Thursday, November 20, 2008

You Don't Have to Gain Weight When You're Upset

More and more I am learning that just because I am upset, angry, sad, or frustrated, I do not have to use that as an excuse (aka "reason") to eat. Maybe this is not a revelation to most people, but for me, it is like the light is coming on, slowly but surely. The more I go through, the more I realize I do not HAVE to use food to get through life.

This has been a rough year for me. If you've followed my blog know it's been a real roller coaster ride, with 2 cancer scares, an absent husband, surgery, losing my health insurance, marriage issues, deaths, losses, and dealing with my kids' health issues. Some days I think it is a miracle I have lost any weight at all through this difficult time in my life. Other times I am just thankful for all the blessings I have, and I hold my breath, praying it doesn't get worse.

I used to use food to comfort myself... or rather, numb myself... when things got to be too much. When I feel overwhelmed, I can stuff those scared, lonely feelings down with a carton of ice cream and a box of donuts. Or I can feel the feelings. I can cry. I can yell into my pillow.

It's a choice. It wasn't a choice before.

I think that's what some people don't understand. Before, it was so automatic it was like breathing, or a heart beating. It just happened with no thought. I got an upsetting phone call, and before I knew what happened I was sitting, eyes glazed over, stomach full, and an empty Cheeto bag on the floor. I might not have even realized what happened except for the orange powder on my fingers. That and the extra 130 pounds hanging off my body.

It was seriously *that* automatic most of the time. Unless I was "dieting," the autopilot reaction to stress was food. Over the past year, I have been paying more attention, fighting those automatic reactions, trying to substitute healthier alternatives. But not until today did I really understand.

You don't have to gain weight when you're upset.

I had one of those upsetting phone calls tonight. When I feel like a situation is out of my control, I get scared. I get this really tense, hyped-up feeling like I have to DO something, but there is nothing I can do. In the past, a candy bar would solve this problem. Well, at least it felt that way. I wouldn't have to think about the *real* problem anymore, at least for awhile, because I was a) enjoying a candy bar, or, in reality, 4 candy bars; and b) worrying about going off my "diet," being fat, and how to control my eating. Viola! I didn't have to deal with the real problem or feel the fear anymore.

But tonight, I just sat down and felt the feelings. It was nearly overwhelming. I've been struggling with pretty bad PMS. I have enough stuff I am dealing with already. I didn't need one more thing to be added to my plate right now. I was really upset.

I went and rode my bike, even though it was almost 9pm and I was tired. I was upset on my bike, and I didn't forget my problem. But I didn't compound it by getting fatter.

When I was done riding, I came and sat down. I have no urge to eat, or binge, or any of that. I can just be upset. It's not fun, and I don't like it. But that's life, and I find solace in the lesson learned.

Upset does not have to equal out of control. It doesn't have to make me fat.

I'll solve my problems. Time will pass. Things will work out. I'll have peace.

And I will NOT BE FATTER.

28 comments:

Paula said...

Great post Lyn. You are doing so very well.

Hanlie said...

Finding another activity that will help you cope with adversity, like exercise, is a very valuable tool in your arsenal. Not only is it not bad for you, like candy would have been, but it's good for you, in the sense that it calms you and empowers you to deal with the situation. Well done!

Benjamin Teal said...

Very good post. I have a saying that I try to live by, and that is "Control what you can control, the rest will take care of itself."

This post gets right to the heart of that. You may not be able to control what happens that makes you upset, but you CAN control your response to it... like getting on the bike instead of heading for the candy bar.

You are doing well, and you should be proud.

MizFit said...

strong post.

STRONG YOU.

and all so hard to do I hope you are STILL patting yourself on the back.

seriously.

l. said...

Great post. And so true. I remember my therapist telling me one time (I used to cut myself, which is pretty much a coping mechanism like binging or drinking) that sometimes you just have to sit with the uncomfortable feelings. At the time I thought "Is she crazy? I can't feel uncomfortable! I have to do something about it!"

But, then I read that book (the mindfulness workbook for anxiety that I recommended a while back) and that's the whole premise - that you can actually sit with your uncomfortable feelings and survive. So, now when I feel like that instead of doing something unhealthy I just check in with myself - what is my body feeling? my arms? my legs? my stomach? I name the feeings. Then I say - what thoughts am I having? Oh, interesting.

I'm on Twitter, and I follow TinyBuddha and he tweeted a quote the other day that I keep coming back to:

"I have discovered that all of mans unhappiness derives from only one source, not being able to sit quietly in a room" -Blaise Pascal

It sounds like you are learning to be able to sit quietly in a room.

Alanna @ A Veggie Venture said...

Having now met you in person, Lyn, it's way easier to see this 'strong' you in your posts than to imagine the one with the candy bar. Be well ...

Scale Junkie said...

Lyn I'm just about in that zone and I'm finding that it takes serious effort to consciously stay in this zone, to NOT use food as a numbing drug. I feel like I'm constantly teetering on the edge of conscious choice and just completely losing my mind. I can relate to what you're saying on so many levels. Lets hope that 2009 is better for all of us!

Sarah said...

This is such a great point, I am an emotional eater and when things go out of control that is the first thing I want to do too. I'm so proud of you for riding a bike instead, I will remember you the next time I'm dealing with a tough situation :) You have inspired me! Have a great day!

Fat Jeans said...

Good for you! This is something that I am also working on. It's hard to break a habit that I've had for about 20 years... more than half my life!

SunflowerDaisies said...

Thanks for the post. I've struggled with stress emotional eating for a very long time. My solution for "lonliness" was food as well, and it's taken me a long time to feel comfortable with myself.

Lynne said...

Lyn - THIS IS SO TRUE and it's nice to see you evolving. You are really doing some great things for yourself; and working through your problems, rather than masking them in chocolate is HUGE.

Keep fighting the fight! I am thinking good thoughts for you and your family!!!

spunkysuzi said...

You have come a long way :) And you are such a strong person!!

Hide those cookies said...

Lyn, sending you a virtual hug, which is always better than Cheetos. As always, your words echo my own perspective. It's so hard to just let myself be sad. I hope the next time I'm hit with a stressful situation, I'll remember this post and know that it is possible to win the moment. Rock on!

happyfunpants said...

I had almost the exact same post a week ago.

We get to choose - but it doesn't feel especially good at the time...

Kudos to you!

bbubblyb said...

Great post, I've recently realized the same thing that I don't have to gain weight when I'm upset. It really is a huge break through, the one that will get you where you want to be. It definitely sounds like you're making a lot of progress with yourself.

Quinn said...

Thank you for this. My girlfriend just broke up with me, and I am absolutely and completely broken hearted. But for the first time in my life, I'm not using the pain and upset as a reason to eat. I gave myself one evening to mope (and yes, I ate the ice cream and cookies), but instead of doing that for weeks I have been spending 2+ hours at the gym every night. So thank you. I'm slowly coming to this realization as well.

LisaNewton said...

I have similar issues with stress and food, but each time I'm able to do something else besides eating, like you did riding your bike, my self-confidence grows.

I love it..........:)

findyourownweigh said...

Good for you, that's great!

Gigi said...

I feel for you and know just what you mean. A nutritionist told me the same thing about sitting with the feelings instead of reflexively reaching for the comfort food. But I have added an important first step: get myself out of the kitchen first.

Hang in there.

Jayme said...

This is a great post Lyn, thanks for sharing...

I have been noticing this alot too lately about myself,,, if i try really hard to take my mind off the food, i can find something better to do with my self.

I belong to a weight loss group called TOPS (taking off pounds sensibly) and we have a pledge that we say before each meeting...

TOPS Pledge - I am an intelligent person. I will control my emotions, not let my emotions control me. Every time I am tempted to use food to satisfy my frustrated desires, build up my injured ego or dull my senses,I will remember, even though I overeat in private, my excess poundage is there for all the world to see. I will Take Off Pounds Sensibly

Your post reminded me of the pledge and how we can be in control of what we put into our mouth..

have a great weekend!! thanks for the inspiration as always:)

Pandora said...

Lyn...
what a victory, both of self-realization and of self control.

Hugs to you

Another great post...and hopefully another bad day behind you.

The Duchess of Wessex said...

Man! I just finished the book, "Eating in the Light of the Moon" (Anita Johnston) and what you said in this post is EXACTLY what that book is (trying to) teach me!

I find myself facing major challenges right now too and I have to admit I've given into food this week in an effort to cope; however, armed with your post and the book I just read, I know I have a choice now too.

Thank YOU for your Blog. Never underestimate the benefits of what you give us (your readers) by sharing yourself.

Best to you always,

Janet

new*me said...

that's the spirit Lyn! We should never let the external factors take over and take control of our body....if we stay in control of what we can control....the rest will stay somewhat controlled as well ;)

Kelly said...

So true. Finding a new and healthier way of dealing with bad feelings that food fixed in the past is the hardest part for me as well.

Lady In A Net said...

thanks! I needed that reminder.

Lady In A Net

Miss Milo said...

Thanks for writing this post Lyn :) It's amazing how so many of us feel the same way.

Karyn said...

Good for You, Lyn! You are really winning some serious victories lately!

Lindsay Dunlap said...

WOW, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you rode your bike instead of eating. I'm an emotional eater, too, but as difficult as it is, I know it's better to drag my butt to the gym. My workout is usually crappy--it seems to bring out my emotions, and I even start to cry sometimes--but it's better than when I would eat an entire box of cereal to numb the pain. Lyn, you are an inspiration!!

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