I went to the bathroom this morning to do something that I haven’t done in about five months. I stripped down and stepped on the scale. I knew I had gained a few pounds since my last weigh-in, but anticipated give or take five pounds. As I awaited my fate, I felt like I was watching the wheel spin on The Price is Right. I didn’t know where it would stop, but just like a contestant hoping to get lucky, I prayed the number wouldn’t exceed my expectation.
My weight appeared on the screen and my heart sank to the pit of my stomach. I didn’t quite know how to feel. I stepped off and stepped on the scale again praying for a lower result, hoping the scale was just old. No change. Then I felt the tears begin to fall.
I looked in the mirror at myself and this is what my body said to me.
When I was in high school I remember reading an article in O Magazine where Oprah opened up about her struggles with dieting and her sudden weight gain. The title was something to the effect of, “How Did I Get Here Again?”. And I remember saying aloud, “Yeah, how did you get here?”. I chuckled to myself truly trying to figure out how Oprah let all those years of hard work go down the drain. She’s an icon of mine, but still, my 16-year-old mind was perplexed.
My weight is no surprise. I’ve been here before. It’s time I come clean and own up to what’s really causing my rollercoaster of emotions. Emotional eating is my greatest enemy. Fast forward a decade later I was standing in my bathroom mirror, naked and pondering, “How did you get here again?”.
THE REAL DEAL
For seven years, I’ve struggled with obesity. I mistreated my body in college drinking cheap liquors and inhaling pepperoni pizza doused in ranch dressing. Subsequently, I spent my adulthood undoing the damage to my poor digestive system and overworked organs. It took me three years to lose 70 pounds. To spare you up and down weight loss history, I methodically chose to lose weight at a slow pace. I did not have a goal, other than to no longer become winded when I climbed stairs or break out in a sweat when I got dressed in the morning. My intentions were to be healthy and feel comfortable in my clothes. Yes, I cut calories and worked out nonstop, but I never addressed my unhealthy relationship with food.
By 2014, I had the body that I wanted and felt that I could conquer just about anything. The following year, I changed careers and began working from home. I went from eating when I remembered to consuming a least 3,000 calories a day. By January 2016, I picked up 30 lbs.
My face was full and I began posting photos only from the chest up on social media. I wanted to slim down and tried to use my old methods of hitting the gym twice a day, but no such luck. You know the definition of insanity. I expected the same results and today I realize why I’ve fallen short.
Food and I have a tumultuous relationship. When I am unhappy, I eat excessive amounts. When I happy, I eat excessive amounts.
See a trend here?
Being an emotional eater means you have to exercise caution for every meal. Binging goes beyond overeating. What is your goal for eating? Are you really hungry or are you just craving the satisfying taste?
Other times, I am guilty of self-sabotage. I feel like I subconsciously like to mistreat my body. It’s how I’ve lived much of my life. When you’re at your lowest point emotionally, rest assured that food will find a way to become your best friend.
When your life is surrounded by constant struggles, progress is a hard pill to swallow.
Beyond self-hate, emotional eating has a direct correlation with external factors not limited to workplace drama, financial issues, fatigue, and any form of stress. Food can serve as a distraction and satisfies boredom. It’s a quick release from your problems, but it’s never the right solution. Soon you’re trapped in an unhealthy ritual which will eventually spiral out of control.
Emotional eating can be intoxicating. It’s like a drug and after a while, we all need a hit. It’s time to mend my love-hate relationship with food. What about you?
THE ROAD TO REDEMPTION
We don’t have to go about it alone. There are plenty of apps to help maintain a food diary. By listing your dietary intake, you can easily target the times when you’re more susceptible to emotional eating. Find another hobby. When you’re tempted to eat a meal at a time when you’re not really hungry, find another source to occupy your time. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Paint a picture. Build an app. Find a cure for cancer, but don’t eat for the sake of eating. This is easier said than done and will take practice training your mind to stay focused on something else other than food. Lastly, find an accountability buddy. Recruit a friend who gets it and won’t shame you for your eating habits. Call him or her when you’re tempted to eat senselessly. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you fall short. Change requires tremendous discipline and focus. When you fall off the wagon, get back on.
I’ve got this. So do you.