Archive for the ‘stress eating’ Category

Phase One: Down; Let the Mind Tricks Begin

I’m eleven days in, 25 if you count the two week sugar detox I went on before this all started (and you discount out the two glasses of wine I had the night before I officially started).

It was interesting in a number of ways.

One, today is the first day I overate. In retrospect, I’m not even sure if I was hungry, if I was really worried about crashing my metabolism and producing cortisol, or if I just finally gave into the insidiousness of my unconscious mind.

Whatever it was, instead of drinking copious amounts of tea after dinner, which has become my habit (and going to bed slightly hungry), I decided that I should eat more calories today and had a green smoothie. Now, granted, it was a green smoothie and I did leave out the hemp seeds, and it was only 250 calories and most of it was high quality protein (raw hemp powder) and leafy greens. But, the truth is, I didn’t need it. The truth is, I would have been better off with the tea, because as soon as I finished it, I realized that not only was a no longer hungry, but I was stuffed.

I suppose that I could have only had half of the smoothie, but trust me on this: I don’t yet have that degree of self-possession. Notice, I say yet.

Then, feeling bloated and stuffed, I decide not to exercise.

Whoa. Can we say slippery slope?

So I took a deep breath, fully associated into the uncomfortable feeling of being overfull (I even turned it up using my favorite food related submodalities) so that I would not be tempted lest I decide to try it again tomorrow. Then, instead of going to bed like I wanted to do, I went and did yoga. 50 minutes.

It was hard. It didn’t feel good. It wasn’t fun.

But I did feel better…after it was done.

Let’s be completely honest: I don’t really think I was all that hungry.

And I am in no danger of starving.

I did not need the shake.

I think at some unconscious level I was making some misguided attempt to “reward” myself either for ten great days of cleansing or finally getting a handle on a work project that had been giving me the slip. Regardless, it was an old strategy – one that I am glad to say, no longer brings the pleasure it once did.

And, though I never thought that I would every say this (at least not in print), I am glad I did the yoga.

Sometimes old habits are hard to break, but nothing’s impossible. And maybe one day, I’ll remember to reach for the yoga mat before automatically reaching for the BlendTec.


Learning to mourn without food

I am sad.

I have been sad now for five days (give or take two days in the middle, where I thought I’d found peace).

But yesterday, in a middle of a conversation with Michael J. about de-cluttering, despair washed over in me in waves.

The spirit of my beloved companion for the last 19 1/2 years departed her body and returned to the – for lack of a better word – “energy soup” of the universe.

And I am left here, staring at my other life-long companion – food – with longing.

And not just any food, but the fat, salt, and sugar filled foods.

If I didn’t know that Michael would catch me full out, there is not a doubt in my find that I could finish off a jar of peanut butter (or a tub of tahini or a bottle of wine) without blinking an eye.

I finally know what people mean by the term “numbing out.”

So I drink my water, munch on kale chips, and exercise.

Instead of grabbing a spoon, I picked up an old forgotten chick lit novel that I’d bought once in some airport that I started but never finished.

And when Harley, Michael J’s cat, who isn’t sure what it means exactly to be the only cat in the house again, crawls up next to me and lays his head in the crook of my arm, I am simultaneously grateful and guilty.

Feeling your feelings. Who knew?

I settled down to sleep in Michael’s arms last night and just as I started to drift, deep choking wails broke forth from my chest – again, like a tidal wave, uncontrollable, unexpected, unheralded.

Life moves forward, haltingly, without compassion – and, if I have anything to do with it – without peanut butter or anything else that I might be tempted to use not only to ease, but also to hide, cover, and ignore the loss of a life that meant so much to me.

I love you
I’m sorry
Please forgive me
Thank you

Personality and Stress Eating

I have battled with stress eating my whole life. I always assumed that it was a lack of will power.

I am currently at a five day seminar on personality types. (Michael J and I are all about the learning vacations!)

Yesterday we covered the Myers-Brigg in more detail than I have even seen it covered in any psychology class in college.

Much to my chagrin, I am still a hard core INTJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinker, Judger). I would like to think that I have have practiced my Feeling muscle over the years, but it’s not totally clear after sitting at a table with a bunch of self-identified hard core feelers.

The interesting thing (one of many) about yesterday’s presentation, is they helped us to identify our strengths and our weaknesses. The thing that you are most weak in is your achilles heel, so to speak, and under times of stress, you revert back to it. It’s sort of like letting a 3 year old drive your brand new Mercedes! Because my weakness is Extroverted Sensing, under times of stress, I often seek out whole body sensory activities, which, if left unchecked, can manifest itself in addictions – to food, to alcohol, to drugs! (Notably, my struggle with stress eating has tripled since I stopped drinking red wine on a regular basis).

Interestingly (and I actually felt good about this), my positive “hack” is exercise.

This means when I get to feeling overwhelm and stress in my strength, my Introverted Intuition, instead of reaching for the almond butter or tahini (or whatever the full fat flavor of the week happens to be) I should exercise! Even if it’s just a short ten or fifteen minute burst.

I tend to do this anyway, but hopefully having this insight will encourage me to do that first, instead of after the fact.

Although the course is on personality type, I think it’s really about preference and habits. I’m hoping to get some additional tips on how to not only strengthen my strengths but also to strengthen (or at the very least shore up) my weaknesses.

Getting back on the horse

Two days ago, I was in the middle of a binge. It was the first one I’d had in months – a quick look at my electronic food diary revealed that the last one happened earlier this year on Monday, March 29.

For that one, I had an excuse, sort of.

If you recall, I was trapped in an airplane and hadn’t had any vegetables to speak of for several days. I went nuts – figuratively and literally on raw flax bread and almond butter.

It wasn’t pretty. And I felt like crap for at least two days after the fact.

This last Thursday, I had no such excuse. Other than I was completely stressed out and instead of choosing to manage my state, I surrendered to (well, in fact, I pretty much invited them in) all of my old standbys. In other words, I stuffed my face and didn’t think to clearly or consciously about what was really going on.

In the space of two hours, I had my lunch, my snack, and four high energy protein bars. Yes, you read that correctly: four. Not one. Not two. Not three. But FOUR! It was really over the top.

What was even more over the top is that I had another one in my hand. And I was actually thinking, “Well, if I eat these other SIX, this will never happen again.”

Thank goodness something – still not sure what it was (unless maybe it was a gag reflex) – snapped me out of it.

My normal routine following such a feeding frenzy would have been to beat myself both mentally and at the gym and probably skip dinner to boot.

This time, I decided to take a different tack. This time, I decided to forgive myself.

In fact, I ate dinner (albeit a very clean dinner of cauliflower rice [dressed with a touch of sesame seed oil and Braggs amino acid] and raw asparagus) and I went to bed, without exercise. It was a conscious choice not to exercise, because I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do it in a way where I wouldn’t be punishing my body for my mind’s bad behavior.

The only thing that I regret about that decision is that I didn’t do yoga – not because of anything to do my body (though one could argue that yoga always does a body good), but because of the potential it would have had for quieting the mind.

The day had been so bad – and there had been so much negative energy thrown at me from so many quarters – when I finally managed to go to sleep, I had nightmares. In fact, they so were bad that I woke Michael J up screaming! (As he pointed out to me the next morning, the reason you do yoga before bed is to calm the negative energy so that you can sleep more restfully.)

Even though I had nightmares – which could have very easily resulted in one or both of us getting a black eye – I did sleep over 10 hours, a sure sign that I needed it.

Yesterday, I decided that I had to get back on the horse.

In other words, no matter how bad the day before had been, there was no excuse for 1) engaging in negative self talk that might lead me back down the previous black hole or 2) continuing to overeat.

In the spirit of nurturing myself (because obviously the binge was my body – if not my mind – crying out for attention), I began to let go of things that were no longer serving me. I canceled all of my appointments that could be canceled without harming someone else, I discharged one of my pressing work obligations, I moved deadlines, I changed the things that I found myself consistently complaining about, and I made sure that I had plenty of fun, healthy food. In fact, in addition to my old favorites, which I may getting a bit bored with actually, I also tried @choosingraw’s Broccoli Hummus recipe, which, I must say, is absolutely divine. (Note: If you’re raw and you’re looking for a hummus recipe that doesn’t have tahini and a ton of olive oil, look no further!)

I also went for a walk and soaked up the sun, choosing to focus on my mental health (I took time out of my walk to watch the neighbors’ horses frolicking in the field) and increasing my Vitamin D than on burning off the calories that I had consumed the day before.

It was a nice gentle day and even though my tummy may be a little bigger than it was three days ago, I (the physical, the mental, and the emotional parts of me) felt loved and nourished.

This morning, I exercised normally and for the first time in a long time it just felt like good, honest exercise. It didn’t feel like I was punishing myself or, worse, like I was mad at my body. It felt good. It felt a lot like what I imagined it must have felt like for those horses who were playing joyously in the sun warmed grass.

Today I feel back to normal.

It took two days to feel physically better after consuming nearly the double of my typical intake of sugar.

It took two days to feel mentally better about the decisions I made (on Thursday) and all of the the ones prior that led up to it.

It took two days to feel emotionally better after coming to terms with the stressors in my life that I had pushed aside up until the point where my body forced me to listen.

Am I glad that I consumed 1,000 calories in less than 20 minutes? Not really.

But I am glad that I realized that the binge was a reflection on the state of my life – as opposed to the state of my body.

And I am glad I realized that there are things that I can do (and, as noted, have already begun to do) to make sure that days like Thursday become fewer and further between.

Ugh! It’s Time To Go Back to Bed and Start Over! (And it’s not even 3 p.m.)

I’m having one of those days.

Low grade binge since about 9:00 a.m. Luckily everything I have access to is healthy: rice cakes, homemade hummus, salad, and almonds. Unfortunately there’s just been way too much of it!

There’s a woman whose weight-loss program I’ve been following whose thing is, “Count Chemicals, Not Calories!” So far I haven’t been able to get with the not counting calories part, but today I’m at least hoping she’s right! I’ve had over 1,600 of the little bastards so far today and, as per the tag line, it’s not yet 3:00!

To tell you the truth, I’m just bored. I’m going to go exercise, try to reset my mood, and see if I can break even for the day. I figure an hour of cardio and some resistance training (coupled with a reasonable dinner) should just about get me there. But even if it doesn’t tomorrow is always another day!

I knew I was going to wish that I had started off the day with yoga! Lesson learned 😉

Less of me to love or more of “me” per square inch?

I took my measurements today. The last time I took them was October 2008. The changes don’t look like much – an inch here, a half an inch there. Though I must admit that I am most pleased to announce that both of my thighs are finally less than 20 inches in circumference! (That’s one at a time, by the way, not combined)!

In order to be consistent, I take my measurements at the largest part of bust, the smallest part of my waist, the widest part of my hips, the biggest point on my flexed bicep (both right and left) and seven inches above each knee at the thigh. I use the Myo Tape Measure, as I find it’s the easiest way to take your measurements on your own and be relatively steady in terms of tension. In other words, it’s harder to cheat!

I used to to do it every three months or so, but I’ve gotten lazy.

Since everything had gone down a little (with the exception of my waist, which has remained stubbornly put), I was pretty pleased. But, out of curiosity I decided to go back a little further in my records.

Since July 2007, I have officially lost 24.25 inches! Wow. That’s two feet if you live in the U.S and just over 60.96 centimeters if you don’t!

Almost instantaneously, my little voice kicked in: Where did all of that go? Which part, exactly, is gone? What if that was the best part?

Luckily, before I made it out of the bathroom and into the kitchen with my hand outstretched for the cashews, I remembered what Michael assured me of last year when my weight was fluctuating.

Essentially, the message was this: I love you, either way. When you’re up, there’s more of you to love, but when you’re down, just think if it as more love for you, per square inch. It doesn’t matter what you weigh, you’re still you.

The cashews sit unmolested in their airtight container in the cabinet and all is well in my world.

Falling off the food wagon

The last couple of days have been more indicative of family vacations, I’m afraid.

Ironically, it wasn’t even them. It was all me.

Monday, we were off for an unexpected family funeral that was scheduled at 2:00 p.m. I got up, went for a walk, had a shake, packed up some blueberries and that was it. And although my mother has a medical condition that requires that food be readily available, my parents hadn’t packed anything else either. At some point my Dad said, “Why didn’t you bring one of those little bags of carrots you’re always carrying around?”

Good question.

Bad answer: Poor planning on my part!

As it turns out, my Aunt lives truly in the middle of nowhere and we were having lunch after the funeral (that is, dinner), not before.

Luckily I had a Dark Chocolate Zone Bar in my purse.

The funeral ran long (as they often do when held in a church in the south). We stopped at a gas station, where I scrounged a bottle of V-8 juice and a bag of Baked Lay’s. Has anyone ever noticed how Baked Lay’s taste like cardboard?

Back to the story: it was also as hot as hell and when we got to my Aunt’s (along with 30 other people), the air conditioning was out and she still insisted on frying fish and potatoes, making it officially hotter than hell! These were to accompany the pork roast, the brisket (no more brisket, please!), the pork and beans, the spiral ham, the brownies, the cake, and her world famous chocolate cream and coconut cream pie. Not a vegetable (other than corn on the cob swimming in butter to be found).

Luckily, it was literally too hot to eat. Though I did try a sliver of chocolate pie; it’s still as good as when I was a child.

We got home at 8:30. I made a shake, went to a friend’s house (the friend that I was supposed to have had dinner with). We ended up going to a local pub, where, still ravenous, I had two dirty martinis and split an appetizer with her of her choice, which turned out to be a thin crust, wood fired pizza. Not so bad, though I probably should have skipped the second martini.

It was when I got home at midnight that it went even further south. I bienged. It was unbelievable: icecream, lavash with hummus, and tabouli (not in that order). When I finally forced myself out of the kitchen, I felt disgusting, and not unlike I was about thirteen again!

But, unlike the thirteen yeat old I once was, I at least realized what went wrong.

Poor planning and inadequate nutrition leads to poor dietary choices. I was also tired and even though the person that died wasn’t a close relative (she was my mother’s sister’s husband’s mother), there was something about the funeral, the energy, and being around my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins, that set off my desire to emotionally eat. It also may have something to do with the fact that everytime I come home, it seems, we’re going to a funeral. In fact, this one was unplanned, but I had had the foresight to toss in a skirt. Maybe it’s the fact that my parents are getting older and I’m afraid that the next time might be them. Whatever it was, it was an ugly combination for food. And I’m sure that the inhibition olive dressed libation didn’t help either.

One of those days!

I woke up in a great mood today. The sun was shining. I had a good work plan. I had packed a nice, healthy lunch. I decided not to go the gym first thing, because I was going to work out at home with k-bells and maybe even do a little bit of yoga.

Time for some back story: Last week I took my five year old car in for a 60,000 mile tune up. The shop recommended that I have a small seal replaced (as it was still under warranty). It was a bad seal to have leaking, because they had to take the transmission out to get to it. All together, even with the warranty (and $400 worth of rebates from my credit card company) it was still close to $500. Ouch.

As soon as I drove the car off of the lot, I noticed that there was this high pitched airy whine that hadn’t been there before. It wasn’t consistent, though I noticed it more whenever I would shift into third gear. It kept it up all week and then I didn’t drive the car all weekend.

This morning, on my way in, I decided to swing by the auto shop. 1) The whine was much more pronounced. 2) I was also beginning to hear something that sounded broken. 3) When I shifted from third to fourth, the car gave a deep shudder — like a horse on its last legs. I decided to go through town instead of taking the back roads.

Right as I was heading around the town square, in one of the biggest commuter spots in the region — which, granted, really isn’t that big — the car seizes up, shudders, and drops to a dead halt. Whoa, Nelly! I think she’s dead, Jim.

I ran across the street to the local Curves (where I used to workout) called MJ, called the car store, who promptly called a tow truck. When I got back to the car, two minutes later, the police were already there.

I rode with the tow guy to the car place and they dropped me off at work.

What does this have to do with food, you ask?

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve sat it my desk and munched my way through my daily allotted calories — and the clock hasn’t even struck three! More to the point, I realized somewhere between the two Balance bars that I plowed through (within a hour period) that I am on a low grade binge. It’s been a while, but here I am. I thought I’d gotten a better handle on stress-related eating. Apparently I was wrong. Though, not to beat myself up too badly, there were days in the not so distant past that I would have eaten 1,303 calories in an hour, let alone 8 1/2! But still. Sigh.

So, what’s my plan? Well, first things first, I just drank a second slug of Perfect Food to (hopefully) break the cycle.

I also gave in and called the car store and it turns out that I was right. The seal they put in hadn’t set. All of the transmission fluid leaked out. The transmission locked up. And the heat melted/destroyed several of the ball bearings in the transmission (and who knows what else, but if they do know, they’re certainly not saying)!

Good news: their fault, not mine. Towing, repair, and rental are on them. Thank god for small mercies.

After that, I managed to get some work going, but then I hit another wall.

So, as soon as MJ comes to take me to the shop to pick up the rental, I’ll go to the grocery store, head home and exercise. And when I’m done there (depending on the time), I’ll sit down with a huge platter of steamed vegetables, read a couple chapters of a good book, have some herbal tea, and go to bed.

As a famous heroine once said, “Tomorrow is another day.”