It’s one thing to admit a setback or even a series of setbacks, but I will never admit defeat. At least, not in personal battles where the adversary is some aspect of myself.
In this case the setback that I need to admit is my personal Battle of the Bulge. That weight loss plateau I hit on my diet sometime back? After a month of trying to break it… It broke me. Well, for a few weeks, anyway, as I succumbed to so much frustration with crackers over cookies and fruit over fettuccine, that I gave up.
What followed was eating whatever, whenever… much of it healthy, but also sweets, especially at night.
I’m not exactly back to square one, but pretty close. Believe me, that’s tough for me to say ‘aloud.’ And so I find myself starting again, but looking to do something different. After all, the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. While I may be discouraged and disappointed in myself, crazy I am not, though my days can be so hectic that frequently it feels like it!
That, of course, is part of the problem. When we don’t have as much control over our schedules as we might wish, the challenges of sticking to an eating and exercising routine can be greater. Still, it’s too easy to use that as an excuse, and excuses accomplish nothing.
Eating Habits and Self-Esteem
I also confess that when under certain types of strain, I am more susceptible to cravings for comfort foods — anything chocolate, and I wouldn’t say no to baked goods. The riddle for me — whether life’s little challenges will send me to scrounge through the fridge, or… kill my appetite altogether.
There have been some disappointments of late, several in fact, that I know have fanned the flames of emotional eating. On the other hand, there have also been some wins. And I’m trying to discern how much of my falling off the wagon is truly a matter of reaching for comestible consolation, how much is fuel to sustain me through long work hours, and how much has become a matter of bad habits.
Now, I’m aware that there are far more serious issues than striking out on my plan to lose 15 pounds. I’ve lived through plenty of gut-wrenching life events, and the perspective of that experience allows me to count my blessings. But when something holds such sway over my energy and mood — both of which impact relationships and mental health — how can I not want to improve the situation?
Besides, the worst consequence is this: My self-esteem is waaaaaaay down. And when that happens, life feels lousy.
Getting Back on Track
If at first you don’t succeed… right?
When I want something, I am not one to give up.
Just as we can get into good (eating) habits, I know I’ve now returned to (old) bad habits. Experts tell us it takes 28 days or so to change a habit, and maybe that’s true. I’d like to say good riddance to my bad (eating) habits that seem to recur every few years, and I’d like to think I can make the changes stick in a shorter amount of time.
Where to begin?
Right. The Nike Approach. Just Do It.
Time and Timing
Issues of time and timing are also involved.
- I’m taking more time for myself. (This is good.)
- I’m going to bed at the same time each night. (This is also good; sleep deprivation affects hunger and weight loss.)
- I am trying to alter my exercise schedule — again.
That last item? It can be a challenge with my variable work schedule. However, once upon a time I did my walking early in the morning and loved it! It’s definitely worth a try. (I started today.)
You Are What You Eat
I just filled the produce drawer in my fridge with fresh fruit and veggies, which I love, but I need to make sure that I don’t get bored. I enjoy eating — not only the taste but the colors, aromas and textures. I need to mix things up so I can keep it up — the healthy eating habit, that is.
As for the sweet tooth that hits in late afternoon or early evening, particularly if I’m putting in long hours, I picked up a bit of “light” ice cream. For some reason, I don’t overdo on the ice cream, and it helps curb the sweet tooth.
Food, Fat and Females
Like many women, I am no stranger to emotional eating and its power to both anesthetize and comfort. I witnessed my (obese) mother’s slow self-destruction, and I joined in it for many years, off and on.
My brilliant but unhappy mother buried her dreams — and herself — in food and fat. I swore that I would never do that, but I have fought these same demons since childhood.
It would be so easy to go down the path my mother took. To give up. But that would be admitting defeat — and I’m not willing to sacrifice the healthier “me” — physically and emotionally — because I’m struggling through a setback.
I also know I suffer from the phenomenon of seeing myself as heavier than I am, particularly because I was once much heavier than I am these days. But I recognize when I’m hiding from life, when I’m anesthetizing so as not to feel hurt, and when I’m using eating as a means to avoid issues that I would do better to face.
I suspect the real cure to what ails me is addressing those issues.
Owning Success, Admitting Failure
Ours is a strange culture. We worship success, which we define differently for men and women. (Admit it. Would we be so thrilled over Jennifer Aniston’s change in marital status otherwise?) And yet, if someone celebrates their success too loudly or lavishly, we immediately seek to tear him or her down.
On the other hand, we loathe failure. For that matter, we distance ourselves from people in whom we see certain aspects of “weakness” or vulnerability. For a woman, a less than acceptable appearance is too frequently considered a fatal flaw — for instance, a “fat” woman must not care about herself, must have no discipline, etc. etc… And another unacceptable, unspeakable “ill” has to do with money — or lack of it — and applies to both men and women.
What if we were less quick to judge ourselves and each other? What if we stopped knocking those who have garnered wins and instead were happy for them? What if we took setbacks for what they are — including an opportunity to regroup and ask for help?
I welcome your thoughts.
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