Have you noticed that losing weight is hard? I sure have. I am not at my ideal weight. I set a goal for this year, 2018, to get my weight back in my ideal range which is about 150 lbs. I’m not at that weight, and I have had to purchase clothing in slightly bigger sizes to fit my slightly bigger body. Can you relate?
My weight has been a challenge for me for the past two years or so. I wonder if part of the weight loss challenge is due to being over 50 years old. Maybe. Last year I met with a dietitian face to face for four months at my work site at the University of Minnesota. I lost about 10 pounds and that felt good. However, I did not make it to my target weight.
I call the winter months my off season, as I’m not training for any big events during November, December, January and most of February. Off season is an ideal time to focus on weight loss. It’s not easy to lose weight when one is focused on an athletic goal. It’s off season right now, so I’m working on weight loss again.
As I mentioned in my blog last week, I am moving through a time of loss and grief. A few weeks ago, I was hit by a blinding flash of the obvious. I realized that I do use food as comfort when my heart aches. That was a big insight.
The two foods I most use for emotional eating are chocolate and popcorn. The irony is that I don’t actually love either chocolate or popcorn, but both of them are easy foods to munch on mindlessly.
My father used to make a huge bowl of popcorn almost every single night. He made it the old fashioned simple way, with oil and popcorn in an old pot with a lid. He’d shake the pot as the popcorn popped. He didn’t put butter on it, just lots of salt. He would reluctantly share it with me and my siblings, reserving the vast majority of that huge bowl of popcorn for himself.
As I realized I’ve been emotionally eating popcorn and chocolate, I realized that all that popcorn I watched my father eat when I was a kid, set an imprint in me, that eating popcorn in huge quantities was somehow okay. I buy bags of organic popcorn at Trader Joe’s and when I get sad or overwhelmed with grief, I eat an entire bag in one sitting.
Upon further reflection, a big discovery I’ve made is that eating all that popcorn DOESN’T actually help me feel better. All it does is make me feel really full and kind of numb. I suspect that the numbness is attractive, as when numb I don’t have to feel the sadness or grief.
I breathed into that, and I remember my wise teacher Stan Grof, and his wisdom about difficult emotions. He always talked about how it is much better to dive into those difficult emotions, rather than try to stave them off. And to actually 100% allow myself, ourselves, to completely FEEL all the emotions. To let the tears come, to let the loss cut, to simply as difficult and painful as it is, to welcome every emotion.
The beauty in allowing all that emotion is that the emotions then move more quickly through us, which more quickly allows for healing and joy to emerge again.
This weight loss off season I have again engaged a health coach through my employer. After all, I earn wellness points for discounts on my health insurance premium by earning points. I remembered that the times I gotten support for weight loss was when I had a short meeting with the coach every week. Going a month between conversations is too long for me. Bre, my coach, agreed to talk with me every week for at least a month.
This week I am recording in a little notebook EVERY single thing I eat!! And all the exercise I am getting. One thing I’m noticing as I record all that I’m eating, is that I’m not doing nearly as much emotional eating. I am pausing and noticing my emotions. I’ve cried almost every day. I am letting myself feel all my emotions. One day, I even took a little nap, as I was worn out from feeling so much.
How do you navigate emotional eating? I’m curious, and I’m looking to learn more as I discover this tendency I didn’t realize I had.