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Emotional Layers of Fat

Sunday, June 24, 2012

If you are an emotional or stress eater like I am, each pound that you've gained over the years probably symbolizes some transition or life event. Maybe it was relocation, graduation, marriage, divorce, death of a friend or family member, or other traumatic event. Or it could simply be a mundane lifestyle change or too many dinners out. Combine the weight gain with failed diet and exercise programs and you end up cloaked in multiple layers of fat.

I'll give you examples.

As a teenager in middle school, I was enrolled in P.E. class, a cheerleader, played softball and ran track. I walked two miles home from school nearly every day. I weighed 135 pounds.

Then I graduated middle school and started high school. I ditched most of the extra curricular activities and took the bus home from school. I gained 20 pounds and weighed 155. Did I ever take this off? No.

Then my family relocated from the midwest to the east coast. I became homesick and spent lots of time at home watching MTV. By graduation, I weighed 170. Then I left for college.

I was much more active in college. My dorm room was on the fourth floor in a building with no elevators. I walked to classes every day. I jogged and worked out at the gym with friends. My weight settled in at 155 lbs.

My last year, I moved off campus and took a part-time job at a fast food restaurant. I rode the bus to campus and ate lots of free burgers and fries. My weight returned to 170.

After graduation, I fell in love and got married. I dieted and exercised to look good for my wedding. I weighed 155. Got pregnant and had my daughter. My weight returned to 155. Then I got divorced....one year later, met another guy and fell in love...that relationship fizzed. Two years after the divorce I weighed 180.

Four years later, my grandparents died...
Then I accepted a new job and relocated....
Six years later, I lost my job....

Well, you get the idea. Being an emotional and stress eater, I gained weight with each life event and, with one exception 10 years ago, never took it off. Now, as I drop the weight, I'm once again confronting what originally caused the weight gain.

Right now, I've just lost the 20 pounds I gained while I was unemployed last year. I've also lost 10 of the 20 pounds I gained when my grandparents died. I now have 35 pounds left to lose; The balance of the weight I gained after losing my grandparents plus the 25 pounds I gained after my divorce.

The 20 pounds I gained after middle school? No plans to lose it, because I'm in my 40s and don't want to look boyish or angular. I believe that when you're older and lose too much weight, it draws fat from your face and ages you.

My granny died 10 years ago and my divorce was 20 years ago. It's time for me to stop carrying around these events on my body. Wouldn't you agree?

What are you carrying around? Are you carrying the events from your past into your present? Maybe it's just weight you gained from happy times---delivering a baby, a series of hot dates at fancy restaurants, weeks of graduation celebrations? Heaven forbid, if it's from something truly traumatic, please see a therapist and face those issues. Whatever it is, at some point the fat is visible baggage from the past and needs to go.

Onward and downward.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIBANANA 6/26/2012 10:19AM

  Very insightful! I never thought of it in that way. I'm going to take a look at my issues.



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BECKYJ2224 6/25/2012 9:31AM

    Inspirational blog.. I know I have layers from emotional eating and I have been carrying them with me long enough. emoticon

Comment edited on: 6/25/2012 9:33:20 AM

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TRYSCHE13 6/25/2012 8:21AM

    You are a strong, determined woman to realize the root of your emotional eating, I know you will make your goal, or anything else you set your mind to. Make sure to post a reunion picture!

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KAYLA0041 6/24/2012 7:58PM

    Awesome blog, I am determined to remove some of my emotional layers too.

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KARENA228 6/24/2012 7:04PM

    Wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing, this was an eye-opener for me as well.

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MPLANE37 6/24/2012 5:02PM

    I was carrying the weight of starting a career. It was hard in the beginning, but over time it became easier, although the conditions did improve only modestly. May be I became wiser, content with what little I was able to achieve. Now I am losing all that weight, and only about 10 pounds left. This last 10 pounds seems to be really tough to lose though. We will see what I can do.

By the way, you have narrated it very well. You must be good at writing.

Comment edited on: 6/24/2012 5:04:19 PM

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CELLISTA1 6/24/2012 4:29PM

    Hi. I found your blog by chance and it really speaks to me. All my layers of fat are emotional :) - and they keep telling me they want to stay with me and I keep telling them it's time to go! Five added pounds a year for 10 years -- that's the fifty that brought me here to Spark. I'm so impressed that you've lost 30 pounds. Fabulous!

I noticed you have a photo of Chaka Kahn. I just saw her at the Hollywood Bowl two nights ago and she looked gorgeous! She wore those skin-tight cat-suits when she was bigger and looked great too, but honestly she looks sensational now. I heard she lost her weight on a liquid diet, though. Not a Sparky choice.

I'm going to take what you wrote seriously. I need to re-visit some of these emotional issues. And I'm going to add you as a friend, if that's okay.

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MISSB8604 6/24/2012 2:50PM

    REALLY great blog and I love how you consider each pound you've gained as an emotional layer of fat. That is exactly how it is for me. Thank you for this!

Onward and downward!!

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KATIEGARCIA 6/24/2012 2:33PM

    Thank you for sharing you story. You are a true inspiration!

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Reflections on being 32 pounds thinner

Saturday, June 23, 2012

When I re-launched Sparkpeople at the beginning of this year, all I felt was a sense of urgency about my need to lose weight. I had gained 20 pounds while I was unemployed, reaching my all time highest weight. I was still piecing my life together because of all the stress in my professional and personal life.

What are the lessons I've learned on this journey so far?

1. There is no perfect time to start a weight loss plan. Jobs come and go, family members pass away, kids act out. These pressures are always with us.

2. Just do what the spirit moves you to do and no more. Once you start seeing results, do a little more. You are building momentum and speed over time. If you make drastic changes all at once, you will be miserable. If you don't have time to exercise, start with 10 minutes a day, three times a week. Add days and minutes when you can. Don't give up all of your favorite foods. Find a way to include them in your plan. In fact, at the beginning of the plan, I was eating breakfast at McDonald's every morning. I did this for months because I wasn't ready to give it up. I tried to adhere to my eating plan for lunch and dinner.

3. If you fall, get back up and keep moving forward. Baby steps, baby steps. You have to crawl for awhile before you walk. You'll stumble, you'll fall. Count on that because we can't be perfect. Just get back up. Don't give up.

4. Take advantage of the support and resources on SP! Plateaus are vicious. Why, oh why, must plateaus be a part of weight loss? I was on one for an entire month and could not understand why. If I hadn't reached out for support on this site, I might have given up. Since my plateau ended, I've dropped seven pounds.

5. Patience, in time the grass becomes milk. Our bodies don't lose weight in a logical straight line. There's hormones, periods, and all kinds of other factors that cause us to retain water or not lose as fast as we should. These challenges wreak havoc on our pattern of weight loss. My weekly pattern seems to be lose, lose, gain, lose big, gain, lose, lose, gain, lose big, gain. Crazy, but the overall trend is DOWN. It's aggravating, but I am starting to understand and respect it.

6. Make the SP program yours. What works for one person, may not work for you. You have to find a mix of nutrition and exercise you can live with day in and day out. No one else can tell you what that is. You need to try a few things and see what works. If you hate the gym, work out at home with videos. If you hate cottage cheese and cauliflower, find alternatives you do like. Figure out a few favorite meals and eat those 90% of the time. 10% of the time, eat the stuff that's not so good for you.

7. Distance yourself from friends and family who can't or won't support you. Find the ones who will. Yesterday, I met up with a girlfriend who said she's trying to lose weight. We went to an outdoor fiesta and decided to get food for dinner. There were no healthy choices around, so we ate tamales, flautas, rice and beans. Then, later she wanted to top off dinner with a large funnel cake. I redirected her to a small ice cream cone, sayin' "I can't have you cussin' me later for not stopping you from eating the funnel cake." I don't know how many calories are in a funnel cake, but I do know it's possible for a small ice cream cone to be part of a healthy eating plan. This is how a support system works.

8. You really do have to plan ahead, dang it. Sorry, no way around this one.

9. Biting and writing and blogging really keep you accountable.

I'm sure there are additional lessons I still need to learn, but these have helped me shed 32 pounds, so it's all good.

Onward and downward.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BARBAELLEN 6/23/2012 10:40PM

    Once again, a well-thought-out blog! I agree that the lessons you've learned so far are the ones that actually work for those who need to lose weight in the real world. Yep, it all gets down to accepting why we gained and what we need to do to lose while living in a normal (well, as normal as possible) world. I was on a plateau for NINE MONTHS, but I know why. Neither my spirit (nor body) were moving me to do MORE. The good part is I was able to stay on that plateau because I still paid attention.

God bless the baby steps we learn along the way and the gradual changes we incorporate into our lifestyle. Only because those baby steps had become a permanent part of my lifestyle, did I not GAIN weight back. I think the biggest lesson I've learned through this journey is that I have to keep reminding myself WHY I've lost weight and what will happen if I ever stop paying attention.


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TACONES 6/23/2012 9:55PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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EMMANYC 6/23/2012 9:48PM

    Great advice for pursuing a healthier lifestyle in the real world.

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TWNOMWE 6/23/2012 7:54PM

    emoticon on wt loss and great blog. Thanks for pointers.

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HEALTHYASHLEY 6/23/2012 7:47PM

    I couldn't agree more with planning ahead. It just becomes part of life. If you can plan to stop at the drive through you can plan to make better choices. It gets easier the more you do it. Great blog and way to go on 32 lbs!

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SUZIEMAH1 6/23/2012 6:34PM

    Great blog...All great and valid points...especially planning ahead..congrats on your success emoticon

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MI-ELLKAYBEE 6/23/2012 5:43PM

    emoticon May God bless your continued success on this journey we all share!

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FLEURGARDEN 6/23/2012 5:27PM

    Great blog. Plateaus definitely test our patience, don't they? I've been gaining and losing the same pound for a month now.

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ANNEMAC5 6/23/2012 4:53PM

    Great blog, this is so true onward and downward :)

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MPLANE37 6/23/2012 3:13PM

    Congrats!!! All are the great lessons, and summarize pretty much all there is to losing the excess fat.

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No longer clinically obese

Friday, June 22, 2012

As of today, my BMI dropped from a 30 to a 29. The pound I gained on vacation is gone along with another half pound. Now, I'm merely overweight, not obese. How does it feel? Really good! That's how it feels. I haven't been at this weight in awhile, so I'm learning to appreciate the journey and take pride in the moments where the number on the scale has so much symbolism.

I have eleven pounds to go in order to complete my mid-goal to lose 20 pounds between May and August. All I need to do is stay patient, focused and consistent.

I'm still jet-lagged from being on Alaska time; they are three hours behind central time. Getting up in the morning is difficult. But I'm up and about and ready to get my Friday on.

Onward and downward.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BECKYJ2224 6/23/2012 11:24AM

    Awesome! Great work emoticon

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FLEURGARDEN 6/23/2012 10:14AM

    Woo Hoo! Congratulations! I'm doing the happy dance with you. emoticon

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LADYGSC 6/22/2012 3:02PM

    Marvelous, simply marvelous!! You motivate me!! Keep on sparking!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KAYLA0041 6/22/2012 1:35PM

    emoticon emoticon

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MISSB8604 6/22/2012 1:02PM

    WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So great! Congrats!

Comment edited on: 6/22/2012 1:02:53 PM

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GEOGIAGIRL2 6/22/2012 11:27AM

I know you must be so excited. Thanks for sharing and encouraging us to keep moving.

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BARBAELLEN 6/22/2012 11:10AM

    Congratulations on exiting the world of "obese." What a psychological lift! emoticon

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FITPRIS 6/22/2012 10:28AM

    Good for you!! That is wonderful!

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ERICADAWN1986 6/22/2012 9:21AM

    Congrats on the milestone! Hope you're rewarding yourself (non-food of corse) for your accomplishment!

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NICHOLE_4 6/22/2012 8:53AM

    How awesome is that! I can't wait for the day until I can say I am no longer obese!!!!! emoticon

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ELRIDDICK 6/22/2012 8:51AM

  Thanks for sharing

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Back from Vacation and.......

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

After a wonderful week in beautiful Alaska, I'm back home and will return to work tomorrow. We packed a lot of activity into the week including hiking, white water rafting, wildlife and glacier sight-seeing tours, and a train ride through scenic land. Just a lovely time!

How did I do food wise? Not very well. I held on to good habits for a few meals, but without the security of my kitchen and my cooking, I soon returned to eating processed and junky meals. Some of the calories were worth the splurge, but there were many other instances where I could've made better food choices and chose not to.

I just accepted the fact that I would return to healthier eating habits once I returned from my trip. This morning, I weighed in to atone for my vacation. I gained one pound. I'm fine with that because I'm home now and back in control of my food environment. I am ready to tackle my goal to lose 25 pounds by December 31st. I'm off to a good start with my morning smoothie. I also picked up my regular staples at the grocery store. This afternoon, I'm going to the gym to lift weights and spend some time on the elliptical. It's all good!

Onward and downward.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIBANANA 6/22/2012 6:47AM

  I lived in Alaska for 25 years. I bet you had a wonderful trip. Forgive yourself for your food choices. You are home now and back on track! A pound is nothing in the scheme of things. You will get that 25 off!


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LILSHINE 6/21/2012 4:11PM

    Great job on only a 1# gain while on vacation. Sounds like you did a great job of getting some activity in as well.

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MRFUZZ 6/20/2012 6:13PM

    One pound gain? I think totally worth it to go on vacation, have fun, and relax! You did good!

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FLEURGARDEN 6/20/2012 4:23PM

    Glad you had a great trip. Only gaining one pound is probably pretty good in the grand scheme of things. Heck, my weight can fluctuate by at least that much just by having a single margarita. :-)

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TONI2011 6/20/2012 11:56AM

    I leave for vacation tomorrow - I'm excited at the chance to make healthy choices while I'm away. I know it won't be easy, but know it can be done!

You learn from each new journey. Keep heading toward your goal! emoticon

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Friday, June 15, 2012

I've been in Alaska about three days now, and it's a beautiful place. As you would expect, people here in Anchorage live in the 21st century, but there's still a frontier-like vibe to the entire community. Many men sport beards, plus crocs and hiking boots seem to be the most popular footwear in addition to the ubiquitous sneaker--even in fine restaurants.

The scenery is beautiful; something that a camera can't really capture. Mountains, lakes, wetlands, campgrounds, streams, rivers, hiking trails are abundant here and a part of life for Alaskans. They are also somewhat moose-obsessed and I can understand why. Anywhere you go, you are likely to encounter a moose. I saw my first one my second day here. He was standing next to the street just feeding. We stopped the car and I got a couple of pics before we moved on.

The daylight definitely fools you. It does go to dusk at night, but doesn't get completely dark. Yesterday, at 11pm, it appeared to be about 8:00 pm on a summer evening; full daylight, but long shadows. Just amazing.

Yesterday, I went white water rafting which was amazing. Later in the week, we'll take boat tours of wildlife and the glaciers. We're scheduled to take a train to Seward for one of the glacier trips. I am totally looking forward to it!

I'm only somewhat compliant with my SP plan. I've been eating intentionally, but have indulged during a few meals. I also need to get back on track with recording my intake. Still, I've been good about drinking my morning smoothies and not overeating. I think I'm doing well enough to maintain my weight, which is fine with me. The good news is, I'm getting some exercise in, so that will help.

Well, back to the real world. Today, we're hitting a hiking trail.

Onward and downward.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GEOGIAGIRL2 6/22/2012 11:29AM

    Vacations are the best. Glad to see you enjoyed your vacation.

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ANNEMAC5 6/15/2012 2:15PM

    Sounds like you are having a great time thanks for sharing.

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KRISZTA11 6/15/2012 2:03PM

    emoticon for sharing!
Your blog and the gorgeous picture makes me wish I get there to one time!

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MDWSTRNR 6/15/2012 1:24PM

    Enjoy! We went for our 5th anniversary, and it was lovely. Hope you have some great hikes!

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CMCBRIDE37 6/15/2012 12:08PM

    Jealous! Would love to see Alaska. Enjoy your trip.

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PJBONARRIGO 6/15/2012 12:05PM

    Wow, it sounds like you are having the adventure of a lifetime! It also sounds like you are in control with a good plan to eat and exercise while on vacation. emoticon

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