Guilt goggles

Monday at the orthodontist’s office I was reading in a fitness magazine about some celebrity chef who “maintains her rock hard abs” despite her high-risk occupation by “religiously measuring everything.” If you eyeball olive oil rather than using a tablespoon, she noted, next thing you know you’ve got more fat than a fast-food burger.

That night at Weight Watchers someone made a similar point. But then Sharon, the subject of yesterday’s “Laudable Loser” interview, noted that the opposite was also true: Sometimes not measuring causes people to overestimate the calorie carnage. Your sense of guilt magnifies your perception of your transgression.

And that can be just as bad, if not worse, in my experience — because that’s when you’re at most risk of giving up.

I‘ve written before about my worst transgression during my weight loss: a 50-point day under the old Weight Watchers points system, more than twice what I should‘ve had. And yet, by measuring and counting — both what I ate and how much I exercised — I managed to recover. By the end of the week, I not only avoided a gain, but actually recorded a loss.

Last  night I made a similar discovery. Cleaning out the fridge, I discovered a container of leftover frosting from the girls’ recent birthdays. On top of the fridge was a box of graham crackers. Because it was Tuesday, the day I let myself go over a bit, I gave in and carefully measured out half a tablespoon of icing on two cracker squares.

That didn’t satisfy me. What I really wanted was unmeasured, unrestrained indulgence. So I let myself scoop out a generous dollop and put it on a plate, and then I took the rest of the broken crackers in the package and dumped them on the plate.

Looking it over, I imagined myself eating that the way I might’ve in the old days, scarfing it down like the Cookie Monster, not coming up for air until I’d licked the last bit of frosting off my fingers. And then I imagined my post-transgression assessment of the devastation. Hopeless, I would’ve thought. Uncountable. Time to bail.

Last night, I went ahead and measured. What I’d assembled on that plate came out to less than one serving of graham crackers, and 2 tablespoons of frosting — one serving, according to most store containers.

So, yeah, it was a suckish snack. Way too much fat and sugar. But now I know, ya know?

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