…and I am an emotional eater.
I’ve made this statement in the past. It’s something I know about myself. I turn to food when I am stressed or sad. You’d think knowing this would help me, to be able to prevent myself from doing it. To wrangle that desire to eat and lock it away just by sheer willpower. Unfortunately, for me, this is not how it works.
The new year dawned and brought with it both stress and sadness. We moved to a new home: packing, unpacking, organizing, figuring out a new routine, new schedules. Change, in general. All very stressful. More significantly, there were many deaths around me in a very short period of time. Heartbreaking losses happening to people I love and affecting me in profound ways. It puts everything in perspective, makes you appreciate what you have, who you have. Then there are the images you can’t control, thinking of all the possibilities of harm that can come to anyone at any given time. And until this very moment of typing, I don’t think I realized I was depressed. Am depressed.
I’m not talking major clinical depression. Just the general sadness and melancholy that go along with the lower track of life’s roller coaster. For me, this means a little less pep in my step, a forced smile when saying hello, not returning phone calls, missing people, keeping to myself, doing the bare minimum around the house, watching a lot of TV, bursting into tears for no apparent reason, and eating. Lots and lots of eating. I did not realize how bad it was until I stepped on the scale and saw I had gained seven pounds – seven – in just a couple of weeks. Now, this may not sound like much, but to put it in perspective for you, that is at least four-to-five weeks of daily workouts and perfect eating for me to lose. I had worked so hard to lose that weight, and in a blink, I had it back on my frame.
This is the most difficult part about trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Those habits I tried to break are still there. I have to consciously make the “right”, more healthy decisions. All the time. It doesn’t come naturally to me. When the stress levels are high and my mind’s not right, I eat. Here is an example of an average binge eating session for me (most of which is unconscious): After a long day of work, I went to pick up my two kids. My husband was going out with friends, I was tired, it was getting late, and I didn’t feel like cooking, so I went through the drive thru for dinner. I got us each a burger, and two large fries and a dessert to share. First off, I should not be eating french fries or dessert of the “Frosty” persuasion. Period. Secondly, one large fry is more than enough for the three of us. My kids are 3.5 and 21 months. They don’t eat that much. See, I know this, but I ordered that second carton of fries anyway. I ended up eating my burger (with bacon and cheese, dipping it in ketchup), 1.5 cartons of large fries (more ketchup), and 1/2 the Frosty/Oreo concoction. But it didn’t end there. After I put the kids to bed, I wanted more sweets, but we didn’t really have any desserts per se. So I created my own by drinking two large glasses of milk, and eating 10 or 12 Nilla Wafers and a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips. I didn’t look up the actual calorie count, but I can guarantee it’s well over 2200. That is more than the daily recommended amount and almost double my personal daily allotted intake. In one sitting.
So why am I sharing with you my ridiculous overeating? Why would I embarrass myself like that? Because my sadness and addiction are real. Because they deserve to be acknowledged and validated. Because it is a daily battle I have to fight through, and fight hard. Because it doesn’t make me a weak person to admit I have weaknesses. Because I’m just like you. I’m human.
I could hide behind my computer spouting at you all the things you should do, and try to buy myself some time and crash diet to get rid of the weight before anyone really notices I gained. But what kind of person would that make me? A hypocrite. It is difficult to commit to a lifestyle change, and it is near impossible to do so without making mistakes and falling off the wagon. This time I fell off and didn’t have the energy or motivation to chase after it. I just watched it drive off into the horizon and wallowed as the dust settled around me. But eventually I started walking toward it; then worked my way up to a jog; and I can see it ahead now. I’m going to jump back on and do my damnedest to hang on for the rest of the journey.
I hope you’ll stick with me for it.