This week has been a doozy. I mean totally off the charts for feeling like an emotional mess. The last time I felt like this was during and after my divorce. It was a few years after my divorce that I realized that I had been out of control in the food department, and the reason for it was because I was using food to calm myself when I was anxious or upset, to feel better when I was sad, and to occupy myself when I was lonely or bored. I weighed over 50 pounds more than my current weight and I was miserable. I didn’t feel good to begin with and I felt even worse when I looked in the mirror. I knew I had to take control over this aspect of my life. It probably was the only thing that I could take control of!
I began by increasing my activity, keeping track of the food I ate with the Weight Watchers plan, and taking a weight loss supplement to jump-start my progress. It did not take long to lose the first 25 pounds. Believe it or not, it was fairly easy! The best part was that as I was losing more and more weight, I was increasing my physical activity to the point where I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer. Without realizing it, I had replaced the food I was consuming to combat my emotions with exercise. I started feeling really good about myself, and I am sure the workouts released all those good endorphins!
The thing is emotional eating can really be a problem. Most everyone knows what they could and should do to lose weight, but to actually be able to do it is another thing, and I think a lot of that can be blamed on our emotions. Once we tackle that, we can be successful at making a change in our lifestyle to become a healthier and more physically fit person.
So, how do you know if emotional eating is something that you struggle with? Well, some of the clues are:
1. The feeling that you need to eat comes on very suddenly….you have to have those cookies, chips, ice cream (insert any fatty, salty, or sweet food).
2. You continue to eat even after you feel full to the point where you are uncomfortable.
3. Eating is helping you to keep your mind off whatever it is that you are feeling such as anxiety, boredom, sadness, etc.
4. You are eating to reward yourself.
If you see yourself as being an emotional eater there are some things that you can do. First, take a pause. When you feel that craving come on, take a moment and think about why you are wanting whatever it is. Think about how you feel and identify what emotion you are feeling and whether you are really hungry. If not, try to wait 5 or 10 minutes before you will allow yourself whatever it is you are wanting. By waiting, you may be able to combat the craving, or at least get it under control. Once you have identified a pattern of what feelings trigger your emotional eating you will be more able to fight it.
Find an alternative activity rather than eating to help you feel better. Like I said, I had replaced eating with going to the gym and doing a step aerobics class or doing some weight training. I felt so good about myself for the progress I had made, not just with my weight, but with my level of fitness, that I did not want to eat a bunch of junk food. I do feel it is a scary thing for an inactive person to think about completing a vigorous workout. You have to start small. Take a walk, and add time each week to your walk until you ready to take the next step. Maybe a few increments of jogging, or a workout DVD, or maybe even joining a gym. Being physically active will most definitely help you manage emotional eating.
If you are wanting to eat because you are bored, try reading a book, calling a friend, and if you are spiritual… spend some time in prayer, or find some other activity to occupy your mind. A busy mind and body does not eat just to eat.
Finally, remember that your body is your temple. You want to take care of it so it will last you and you can do all the things that you might enjoy with nothing holding you back. There is nothing worse that feeling like you cannot do something. Do not let fear….fear of anything including failure, hold you back! As always, start small. Every new tool you add to your new healthy living lifestyle will get you one step closer to where you want to be. Remember, you may not be where you want to be but at least you are not where you were!!! That is always my mantra and I keep trying and pushing myself to new limits.
Becky Pandolfo is a working Mom who has a wealth of experience with many diet and fitness programs. Her insight and information has helped countless individuals attain their weight loss and fitness goals. For more information on her and the products she recommends visit: http://www.GoSlimFL.com