Sunday, July 19, 2009

overdoing it, one day at a time

Sunday is an ideal day to reflect, prioritize and plan, don't you think?

In that vein, today's entry reflects my resolution to list* all the unfulfilled ideas that have been going around in my head for the past few years.

1. Cross stitch.

I started a project three or four years ago, and I have hundreds of patterns waiting in drawers. I've thought about selling my stash but I just can't; it's still important to me and I just need god to make each day 90 hours long so that I can start getting through it.

2. Vanity Fair.

Yeah, the pile of unread mags is at least two years high. Considering it takes me a week to read each one, I should be done in six months ... if I don't do anything else on this list.

3. Books.

I have at least half a dozen poker books dying to teach me better strategy. And then there are the novels....

4. Movies.

I'm not even sure I want to go here. Besides the few files on my hard drive I believe I've got a pile of burned flicks, too. A big pile.

5. LOST.

During Season 5 I resolved I'd spend this summer watching my DVDs from the beginning so that I'd be fully prepared for the final season. There's still time, if I could just get started.

6. Blogroll.

I subscribe to 32 blogs and I have about 350 entries to read. That's not even that bad, now that I think about it. Hmmpf.

7. Twitter.

When I added the 40th Tweep to my list of Follows I remember thinking I couldn't possibly manage any more. Now I'm following over 200 mostly-awesome men and women and I give myself a headache every time I try to catch up on what I've missed.

8. Job hunt.

It's one thing -- and an easy one, I admit -- to check three or four Canadian job sites every day; it's quite another to explore all the careers I'm considering pursuing. Forensics, Web development, product design, Web design; those are just a few of my interests right now. I've been compiling information to teach myself CSS, WordPress, Thesis, etc. Since I barely know what they are, I have quite a hill to climb.

9. Cycling.

It used to be the foundation of my life. Now the mere thought of pumping tires, getting dressed and riding reminds me of a chore I keep putting off until tomorrow.

10. Podcasts.

iTunes is home to almost 400 unheard, unwatched episodes of The Guild, Best Ads on TV, Savage LoveCast, AnteUp, PokerRoad, and more.

11. Poker.

Besides the books and 'casts on this subject, I also have an extensive digital collection of instructional materials idling on my PC.

It's a really good thing I have no life.

*Note that I am resolved to "list" them, not necessarily do anything about them.

Monday, July 6, 2009

So that high I've written about?

Until last night, part of me still didn't accept the ramifications. Part of me was holding on to the notion that it wasn't really physiological or biochemical, that I could somehow make it stop on my own if I just tried.

How reasonable would it be for an alcoholic to believe she could quit drinking if only she'd stop imagining that being drunk felt so good*?


In The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, Dr. Kessler writes of "the body's reward system". The reward system motivates us to pursue things that are pleasurable but that also ensure our survival and the survival of the species, sex and food being two biggies.

Even the anticipation of reward is enough to encourage us to pursue the reward, he says.

Powerful biological forces are at play that make us want something enough to pursue it and then make us feel momentarily better once we obtain it.

So when my body needs food, the reward system kicks in to make my mind anticipate the satisfaction - the pleasure - I'll get from eating, in turn motivating me to pursue that food.

The pleasure we get from eating - even the anticipation of that pleasure - are hard-wired within us. Biology driving will.

Makes sense. But how does that explain my cravings for McDonald's french fries with extra salt? That's not exactly nourishing. Surely my body doesn't want me filling it with that?

Here's the kicker:

It is possible to activate the brain's reward centers by artificially stimulating them....

Can you guess where this is going?

Stay tuned.

*In the short term, I mean. In the long run, drinking too much/too feels at least as guilt-inducing, at least as dangerous, at least as out-of-control as over-eating.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

food: it's what i'm thinking about

At my workplace I'm famous for a number of things, most of them not particularly flattering. One of those things is my adoration of fast food.

There isn't much fast food to choose from near the call centre -- McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway, Tim Horton's (does that even qualify?) and KFC form something of a temptation strip along the provincial highway -- but it doesn't really matter since I tend to have a rotating obsession with specific menu items from either McDonald's or Wendy's.

There have been several periods in my life when fast food was not welcome in my belly -- there was that glorious 18 months of vegan-hood, for example, in the late 90s -- but every time I cracked open the door of whatever regimen I happened to be following the french fries and burgers and breaded chicken wraps always found their way back in.

Once inside, they became magical again. A day might start badly but if I had some Mickey Dees fries to look forward to for lunch, life always got better.

When routine starts bringing me down, I invite the fun back into life with a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger.

And when I feel sad or stressed or angry, a Quarter Pounder® with Cheese Extra Value Meal is fantastic comfort.

Literally, it turns out.

I learned of The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by Dr. David Kessler the other day and I ordered it immediately from my local independent. I've only read one chapter and yet I already understand what's happening so much better.

I've never been able to figure out why I think of food so often. I've never understood why it's had such an emotional impact on me and why I can't ever really keep away.

After just one chapter, however, I know that I'm not the only one. Millions of people experience the same cravings that I do.

It turns out that the food we're so drawn to is stimulating pleasure chemicals in our brains. We're getting high from it.

I'm not that much different from an alcoholic, it seems. I turn to my drug for all the same reasons.

And the food industry knows it. They're targeting me and the millions of others like me. They're even preparing the food in specific ways that will keep me addicted, keep me coming back.

It's making so much sense now. I didn't understand before now why I would be so drawn to something that isn't even really food. I can eat it, it's true, but it isn't nourishing me and certainly isn't good for me.

So these are some of the things I know now. What's left to be discovered is the most important: can I break the chain? Can I stop needing the joy my brain experiences when I consume the salt and cheese and fat?

This, of course, is what I'm really looking for.

Friday, July 3, 2009

for @smegatron

She's the boldest and bravest woman I know; she will say it, she will do it.

She's determined, focused and hard-working.

She's talented and she's so funny she's made me pee my pants in public ... twice.

She builds me up and helps me to believe in myself; I've never known that before.

She deserves the kind of man who believes in true love ... even if she'd prefer a stalker.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Writing used to be my whole life.

For the three years I was paid to report for newspapers I wrote virtually every day. But it wasn't as glamorous as it sounds; trying to create news to fill a hole on page four (or wherever it was - I never knew) rapidly became as unfulfilling as cleaning a toilet: it was my job, I had to do it, but no one ever noticed when I did.

(They sure noticed if I didn't do it, though; I was definitely in the shithouse then.)

I now resist writing for all the reasons I resist shopping at Frenchy's: as a consequence of once being obligated to do it, now I choose not to. Even if it's good for me.

The thing is, it is good for me. My voice is occasionally interesting, sometimes funny and now and then what I have to say is remarkable.

If I let my voice out I let me out.

I need out.