Tag Archives: emotional eating

When 50% is a Good Thing

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If you don’t already know, I’m a school teacher. I spend a lot of my time marking and grading. When I was a kid, if you got 50% on a test, it was a bad thing (I can’t remember, but I seem to think it earned you a “D”) Nowadays, a 50% is a C- (which means “not yet meeting expectations”). Grades are a big thing for me – not only professionally, but personally. I have spent pretty much all of my life around this idea of being graded. In elementary and secondary school, I brought home decent enough grades to keep my parents happy without having to do too much work. Now that my own children are entering high school, we talk about the importance of a good GPA as it pertains to getting into post-secondary programs.  As a music student, I took Royal Conservatory Exams, and remember the thrill of getting a “First Class Honours with Distinction” on a few theory exams…. and, I remember the devastation of failing my grade 10 practical exam the first time I took it (a pass, in that instance, was 70%). When I recently returned to university, I decided that this was my time to shine, and I pushed myself to get straight As. Each essay I got back with a lovely red “A” on the last page brought me joy. Those A+s were cause for celebration. When I was doing my teaching practicum, which was a pass/fail program, a friend and I resolved to give each other As at the end of the term, because we were both so driven by letter grades.  And, I’ve been known to brag about graduation from my B.Ed program with straight A+s. Grades are omnipresent in my life.

Today, however, I realized something very important: 50% is good enough.

Wow – I could hear my friends gasping at reading me say that!!! But, it’s true.

This week, I started following the Eat-Clean Diet (which isn’t really a diet as much as it is a lifestyle change for me). Typically, when I start a new “diet” it’s an all-or-nothing thing for me. If I couldn’t give myself a grade of “A” (or better) after a couple of days, I’d get so discouraged, and quit. Which would often lead to me feeling depressed and thereby eating more (usually in the form of chocolate).

Last Friday, during my counselling appointment, my counsellor had me set some goals. I decided that I’d eat clean for breakfast and lunch, which, a few days later, turned into “eat clean for two meals/snacks per day.” I know it sounds like a simple goal, but for me to not strive for perfection is very, very difficult.

You know what? It’s working! In striving for this partial goal, this ‘not-quite-perfect’ goal, I am actually feeling successful!! Sure, I’ve had a few “dirty meals” (um, Burger King isn’t ‘clean eating’ last time I checked), but, because my goal is two meals/day clean, I’m not beating myself up when I have one unhealthy meal. Ok, so I had that piece of cake and a can of pop at lunch today… who cares?!? It was one meal, and I didn’t let it ruin my day! I had a very healthy breakfast, and my dinner was really clean…. and tonight, when I was having a major sugar craving, I waited it out, reminding myself that this is just my body’s way of getting used to a new lifestyle, one that doesn’t depend on refined sugars for energy.

How cool is that?!?!

Even though yesterday I had Burger King for lunch, and today I splurged a bit, I don’t feel like a failure. I am able to focus on my success because I met my goal. And I can do it again tomorrow, and the day after that. Then, once I get used to eating 50% clean, I can increase it to 75% clean.

When I went to search for an image for this post, the first thing I typed into the search engine was “50%.” Do you know what came up? A bunch of 50% Off sale signs. That made me chuckle… maybe this 50% approach will help me take pounds off!!

I’ve never been one for baby steps. No siree. I’ve always been an ‘all or nothing’ type gal. However, I’m learning to be kinder to myself, to love myself, and to forgive myself. I’ve said it before that we treat our pets better than we treat ourselves. As I get ready to embark on a new year of teaching (and grading!) I need to remember something very, very important:

I am a great teacher who treats her students with love, compassion, empathy, kindness, respect and dignity (as every good teacher does): it’s time I started treating myself as well as I treat my students.

When a student fails a spelling test, I don’t tell them they should just quit school! When a student feels discouraged by an assignment that seems too difficult, I help them work through it, step by step. My goal as an educator is to help my students believe in themselves and feel proud of a job well done. I have come to learn that one student’s amazing achievement may be another student’s worst work; I work hard to help my kids recognize their strengths and improve their weaknesses. I encourage them to keep trying, over and over again, until they learn.

Why should I be any different with myself? Why can’t I encourage myself to keep trying and trying until I learn a new way of living? Because, really, it isn’t about the grade. Ask any teacher: grades are not as important as the lessons learned.

I am learning. I am learning a new way of being. It won’t always come easy, but as long as I try my best, I will succeed.

So, yeah, 50% is a good thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s ok

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So the past 36 hours or so haven’t been the greatest. I’ve eaten too much, most of which has been junk. But, that’s ok. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Today is a new day, and I’m being more careful with what I put in my body.

The last few days have been a bit on the emotional side. On Thursday night, we had a picnic in the park and a good friend joined me. It was a lovely evening, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Sure, I didn’t exactly eat the healthiest stuff, and I didn’t track my food that night, but spending time with my children and one of my dearest friends was just so darn good for the soul. I needed that. I also needed to give myself permission to not be perfect.

Yesterday, I messed up. I ate poorly, made terrible choices, and succumbed to a bit of emotional eating. But, it was just one day. I have forgiven myself, and put it in the past.  I also know that right now is that time when I am more likely to engage in mindless eating to appease that carb craving that visits every so often. I am trying to figure out how best to deal with this regular occurrence… allow myself to self-medicate with chocolate, knowing I can’t stop at one? Try desperately to avoid the craving, only to fall horribly later? Not quite sure what to do.

I think I can, I think I can…

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It’s day three in my contest with my friend. So far, I have tracked my food and exercise every day, although Tuesday I went over my daily calorie allowance. I’m not too upset by this because my dietician told me about the 80/20 rule: eating well 80% of the time, and allowing yourself times when you can splurge just a little. The important part is that I tracked what I splurged on.

Today, my sons and I went for a lovely hike by the ocean. It was a beautiful day and I got a great workout in while spending time with my boys. I am noticing that when I do exercise, I feel more in control of things. This is a good feeling 🙂

This past week, I have been feeling more motivated. Perhaps it’s because I’m doing a friendly competition. But, I also think it may be because I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately, revisiting my past. It hasn’t been easy – in fact, at times, it’s been downright painful. My counsellor even gave me permission to engage in emotional eating right now to help comfort and nurture myself during this period.

I’ve never truly climbed a mountain – not yet at least – but that’s what this feels like… finally facing the hurtful voices from my past. I have come to recognize that I still do listen to the voices that told me over and over that I am fat and no good. Slowly, I am learning that these voices aren’t my truth, and that I no longer have to listen to them. Slowly, I am learning that I am, indeed, beautiful and deserving of love, and that my self worth is not related to my physical appearance. These voices are my biggest obstacle to my success. If I keep listening to them, I’ll keep believing them, and their truth will become my truth. I don’t want that. I don’t want those voices telling me that I do not deserve to be beautiful, healthy, thin, fit, loved and loving…. I don’t want to keep hearing those voices. And I don’t have to, either.

There is a very good reason that those people who spoke those words are no longer in my life. I chose to leave those people. They are no longer part of my life. And, just as I chose to physically distance myself from those people, I can chose to stop hearing their voices.  I had the strength and power to physically leave, and I have the strength and power to stop hearing their words.

As I think about this, I realize that I have, of late, surrounded myself by some pretty amazing people. People who love me, believe in me, support me and cheer me on. Not one of my friends has told me that I am fat, ugly and don’t deserve love. In fact, I have recently had a friend tell me how awesome I am, and one tell me that I deserve to be happy and be loved. I can see now that I truly have a great group of people in my life. I no longer need to listen to the voices from my past because I’m filling my heart with voices from the present… and I have learned how to fill my present with some pretty amazing people.

I keep saying that the biggest part of this whole journey is a mental one.  I have to believe in myself. I have to see myself as capable and deserving of being fit and healthy. The last three days, I have made good progress towards this. I am especially proud of the way that my emotional and mindless eating has been minimal.

I’m really beginning to think that I can do this. I am beginning to believe that I can lead a life of health and fitness.

My Dietician Experience

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Last week, I had a phone appointment with a dietician. Through the Employee Family Assistance Plan at work, we have access to a number of different services, a dietician being one of them. I figured, “What the heck. It’s free. What have I got to lose?” (Actually, come to think of it, it isn’t really all that free – I do pay for these great benefits!)

After talking to her, I was not all that impressed at first. A lot of what she said sounded like stuff I’ve heard at Weight Watchers meetings. And, c’mon – weight loss is just common sense, right? Eat less, eat healthier, move more. (And, really, if it was that simple, I wouldn’t be writing this blog now, would I?). She said that she would send me some stuff via email, and we booked a follow up call for later this week.

I waited and waited for the email to arrive. It didn’t come until a few days later, and I only just now had the opportunity to sit down at my computer and read through what she sent.

Let me tell you: I am now thoroughly impressed!

It is very comprehensive! There were 5 different attachments with the email:

  1. A comprehensive meal plan and nutritional recommendations, personalized just for me. This is a 13 page document that she wrote specifically to meet my concerns, and address my issues. I can tell from what she wrote that she paid attention to what I said I like to eat, as the meal plan is truly based on my personal preferences!
  2. Emotional Inventory Checklist: a list of over 100 different emotions to help me identify what I’m feeling when I want to succumb to emotional eating.
  3. An instruction guide for the emotional inventory. Basically, what you do is this: when you feel like you’re about to eat for emotional reasons, take a minute to assess what you’re feeling, and place a check mark in front of the emotion on the list. Then, go ahead an eat. After eating, re-evaluate your feelings, and place a check mark behind the appropriate emotion on the list. After a week, you should be able to notice some trends.
  4. A sheet called “Quick! Distract Me!” with a list of things to do when you feel like emotional eating.
  5. A sheet titled “Ride the Craving Wave” with tips for dealing with cravings.

I’m quite excited about all of this. I think I’m going to print off the meal plan and nutritional recommendations and put it in a binder or something. I haven’t read through the entire thing carefully yet, just skimmed it, but the thing that caught my eye was a basic skeleton meal plan, outlining when to eat, (three meals and three snacks), and how many servings from the various food groups I should eat at each meal. This sounds like it may be incredibly useful. Hmm… I think I may need to print that off, laminate it, put some of those sticky magnets on the back and post it on my fridge!! (Gee– can you tell I’m a teacher? I own a laminating machine and keep a roll of sticky -backed magnets on hand).

Even though at first I wasn’t really impressed with this dietician, I am really glad I called. I finally feel like I have someone truly helping me. And, it didn’t cost a bunch of money!

Goes to show that you don’t need to spend lots to lose weight!

(Hmm…. I smell an entire new blog brewing for when I finish this one! Free & Fit? Dieting for a Dime? I’m sure I’ll come up with a good title in the next 11 months!)

Craving Ice Cream

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It’s 10:45pm, and I have been battling a food craving for about an hour. I really really wanted some ice cream. I keep seeing the ads for the new chocolate blizzard flavour. My friend Scott mentioned Cherry Garcia (curse him!! That’s my favourite flavour!). It would have bee really easy to just hop in the car and go get a chocolate cherry blizzard (two birds with one stone!)

But, I didn’t. Yay me!

I contemplated a cup of tea, but really: tea? Tea is decidedly NOT ice cream. The closest I’ve come to is some yogurt with frozen berries mixed in. Sweet, creamy, healthy. After this post, if I still feel like it, I will go to the kitchen and carefully measure out 1/2 c. fat free yogurt and 1/2 c. frozen berries.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I was craving ice cream. I do know that I’m feeling a bit emotional tonight… not quite sure why. Ok. That’s a lie. I know why. There are a bunch of reasons and a bunch of emotions.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I am actually hungry. Reflecting back on what I’ve eaten today, that makes sense:

Breakfast

1 cup Special K Fruit & Yogurt cereal with a banana and 1 c. milk

Snack

Some watermelon and two pieces of cheese with crackers, and two cookies (but they were small!)

Lunch

Low-fat english muffin toasted, with 1 tbsp fat free cream cheese and some deli ham. Followed by more watermelon.

Dinner

Beef tortellini with tomato sauce, and a Caesar salad (low fat dressing)

Okay, maybe, just maybe, I snuck a handful of chocolate chips somewhere along the way!

But really, that’s not much food. My portions were very controlled; at dinner, half my plate was salad. And, I’ve been drinking water all day to stay hydrated in this heat. So yes, it would make sense that I’m actually hungry.

So now? I’m going to go to the kitchen, take one of the small bowls out of the cupboard, and make some yogurt and frozen berries. And then? I’m going to write another blog post about my recent appointment with a dietician 🙂

 

See you in a few 😉

Instant Gratification

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Now. Now. NOW! I want it NOW!

We live in a world of instant gratification. It wasn’t that long ago that google would tell you that it completed your search in 1.7 seconds. Today, I googled “instant gratification” and had results before I had even finished typing! If our facebook page doesn’t load within 5 seconds, we get impatient. And it’s affecting our health.

According to recent article in Time Magazine from May 7, 2012,

“… most obesity isn’t caused by a lack of access to affordable produce or time to cook. It’s the result of short-term over long-term thinking. Cooking sucks. Eating a salad takes forever. Fast food is delicious, easy, fun, cheap, reliable and can be scarfed down so quickly there isn’t time to fight with your family. One Thanksgiving meal does more emotional damage than a lifetime of Wendy’s.”*

We are so used to instant gratification that I can’t help but wonder if we’ve forgotten what achieving long-term goals feels like. Because we don’t have long-term achievements in mind, it is so easy to succumb to the here and now, the drive-through burger and fries. It is so easy to fill our bellies right now – if I’m in a rush, I can easily grab take-out and eat it in the car. I bet everyone reading this has at least one fast food french fry on the floor of their car that’s been there for months!

It isn’t just this instant need for food, and our impatience to prepare it, it’s more than that. I’ll admit: I’m guilty of fast food. There are often times when I get home from work, tired and rushing to get some kid out the door to some activity and the easiest option for dinner is take-out. Or, not even in a rush – I’ve done that when I’m just too drained to think about cooking. And I know I’m not alone: the line-ups at the drive-through at 6pm prove it.

No, it’s more than that need for speedy meals. We also use food to instantly calm our fears, anxiety, worries, sadness, loneliness…. the list goes on. I did it myself, just tonight. I was having a bit of an anxiety attack about something over which I have absolutely no control. So, what did I do? I grabbed a bowl of ice cream. And, for the few minutes that the creamy goodness melted in my mouth, I was able to forget (or at least, quiet) my anxiety. But it didn’t last. The anxiety is still there. And now the calories are, too. I know what I should’ve done: I should have called a friend; played piano; gone for a walk; meditated; done some yoga; had a cup of tea… but, the ice cream was quicker. I was afraid of my anxiety and, rather than face it, I tried to get instant gratification through ice cream. And it wasn’t even good ice cream. It was the cheap stuff in the huge container from the grocery store. blech.

In today’s fast-paced society, we have practically instant access to food. And, as we look  at the obesity epidemic around us, I’m pretty certain that this instant access is part of the problem. I bet if all of us chubby folks had to go out into the field and grow our own food we wouldn’t be so fat!

The sad thing is that our culture panders to our need for instant gratification, especially the weight loss industry. We want to lose weight, and we want to lose it now. At the grocery store check-out magazines with bikini-clad models scream out headlines like “Lose 15 pounds by next week! New Miracle Diet: Eat Oreos and Lose 20 lbs!” It’s not just magazines, either. One weight loss program promises that you’ll lose up to 20 lbs/month by injecting yourself full of vitamins. Another one pumps you up with expensive supplements “especially designed for your body type.” Hell, even the name Slim Fast  implies instant gratification! All of these weight loss programs use “before and after” pictures to market their snake oil. “Wow!” we think “Look at her! She looks so good” as we stare at two pictures, instantly side by side. We are conditioned to want results immediately, and the weight loss industry is making big money off of it. If all of these fad diets and expensive weight loss centres really worked, the medical community would be on board, and (at least here in Canada), all fat people would get such programs covered by their provincial medical plans.

How many of us have started a “diet” only to give up after a few weeks because we’re not seeing the results we wanted to see? It’s a month into your new diet, you’ve only lost 5 lbs. You were hoping to have lost at least 20 by now, so you quit.

With the rare exception, most of us were not born overweight. We’re overweight because of our habits. Habits – good and bad – don’t happen overnight, they take years to develop. Why do we expect to have instant success in weight loss when the weight didn’t instantly appear?

I stepped on the scale this morning. I was happy to see that the numbers have edge down ever so slightly. That scale is so instant. I step on it, it tells me a number.

A number. Just a number. Not how successful I’ve been this week.

I love this photo. I would add one more thing:

* The numbers on this scale will not tell you how successful you’ve been at changing your old, unhealthy habits to new, healthier ones.

I’ll admit: my mood can be affected by the numbers I see on the scale. I judge my success by those numbers and if it’s not instantly what I want to see, I feel like a failure.

I can’t help but wonder if I’ve got it all wrong. Of course, I want the numbers on the scale to go down. But I’m in this for the long haul.  If I want long-lasting success, I need to change my habits and, more importantly, my lifestyle. That doesn’t happen over night. This isn’t a quick-fix thing. This is a major change in my life. It requires perseverance, diligence, patience, and, most importantly, kindness. Change is not easy. It takes time and commitment. Yes, I will experience setbacks as my body and psyche struggle to stay within the confines of the comfortable known.

But the rewards will be worth it. Being healthy, fit, active. Feeling alive and empowered. That amazing feeling of success. I can do this. I will do this. I am doing this!

* For the record: I love family dinners! I only have happy memories of Thanksgiving meals. The best one was when my Granny looked at my (now ex-)husband’s new grown goatee, and, rather randomly said, “Your face looks like an anus.” Oh Granny, if you’re looking down from heaven, thank you! That still makes me giggle 🙂 (And it was so true! lol)

The countdown begins…. part 2

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So, last night I was having a wee pity party. Just feeling generally down and discouraged. Then I received the following on my FB wall:

“As your new year begins, you are aware of the possibilities and all your goals and dreams for what is to come. Old habits may resurface briefly as a resistance to change, but be kind to yourself in those moments then bravely move forward into your wonderful new year.”

Of all the kind words and lovely greetings I received today, this one meant the most to me. I needed that reminder to be kind to yourself. This same person recently told me that he thinks I’m a very kind person. And, I suppose it’s true. I do kind things for people; this is how I was raised, it’s just what you do. Like when someone is in pain, sick or injured and can’t get to the store to get some pain relief, you take it to them. Or when a friend is sad, you call them up to say hi. These are just kind things you do. Being kind to others feels good, and it’s good for the soul.

But you know what? I’m willing to guess that a lot of people are kinder to strangers than they are to themselves.

If a friend of mine were to do something to upset or offend me, I’d forgive her. I’m kind to complete strangers: letting someone merge ahead of me in traffic; holding doors open; even just smiling at a complete strangers. I bet you can think of at least one instance in the last 24 hours in which you were kind to someone. If not, shame on you. Don’t be such a grinch, go do something kind, now!

But how many of us are that kind to ourselves? How many of us treat ourselves with loving kindness when we mess up, or are hurt or feeling down? I know I’m not.

And that’s where the pity party last night came from. I haven’t been taking care of myself, and, rather than being kind, I was really hard on myself. The thing is, if someone you knew was consistently not kind to you, you wouldn’t hang around them. You’d, in fact, most likely distance yourself from them. Unfortunately, you can’t distance yourself from, well, yourself.

It’s easy to look for the good in others and respect their journey. Why is it so hard to treat ourselves the same way?

I’m wondering if it has something to do with fear. Every time I’m “stuck” in my life, it seems it’s because of fear. And then, once I face those fears, I am able to overcome obstacles and see my life move in a positive direction. So, what am I afraid of? I have a few theories, but they’re a bit too private to share here.

I do know this: I need to be kind to myself, to accept myself and treat myself with compassion. That’s just my gut feeling about this whole thing. Gut feelings are good, but it’s always nice to have science to back you up. This is a great article on the importance of self-compassion. The author, Dr. Melanie Greenberg, cites the work of Dr. Kristin Neff, a researcher from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Neff contrasts self-compassion with self-esteem (which she purports is “based on evidence of superior achievement”), defining it as ” a more constant personal quality, in which we value ourselves and treat ourselves kindly just because we are human,” and views mindfulness as a key element in self-compassion. Dr. Greenberg writes, “The essence of self-compassion is to acknowledge our own emotional suffering and then deliberately comfort ourselves by generating feelings of warmth, softness, and care towards ourselves and, by association, all living beings who are suffering.”

While reading the words “generating feelings of warmth, softness and care towards ourselves,” I thought to myself, “gee. I bet that would feel better than a donut.” And then I kept reading….

Can Self-Compassion Make Me Healthier?

A 2007 study by Neff and colleagues suggests that self-compassion may be an important tool in weight-management and overcoming emotional eating. Students were given donuts to eat and half were assigned at random to hear a compassionate comment from the experimenter, such as ‘Don’t beat yourself up about eating these; subjects eat them all the time.” The other half received the donuts without the comment. Later that day, when given the chance to eat candy, those who heard the compassionate comment ate less. Therefore, self-compassion may help to prevent emotional eating resulting from feeling bad about breaking dietary restriction rules. Future research is needed to look at whether these benefits are also found in clinical populations such as obese people or those with eating disorders.”

So, point taken. Being kind to myself can help me on this journey. And I know, for a fact, that I’m already a kind person. Time to be kind to myself.

How are you kind to yourself?