LAKE PLACID DIET: Gearing up for my annual battle with cabin fever

Start (Dec. 31): 447 lbs.

Two weeks ago: 433 lbs.

This week: 437 lbs.

Total lost in 2020: 10 lbs.

Shortly after writing these words two weeks ago, I began to struggle: “Although I have not yet struggled with any major issues so far this year, I know that eventually life will knock me down again, and I’ll have to work hard to get back up.”

Yup, I got knocked down, and now I’m back up again.

It all started with my new work schedule and a special project that required a lot of long days, extra attention to detail and creativity. Needless to say, it took a lot of energy out of me, and when I don’t have the energy, I don’t have the will power to behave. I’ll start making excuses as to why I can’t exercise and justifications as to why it’s OK to eat that junk food or drink that beer.

When things get busy at work, sometimes the dishes don’t get done in a timely manner, and after a long day, the last thing I want to do is wash dishes so I can cook a healthy meal. I end up choosing the quicker option of picking up food, such as frozen pizza, that I can just pop in the oven. The next day, it’s something else, then something else, and before I know it, I’m out of control.

A little extra sleep helps. So does exercise, especially when you are forced to get the exercise.

After the snowstorm last Friday, for example, I had to shovel about 18 inches of snow out of the driveway so we could get the cars out. On Friday night, I moved all the snow from my wife’s side of the driveway to my side of the driveway — in front, behind and on top of my 2012 Ford Focus. You couldn’t see my car at all.

On Saturday, I was busy announcing the Gala Parade in front of the town hall for the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival and was too tired afterward to shovel.

On Sunday, I spent three hours shoveling my car out, taking breaks by sitting on the front steps of my house and listening to the blue jays make all kinds of noise. It had warmed up, too, so it was pleasant. I actually enjoyed it. It was meditative, if that makes any sense. I was at peace while I was out there. It helped me recharge and get back on track.

Even with two weeks of questionable behavior — eating junk food, meat and drinking a six pack of beer — I’m still 10 pounds down for the year.

I have a feeling my struggles will continue in the coming months, as I feel cabin fever setting in, and spring isn’t coming anytime soon. That’s usual this time of year. With almost four months of winter weather, it’s getting me down, and I feel the need more than ever to reach for comfort food.

In April 2014, when I was down 60 pounds on the first round of the Lake Placid Diet, I wrote about cabin fever and how I was self-medicating:

“I keep placing ‘sunshine’ on my daily list of positives when the sun is out. Even then, I continue to find myself in a dark place this time of year.

“With the long winter almost over, tax day reminds me of finances, which always give me stress, especially after learning last week that it’s going to cost $700 to fix my car. I hate money problems.

“I also hate this time of year. I’ve been suffering from cabin fever for almost three months, and it’s getting worse. There is no spring break in my world, so there’s no hope I’ll get better any time soon. My spirits could be lifted if I took a small break, but where would I go? I can’t afford to travel. And spring break in the Adirondacks doesn’t cure cabin fever, not with fresh snow on the ground this week. So I’m stuck with the urge to self-medicate with food.

“I go through short periods of depression once in awhile. That’s normal, isn’t it? I even find myself enjoying the melancholy. It’s a good time to reflect on what’s important in life. But the depression is always deeper in March and April.

“Before starting this column, I shut the blinds in my office, closed the door and turned off all the lights except for a warm antique desk lamp my mother gave me. It’s just me, the light, and the computer, and I’m doing what I like best — writing. It’s therapeutic.

“Food’s always been my answer to depression, not alcohol, illegal drugs, medication, therapy or religion. I keep rubbing my eyes, searching for answers and not finding any. I just find more questions and the uneasy craving for food, knowing all the time that stuffing my gut won’t solve a thing.

“Still, it makes me feel better in the short term. Over and over, one day after another, giving myself a high with food, kept me going for years. But it’s an addiction I want to break, one that the Lake Placid Diet was designed for.

“I spent years looking forward to dinner as the highlight of my day, and on weekends, it would be breakfast, lunch and dinner. I would just eat and eat and eat. It was a time to enjoy food behind closed doors, leaving the stresses of everyday life for a short time while I indulged in the guilty pleasures on my plate, feeding myself well past the feeling of being full. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, and I don’t smoke or do drugs. Food is my addiction.

“I can’t promise that when I see you next I’ll be out of this funk, but I will promise to try not to self-medicate with food. And I’ll still be seeking that sunshine until I finally feel better.”