There it was…the supermarket, looming in the distance, the arena for Round One of the games.
Set against an ominous backdrop of foreboding skies, it was a place once filled with frolic and folly, where in bygone days, I had shopped willy nilly, and without pause while purchasing whatever struck my fancy.
A label was of no consequence. I would throw caution to the wind…”labels, schmabels”, I would say. But those carefree days were over.
For I had volunteered as tribute, and now I stood here with a purpose, eyeballing that monolith with cat like cunning. Oh it was ON…
Now it was a diligently planned endeavor, I was a girl on fire, and I was on a mission.
I had a strategy, and endless contingency plans…and a pocket full of magic faerie dust.
Now, I had lists, and bar code scanners, and meal plans, and a whole route laid out.
I was armed to the teeth with coupons and Pinterest recipes, and a fairly comprehensive knowledge of seasonal produce. I had points, and priorities, and Eco friendly re-usable bags.
I was a force to be reckoned with, and I was going to march on in there and take no prisoners…
But, even the most determined intentions can waiver.
And even though most of the time, I could deflect a nefarious snack item from a pretty fair distance by wielding my enchanted shield of Unicorn magic, it did seem that in some cases I was still vulnerable and easily distracted by certain specific tasty vittles.
I still felt like I had to be constantly on the look-out for dastardly delicious delights and daunting desserts of doom at every turn.
Because sometimes, I would find myself at the end of my trip to the supermarket with a whole suspicious pile of items in the cart that I had no intention or recollection of accumulating. And then, I would have to go park it somewhere in an empty corner, and have a serious conversation with myself about what needed to go back on the shelf, and why.
As if keeping it in my cart was going to get me pulled over by the Point Po Po, or frisked at the checkout…
“Step away from the Doritos.”
“Hand over ALL of your Pop Tarts, and no one gets hurt.”
“Ma’am, do you have a permit for those Milano cookies?”
All of those constant battles over what would go in my cart what would stay on the shelf- and all the reasons why it should not go home with me, were exhausting.
There were some foods, that I knew, absolutely, 100%, were bonafide trigger foods.
And I also knew, that if any of it ever came home with me, it was going to be a problem.
Like, how you should never pick up a hitchhiker, because you just know you’re asking for trouble. That extra large jar peanut butter is exactly like that shady dude on the side of the road with his thumb out, with a sign that says “Your House or Bust”.
No way buddy, you’re not getting in my cart.
Sometimes I wondered though, if I were to duct tape the peanut butter, and throw it in my trunk of my car with swift precision, would I be safe? Or would I still be able to hear its muffled cries for help pleading with me to set it free?
The struggle is real, and the Market Arena is just the beginning, because it is there that the foundation is to be laid for the rest of the games to come.
So, once Round Two finally commences, the only way to have “the odds be ever in your favor“, is to set yourself up for success by leaving that jar on the shelf where it belongs.
Well, that’s easier said than done.
For despite all of your best intentions, there still might be one, or two, or six stowaways that make it past the security checkpoint and into the next round. So you will need to watch your back, since Unicorn magic and faerie dust will only get you so far.
Because now, the arena has moved to your kitchen. Which hopefully, at this point, does not need to be renamed ‘Temptation Island’, due to all of the booby traps and hidden sabotages within its borders.
The thing of it is, you can spend the whole day holding it together, counting your points, being “good”, and talking yourself out of a revolving door to the Kitchen Arena…
You can keep busy, plan your meals, and hold steady the entire day…like a BOSS…
But then, inevitably, the night comes.
You are alone. It’s quiet. Everyone else is asleep, you relax, and now you are vulnerable.
Ding Ding. Let Round Two of the real life hunger games begin.
Because all of those things that you said no to all day long, may now be lying in wait, mere feet away, and beckoning you from inside the kitchen cabinets.
That box of cereal that you ignored successfully all day, now has your ear. And you’ve been so diligent ALL day…
One bowl of cereal won’t hurt, right?… [*cue cannon shot signaling the loss of a tribute]
Wouldn’t it be nice, that if in that moment of weakness, there were some sort of emergency resource available, like a crisis line for “hangry” bad decisions?
Crisis Line: Hello? You’ve reached the Hangry Crisis Line, how can we help you?
Me: Good gawd, I’m holding the spoon. I’m standing in my kitchen and it’s in my hand. I am afraid that it you don’t stop me, I’m going to use it.
Crisis Line: It’s alright ma’am. Don’t panic. Let’s talk this out. What’s going on in your life today that might have driven you to pick up that spoon? What ever it is, I’m sure we can get a handle on it. Remain calm, I’ve dispatched a unit to your house. Hold on ma’am, help is on the way.
But alas, you may be all alone in that kitchen with that box of cereal winking at you, and that spoon in your hand with no back up en route.
And since it’s not completely realistic to leave every food at the supermarket that might derail your best intentions, you may have to dig deep and employ some deft maneuvers.
You may just have to step back and see the big picture in order to realize that patterns repeat themselves. And unless you dig deep enough to find the origins of how you got into this undesirable pickle of a situation, then you may be destined to keep returning there…
And the next time, you might be holding a fork, or an ice cream scoop… or a hostage.
You have to understand your own personal challenges, and your individual thought processes in order to fully comprehend the real hunger.
For me, when I started out on this weight-loss journey, the one thing I DID expect, was to be hungry.
Isn’t that what dieting means?
At least in my head, I had a preconceived notion that going forward I was going to have to accept the fact that an ever present unfulfilled hunger was going to be part of the deal.
After all, my only experience with weight loss in the past had revolved around the idea that deprivation brings results.
Deprivation VS Excess, the age old struggle, and the very basis for the real life hunger games.
Living in a state of constant excess had brought me to this undesirable place of disenchantment, so naturally, a serious retooling was in order to restore the balance.
I mean, now I would have to give things up, take things away, restrict myself, and live with less, right?
Well, that was what I believed to be true-
Until I realized, that “diets” are just a temporary fix, and that a temporary change only yields temporary results. And living in a continuous state of restriction or deprivation just sets you up for a ride on the binge town express.
Only a permanent change and a commitment to a new lifestyle can bring the long term results that we truly hunger for.
What’s ironic to me now, is that I was so focused on what I was going to have to give up, and so prepared for the hunger, that I didn’t realize, that even with my old habits of eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted…I was already starving… I was already hungry. And I had been, all along.
But it was a different kind of starvation-
A different kind of hunger.
I was not hungry for food. I was hungry for everything that the food was replacing.
And as it turns out, there is more than one way to be hungry.
I was hungry for self-worth, hungry for perfection, hungry for attention, and hungry for approval…from myself.
I hungered for balance.
I was full of food, but I was starved emotionally.
And I wasn’t giving myself all the necessary things that I was really hungry for, so the hunger grew…and grew…and grew.
One of the emotions you start to feel when you dig that deep, is anger.
Anger and frustration with allowing ourselves to get to the breaking point where we have to come out fighting.
But, that anger can be channeled into a fierce determination if it’s properly focused.
That anger can be fused into a new type of hunger…
A hunger for success.
A hunger for achievement.
A hunger for a goal.
That type of hunger is what you need to compete in these games, and restore the equilibrium that was lost along the way.
It helps you to realize that feeding and nourishing are not the same thing.
That tending to yourself and nurturing yourself are different tasks.
And once you start to embrace balance, and nourish yourself with the necessary food for your soul that you have been lacking, the final round of the real life hunger games will move into an arena where the odds ARE ever in your favor…
And YOU are ultimately declared the victor.