Caricature of social media, the same caricature of the past ten years:
I ate a sandwich for lunch
AND HERE IS A PICTURE OF IT!
Nobody wants to see a picture of my favorite sandwich. There’s no way to make it look good, even if you’re the kind of person who dedicates your off hours to food photography. I am decidedly not that person. Also, I’ve been scaring people away with my propensity for Tofurky and sauerkraut sandwiches since like 1997.
The trouble with the sandwich is that I keep improving it with glorious add-ons. It started with the bread. Then it was the stone-ground mustard, then it was the horseradish with beets. Sometimes it’s cranberry sauce, although then the other guys have to go.
I know this sandwich is my downfall and one of the major causes of my recent weight gain. I know it is. I also know that nobody in America wants to talk about weight gain, but too bad. I thought we were all about authenticity and not presenting a fake image that drives other people to FoMO. You want authenticity, you have to hear about my love-hate relationship with one of the major characters in my life, which is, my lunch.
Not everyone even eats lunch. A lot of you out there with the microwaved popcorn and the Diet Coke have more to worry about than I do.
It’s true that I don’t indulge myself by skipping or delaying meals, exploding at people, and then apologizing because “I was hangry.” I’m proud of this. It’s a cultural fault. I’m one of the only people I know who actually eats a proper, intentional, sit-down lunch every day.
The trouble is that I’m a small-framed person eating the lunch of a longshoreman. Not a literal guy: a real longshoreman could no doubt defend his lunchbox from me, or hoist me overhead in one of those big cargo nets until I gave it back. I’m picturing a metaphorical guy, someone much larger than my 5’4”.
I’ve been a bunch of different sizes in my adult life. I’ve worn each of eight different clothing sizes for at least a year. These are all places I’ve been before. Right now I’m at one of my least-favorite places, hovering right on the line between normal and overweight.
I’m noticing it more because I decided it was time to do something about it, and put my plan into motion, and my weight has been stuck within 0.1 for a week.
It’s my sandwich, that handsome devil.
I just can’t quit you!
When you basically do the same things all the time, you basically tend to get the same results.
I eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast, because it’s one of the great loves of my life, and I’ve succeeded on it across workouts. Hiking, running, martial arts, oatmeal is the one thing that sticks to my ribs.
My hubby and I eat basically the same couple dozen dinners, because there are only so many thirty-minute meals that we know how to cook.
My beloved sandwich is under suspicion because I started upgrading it again. It happened in stages. Our grocery store quit carrying the special bread I used for nearly five years. I went back to my old brand, which is larger, and then started adding more fillings because it looked so... small and flat.
Suddenly “my sandwich” was about 20% bigger.
Add 20% to your meals, and what happens?
It’s simple math.
This is a deeply, profoundly controversial concept. I recognize that. What I don’t understand is why it makes sense for my pets, who are different classes of animal, but supposedly doesn’t make sense for humans. My parrot weighs under a pound, my dog weighs under 25 pounds. We measure her food with a tablespoon and we measure his with a half-cup scoop. Obviously she can’t eat the same amount he can - she wouldn’t want to, and she can’t snap off bits of his kibble anyway. Equally obviously, he couldn’t survive on her meals, even when she throws him bits just to watch him skid out on the floor.
Nobody thinks it’s pathological that my pets have their meals measured with a scoop. All the vets they have had have told us the same thing, that we feed our animals a little too much and that we need to dial back a bit. They’ve both had endocrine and liver issues, and gee, isn’t that strange? Two chordata, a mammal and a bird, eating different diets from different brands, going to different clinics, with similar health problems? The common denominator, the primates who fill their bowls. Plus a few little treats on the side, day after day.
Aww, but they’re so cute when they beg!
We relate to them so much through food. They both love music, they both love to go out and meet people, they both love to snuggle and get pets, so much of their personalities are not food-oriented. But we are.
We could never harm them by playing them too much music or snuggling too much. We pick the one thing that could ever cause them any trouble.
We can also appreciate that animals don’t have issues with body image. Are you kidding? A dog walking around with his ear inside out and his tongue hanging out of his mouth, a parrot picking her nose with her toe. They’re not even ashamed of eating off the floor. We can have frank discussions about their weight right in front of them and it will never interfere with their boundless self-satisfaction.
Why am I talking about my pets when I started out talking about my sandwich? Because my sandwich is a sort of pet of mine as well. A fixation, an enduring presence, part of how I define myself and plan my days. I have no idea what else I would do with myself.
I know how to disrupt my pattern, and there are two ways. One, I can keep hanging with my frenemy sandwich if I start running serious mileage again. Two, I can bulk-cook a bunch of soups, lasagna, all sorts of other enticing meals with a lower calorie count, and eat a nice hot lunch every day instead. Or I can make a giant project out of it and do both.
Left to my own devices, I’ll keep at it with my sandwich, my frenemy, and I’ll still be complaining about the same pattern three months from now, or a year from now, or forever. Nobody redefines my day but me.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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