Well, Hello Everyone! How are you doing? Well, for me I’ve actually been doing pretty well. I mean, besides the lack of sleep, fatigue, the overall body aches, and the lip exfoliative cheilitis, I’ve been doing well. Would you like to know why? I’ve been actively working on/through my emotional and stress eating. Whew, there’s up and downs, but we’re steadily doing well. Now, let me explain where I was, where I’ve been, and where I feeling like I’m headed.
Now, my biggest obstacle has been my weight, I use to be a fit chick, and I am definitely not that anymore, maybe internally, because I do know a thing or two (if I do say so myself), but through my outward appearance, it would not seem that fitness is one of my primary hobbies. Since January 2021, I’ve gone from about 200lbs to currently 194lbs– not amazingly fast progress, but progress. Recently, I noticed that although I’ve been staying under 200lbs, I’ve been gaining and losing the same 5lbs or so, essentially averaging out around 198lbs for the past few months. So, yes, this has been a bummer, but I knew exactly why.
Although, I have been working out pretty consistently (ranging from 5 days a week to 2-3 days week) I knew it was too many maintenance calorie days paired with too many emotional/stress eating days. The emotional, stress, bored, lonely eating (whatever you’d want to call it), has always been an issue of mine. This stemmed back to my first/primary bout of depression, when I was around age 11/12, food was my comfort during that time- it was a strong year of ingraining the habit of food as comfort for me. Over the years, that reliance lessened, but never fully went away. In my 20’s, as I got more into fitness, I would still have what one would call a “cheat” day. When it came to my “diet”, I was still never too strict, e.g. if a birthday happened on a non “cheat” day or someone bought cookies, sure I would celebrate, have a slice of cake, have a cookie, it was no big deal. I was lucky, in that regard, not to have that negative inner self talk that others have dealt with in consideration to eating disorders or full blown binging episodes.
In hindsight though, I can still see how that mindset was still giving me an unhealthy way of looking at food. Plus, it was very easy to still keep the habit as food equaled comfort when I was stressed, anxious, or sad, because I was in shape. I would always appear to still be the same size, weight, fitness level, even after an episode (calling them an episode seems extreme, but I’m not sure what else to refer to them as, and perhaps that is exactly what they were/are).
In so, once I started dating my husband the weight gain started to happen, as he himself did/does not have the best relationship with food- more so for him it’s less comfort and more “I was used to be an active young man who just ate whatever he wanted and was fine”, so with a partner having that mentality, coupled with him wanting to treat me well, I was slowly gaining some weight- I think at that time it wasn’t too much as I still was working out but I was looking more just thin than “fit”. Eventually with the introduction and friendship of a couple I have discussed previously where I was introduced to edibles (yes, weed/marijuana) well, the episodes definitely became more of the norm than the exception, and that was how I came to the weight I was, 215lbs (with the exception of pregnancy, my highest weight during pregnancy was 245lbs).
Now, for the past year, I’ve taken a step back and have made myself a priority-particularly my health. With paying attention to my health my biggest concern has been getting my weight down, taking care of my body- taking note of all the aches and pains and actively working through exercises and programs to strengthen those areas, and working on my nutrition. As I stated, when it came to working on my nutrition I finally had to admit it- what I was doing was not working. I needed to acknowledge the underlying mechanisms-the unhealthy bingeing or over indulging episodes. In so, I started further working on my emotions, identifying them, processing them, letting myself feel them, and really take those moments to “speak” with myself. I started being more active on this blog and my YouTube channel, as a way to process my feelings. The first of which was the friendship break-up, in which I am actually in a good place to say, I’m glad that it happened. It still saddens me that the other party has slipped further under into their own mental health issues, but I’m thankful for not getting brought further down with them. I can still feel the hurt and sadness that surrounds the whole experience, but I can at least say I’m okay now and I understand it. “Helping a loved one doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself”, and I better understand that now.
Overall, my emotional life and mental health has gotten better. Concerning, the emotional eating I was still at the point of having an episode once or twice a week. Here are some of the things I started to do on my own to help myself lessen those episodes-
- Listen to your body. I think this was the most important. I really had to think and ask myself, Am I actually hungry? What am I feeling right now? In so, depending on my answer to that question that would lead me to…
- Making a list of productive activities to do that the draw/cues to eat won’t be available to me. In my case, that list consisted of
- Drinking tea (Yes, I became a tea drinker)
- Playing a video game (I personally don’t like touching the controller with grubby hands and I like to concentrate on the flavors of my food)
- Write (Essentially anything at my computer was an option as I don’t like multi-tasking when eating, I truly enjoy savoring my food)
- Read (This goes back to the grubby hands scenario and I can easily get engrossed in a book)
- Cleaning (Once I start moving and doing something, I’m not going to enjoy my food so I’d strongly prefer not- I don’t even like walking and eating at the same time)
- Sleep (This one is more so the last resort for late night cravings, as long as I’m genuinely not hungry)
- I started drinking tea, Green Tea and Peppermint, to be exact. I’m not the biggest fan of tea or caffeine in general, but considering the lack of consistent quality sleep and the drive, ambition, and want to continue to live my life and to DO things during the day, I succumbed, but I made thoroughly researched decisions. To be blunt, I was very hesitant about introducing caffeine into my system for the fact of just not wanting to become one of “those” people (ha ha). I don’t populate Starbucks, I actively try to avoid them as much as possible. So, I chose the lesser of two evils. Coffee wasn’t really an option as I don’t care for the taste nor the smell, right off the bat, and I didn’t want to have coffee drowned in sugar and creamer, as weight loss was/is still a primary aspect of all of this. I went with Green Tea for it being one of the teas with reasonable health benefits and not too much caffeine- I really wanted the lowest amount of caffeine just to gauge myself to find what amount my body actually “needed”. I then added peppermint, as it is good for digestion, and it definitely takes the edge off of the taste of the Green Tea (I drink them together in one 20oz cup as I also want to stay hydrated). I also, add about 4-6 grams of maple syrup, but I’m currently working my way down closer to 3 or 4 grams.
- Make healthier choices the easier snack option. So, when I am actually hungry I try to make chicken, tuna, or something small and healthy. My current go to is rotisserie chicken that I measure out servings of and eat that with some kimchi or I have flavored tuna pouches (lemon pepper) that I warm up, mix a thin slice of cheese with, and add mustard.
- 5.If I do want something sweet, that’s okay. The point is to really acknowledge the feeling, place it, process it, and not have food as the substitute/comfort for actually processing that emotion. So, if I do want something sweet, I’m honest with myself, but the point is also giving myself a small serving than I initially want, with doing that in conjunction with the other steps I have learned that my craving is actually satisfied with that portion. If I were to serve myself a larger portion I find that half way through, I’m over the sweetness and I don’t really want it anymore.
Lastly, the finally missing puzzle piece for me was the guidance of this book on emotional eating. I bought it a few months back because I wanted to actively start working through these issues and yea, it essentially listed some the ideas that I came to my own conclusions about, but summarized them much better and gave me better clarification. It also helped guide me through some small but important missing steps, which I hadn’t quite grasped yet. I would highly recommend this book as the cap of my putting all of this together to help curb my emotional/stress eating.
So, where am I now and where do I feel that I am headed? I started this process in earnest on October 17th, 2021 and my weight at that time was, once again, 198lbs. It is now November 4th, 2021, about 2 ½ weeks later and I am currently 194lbs. Now, have I had a binge/emotional/stress eating episode? Yes, and that’s okay. I recently had one, but it was nothing compared to the episodes I had in the past, it was very mild, and I actually was still under my maintenance calories for the day. I was able to acknowledge my feelings (boredom) and then acknowledge what I actually wanted food-wise (something sweet), this is when I served myself a larger slice of leftover birthday cake than I should have and I really grasped that I did not want this. I did finish it because I hate throwing away food, but I also made the conscious mental note of not over serving myself- I can always get up and get more if I really want to plus that’s a great way of giving yourself time to think and reflect.
I also think it puts it in perspective, that just like with any addiction, relapses are expected and habits take time to form and stick, but the longer you keep doing them, going for longer stretches at a time, the stronger the habits become. All things take practice to become good or better at them. I feel confident that I’m on the right track. I went from having emotional eating episodes 1-2 times a week to having a very mild episode once every 2+ weeks. That’s a win. Now, the holidays are coming up and I’m very much aware of that, but for now I feel like I’m in a much better headspace and better equipped to make it through the holidays without any additional weight gain and fingers crossed, maybe some weight loss 🙂