Monday, August 3, 2009

A New Colleague, and New Embarrassment

So, I work in DC as a low-level economist. It's basically an entry level job, the sort of thing one has for about a year or two before moving on to grad school or something else. My office is this shared, sort of U-shaped thing--you can't see the other person unless we both roll out our chairs about 5 feet, but we can always hear each other. It's about one step up from a cubicle in terms of privacy.

Last Friday, my office-mate, easily my best friend in DC, left for another job. Her new position is in Texas: close to her family, better paying, more what she wanted to do, all around an excellent and amazing step for her. But it means this wonderful, sweet girl who I loved to bits is being replaced with a stranger. And I just found out he starts on Wednesday.

I am petrified.

One of the things that's big for me is eating in bits throughout the work day so I'm not particularly hungry at the end of the day. I'm really bad with night time eating, but I've found that having a dinner early in the evening (6:30 or 7) and then essentially closing up the kitchen works really well for me. So, on a typical work day, I'll bring:

1 banana
1 fat-free yoplait yogurt
1 chewy chocolate chip granola bar or 1 polly-o string cheese
~12 baby carrots (I guesstimate when packing in the morning and count before I eat)
1 apple or other piece of fruit (today I brought 1/2 cup of blueberries)
1 sandwich, made of: 2 pieces of light style Pepperidge Farm bread, 1 slice of cold cut (right now, I'm working on a half pound of roast beef), 1 tablespoon of miracle whip, two slices of tomato, and a bit of lettuce.

This actually only adds up to about 600 calories throughout the day. Most days I have the banana and yogurt shortly after arriving, the granola bar around 11 or so, the roast beef sandwich at 1 or 2, and snack on the fruit and baby carrots throughout the rest of the afternoon. When I go home around 5:30 or 6, I'm hungry but not ravenous, and have 600-700 calories left to make myself a relatively extravagant dinner.

There are many, many reasons I love this system. The first is, quite simply, that it works. The lack of slip ups on work days is proof of its day-to-day effectiveness. I like that it doesn't feel like deprivation: I get to pack a whole ton of food in my bag each morning, and when I get hungry at work, it's fine because I've almost always got something left to eat. When I've eaten everything, I tend to be sated--there's a lot of fiber and a lot of volume in it. I like that it leaves me enough calories to eat a big dinner. I like that when I'm hungry at night, I can tell myself "it's okay, tomorrow you'll have enough food at work and feel better" and I like that it's true. I like that on mornings when I actually am ravenous--which has happened once or twice in my 4 weeks of diet--I can actually get something that's close to a binge in terms of satisfaction by eating the sandwich, granola bar, yogurt and banana all in the morning, and that I'll still have baby carrots and another fruit to get me through the day. I can (partially) lose control, but since all the food I have is the food I've brought in with me, I don't actually mess up my diet. I like that it's healthy and delicious and feels like it has variety: there are tons of flavors of yoplait, tons of different fruits I can bring, the sandwich is different depending on which meat I use, and I even get some chocolate in the granola bar.

There are many, many things I like about my diet. Up to this point, there's been precisely one thing I've disliked: people walking in on me eating. I can almost hear them thinking, Ew, gross fat Hadley, of course she'd be eating when I stop by her office. And, for self-conscious me, that's a substantive drawback. But it's rare enough that it's only happened a few times thus far, and is easily outweighed by all the good parts. 98% of the time, the only person who could hear me eating was my dear office-mate, who was possibly the sweetest and most non-judgmental person in DC. (Yes, I know that's like saying someone's the least corrupt person in New Jersey, but I swear she'd count as nice even by normal standards.) So yeah, she could hear me eating, and while I'd still rather she didn't, I wasn't really embarrassed because it was just her.

Now, the person who's going to hear me eating is some strange boy who could easily be thinking, Ew, gross, I can hear her eating like all the friggin' time. And who could tell people, "No wonder Hadley's so fat, I can hear her eating like half the day." Scary!

So, I have until Wednesday to figure things out. I need to balance the embarrassment vs. my continued success. And I think I want to not be embarrassed about my weight in the future more than I want to not be embarrassed by eating seemingly-massive amounts right now, but right now, well, I'm just scared.


  1. Oh Hadley - I'm so sorry your sweet DC office mate left. We used to live in DC and really enjoyed it.

    I'll bet he's not going to pay any attention to your eating. I know it's hard, but I'd just encourage you to keep doing what is working for you, and it does sound like the perfect plan for you.

    Your continued success is the most important part!!! Maybe he will be a "social butterfly" and be out visiting people in the office a lot!

  2. He might be struggling with the same problem that you are!

    Its like at the gym, Im so self conscious about running but I realize that the others probably dont care and even if they do, I have a goal to reach, so whatever!

    I hope it goes well and Im sure it will :)

  3. He may be so nervous about starting this new job that he won't even pay attention to what's going on around him. People are self-absorbed. I would continue to put yourself first, do what works, and try not to worry about it.

    Aside from the carrots, do you really think people can hear you eating? I mean those aren't "loud foods."

    Sorry about your friend, but hopefully the new guy will be a good guy.