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Hunger + Exhaustion + Anxiety = Chew-and-Spit

Posted Jan 23 2009 3:57pm

icicles Last night after work, I drove to the gym to get in a last workout for the week … and turned around.

I was seriously so proud of myself. It’s so very rare I do that (I can count twice in the past 6 months — both of which have been documented here)

But this week alone (my “week” goes Friday to Friday) I had burned an awesome 3300 calories in exercise (per my heart rate monitor — I usually aim for 2800-3000) and have been sticking to my SP range, never going above the max limit.

So I didn’t need the exercise, and knew a night off would probably be beneficial for my muscles. In addition to that, I was wiped out after a restless night’s sleep the previous night … and the biggest factor of all: I was genuinely hungry and knew a workout would only make me want to eat more later.

All of these factore led to the rational, calm, sane decision to take a night off.

I went home intending to just unwind with my husband, since this has been a stressful week for both of us and we hadn’t spent much time together.

But that was not to be, thanks to Mother Nature.

My tummy did little flips when I heard how loud the water was dripping in the living room– this should have been Cue #1 that I was feeling stressed and susceptible to a chew-and-spit incident.

You see, our living room windows — from which melting snow/icicles had started dripping through the molding as of Wednesday night — was now a soaking mess.

We’d thought we’d contained that night and Thursday morning, but clearly not. The stack of towels and Sham-Wows we’d piled on on the ledge were drenched to the core, and the plastic containers we’d put down on the floor to collect water (as it was dripping from the whole set of window panes and not from one specific spot), were overflowing.

And just for giggles, the carpet (beneath which is a hard-wood floor we’ve yet to expose) was absolutely drenched. Our attempt at damage control just wasn’t cutting it, and I saw dollar signs swirling in my head.

My husband came home just a few minutes after me, and took one look at my face and knew it was worse than when he’d seen it this morning. I showed him the new damage, and, as I knew he would, he went right to work.

(I seriously don’t know what I would have done if I’d married someone as uninterested in home repair as me! He loves the challenge of fixing something broken.)

So he used the big Shop Vac we have from September’s flooding (a real treat) to suck out some of the water. I helped him dump the gallons of water out, but Houston still had a big problem.

Being the calm-in-the-face-of-a-challenge engineer/fix-it-guy that he is, he went outside to try to break off icicles with a hammer and shovel, and clean as much of the gutters as he could … all while the sun (Public Enemy #1 for us today) was rapidly sinking beneath the winter sky.

I stood and freaked, picturing the roof caving in with me watching it happen (Did I ever mention my imagination tends to work on over-drive sometimes?!).

I watched him from the inside, helping by turning on the lights when it got dark. Then I started panicking about him being up on a ladder. He wasn’t high up, but it was dark and slippery, and, naturally, I had all these images of him coming crashing through the window … or of an icicle impaling him.

Panic led to a problem — and not his (he was fine, steady and sharp).

While he was getting something from the garage (and no longer up on the ladder) I decided to sate my hunger with a snack. I went into the kitchen and had a T of PB, which tided me for a little bit. I’ve said before, PB isn’t a trigger food for me (or should I say, wasn’t, until I said it wasn’t; then Murphy’s Law kicked in)!

But, the longer he was up on the ladder, the more nervous and anxious I grew. All I wanted was him safe inside the house and wanted the leaking house to be repaired with a magic wand and to be sitting down eating dinner together … but I was nervous and tired and hungry … and used food instead as a vehicle … instead of sitting with my emotions.

I knew it was mostly in-the-moment anxiety compelling me to go back for more PB; I didn’t want/crave anything else. Yet at the same time, I didn’t want it, at least not fully … I just wanted the taste of it.

So I had another taste. And then, before I could catch myself, I took another taste and chewed and spit. And chewed-and-spit. Again and again. Actually, I wasn’t even chewing anything — just putting it in my mouth in big spoonfuls for a second, and spitting it right out. Some sick pleasure in it.

Honestly, I was too exhausted to try to stop the behavior, which I’ve identified as one of my mind’s coping mechanisms for stress.

And so while I completely recognized it as anxiety, it didn’t stop me from chewing-and-spitting my new (expensive) jar of gourmet, delicious, rich PB Loco, White Chocolate Raspberry flavor. Sigh.

Yup, I’m ashamed to say … the jar was “gone” … and only a little over 2 T had actually been ingested (1 T in the a.m., 1 T, at night and then I docked myself another T for kicks because I’m sure some calories get ingested).

When it was all done, I was a little annoyed with myself, but not to the point of concern that this is a relapse. My husband came inside not too long after, soaking wet and freezing, and my incident seemed like a fleeting moment of the past.

Analyzing last night, I realize it was a combination of being anxious, hungry, and exhausted that led to my incident. I figured, in the grand scheme of things, it was better to have done that than actually eaten a jar of peanut butter, which, in that moment, was clearly and certainly a comfort food.

As it turned out, my hubby ran out and got some materials for a temporary fix until we can get the professionals in (or Mother Nature quits wreaking havoc on our casa), and I didn’t go to bed loathing myself for my behavior or even feeling particularly shameful.

It happened, and I blogged about it because this is part of the reality; I slip up sometimes and I’m human. I’ve noticed usually I slip-up after a good, long incident-free streak. It’s Murphy’s Law, and I’m proof that we can never be too confident in our recovery.

So there you have it. I had a chew-and-spit incident, the first in a long time now — but as always, I’m not viewing it as a setback, but rather a pebble on the road.

Today’s a new day, and I’m looking forward to a great weekend — with, for the first time in eons, no definitive plans.

How about you? What was the trigger for your last anxious moment you can recall?

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