“There’s a huge emotional component to weight loss.” Carnie Wilson
This last decade, I’ve gained an average of two pounds a year – this was the least painful way to express it. The weight added up so gradually, I’m not sure if the gain started in 2005 after Dad’s death or when we moved to the beach about three years later. I used to walk daily, a practice I started when I was 25 and pregnant with my firstborn. People in town would ask, “Aren’t you the lady that walks all the time?”
When we moved 700 feet from the ocean and near an almost constant breeze, I stopped walking. Crazy, right?
I didn’t know how crazy (I was) until I looked back at my declining mental health, the downward spiral of our finances and marriage, and my lack of purpose because my kids didn’t need me anymore. I needed something to numb the pain and fill my soul’s hole. I also needed protection because I felt emotionally unsafe. I could have turned to God. Instead, I turned him into an enemy because he wasn’t intervening like I thought he should, and I turned to an old habit since childhood, emotional eating. My mom kept a candy drawer stocked with PowerHouse candy bars, Baby Ruths, and Little Debbie snacks. She baked Toll House chocolate chip cookies. Making s’mores for her and snacking on the dessert together is my fondest memory with her.
For a long time, I was okay with my weight gain. I’m sensitive, so the more I padded my body, the more I protected my emotions, or so it seemed.
Even though I felt safer from the world, I suspected I was letting myself down like I wrote about in my last blog post. Overweight wasn’t something I wanted to be and when, in a workshop about healthy eating, the speaker compared our fat to carrying around several five-pound bags of sugar, I couldn’t shake how heavy and tired I felt. I’ve never had good posture, but I starting slumping. For comfort and because of the weight gain, I wore sports bras instead of regular ones. I walked with a drag instead of a bounce in my step. To top it off, try trying on a pair of pants or dress you thought looked good on you, and imagine shoving bags of sugar in the outfit with you. It got tight in there.
I’ve had my moments of exercise and weight loss the last 10 years, like before our daughter’s and son’s weddings, but mostly my routine back to a healthier and lighter lifestyle has been start, stop, start, stop, start, stop, stop, stop.
It’s interesting that we never know when enough is enough. We don’t know when we’ll get sick of ourselves and make a change. Sadly, we can’t manufacture the mood, but when it happens, we know it.
My husband, John, and I ate a perfect meal at our favorite mountain restaurant. We walked down the street to an open-air market with freezers full of fresh made food labeled with directions for reheating. He said, “What are we doing about dinner?”
Something snapped. I could almost physically feel it. I felt irritable and anxious and really heavy. We left there and bought four cupcakes at a dessert place. They’re big and with a lot of icing, so after dinner, we ate all of them. After that, we talked.
“We have to figure out fun things to do besides eat,” I said.
“I know,” said John, almost like it was his fault.
It wasn’t. We both had gotten lazy, gained weight, and given into a boring routine. I thought back about a video shown to alcoholics in rehab when I was working at The Commission for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. The speaker in the video said God gave us two natural pleasures, eating and sex, but not to abuse. To enjoy. This is stressed with addicts in recovery because they can seldom answer, “What do you do for fun?” That is, unless they’re honest and say they drink or drug.
Looking at our empty cupcake box, I related a little too much to the addicts in rehab. Life wasn’t as fun now that I substituted eating for other enjoyable things like evening walks, hiking, and walking for miles in downtowns when we’d take daytrips. We swapped all that for driving around to find the closest parking space to restaurants and bakeries.
I was irritable the next few days because I was coming down from a sugar high and having to face why I gained weight in the first place. I wanted to change several habits, but, at first, I hated doing the work and the workouts.
However, like I said, something snapped. Since then, I’ve made a few adjustments to detox from junk food and junk living. And, no, I didn’t give up all white foods made with sugar and flour because I’ll never stick to that kind of diet.
I committed to reasonable things I would actually follow through on like …
- Going to the gym, walking outside, or both at least five days a week.
- Walking with John at least one evening a week.
- Aiming for an average of 15,000 Fitbit steps daily.
- Tapering off chocolate.
- Eating one brown sugar cinnamon pop tart for a midnight snack instead of more calorie-intense sweets. (Don’t even think about suggesting fruit or yogurt.)
- Cutting down on bread since it’s not a favorite food anyway.
- Drinking even more water than what I already consume.
- Making a list of fun things to do besides eat. #GettingYourOwnLife
- Speaking up when I need to, so I’m letting go of junk instead of eating it.
Mostly, I’m overriding a thought I’ve let discourage me for years, “What’s the use?” Since pounds don’t drop off as quickly as they used to, I’ve given up easily the last few years. This time around, my new and improved saying is, “I’m not responsible for the result, only the effort, so keep moving and making healthy choices.” Also, I’m dealing with my emotional stuff, and you can read all about that in past posts if you haven’t already.
After all this heavy talk, I’ll leave you with a funny story about a bathroom scale and my three-year-old granddaughter, Claire. I took her to a friend’s bathroom and when she spotted the scale, she wanted to stand on it. It registered 28 pounds.
“Aw, Mammy. It’s broke,” said Claire. “I one, two, three years old.”
When I stood on it, she said, “Wow, Mammy. You’re old.”
That’s when I explained that scales measure your weight, not your age. While washing my hands, she got on and off of it enough that it showed an E for Error, which she thought was a 3.
“Oh, good, it’s working. I three years old,” she said.
That kid and Erma Bombeck (her quote’s below) can even lighten up coming face-to-face with my bathroom scale. And I need to lighten up figuratively and literally. It makes getting your own life so much easier.
“In two decades I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.”
In This Together,
Thanks for the pix, Pixabay.