advice. I am such a creature of habit. When I walk into the deli at lunch the guy doesn’t even bother to ask what I’m having, he just starts making my salad. I need to mix up the menu and the exercise routine.

Why didn’t we get bored eating pizza and ice cream in front of the tv?

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Marianne • October 22, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Oh gosh. Add me to the “I hear ya” bandwagon.

Lately I just haven’t wanted to bother. So I stopped blogging or posting on the 3FC forums. So I’m not accountable. So I don’t try. So… stalled.

Thanks for a bit of a kick in the pants, I needed it!

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Trish • October 23, 2007 at 6:39 pm

I just wanted to say I have recently started on the road to better health. I started close to the same weight that you were at when you started. I have currently lost 32pounds. I am on my way. I had a story that I thought you and your readers may enjoy. I am an RN today I had a patient that was about 5ft tall and weighed around 500 pounds. She refuses to do anything for herself. I am talking even the smallest things, like lifting her arms to move her own pillow or to keep her hand from falling out of bed. After spending about an hour and a half in her room it made me think about how important it is for me to continue on the path of weight loss and actually I was going to skip the gym tonight, but I am going to go now. I guess I should thank her.

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still reading • July 24, 2008 at 9:32 am

Phew! I have been reading from the beginning and I am almost done! Lots to ask you, and a few comments, but I’ll wait til I’m done.(I don’t even know if you read additional comments from old postings, so oh well) Just a funny story about finding something in the grocery. I just got back from France, where eating healthfully is both simple and the hardest thing you’ll ever do..the French take the quality of food VERY SERIOUSLY, and the fruits and vegetables are amazing, lots of selections for your lick your produce section. The bakeries outdo each other in amazing pastery and bread selections…I have not even gotten to the cheese…

So, anyway, I had invited some friends over to celebrate a birthday and decided to bake a big brownie, and make it look like one of their cakes, basically one round layer. (I have never baked in France before, I always just walked one block to the bakery where I would but the yummiest thing they had left..and trust me, there are choices!!) I had brought my recipe from home and was very confident that I could wow them with this homemade “gateau”. I went to the local Carrefour (the local big grocery chain) to look for all the ingredients, and I could not find baking soda ANYWHERE. I kept staring at the space where I thought it would be, and it just did not appear. My husband finally dragged me away, and I fumed all the way home. When we got home, I googled “french baking soda” and found a wonderful site that lists all sorts of french foods, what they are, and where to find them. You find bicarbonate of soda in a PHARMACY!! And you have to talk to the pharmacist about why you need it in order to get it!!! (same with any painkiller including aspirin, btw) I thought this was hysterical, another funny thing about France and the French that I love so much. When I asked my girlfriends about it later, (They WERE wowed by the brownie, BTW) they were surprised that we use bicarbonate of soda for baking…they don’t. They have yeast and baking powder in their recipies, but no baking soda. I don’t know what would have happened if I had just left out the baking soda…

Anyway, looking forward to finishing the archives so I can get off this couch!

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog at JennetteFulda.com.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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The Making of CHOCOLATE & VICODIN
Lick the Produce: Odd things I've put in my mouth
Half-Marathon: Less fun than it looks
European Vacation

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