There are two calorie limits in my life right now:  the lose-weight point, and the break-even point.  Exceeding the break-even point means weight gain.  I try to stop eating as soon as I’ve reached-but-not-crossed the horizon of lose-weight.  The middle ground between losing weight and gaining it may sound unnecessary (just make the lose-weight line the only line, then don’t cross it! ) but it allows me some room for indulgence without making me cavalier about the process.  (Uh-oh!  I’ve crossed the Rubicon!  Hey Honey, the day is lost, so you start slicing cheese and cold cuts, and I’ll start popping corks!)  — No.  That buffer zone, so antithetical to our Western duality default (Black and White, Good and Evil, Rowan and Martin) is both a meaningful designation and an utterly practical one; the amber light between the green and red.  Not Stop, not Go, but Exercise Caution.

If I overindulge, I can now draw the line at break-even, because I’ve had a chance to slow to a stop.  This allows me time to remember my goal rather than getting caught up in a panic-crave and a crisis of will power.  Panic does not lead me to good decisions on the food front.  If I can buy myself time to think, and that middle zone affords me that time, I can remember that working hard to lose weight, then gaining some back, works against what I want so much.  Like scrimping and saving for a new house, and splurging on a big toy or trinket that eats half your savings.

Lesson:  Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was sacked in one.

So:  after overindulging on Sunday (over the line from active weight loss, short of certain weight gain) I decided to eat lightly yesterday.  My hope was that a day of greater control would reinforce my training (arf!) and get me back on track.  Again, I nursed a pot of fully caffeinated java all day (over ice, after the first hot cups of the morning) and used an iceberg-rich salad to counter my craving for quantity at lunch.  My energy was good all day, however attributable to caffeine, but my daily calorie total was <500.

Conventional wisdom says my organs will be shutting down any minute now.  Should I be scared?

Here’s the thing:  I can’t just trit-trot to the doctor whenever I have a question or need guidance or reassurance.  It’s educational, but it’s not medically necessary, and my insurance carrier (on which I rely) is a stickler for treatment that is needed for something specific.  They are not eager to pay a hundred bucks for me to make random queries for my general education.  At my last visit, back in January, Dr. T said that excess weight was a greater threat than anything, and given my activity level, food was of more a psychological benefit than a physical need.  Cut calories, cut carbs, and get moving!

For now, anyway, exercise is mostly postponed.  It makes me ravenous!  Stretching, a little dance, and the occasional walk are all I can do right now without getting deranged and coaxing Honey into chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and there goes my diet, so how do you feel about BBQ ribs for dinner?

But this brings me to my crisis.

I missed my weight goal by a half-pound this week.  I am at a crossroads.  If I focus on that half-pound, it feels like a return to my highschool headcase, eating half of one meal each day instead of three, counting my Cheerios, and weighing myself constantly.  This is tempting, since I looked good in clothes, if not so hot out of them.

If I set goals and ignore them (or worse, rationalize — I started my period yesterday, it’s probably just bloat, tra-la!) then what’s the purpose of setting goals at all?  Not taking them seriously (i.e., not suffering if I fail) undermines goal-setting as a tool.

And yet: suffering leads to feeling helpless, hapless, let’s-choke-on-a-cannoli-and-get-it-over-with hopeless.

Is this the Western duality again?  Virtue or vice?  Sinner or saint?  Anorexic or glutton?  — I reject it.

I want the middle path, even though it’s uncertain; even though balance requires strength I may not have (but want to cultivate); even though extremism is security and centrism could send me veering off in either direction at any time.  I want a life of lagom, sufficiency, neither too much nor too little.  A Goldilocks life:  just right.

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