A Journey Of Self Sabotage – Part #1

Posted on March 22, 2011


I left work early the other day specifically so I could go home and rock my coordination-flummoxing Tracy Anderson dance cardio DVD.

Yet I found myself just 45 minutes later sitting on the couch with a beer and a bowl of chocolate ice cream, watching old episodes of Degrassi Junior High.

Over the next few weeks I became increasingly perplexed by what turned out to be a recurrent turn of events – sometimes featuring Zig Zag Twisties, other times taromasolata dip and clix biscuits (and possibly a cheeky bottle of cider) or honeycomb ice cream, my husband’s salami stash; and one fateful day, a piece of leftover Dominos pizza that “stayed” with me for a while.

After several (delicious yet unsatisfying) weeks of this, I contacted a psychologist friend of mine to ask for her professional opinion.

She said:

“We sometimes do what others may consider stupid, pointless, or harmful because life gets a bit mundane or mediocre and all we want, or even need, is a little bit of chaos, a little bit of drama, a little bit of damsel in distress waiting for a hero (yes, even among the men), or maybe because we sense that there is something bigger that we want to or should be part of, and to the point where we will risk certain things, precious things even, for the sake of taking part…

How did she know?  All I have ever wanted is to be rescued.

In this case by a White Knight on a Nestle horse, galloping over fields of Cadbury chocolate… I saw the ad, people, and it would be nice if the world was Cadbury…

Except that I prefer Haighs.  Evidenced by the weekend just gone in which I ate my way through two bags of the local chocolatier’s licorice bullets and milk orange pastilles.  I may or may not have shared a couple with my husband, but the details were pretty much lost in the sugar high.

When I confessed that it was my compulsive eating that overrode any noble plan to exercise, my psychologist friend said this:

“Oh – didn’t know that you were talking about self-sabotage with food. Yeah, different ballgame I’m afraid…

No kidding.

This was not looking good. There are only so many ways people can tell you to exercise more and stop shovelling crap in your mouth if you want to lose weight.  Like you, I’m still holding out for someone to figure out how I can lose weight without having to do a single thing differently.

Except maybe eat more Zig Zag Twisties.

She went on to say:

“You can never rationalise your way out of the basic human instinct that is to stay alive, which usually requires eating. It’s the amount, timing, type and way to go about it that we’ve stuffed up somewhere along the way. Maybe it would have been better if we stayed as monkeys.

There is always a psychological side to self-sabotage. You’re not an idiot. People do things that they like to do… and I am devastatingly embarrassed to agree with Dr Phil (who I think is a ‘doctor’ like Dr. Pepper is a doctor), there must be some kind of a pay-off.

If it was as simple as it being the taste of the food and/or the feeling of satiety, then you would have recognised that and managed it well.

Clearly, the food or the eating is doing something else for you. And you’re not quite ready to give it up…


How on earth was I supposed to figure out what this mythical ‘pay off’ was?

As I have mentioned to you before, I burned myself out overexercising late last year in preparation to fit into a wedding dress that was foolishly purchased after 10 days of extreme Bali-beli following a post-engagement adventure holiday in the rainforests of Laos.

Thus on the wedding dress purchase day, I was my teeniest, tiniest self thanks, not to dance cardio, but a bunch of flagella in my digestive tract that made me feel like someone had poured acid in my stomach.

However, the flagella soon left the building – in every sense of the word – and I was left with a happy bowel once again.  The downside was that I could no longer shovel M&Ms in my mouth by the handful and blissfully watch them pass right on through.

Add to this the fact that it is now nine months later and I have to appear naked in front of a handsome man on a routine basis, and my burgeoning ass fast became an issue for me.

In the absence of a tropical rainforest to infect me again*, I have been trying various creative combinations to shed the post-connubialisation weight.

Mostly involving exercise with a pasta and wine chaser.  Or Thai take out followed by ice cream and a late night game of basketball; and/or Zig Zag Twisties before and after dance cardio etc.

Curiously, none of these seemed to yield results.  No matter how resolute I became about attaining the Tracy Anderson trademark ass, I would happily dive into every vat of ragu and custard I could find with a caution-to-the-cellulite, devil-may-binge attitude.

However, it all began to make sense to me the other day when I was hanging out at my parent’s house.

My father coming home mid afternoon looking a little washed out.  He went straight to bed and stayed there.

As I was engrossed in season six of the West Wing, I didn’t think much of it.

He came shuffling into the living room a few hours later looking sheepish, but a more normal colour, and made me pause my re-run to listen to his disturbingly familiar tale.

“I have a confession to make…

“I went to the bakery at lunch…

“And bought a pie…

“And a sausage roll…

“And a donut…

“Then I ate them…

“And then I had a coffee…

“And then I went and bought another pie…”

So it appears my problem is hereditary.  Along with eyebrows that have strange, oddly protruding hairs that make me look like… my father…

I’m blaming it all on him.

End of Part #1

* I once met a girl who went on a trip to Africa to change the world or whatnot but was secretly hoping to get sick while she was over there so she could drop a few pounds.  Ironically, after two weeks in the back blocks of Sudan, she was healthy as a horse while all her travelling companions were busy chundering into their backpacks. Jealously watching her fellow missionaries waste away, she chose to lick the bottom of her own shoe in a last ditch attempt to join them.  Which led to a two-week stint in hospital. Selah.