Checking In

Let me start off by saying, this is a way for me to get it out, a way of journaling. By sharing it here I feel like I might help someone else know they aren’t alone in feeling the way that I do. I talked about this last night with my husband and he listened – but I really think he just doesn’t understand all the emotions (or lack there of) that I’m experiencing. So if you aren’t into reading about all my current woes then here’s your chance to bail.

When we started “stay home, stay safe” for COVID back in March, I thought it would be fine – temporary. I figured I was home most of the time anyway. How hard could it be. Then weeks turned into months and shit just kept getting weirder in the world. All of the things I enjoyed doing – grocery shopping, regular shopping, visiting state parks, geocaching- the list goes on, became an unpleasant experience. Grocery Shopping felt like the Hunger Games and only now feel slightly better. Shopping at Target or Walmart is depressing – shelves are bare and everyone looks sad. I haven’t even tried to go to one of my favorite places – IKEA – because I just don’t want to ruin it for myself. I just don’t find it to be an enjoyable experience anymore – now I only go to the store for purpose or necessity. State Parks are busy and limited capacity – when before some of my favorite places were near empty. I haven’t even gone to some of my favorite nearby places to visit for the same reason – not wanting to ruin the memory of it. I miss my summer trips to Newport, Salem and Mystic.

We’ve also had some crazy family stuff happen during all this and there’s all sorts of emotions that happen with that. I only mention them to add to “where I’m at”, but haven’t really shared much outside of my house. There are some things that are meant to stay in house. It’s just been… emotional.

I’ve been trying to keep my boys out of the general public during all of this too. I hate seeing them wearing masks. Yes, I know the importance for wearing a mask – so don’t come at me for that. That’s why I just keep them home as much as possible. I don’t take them out for errands if at all possible and we are keeping them home this fall to continue distance learning for this same reason. I think the mask wearing and social distancing will be more detrimental than keeping them home with me. I am hopeful it’s short term. Most of my friends are sending their kids back in person. I respect them for that. It’s a tough decision either way. I wish I could do it too, but I also think my anxiety would be in high gear all the time. Keeping them home with me if for my mental health too. Hopefully I won’t have to fight with them as much this time around to do the work!

So after all of that, I completely lost my mojo about a month ago. I took a week off from working out, that turned into two and now I’m pushing four. I’m sleeping late and can barely find the motivation to do the simple day to day stuff. Yesterday was the eye opener for me that I am on depression’s doorstep y’all. I’m about to knock to have her let me in to join in her misery. I’ve got all the classic signs. I know them well. I’ve travelled this road a few times, it’s been a while since my last visit and I’m really wanting to bypass this stay. By classic signs – for me – I mean – no joy in the things that used to make me happy, not working at my fun job (my Etsy shop) as much as I would like, feeling empty, stopping working out, getting up late, going to bed early, not wanting to socialize with friends as much, not wanting to leave the house, eating…a lot, but then not wanting to cook dinner. There’s some of the things I’ve noticed. There’s also a lot of negative self talk happening and constant jealousy of anyone experiencing success-in anything- I have no limits on that one. It’s an awful trait that I tend to have. Comparison to others is a toxic trail to take. I need to pull a u-turn and come back to home base on that. It makes me feel ugly and pulls me deeper into where I don’t want to be.

I’m hoping that by writing this and sharing what I’m trying to do will help me climb out and get back to “normal”. I want to workout (weirdo right?) because my awful body issues are also rearing too. I keep thinking – “if I lose 10, 20, blah blah pounds I’ll for sure feel better” – then I eat two snickers ice cream cones – yep that happened yesterday. Here’s the thing, my brain knows that working out provides endorphins. Those endorphins after 30/60 minutes of exercise can be similar to taking an antidepressant. It’s proven to work if you can get your depressed ass moving. BUT THAT’S THE STUPID CRAZY PART! You’re so deep in your head that you talk yourself out of getting those endorphins!

I committed myself to a 18.9 mile virtual race this month. That I told myself I would complete by the last day of September. That means I have to move at least the amount of time it takes me to complete those nearly 19 miles. If I walk for 15 minutes a day I’ll hit my goal. I have to do something to motivate myself because the idea of being uncomfortable in my skin isn’t quite enough right now.

At the same time I’ve been trying to eat a little better. But that’s truly laughable, because who eats right when they’re stressed and feeling miserable. I’m trying to track what I eat and I even signed up for a nutrition webinar in about a week. We’ll see how that goes.

If you’re still with me-thank you. I’d like (to try again) to update more regularly. I mean I pay for this freaking blog, you’d think I’d publish more. (Facepalm) My kids are heading back to school (in my office) on the 10th – so wish me luck. I need to find that “me” time quickly in order to manage having them here all day again. Just sitting in the office with me from 7:30 to 3 every day. At least the first two days are early release?

Escape Emotional Eating

Learn how to manage your feelings without food.

When you eat in response to an emotion, that is emotional eating.  It’s learned, not innate, response.  Think about it, have you ever felt the need for a big serving of pizza or your favorite comfort food?  I know I have.  I have so many triggers that send me right to food.  The biggest trigger for me is when I have an educational meeting for my son.  I have been attending these meetings for seven years and they never get easier.

I’m learning how to cope better when it comes to emotional eating.  I started attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings and I am currently working my way through the Twelve Steps, but every day is a new challenge.  Emotional eating can lead to ups and downs with your weight.  Especially if you feel guilty afterward – which then leads to more eating!  But when you learn to do something else in response to this emotion, you’re more likely to lose weight and maintain the loss.  Emotions are like waves.  They peak and then they subside.  At first, the food may feel comforting but ultimately eating isn’t helpful.  Accepting your emotions and finding a way to distract yourself from eating, can help you stay on track to reach your goals.

Some of the suggestions given in the Weight Watchers Weekly on this topic are to distract and engage.

  1. Call or text a friend.
  2. Dance to your favorite song.
  3. Clean out your closet or junk drawer.
  4. Read a magazine.
  5. Play a game on your phone. 
  6. Ride a bike or go for a walk.
  7. Toss a ball with your pet.
  8. Go on connect (or social media) for support.
  9. Watch your favorite TV show.
  10. Create your own idea _______________.
This is a tough one for so many people because most of us were brought up to comfort or reward ourselves with food.  Re-programming yourself is not an easy task.  It takes practice and a commitment to change.  It also takes support from those around you.  Which is sometimes the same people that have comforted you with food in the past.  

Let It Go!

How to address and release emotions without eating.

This week in the meeting room we discussed letting it go and what happens when you don’t.

Do your feelings sometimes lead to food?  Have you ever been so sad (or happy or stresses or angry) that your immediate reaction is to reach for something to eat – whether or not you’re physically hungry?  That’s emotional eating.  But once you can identify what emotion or emotions trigger that response for you, you’ll be better able to let it go!  According to Weight Watchers Weekly emotional eating can come between you and your weight loss goals.  In fact between 24 and 60 percent of people who struggle with their weight say that they frequently turn to food when emotions run high.  AND it can become a habit, if you turn to food every time you feel a specific emotion, the two become paired.  But while eating may provide temporary relief, you miss the opportunity to learn the emotion without eating an that the urge will pass.  The good news, just like any other habit, the food-mood connection can be broken and you can form new healthy habits in its place. 

One of the things we spoke about in the meeting room was stress eating.  I know for me I am not a happy eater.  I won’t go on a binge if I’m happy.  I’m not really an anger eater either.  I am a terrible stress eater.  I have two levels – not eating when it’s severe and then eating all of my feelings until I feel sick.  In the meeting room I shared about how when James had his accident I traveled through both scenarios.  At first I stopped eating and lost 10 pounds in just a few days.  I only drank water.  Once I knew that James’ was back to himself the eating began.  Any food that was offered to me I took and promptly ate.  A dozen cupcakes, lasagna, you name it, this girl ate it.  It didn’t make the guilt and worry go away but I stuffed those feelings so deep with the food that I couldn’t hear them.  The other part of what I shared was that when James went back for his reconstruction surgery, I planned my meals.  I knew that I would be in a world of worry and stress.  I knew that if I was given the opportunity I would have eaten all of my feelings.  But what I did instead was plan.  I packed all of my meals that week.  I made sure that I stayed with what I packed.  Did I eat the donuts and drink the hot chocolate that was brought for me….sure did, but all of my other meals were thoughtfully planned so that Friendly’s didn’t get all my money that week while I ate like I had no cares in the world.

In a less severe and more everyday relatable scenario, my oldest son, Nathan has an IEP at his school and for the first few years any time I would start talking about his IEP or even his diagnosis of Autism I would grab junk food and eat it.  It hit me one night while I was actively eating and working on an upcoming IEP meeting that this was happening.  Here I was sitting in my dining room in my workout gear eating a whole thing of cookies.  The stress of his IEP meetings and food became one thing for me.  There was no separation until I took a step back and looked at what I was doing.   Since that night, 5 years ago, I made a rule for myself that I stick to even now.  There is no food while prepping for an IEP meeting or while discussing any issues that arise at the school in regards to the IEP.  It took a while for me to see the connection and I’m happy I did.

This meeting room topic also pushed me to finally post about the roller-coaster of emotions that I’ve been dealing with since November.  The emotions that haven’t lessened, they’ve either grown or intensified over time.  I have this post scheduled to follow this one.

Below is an exercise from the WW Weekly for ways to help you from getting swept up in your emotions or pushing them away.  They suggest that you try these techniques to help you step back, observe and let feelings pass.  This can make it easier to disconnect your emotions from an urge to eat.  NOW…these wont work in every situation.  These steps wouldn’t have necessarily worked for me during the time of James’ accident, but maybe a little later during the week it might have. 

1. Sit Comfortably with feet on the floor and back straight but not rigid.  Let your gaze fall onto a spot that wont distract you or gently close your eyes.

2. Settle yourself and focus your breath moving in and out of your body.

3. Imagine a blue sky with fluffy clouds lightly drifting across it.  Notice thoughts, images and feelings and imagine that each is a cloud passing by.

4. Mentally step back to observe and label each cloud.  Maybe its a thought about work, a feeling of frustration, or an urge to eat.  You’re not trying to change or stop the clouds, just watching, describing and letting feelings and thoughts pass by.

5. Continue for two minutes, gently bring your attention back to your breath, slowly inhaling and exhaling three times, then back to the present.

Practice these steps when an emotional trigger forces you to feel like you want to eat. Over time you’ll naturally turn to this technique to let the urge pass.