Me and My Healthy Lifestyle

The honeymoon is definitely over between me and my new “healthy lifestyle.” During the first six months and 30 pounds and four pants sizes we got along great but now the bickering has started.

This past week, I sorta gave it a rest. I didn’t exercise much. I ate a bunch of crap and guess what? I gained three pounds.

It was depressing to really realize that this is something that has to be different for the rest of my life. I’ve hated my metabolism this week with a passion I usually reserve for the love of my favorite crafts and sports team. I’ve hated the fact that I can’t totally give up food. The thought has crossed my mind that maybe an eating disorder for 6-8 months would solve all my problems.

But the truth is I think I kinda already have an eating disorder at the other end of the spectrum. I’m an emotional eater.

I eat when I’m happy. I eat when I’m sad. I eat for entertainment. I eat to celebrate with friends. I eat when I need something to do with my hands. I eat because it tastes good. I eat because I like food. I eat. I eat. I eat…I eat too much.

Add that to a spectacularly slow metabolism, a lifestyle that doesn’t provide much exercise and here I am: massively overweight.

This is something I started to realize back in January. It was in the mix of what got me started with getting into shape. The first couple of months I was really good about questioning myself every time I went for something to eat:

    • Am I physically hungry?
    • Is this food I am choosing something that will nourish my body?
    • Am I willing to spend the calories on this food right now and not eat something else later in the day?
    • Is there something I could do with my time that would satisfy me just as well as this food?

Asking all those questions before every trip to the kitchen is exhausting. Especially since I live in the kitchen with two kids needing meals and snacks and more snacks and oh, wait it’s supper time already? So over the past few months I’ve lost that question and answer session before sitting down to eat. I was still doing pretty well because of the amount of exercise I was putting in but this past week I decided I just didn’t care any more. And it showed in how I felt about exercise, how I felt about eating, and how I felt about my body. And so I gained weight.

I have hesitated to call this a problem for more than 10 years. While we lived in North Carolina I had a good friend who was a binge eater. She attended Overeaters Anonymous and often urged me to go. I declined on the grounds that I “just liked food,” not that I had a problem. I know, classic denial. Just because I studied psychology, doesn’t mean I can’t still miss the giant cheesecake sitting on my plate.

All of this has been swirling around me in the past six months. Several friends have also come out to me about their struggles with weight issues recently as well. So I wanted to get this all down here. To rededicate myself to my relationship with my health lifestyle. To remind myself that it’s a continual process and that there are other ways to cope. To let others know that talking about it always helps and that it’s always a good day to walk a few miles.

Some resources:
Emotional Eating
Binge Eating
Overeaters Anonymous
Are you a food addict? Yeah, some of these questions made me cringe a little bit.

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20 Comments

  1. Alana Boles
    on August 12, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    You are so brave to post this! Thanks for being honest and inspirational.

  2. on August 12, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    We’ll both make it one day at a time.

  3. Allis
    on August 12, 2010 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this, Misty. I’m also an emotional eater. I made this realization, then I joined WW back in 2008 and lost ~60lbs on diet alone (no exercise). I reached a point (at about 170) that I could no long shave any more calories off of my day without some major lifestyle changes. So, I gave up. I’ve since gained back 20 of the 60lbs I lost. I swore to myself that I’d never be here again, but here I sit. I’m still hovering at about 190, but I’m in MUCH better health after picking up ice hockey as a hobby. I don’t know that I’ll ever be at my doctor’s 150lb recommendation, but I’m hopeful.
    Anyway, I know exactly what you’re going through (minus the kids). At 5:00 in the evening, it’s much easier to order the “#1 with a coke” than chopping fresh vegetables and waiting an hour for a healthy dinner.
    All I really have for you is solidarity…I’m about to heat up my homemade mexican vegetable soup for lunch, with my gluten-free baked seed crackers. 🙂

  4. Lindsay
    on August 12, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Hi Misty… I know what you mean about the emotional eating… I’ve found two resources very helpful… Thin Within http://www.thinwithin.org and SparkPeople http://www.sparkpeople.com.

  5. on August 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Geof & Allis: Solidarity is an awesome thing. Since I’ve posted this, I’ve gotten several emails about this from others who are struggling with weight issues of their own. We are not alone and it’s a good thing to remember.

    Alana: I’m not sure about brave. Stephen said that to me as well. I just wanted to put it out there so other people could start to put a name on something I’ve struggled with my whole life. Thanks!

  6. Wendy
    on August 12, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    It is most definitely brave. It’s much easier to stay at the “I’m trying to lose weight but I don’t want to do anything hard” stage (that’s where I am now) than it is to actually make the lifestyle changes you know will have to be permanent.

  7. on August 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Misty, I’ve had the same kind of response when posting about mental health issues. It’s why I continue to do it.

  8. Danielle
    on August 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got different issues (health-wise), but I’ve sure felt better about myself since I started being serious about exercising & tracking what I was doing. I’ve not made a whole HECK of a lot of visible progress (other than my current size clothes fitting better & not having to buy new clothes). But I’m pleased with what I’ve done so far + I have long-term goals. Most of my work & RL pursuits are both solitary & sedentary so it’s been an effort to attempt to change my habits.

    I’m proud of you whether you make daily/weekly progress or not! You’re teaching your kids to be healthier too, which is awesome!

  9. on August 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Danielle: I’ve been kicking around the idea that the 3 Ss lead to being overweight: Solitary Activities, Sedentary Lifestyle, Living in the South. We both score a big ol’ 100% on that. I DID notice a difference in how you look when you were over here the other day. Keep up the good work, when your injury allows you back in the game.

    Wendy: Permanent change is what I am struggling with right now. It’s fine to look at doing something short or even medium-long term but to be looking down the road at the rest of my life and how I need to change is a daunting thing. I can only hope that the habits I am constructing now will eventually overlay all the bad habits I’ve had in the past and that it will become less of a chore as time passes.

    Geof: Go us! For better living through online community!

  10. Allis
    on August 12, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    @Misty, I really don’t think that anybody can handle a major life change all at once. What Geof said earlier is the only way that I know to tackle it: one day at a time. It really is one choice at a time. Planning helps, though.
    Something that helped me recently was taking a hard look at my weak times of day, and try to find a solution. E-mealz.com has helped me to know exactly what to cook for dinner immediately after I get home. So, when I’m starving at 5:00pm, I can start dinner and maybe have some fresh fruit while I cook. That’s helped *a lot*.

  11. on August 12, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey: Thanks for the resources! I’ll be checking out both of those!

    Allis: Yes, one day at a time. One meal at a time. That and not beating myself up when I make a bad choice or have a bad day. I think I’m going to start E-mealz next week.

  12. on August 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I can very very much relate here Misty. It’s been almost a year and a half now since I lost 65 pounds. It’s not easy, and I struggle daily too. The only way I have managed is to have people I know I can call when I need to remember why I need to be healthy, hmmm…kind of like a sponsor! It also helps to have a house that has mainly healthy food in it. Not only that, the things like chips and such are in small bags. That way, if I grab them, I’m not totally out of luck. I love love love the Eat This Not That books.

    It’s tough, but know that you aren’t alone and have many friends ready and willing to support you in any way we can. 🙂
    Becky

  13. kat
    on August 14, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Misty, I know where you’re at. It’s funny, but summertime is when I struggle with this the most, but then when it’s 120 degrees outside, you’re stuck inside with not a whole lot to do, so I start cooking and baking, which then leads to eating… Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen how our menus have started to slide away from healthier food and into the corner of comfort foods. We need to kick ourselves back in gear.
    I think the only thing I can pass onto you from my own issues with overeating and being overweight is to not beat yourself up about it. When you realize you’ve slid a little bit just tell yourself “Okay, so I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. That’s okay. Tomorrow I’m going to do better and keep moving forward.” You start beating yourself up about it and you’ll get frustrated and just quit and you know you don’t want to quit. You’re doing awesome! When I saw you in May, I was really amazed at how well you’d done already. *hugs* You can do it!

  14. Trish Morris
    on August 14, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    keep up writing and all you been doing!! Maybe then you won’t be considering lap band surgery like me!

  15. on August 14, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Becky: A sponsor in life is never a bad idea, regardless of the journey you are embarking on.

    Kat: I’m always willing to play the part of Scarlett and say, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”

    Trish: Believe me I’ve considered it!

  16. on August 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Sponsors. Yeah, man. I’m all about the personal board of directors.

  17. kat
    on August 15, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Geof: After reading that post about a personal board of directors, I really like that concept. I think a lot of us have that without ever really thinking about it in those terms. Great idea!

  18. on August 16, 2010 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    This has been incredible for me to read… food is certainly my reward for happy times and my comfort for depressing times. This weekend, our pastor mentioned Tim Keller’s book, Counterfeit gods, and asked where our money most naturally and effortlessly flows. Mine is hands-down toward food… whatever groceries I want and eating out (with crafting supplies as my second place), which makes food a god for me. I think you are brave too because it is HARD to share such personal info! But so helpful to those of us who haven’t yet been brave enough to say it for ourselves. Thank you.
    (When I read your first post about this, I gave up soft drinks on a whim because I thought you were a genius for doing that. That went well, but then to reward myself for being so responsible and disciplined about Dr. Pepper and Cherry Coke, I upped my ice cream intake. This is a hard road, isn’t it?).

  19. on August 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Jaime: Thanks! I’m glad I’ve helped you look at your habits as well. I’ve used the verse about the “LORD is my portion” a LOT. It has helped me put what I eat/want to eat/think about eating into perspective.

    I do better overall with almost no sugar. Sugar makes me crave other bad things. If I have sugar, I want carbs to go with it. If I have some carbs, then what does a sweetened soda matter? I haven’t completely eliminated sugar but I am working toward only taking in any sugar every 2-3 days and then it is a treat. I also don’t want to eliminate it completely because then it’s a “bad” food and I’d rather deal in good and poor choices than saying something is bad for me.

  20. Missy
    on August 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I’ve watched Brett over the last 13 years as he has taken off the last of the weight that plagued him while he was growing up. He’s kept all of it off for about 7 years now, and I’m so proud of him. Here’s what I’ve seen him do:
    1. He counted calories very diligently while he was losing it. He wrote down every single thing he ate. There’s no denial when it’s in black and white. I did this a little over a year ago when I needed to drop some too. The first day, I realized I ate about 3500 in one day. Hellooo . . . .
    2. He weighs every day. Again, no denial. If you’ve had a bad day or three, you know it.
    3. He still knows the calorie count for everything and the trade-off. For example, we tell Grace that one 5k race only burns about one doughnut. Kind of makes you see them in a different light.
    I have also found that small meals several times per day revs up that metabolism. You just have to carefully control the portions.
    Everybody has their thing. It just shows more with people who use food. I don’t have to wear my anger management problem for everybody to see it, but it does just as much damage. “The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness and self-control.” Maybe I need a sponsor for that too.