Overdoing: The Seven-Course Meal Approach to Life

As my family and friends will attest, I have a serious tendency to overload—a craving, in a way.

My excuse is that I’m at my best when I have lots of things asking for my time. I finish projects faster when a deadline looms than when I have plenty of time. I’ll get all the notes from all the meetings cranked out to the attendees with the associated task lists, if I have lots of meetings to chronicle. When I chaired the Bike to Work Spokane effort last year, I sent and received over 3,500 emails in the course of 6 months to stay in touch with volunteers, promote the activities, and communicate with the participants. I cook better on all burners.

That goes for cooking, too. If I’m making a meal I often make everything from scratch, not just one or two featured dishes. If you come to my house for hors d’oeuvres, the odds are pretty good that I’ve cut up all the veggies on the veggie tray and made the dip myself, rather than letting Mr. Rosauers and his talented deli crew do the work.

When I volunteer, I do the same. I don’t just join a group; I end up on the board. I don’t just join the board; I end up chairing it, or heading a subcommittee, or running the publicity efforts. Mind you, this whole cycle starts because when people ask me to join a board, I say yes.

None of this is said to boast. I started writing this New Year’s Eve, and finished New Year’s Day, to remind myself of these tendencies so I can work on curbing them.

In the book French Women Don’t Get Fat, author Mireille Giuliano speculates that people in the U.S. overeat because our food often isn’t all that good-tasting. We’ll plow through a whole Hershey’s bar, when a one-ounce square of really fine chocolate would satisfy us more. We supersize our portions. We fill our plates three times at all-you-can-eat buffets.

As recent research showed, overweight people actually cue themselves differently in these settings. They sit facing the food lines. They grab a plate and start filling it before they even look at all the choices. They go back for refills before the stomach has had a chance to tell the brain "Enough!"

Thinner people will cruise the buffet line first, often without a plate; make more selective choices; and are more apt to sit facing away from the food.

I have enough on my plate. This is my year to sit facing away from the selections and enjoy what I’ve already selected. It’s good; there's plenty; and I’ll feel satisfied when I finish it.