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Working to stay thin

I think I might have to become a workaholic.

When I’m bored, I eat. It’s my favorite hobby. Sometimes I come home from work and none of the 36 books I’ve checked out from the library look interesting. None of the dozens of TV shows I have to watch look appealing. None of the projects on my “To Do” list look worthy to be crossed off. So I eat. And then I eat some more. And then I finish it off by eating again.

But sometimes at work I’ll get absorbed by a project like water sucked into a sponge. Then I’ll look at my watch and it’s five o’clock and I haven’t eaten my afternoon snack. I have to stick my apple and cheese sticks back in the fridge when I come home. My brain gets so preoccupied that it forgets to tell my stomach to eat. Who hasn’t gotten hungry after watching a burger commercial on television? This is just the inverse. If I forget to think about food I only get hungry when I actually need to eat.

Thus, I have to keep busy. For the rest of my life.

Which sounds totally exhausting, but could also be extremely fulfilling if I don’t work myself to death. I love that feeling after I’ve made something, be it a beautiful blog entry or an ugly crocheted envelope holder. It’s the high of accomplishment and creation. It’s the satisfaction of a sense of purpose, even if that purpose is just to clean that gross grease stain off of the stove top. I used to float through life, not knowing what I wanted to major in or what job I wanted or what I was going to do with all this time I’d been given. I’m still not sure about that last bit, and I’m sure there will always be periods of uncertainty and fear about what I should do with my existence, but it’s so much better to live a life full of accomplishments than a life full of potential. They might be stupid little accomplishments I write down on the list just so I can cross them off, like “Take a shower” or “Eat breakfast.” Or they can be bigger things like “Lose 200 pounds.” But they’re all accomplishments and they’re all mine and they only happen if I work for them and keep myself busy. They also have the nice side effect of keeping me thinner.

So, I’m going to try to keep myself busy for the next 50 or 60 or 70 years. I haven’t planned my whole schedule yet, but there will probably be lots of writing and running and dancing in the living room when no one is looking. Just as long as I’m not eating and eating and eating to occupy the time. Though that’s okay too on some occasions, as long as I follow it up with a Cha Cha in the kitchen.

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31 Comments

Julia • December 12, 2007 at 7:55 am

Great post and so true, if we all kept busy besides watching TV, America would probably be a thinner nation :)

It amazes me how many food commercials there are that make you want to eat and if they are not telling you to eat they are telling you to shop or clean house!!!

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Debbi • December 12, 2007 at 8:01 am

Boredom eating is my biggest hurdle, and since I don’t work outside my home, and there’s not a lot to do inside my home, I have to really work to keep busy.

Thus the alphabetization of my grocery list yesterday.

I can get bored with the busy work, too – maybe Boredom Syndrome will be listed in the new DSM-V.

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Kery • December 12, 2007 at 8:19 am

I have the exact same problem. Thanks goodness, it’s less problematic now than when I used to completely work from home (boy, I know it is the dream of many people, but for me, I have to say it out loud: working from home SUCKS!). At the time, it was always so easy to get up and gra something because that bit of job wasn’t very interesting and my mind was bored while doing it… or whatever other reason. Also, blessed be the libraries where I live: we’re not allowd to bring food and drinks in them, so once you’re there for an afternoon of homework, you pretty much won’t be tempted to snack at all.

Keeping oneself busy really seems to be a key for many people. But meh, I say–whatever works! Things could be much worse than that. :)

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psychsarah • December 12, 2007 at 9:25 am

Hallelujah PQ! I recently gained weight when I finally finished my dissertation. I had been working full time and doing at least a few extra hours a day on my dissertation, so I didn’t have time to get bored and eat. When I finished, I didn’t know what to do with my spare time, so apparently eating was the default! I think I need to take up a hobby or get a second job ASAP.

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VerseFameBeauty • December 12, 2007 at 9:55 am

I doubt this will be a problem for you, but watch out because I am a workaholic and I have a hard time losing weight because there’s so much adrenaline coursing through my system all the time that my body mostly thinks it’s starving and hangs on to the fat like I’m going to quit feeding it. Soon.

Just make sure to keep up with your snacks and/or to have enough discipline not to over-indulge when work is over and you’re STARVING. :-)

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Candy • December 12, 2007 at 10:35 am

:cha chas with you:

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Jenn1701 • December 12, 2007 at 10:48 am

Well it seems like finding things to accomplish won’t be a problem for you! After doing something like losing 200 pounds the hard way (diet, exercise and continued maintenance) you can pretty much accomplish anything! =) Cha-cha-cha!

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Trish • December 12, 2007 at 10:53 am

I just wanted to say I completely agree with you. I do the same boredom eatting, I guess that is how I became the fat ass I am today (I to could loose 200 pounds). I recently have lost 43 pounds. It is a good start. I find when I go home from work at night if I crochet while watching tv it keeps my hands busy so that I don’t want to eat. I read some where that if you go home every night and write down a positive goal that you acheived for that day, that it will increase your mood and increase your immunity so you become sick less often. I have not tried it myself, but I think I will.

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chanda • December 12, 2007 at 11:21 am

Great Post! Its wonderful that you are always very positive (at least in your blogs, I know everyone has bad days). Weight loss for alot of people (myself included) seems to be mired in negativity. Did you find your attitude changed from where you started to now?

PQ – Actually, I think I was always pretty positive about the process, which helped me get where I am. I’m pretty positive in general. BTW, I love the name of your blog. If you really are trapped under something heavy, I’ll be happy to come over and get it off of you.

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Moon • December 12, 2007 at 11:41 am

I wholeheartedly agree – I find that at work I feel hungrier/obsess more about food when I have less to do and occupy my thoughts and thus more mental attention to direct toward eating, compared with when I’m swamped and barely have enough time to breathe, let alone think about if I’m hungry or not.

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Hilary • December 12, 2007 at 12:26 pm

I think that as long as we stay relatively happily occupied (rather than miserable in a high-stress job we hate or running ourselves into the ground with exhaustion), this strategy makes sense. I know that I always feel really focused and engaged when I’m writing a blog post, for instance—and it’s a welcome distraction from obsessing about food.

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TOWR • December 12, 2007 at 12:26 pm

I have said FOR YEARS that if I could find a hobby–something I really love doing–that I would be able to lose weight more easily. I’m the same way: if I stay busy, I don’t eat. But if I sit there on the couch watching TV, it takes every ounce of will power I have not to keep stuffing my face. Here’s to staying busy!!!

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kyle • December 12, 2007 at 12:39 pm

I just ate an avocado and then boogies all morning long to Shakira. True story.

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Marianne • December 12, 2007 at 12:41 pm

I haven’t planned my whole schedule yet, but there will probably be lots of writing and running and dancing in the living room when no one is looking. Just as long as I’m not eating and eating and eating to occupy the time. Though that’s okay too on some occasions, as long as I follow it up with a Cha Cha in the kitchen.

That sounds like such a good life to lead and to aspire to. Rock on, PQ.

And you can add me to the boredom-eaters group. It drives me insane. I actually lost weight one winter when I changed nothing except that if I wanted to watch TV, I had to be crocheting, because it’s hard to eat and crochet at the same time!

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Bill Younger • December 12, 2007 at 12:41 pm

What’s wrong with making an ugly crocheted envelope holder? :) give it to someone for Christmas this year. They may like it!

This is true about what you write. Staying busy does keep your mind off of eating. I’m on a diet now. The hardest thing for me is to not snack while watching TV at night. I think TV helped to make America fat.

Let’s all try to spend less time on the couch this winter and more time on our hobbies.

Bill

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Lora Ramirez • December 12, 2007 at 12:50 pm

I have to agree with you too, PQ. When I get bored, I think about food whether I’m at work or not. The weekends are the worst when I have even less to do. GRR! If I can overcome that obstacle, I’ve got it made! :O)

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K • December 12, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Keeping busy is fine so long as you aren’t the type who eats when she’s stressed. I’ve tended to gain weight in the past when I’ve overcommitted myself.

And since I started doing this degree, I haven’t renewed my gym membership. I dream of the time when I’ll be finished and might have some free time…

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Melanie • December 12, 2007 at 3:02 pm

I’m wired similarly, in that I enjoy eating and I think about food very often. I try to slow down and not think about eating, but it doesn’t work most days. Staying busy is a good strategy, just don’t forget to slow down sometimes to take care of your mental wellbeing!

Wanted to thank you for the Google Reader tip. I’ve been using it for a week or so now and LOVE IT! The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is if there is a way to reply to posts from that site or do I need to always go to the author’s site? So thanks again for helping me become less techy-dumb! :)

PQ – I’m pretty sure you have to go to the author’s site to leave a comment. I guess no technology is perfect.

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ordinary girl • December 12, 2007 at 3:14 pm

I know exactly what you mean, PQ! When I get busy I don’t notice the time passing and accomplishing something, sometimes anything, feels good.

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CookieMonster • December 12, 2007 at 6:45 pm

Wow, I totally get what you’re saying.

being a stay at home mom has given me constant access to food… and it’s a problem.

When I’m busy, I’m busy like 10 feet from a kitchen.

It’s so tough!

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we_be_toys • December 12, 2007 at 7:08 pm

I know what you mean – I KNOW I’m not hungry, but if I’m bored, I could inhale the contents of the cupboard. Me, a box of crackers and a chunk of cheese…every damn night!

You are truly inspirational – thank you!

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115_days • December 12, 2007 at 8:35 pm

Thanks for your wise words – I totally agree about the sense of accomplishment you get from actually doing things as opposed to eating half the bakery counter. But I also find it’s important to learn to not eat even when I am NOT doing anything. If I am constantly trying to distract myself from the urge to eat, it feels like I’m running away from it and that the urge will get me in the end…

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ann • December 12, 2007 at 8:45 pm

So, so, true. Evenings used to be killers for me – I’d stop at a fast food place and the grocery store, get a sandwich, a coke and a box of cookies, and settle in front of the tv and stuff myself silly.

You hit so many real things in this blog – I love it!

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Cindy • December 12, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Hi PQ,

Eating from boredom and to fill time is part of my history, as well. Being busy has helped me learn to be more disciplined—I have to plan meals in advance, cook a batch of soup on the week-end in order to have healthy lunches all week, etc… It has been wonderful to gain these new habits. Then this week, I got SO-O-O busy that I couldn’t do the shopping and prep work, as I have usually done. And my eating has gone down the tubes! SO be careful what you wish for, and find the balance of “just busy enough.” I will be back on track by Saturday morning… I am counting the hours!

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Poppy • December 12, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Another killer excellent post! You should have a HUGE sense of accomplishment. PQ, this is your hobby–and it’s keeping all of us thin. Thanks–I’m going to re-read this right away.

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lovelines • December 13, 2007 at 9:57 am

Boredom is definitely a healthy lifestyle-killer. I think I first realized this as a child, when I always seemed to eat more during boring dinners with extended family/friends that I didn’t know. So, yes, stay active and stay healthy!

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MB • December 13, 2007 at 12:34 pm

As always, you hit the nail on the head. Boredom is one of the biggest diet obstacles.

I’ve gotten into the habit of only allowing myself to watch tv if I am simultaneously on the treadmill, eliptical or stair machine (yes I have all of this equipment at my house although at times it has only been used to hang clothes). Maybe I’ll start doing the cha, cha, cha too (is anyone watching?).

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Zandria • December 17, 2007 at 9:47 pm

I can totally relate to this! When I’m bored, I want to eat all the time. I love when I get so absorbed in something that I look at the clock and so much more time has passed than I thought. :)

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nolybab • December 21, 2007 at 3:52 pm

saw your blog listed as a glamour favorite for Sunny’s shape up.. loved the title and had to read it.

you have a wonderful sense of humor and a great way with words. I just read the most recent blogs and am looking forward to reading the rest, just thought I would take a minute to let you know you I enjoyed your words of wisdom.

~ Happy Holidays

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Penny • December 24, 2007 at 12:39 pm

I can relate to this post soo much! (Who can’t? *lol)

Even if my mind is occupied, my hands can get me in trouble :P One of my (possibly late) Christmas gifts to myself is going to be a pair of moisturizer gloves, which will prevent me from eating while watching tv or movies, and will also help my quest for prettier hands:)

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Mary • January 13, 2009 at 9:46 am

“If I forget to think about food I only get hungry when I actually need to eat.”

Interesting statement; actually, quite encouraging.

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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 JennetteFulda.com 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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