13 February 2009

Rituals..oh the comfort of rituals

Do you know what I like? Rituals. I wouldn't even say patterns, rhythms, systems or plans. Nope. Actual rituals. But not the kind that involve black candles and salt circles :)

What do I mean by 'ritual' then? During my shower I wash myself in the exact same way every single time. I don't deviate from the ritual at all, unless it's absolutely necessary. At work I scale ingredients pretty much in the same order, never the eggs before the flour. Not ever. It makes me uncomfortable even thinking about that scaling eggs first. I read blogs in the same order every day and my computer time isn't complete unless I've read all the blogs on my
list no matter how tired I am. When I come home from work I expect an empty house so I can open the drapes, get the newspaper/mail, lay the newspaper out, toss the flyers in recycle, wash the dishes and flush the toilet if needed. In that order. I feel off-kilter if I come home and S took the day off or if one of the boys has a PD day.

And...let's not forget or ignore...eating. Every night after supper I have a hot chocolate and cookies. It
used to be just a chocolate bar or candy, at the moment it's cookies and hot chocolate. I have always had some kind of treat - almost always chocolate - as a ritual somewhere in my day. I can clearly remember lying on my bed as a teenager, reading my book with a chocolate bar resting on my tummy. As I read the book I would eat a bite of chocolate sloooooowly. It was a ritual to eat and read. I will hold off on having hot chocolate now until I am ready to sit in front of the tv and watch my shows. And I will get uncomfortable and border on slight freaking out if my evening doesn't allow for the ritual of eating. I can talk myself out of screaming my head off by telling myself it's only junk food and it's ok to skip it. But man alive, the next day I'll add an extra cup of hot chocolate or stack of cookies to make up for it.

See, and that's the problem, I can add to my rituals pretty easily, but I can't take them away without a lot of discomfort. I have to replace it with a different ritual. And lordy, don't mess with my rituals at work. Even my boss approaches me with trepidation when I have to scale something out of order. I do it, but it makes me feel mentally jangled and I need to reset my ritual of ingredient order to settle my mind down.

Why is any of this even a problem? Really, most of it isn't. My rituals don't cause me to not be able to function in society. Now the eating part...well...I'd like to lose some weight.

I'm tired of being squishy and would like very much to get rid of some extra poundage. I like exercise and use my elliptical almost daily, sometimes even squeeze some yoga into my day. But I suspect it'll be easier to remove the squish if I stop feeding it chocolate/candy/junk on a daily basis. Treats are ok in my mind, but ritual eating that isn't satisfying is counter-productive to squish removal.

However, the idea of eliminating my cookies and hot chocolate in the evening made my blood run cold. So out came the book The Four Day Win and on to the first exercise. This is the one that teaches me how to set a goal and whittle it down to extremely managable chunks. Getting rid of the ritual eating cold turkey is too big of a goal. My blood still felt chilly at the idea of chosing either the hot chocolate or the cookies. My eyes rolled at the ease of taking only one cookie away but eating the rest. So for the past three days I've had three cookies instead of four, and hot chocolate. After four days, I will have two cookies instead of three, get it? So far it works, I don't miss the other cookie (I do, however, lovingly choose the cookies with the most chocolate chips and eat them slowly now).

I expect to be successful in this slow ritual erasure. But I also expect to have to watch my eating closely and not create any more rituals. Eating when I'm hungry is a good thing, learning not to overeat is a great thing, not creating rituals with food is a fantastic thing. And a new thing for me :)

The only tricky part in this is the reward system. Martha Beck ties the four day wins with rewards. So for every day that I complete my win of having one less cookie I need a tiny reward. Not food. She suggests putting on a bit of perfume or watching a tv show you'd normally feel guilty for indulging in. After four days, if I've been successful, then I'm supposed to grant myself a slightly larger reward. So far I've come up with nothing to reward myself with. I don't wear perfume or makeup. No tv show is ilicit or guilt-inducing for me. If I want to watch it, I will. I don't deny myself books or computer time. I have no idea what I would use to reward myself that I don't do already. She even suggested a tiny bit of money, but I already have an adequate allowance to spend frivolously. So in order to keep with Martha's plan, I congratulate myself each night on successful completion of the One Less Cookie plan and say something extra kind to myself. I suppose that's a reward.

How would you reward yourself? Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Wow. That is not an approach I can use. I have to do the cold turkey thing to get the pain all over with right away. It makes me crazy to have a little pain for a longer term rather than a lot of pain for shorter :)

That being said, when I started watching my blood sugars, it became quickly evident that simple sugars had to go. So I gave myself permission to eat all the fresh fruit I wanted. And I eat *a lot* of fruit now.

Except, when I'm really under stress, the Hagen-Daz bars are never too far out of my reach :)

But I do wish you luck with your ritual changing and hope you don't make yourself feel too deprived.

Love, Mom

The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

sounds like a good plan. i am more like mom in my need to change things cold-turkey, but even then i have to change EVERYTHING associated with the old habit.

i like your idea to reward yourself with positive feedback, actually. it's the best reward, imho.