My Control Delusion

I go through phases of keeping of food log. I usually start one when I feel like my eating habits have gotten unruly. It’s a way to reign myself back in. I started my current food log back in May. I’d gone over a year without keeping a log. Due to COVID, like many folks, I spent most of my days eating, not big meals, but a lot of snacking. I have found while keeping a food log is helpful in those situations, after a while, it tends to stress me out. I get super focused on writing it all down. I have decided it’s time to stop this food log phase. It’s transitioned from being helpful-to-harmful. It’s one more thing to do. It’s one more thing to become stressed about.

My apple watch is driving me crazy. I bought it in the Summer of 2019. I was gaining weight, and I wanted to track my workouts and general calorie burn. It’s made me obsessive. I used to take 2-3 days off from exercise each week. I wouldn’t work out at all. I wouldn’t walk. I wouldn’t stretch. I would do absolutely nothing. There’s been only one-day I didn’t meet my exercise goal since I started wearing the watch, and that’s because I went to a very long funeral. I feel pressured to workout. As the day progresses, if I haven’t closed my exercise ring, I start to feel stressed out. I’ll feel like a failure if I don’t close the rings. I’m like Golem; my exercise ring has become, “my precious.”

I’ve had a hard time making myself workout this week. The temperature dropped. I was cold. It’s the one thing I have in common with snakes and lizards; I don’t like to move when it’s cold. I started to feel stress from feeling like I needed/had to workout but not wanting to. I’ve come to the conclusion it isn’t the short days that bring on the extra layer of depression in the winter months; it’s the cold. I prefer the longer days, but when it’s warm (64°F) like today, I don’t feel so bad. I go outside. The air doesn’t hurt to breathe in. The weather is great for running. Like most runners, I prefer to run outside, running is therapeutic.

The long and short of it is, I don’t like to feel out-of-control. Control is an illusion. My favorite delusion is believing I actually have any control. The inner workings of my own mind are weird to me; to know something isn’t real, but to still cling to the idea of it. I keep logs for so many things. I do it because it fits with my delusion of control. I do it because when I don’t, I feel like everything is whirring by. I’m desperately reaching out trying to grab and hold on to anything flying around in my mind. I know I need to slow my mind down; it’s my mind kicking my thoughts and feelings into a F5 tornado. Intellectually, I know this. It’s these damn emotions. They are constantly at battle with what I know.

  • I know stress triggers my response to eat sugary foods.
  • I know eating the sugary foods does not alleviate the stress.
    • I eat the food anyway.
  • I know my watch is causing me to become overly obsessed with exercise.
  • I know rest days are important for the body to properly recover.
    • I cannot stop wearing my watch, despite this knowledge and awareness.

I’ve had moments when I tell myself to stop thinking about something or feeling a certain way. I tell myself what I am feeling isn’t true. My perceptions of what is happening aren’t real. It works. It doesn’t always work, but it works enough that you’d think I would try it more often. Like right now for example, I am looking at the time, realizing the daylight hours are dwindling. I want to go for a run, but I feel the need to finish writing this. I know I have time to do both, but my emotions don’t seem to realize this. I’m starting to feel stressed… I just took a pause. I told myself I have plenty of time to do both. I told myself to relax. I feel calmer. It’s not about controlling my emotions. It’s more like talking them down from the edge of a building. Using my intellectual intelligence to keep my emotional intelligence in check, like slapping a hysterical person.

I cannot always be in control of my emotions, but I can check myself before I wreck myself. I can accept my fuck-ups for what they are and not dwell on them. I can forgive myself for not being perfect and understand lack of perfection does not equal failure. I can learn a watch is not my God, and if I don’t close my exercise ring the world will not end. I can remind myself eating ridiculous amounts of Oreos will not alleviate stress, but if I do succumb to a sugar binge, it’s okay. I am not perfect, and that’s okay.

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