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Emotional Eating in Slow-Mo

I had an Incident yesterday. I didn’t want to write about it, but my dear friend Shannon urged me to go ahead and blog it because it would help other people somehow. Okaaaaay. Deep breath.

So this is what happened. I really feel like it was one of those slow-motion train wrecks, you know? Where it slows way way way down but still it doesn’t stop. I had so many opportunities to stop it. But I didn’t.

I was in a grocery store. I got a phone call that upset me. It made me really sad. Like deep sad. And I just didn’t want to feel that way. I grabbed a package of shortbread cookies. I actually examined it and determined that each cookie is 100 calories. So, I figured, the whole box would be 800. Wow. I mean wow. I just tucked that little tidbit of information away.

I put the box in the cart and at the last minute, I ALMOST stashed it in the magazine rack before paying. That was out #1. Didn’t take it. Then I thought, I can put it in the trunk with the rest of the groceries. Nope, I took it out of the bag and sat it beside me on the passenger seat of the car. Out #2. THEN I actually sat for a minute and thought, I can Tweet someone. I can call someone. I can DM someone.  Someone will talk me down.

Then I realized, that I did not want anyone to talk me down. I wanted the cookies. Did I really believe that they would make me feel better? Less sad? I don’t know. Not really. But there was something ELSE that believed that it would help, and in that moment, just a teeny bit of pleasure for five minutes felt like it would be a little relief from the overwhelming sadness.

I didn’t call anyone. I ate the cookies. It took about five minutes, yup. They were sort of delicious but also laced with sadness and a feeling of WOW am I really in this place?

When they were gone, I took stock. It was actually a weird kind of experiment. I felt like part of me was standing over myself with a white lab coat and a clipboard, saying, “Well? Do you feel better now?”

You all know the answer to that. No, I did not feel better. All the sad feelings rushed back in. PLUS I had just eaten 800 calories of cookies. But I also did not feel the familiar self loathing of binges past. I just felt a weary kind of disappointment. Because I had pretty much been conscious through the whole episode. It wasn’t like I woke up with crumbs on my pillow. I knew what I was doing. I think I just wanted to SEE, you know? I wanted to see if it actually would help.

I think I can refer back to this post if I feel that temptation again. A reminder. It actually doesn’t help.

(in other, better news, I did my longest run (7.5 miles!) ever this morning and my Runkeeper said I burned – guess what? 800 calories.)

🙂

It’s A Test. A Big Test.

I feel like I’m in the midst of a major test right now. Stress raining down like bowling balls, and the test is: will I turn to food? Will I be able to wriggle out of this one without gaining significant amounts of weight? I feel like I’m in the SATs, the MCATs and the LSATs all rolled into one. Please cross your fingers for me that I am Prepared enough to get through this.

Thank you.

Edited to add:

Well, if it was a pass-fail test, I think I passed. If it was a letter grade, I’d give myself a B-. Maybe a C+. I managed to get through the hardest day because I was being super-mindful in the midst of my stress. I kept telling myself, “Food won’t fix it.” I kept reminding myself how much WORSE I would feel if I ended up binging out on some food, and that it would, in fact, ADD to my stress.

The problem with such reasoning, of course, is that often in the midst of an emotional crisis, one just plain doesn’t care. (I was there a ways back, for a little bit) Who cares if I gain weight? Who cares if I feel worse later? I WANT THIS NOW. Sigh.

Anyway, I did manage to get through the worst of it pretty well. It felt good then to exercise the next day (yesterday). I thought I had gotten through it. But then what? I let my guard down. I thought it was “over.” Then, another sneaky, different stress came and attacked me. I was Unprepared. I slipped into I Don’t Care mode. I was just tired.

I was emotionally in a bad place. I had about 15 minutes to get something to eat before teaching (not WW) class. I went to Quiznos. I just got whatever I wanted, without regard to anything. Just looked it up. 1030 calorie sandwich. NICE. Then I had a couple of madeleine cookies from Starbucks.

So it wasn’t, like, a complete and total disaster. In fact, this is something I would have considered reasonably “healthy” a year ago. But it is not the choice I’d make if I was on target.

I think the mistake I made was thinking I’d somehow “made it through.” I got distracted by the fact that I’d had a good workout. But I wasn’t “out of the woods” yet. I was still feeling kinda funky, then I was sideswiped by something I wasn’t totally expecting.

The moral of this story: stay awake.

What else could I have done last night? I don’t know. I could’ve talked myself down somehow, probably. I could’ve gone to CPK and gotten that asparagus soup.

Back in the saddle.

Sneaky Eating, Foodie Style

I’ve been dyyying to write this post ever since I read ManMeetsScale’s fantastic post on “Sneaky Eating.” Once again I was blown away by the terrific writing, absolute honesty and hilarious humor in this guy’s writing. And I had so so so so many things to say in response but kept feeling as if I’d need two free years and a 500-page blank book in order to do it. (might need that anyway)

Go read that one first. Then come back here. Are you back? Wasn’t that great??

I have to say, it brought tears to my eyes. The kind of tears that come when you really feel SEEN. And understood. Now I suspect that many, many people feel this same way about certain food behaviors, but they don’t go around telling people about it. The thing that astonishes me about this CEO of ours is that he DOES put his dirty laundry out there. And it is such a gift and a service to all the rest of us.

I was completely fascinated by the way he does that “sneak a little spoonful” thing. That’s not how I do it. You wanna hear how I do it? My own personal sneakiness has to do with eating in a car. I think I have had this belief that “if you eat it in a car, it’s invisible” (and of COURSE contains no calories! Natch!) And the car is like this little soundproof, sealed, safe container.

I don’t remember when I first started eating in a car but I suspect it had something to do with when I got married and no longer lived alone. I had to find a place where I’d be anonymous, hidden. My favorites were super-rich macaroni and cheese, or creamy polenta, or chocolate Schoolboy biscuits (the whole box) or shortbread cookies (the whole package). If I was stressed, I’d head straight to the Andronico’s parking lot and there I’d be.

Last week, at my Healthaversary party, someone said to me (in front of everyone else): “I know so many people who try and try and try to lose weight but never can. But you did. What do you think your secret is?” I had to think really hard about that. But I truly do think that the answer is, to come out into the open about what is previously shameful.

Which is at the essence of a really, really good WW meeting. Or blogging about one’s food and weight and eating.

I kept this in the “dark” for so so so so long and it just fueled it, like.. what? Mushrooms? (trying to think of what grows in the dark) Even therapy, a LOT of it, didn’t really touch it because it was just too… private. But talking about it amongst my blogging and Twitter and face-to-face friends has really been the Secret.

I’m taking it another step further. I’m very very very excited to be turning Foodie McBody, the Story, (HA!) into a live solo performance show! I’ve done solo performance before and there is nothing that is quite as wonderful and cathartic and moving. I’m working on a short piece that will be performed (by me!) the night of March 28th, in San Francisco. (same night as the morning of the MARATHON!) If any of you will be around, I’d be extremely psyched to have some friendly faces in the audience. More details to come as it gets closer.

What’s YOUR sneaky eating like? C’mon, tell Foodie all about it.

Losing or Learning?

muffinOne of the phrases (and there were many!) that really stuck in my brain from WW training was, “You either have a losing week, or a learning week.” I LOVED this, because it takes away the notion of failure. If we don’t lose weight, what can we learn from that, from our behavior, that we can change if we want to have a losing (or maintaining) week the next time? I must repeat that refrain in my head a dozen times a day.

I am having a big-time learning week. First, I learned that it really IS hard to lose or maintain when I eat out in a restaurant like 5 meals in a row, even if I am trying to make healthy choices. Part of it is the food is just TOO GOOD, and I lose sight of necessary portion control.  Also, we really do not know for sure what is IN the food we eat at restaurants. Then, especially for me, there’s the social aspect, which is sooo distracting. All that adds up to, even with the best intentions, an inevitable weight gain. SO I am making a resolution to really cut down/minimize my restaurant eating as much as possible, from now until December.

As if that weren’t enough, I came home to even more of a delusional bubble. Some part of my brain seems to believe that as a WW staff person I have donned some invisible cloak of immunity, ie, I can do anything and not gain weight. NOT! OMG!  But there’s a little devil on my shoulder this week, poking me and saying, “This won’t count!” and other lies.

Here was my lesson for this morning.  I am particularly vulnerable in the fall, because of colder weather, upcoming holidays, and special things like PUMPKIN TREATS. I am such a sucker for pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin EVERYthing. I especially love pumpkin muffins. But I have resisted them… until today. I just freaking wanted one. So I got one. And I ate it.

And this is what I learned:

  1. It tasted really good.
  2. But not THAT GOOD.
  3. I felt a little bit sick after I ate it, because I am not used to eating sweet carbs for breakfast anymore.
  4. It did not sustain me. I was hungry pretty quickly, like 90 minutes after I ate it.
  5. I really don’t know how many points it was, but it was anywhere between 6 (best case scenario, which I doubt) and 11. (ACKKKKKK!) Which is like half of my points for the ENTIRE DAY.
  6. It probably was very very bad for my blood sugar but I did not test it right away so I don’t know. 😦
  7. Bottom line? Yeah, it tasted good, but ultimately….. NWI. (NOT WORTH IT)

So yeah, I learned! I could’ve just craved and desired that pumpkin muffin all day- all week or month- but I am actually glad I ate it because now I know. I know it was fine, but y’know? I don’t need to do that again. Instead I am going to search out some low-point pumpkiny treats, and make those instead for the next time the pumpkin urge hits me.

I’m learning! I’m learning!

(pumpkin muffin photo – and recipe -courtesy of my friends over at Muffin Top!)

The Stress of Shame

I almost lost it last night. I was scheduled to be a receptionist substitute at a “traveler” WW meeting; ie one in a remote location, not an official WW Center.  At those locations, they use all manual/paper tallies to track everything, instead of the groovy computer system that is now in place at Centers. I only did a few weeks worth of those before they did the switchover, and boy was I rusty. In fact, I ended up forgetting to do a very important step – marking down all product purchases on the product sheet. This is super important for reconciling the $$ at the end of a meeting. When the other receptionist counted up the money and checked it against the product sales, it was like $80 off. Because I forgot to mark it down. This resulted in everyone having to stay almost 45 minutes later, to fix the problem. I felt terrible. I felt like slinking under the carpet and dying. The other staff members were pretty nice to me about it, but to be honest, I sort of messed up their night. Everyone ended up going home late, after a lot of stress. Caused by me.

I don’t deal with this kind of thing well. AT ALL.  Guess what it makes me want to do?

I drove home down this main road I used to take, after teaching evening classes several years ago. Back then, I didn’t normally have huge problems, but it was still stressful to teach on some level. There would be ONE student who had some kind of issue, or some thing I’d forget to do, and all the way home I’d be beating myself up about it.  One night I stopped in at a Jack in the Box and looked for the most anesthesizing thing on the menu: Bacon Cheddar Potato Wedges!! (omg, I just looked those up: 720 calories in a serving, 432 from fat! O boy!!) Soon it became a habit to just pull in to the drive-through on the way home and inhale a box of those. When I think of that now, it makes me really sad.

So what did I do with my stress last night? I started the evening with a full hand of nice fingernails. They’re down to little nubs now: chewed and torn away. Ah well, I didn’t EAT them so it didn’t cost me any calories.

All night I had recurring dreams of being horribly inept at one thing after another: I had to give a speech, but had brought the wrong one, and then I lost the pages, then I couldn’t work the AV equipment, and then and then…. AUGH I hate messing up!!! It upset me so much I couldn’t even do my regular Biggest Loser liveblogging last night. I did get home in time to watch the final hour, but I pretty much sat here and watched it like a blob. I didn’t really care one way or the other.

This morning, I went to my trainer and had a fantastic workout. THEN, FINALLY, I felt better. Much better.

I am glad that I did not veer into the Jack in the Box and take up old bad habits. I’m glad it didn’t really even occur to me, like it wasn’t a struggle to not do that. I just made a mental note as I drove past. But I still felt terrible.

I need to find ways to not freak out so much when I make a mistake.

I Just Wanted To Taste It Again

White rice, that is. I haven’t had white rice (other than half-bites of sushi) since I began this blog in January. It was a terrible drugged fatigue after a lunchtime rice bowl that led me to finally agree to get my blood tested and I got my (pre)diabetes diagnosis. So it’s been a long time. Ever since then, my live-in mother has cooked white rice virtually every night (she’s Asian, and that’s Just the Way It Is) and I have stayed away from it.

But tonight, I weakened. I’d say it was a perfect storm of many things: it’s the highest intensity work week of my entire year, so mega stress; I didn’t have time to exercise; my husband is away for five days and I miss him; I have too much to do (did I say that already??); oh, and I’ve been doing really well with my maintenance (so hey! what a great time to sabotage myself); I did great at my doctors’ appointments last week (ditto) AND I’ve been focusing a lot more on weight loss stuff and less on my diabetes. In fact, I had not tested my blood since my medical visit. LAST WEEK.

I had been religiously testing myself like 5 times a day, and then 3, and then once, and then… oops, where’s my meter? I think once I got a good A1C test, (average of past 3 months of blood glucose levels) I felt like, HEY, I’ve got this down! I know what I’m doing! What a good time to blow it!

I didn’t have time to shop or cook tonight. I was semi-frantic from my brain working super overdrive. I got Indian food takeout. Now, I’ve done this a DOZEN times since January, and have done so well with a bit of grilled tandoori chicken, and some spinach and yogurt raita, but this time…  😦

It wasn’t the world’s biggest pigout, but compared to the way I’ve been eating since January, it was. I had two scoops of rice, probably about a cup total. AND a half piece of naan. AND several trips back to the chicken tikka masala and the vegi creamy stuff. It was all really good. But a combination of too much quantity, and too many white carbs.

After dinner, I had that falling-asleep drugged feeling again. I knew this was not good. I tested my blood. It was not disastrous by any means, but it wasn’t the lovely stellar numbers I’d been seeing for months.

So, it wasn’t a huge crash. It could’ve been the first step down a slippery slope. But I’m not going to let it. I tasted the rice. It was really delicious. But that feeling afterward? And the number on my meter? And the number that’s going to show up on the scale? None of that was worth it.

I think it was almost necessary to have this happen. I’ve been so “good.” For so long. I had to do a little experiment. The results were what I could’ve expected. Now I know that’s not going to happen again for a long while.

My body still can’t deal with carbs, can’t deal with that quantity of food. Sigh. Oh well. (but this is probably a good thing)

NEXT MORNING: Blood glucose STILL up. Weight up. OK, where’s that wagon? I am jumping back on and QUICK…!

The Ghosts of Old Triggers

At this point I am not feeling very triggered by old foods anymore, although I feel there are “phantom triggers” lurking around old spots where I used to binge/overeat/comfort eat. They sometimes call out to me in these faint little voices.

Yesterday I was at this mall and kind of stressed out because I went into Sephora, the huge makeup store. I am SO NOT a “makeup” kind of person but the day before I was at a different mall and on a whim, I got myself made up at another makeup place.  The next morning morning I realized I did not own any makeup remover of any kind, and realizing I’d have to go BUY some annoyed me and stressed me out.  So I went to Sephora to buy said makeup remover and the whole place – with its million products, just freaked me out and made me feel ugly (unless I buy at least 100 products).  So when I left, I headed over to the cupcake store across the way. This place has offered me a lot of solace in the past. I didn’t go in. I just stood and looked in the window. I remembered how I’d go in there and get a cupcake or a huge, warm snickerdoodle cookie.

Jokingly, I Twittered “Talk me down!” and amazingly, it worked. As soon as I put it out there that I wanted a cupcake, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I just couldn’t imagine then typing, “Sorry too late!” and admitting to the whole Twittersphere (800 followers!) that I’d succumbed. It helped me keep walking, and go into the bookstore. I got an iced coffee. I felt better.

These geographic reminders are everywhere. It’s kind of sad that no matter where I am in about a 20 mile radius, I can point out a place where in the past, I would have beelined for a specific food to use for comfort or stress-reliever. But of course they would increase my stress over 200% because of the immediate guilt and disgust I’d feel right after. It’s taken me a long time to truly understand on a deep level, how the thing that SEEMED to be comforting would produce the polar opposite sensation.

When I was driving home, I passed a Jack in the Box. I remember the many years I used to teach at night at the nearby University. I’d rush to class without dinner, because I’d be prepping until the last second. The class would get me all jacked up on adrenaline. When I got out at 10pm, I’d be starving, exhausted and amped up.  I started going to Jack in the Box because it was on my route home, it was easy and it was also one of the few places open that late. I’d go to the drive through. At first I’d get Teriyaki chicken bowl. That was sorta healthy although wayyyy too much rice and gloppy teriyaki sauce. But then one night the bacon-cheddar-potato wedges caught my eye and that was that. I started ordering them (760 calories, 53g of fat) as a SIDE to my chicken teriyaki bowl (585 calories, 1461g of sodium!!).

This happened pretty much every week. For years.

Sigh.

When I pass JIB now, I feel sad remembering that. Really sad. Of course what was really going on was that I was hungry (duh) and anxious, wondering if the class had gone well, and overstimulated and all sorts of things. It would have been so much better to make sure I ate before class. To talk to my friend/colleague about class, or write it down. But I just didn’t have those internal resources or any awareness that there was another way of doing things. I just kept driving through, feeling icky and guilty, and the pounds packed on, and well, it’s not hard to see how.

I see these places all around me, and it’s kind of crazy the way a visual image of those foods will just float up like a transparent photograph, when I pass by. They don’t hold the same kind of charge, and I don’t REALLY feel the same pull, but it’s a sad kind of nostalgia as well as regret.

A Bit of Whining

I am going to blow of some stress with a bit of whining, and I hope you’ll indulge me.

It’s not fair! It’s not fair! It’s not fair! (OK, now I feel a liiiiiiiiiitle better)

Yesterday morning I had one of the most monstrous workouts of my life. I broke a personal record on the spin bike and was sweating rivers. It felt amazing.

Last night went to a wonderful dinner party. The hostess is a longtime friend of mine and fabulous Indian cook.  She made an assortment of awesome dishes. I really went in there with a good mindset. I kept thinking, “your stomach is the size of your fist” and really took no more than a fist-sized total of food which I spread on my plate. I took about 2 tablespoons of rice and 1/4 round of naan. I had lots of water. And a glass of wine. Other people there were piling their plates high – maybe 4-5 fists worth. I did notice that our hostess, who is a TINY person – actually took quite a bit less than me – little puddles of sauce and some naan to sop it up. (even though she cooks fish and chicken, she is a self proclaimed pescatarian)

At dessert time, I took one bite of two different desserts, and nothing of the third. I was feeling so virtuous.

This morning: up two pounds. I wanted to cry. Maybe I did cry. Maybe it was water-weight. Maybe it was… I dunno. But I thought, HOW CAN THIS BE? How can I eat 75% less than everyone else there, be SO conscious, and this happens? WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

And today I begin my travels. I am tempted not to eat at all. Maybe I’ll fast all weekend. Maybe I’m having a temper tantrum. Maybe I’m… AGH. I don’t know.

Anyway, it will probably all even out. It’s not a huge big deal. It just made me want to sit down and put my head in my hands and wail, again,

IT’S NOT FAIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!

Okay. Tantrum over. Moving on now.

Not this Time

Every year about this time, my weight goes up and my fitness level takes a precipitous turn downward.  You see, I have this seasonal job in which the big kahuna event of the year occurs in mid-July. So usually around mid-to-late May, I start cutting back on workouts. I tell my trainer I am too busy to make appointments, and until this year, I never worked out unless I was with him. I was seeing him twice a week, so in May I’d cut back to once, and in June, I’d stop altogether. I’d be massively stressed, working long hours, with no endorphins. The stress eating would ratchet up. Then during the event itself in July, I would eat like there’s no tomorrow. Most people attending this event are horrified at the carb-laden, institutional food (think high school cafeteria) but for me, it kept me literally grounded so I didn’t spin off into space. Sloppy Joes, mac and cheese, pizza: BRING IT ON. Then I would eat for a week or two after the event, and by the end of summer I would be a total walrus.  I’d slink back to my trainer in September, overweight and embarrassed, and we’d start at square one. Again.

Well, it’s June. My event is about five weeks away and I am determined that this is not going to happen. Not this year.

I HAVE A PLAN.

First, I’ve decided to switch to some evening workouts. I have not worked out in the evening very much since.. when? Since I was single? Twenty-five years ago? It’s really hard to wrench oneself out of the house when there are little kid betimes, bath, story and the like. But my kids can bathe themselves now, and they go to bed later than I do. Normally I see my trainer on Wednesday afternoons, which means leaving my work in mid-afternoon. During most of the year this is fine – it’s a part-time job, but in June it just doesn’t work. But instead of cancelling Monday workouts, I am switching to 6pm kickboxing class! YEAH!!!!!! (thanks for all the votes, kickboxing people!)

I’m going to continue to work out every day if possible, either running, going to a classs, going to the gym, SOMETHING. Even when I am AT MY EVENT. I am going to continue to eat as mindfully as possible, ESPECIALLY at the event. (we have switched locations and I am happy to report that the new place has a big giant salad and soup bar, and fresh fruit, and definitely healthier fare) I am not going to get into this summer stress-and-fatness cycle again.

I am excited!

And tonight I’m going to cardio kickboxing class. I didn’t have time to exercise today because I had to take various family members to medical appointments today. Normally if I do not get a workout before afternoon, it just isn’t gonna happen. But I realize I feel really bad if I do not workout now. My friend A just called and said she would come with me!  Yeah! (I put an announcement on Facebook and invited everyone I know to come with me and I think she is the only taker)

Another plus-side to exercising in the evening is that it will hopefully keep me from overeating at dinner. I’m just having a tiny pre-workout snack, and then leftovers when I get home.

Can I say it again? I am excited! I’m changing a pattern I’ve had for the last five years, which I always felt was inevitable. Well guess what? It’s not!

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