Wednesday, January 11, 2012
So, I'm on to the last Lifestyle Strategy of Stage 3 ... Is Emotional Eating a Problem? Er ... Nope. Never has been.
I know. I'm unlike maybe 99% of the SparkPeople I've read threads or blogs by. Maybe 99.9%?
I DO love food, don't get me wrong. And there was a very bad set of habits that set me up for the weight gain I have. I'll get into that.
But I don't eat because I'm bored, I don't eat because I'm under stress, I don't eat because my EX cheated on me, I don't eat because DDa dropped out of high school and aced the H.S. Equiv Exam instead, I don't eat because my employer is three+ weeks behind on paychecks and I'll be evicted in a day if I don't get one. Been there, done that, and so much more in my life.
There is no connection of food with comfort. Comforting things to me are things like a hot shower that lasts as long as possible. Just standing and letting the water run over me for 30 minutes is so amazingly soothing. (My bestest friend even knows that as a sign that I'm pretty darn frazzled.) Or curling up under all my blankets hugging my teddy bear. Yes, I'm 42 and I have a teddy bear I curl up with at night. Better than a body pillow, in my opinion. Or going for a walk until my brain runs out of ways to beat a dead horse and I'm looking around me instead of stuck in my head.
So that had me all ready to just give the simple answer ... No. Then I could blithely skip the whole section and forget about it. Right?
But I didn't want to shortchange myself. What IS my trigger; what underlies my weight gain? Is there anything lying there which could trip me up if I don't examine it now and prepare.
I could probably write a book and bore everyone to tears with the "Story of my Life". Lessee if I can condense this from the condensed version … (I'm on about attempt three here of chopping details.)
11-13 = boom, I've got bust. Flat to C in 30 seconds. No interest in the attention, just annoyance at having to get bras and then being accused of stuffing. Typical girl nonsense.
18 = still never dated a guy, so a coworker sets me up with her male friend on a date. To her shock and dismay, we spend an entire day together and come back friends.
19 years old = what happened? I dress skimpy and pick up rides from guys cruising their lowered truck or car along the city streets with the bass pumping. They get to show off a hot girl, I get a ride, and I pay for the ride later in the back seat.
20 years old = I have DDb (father uncertain) and give her up for adoption since I'm not "ready" to raise a kid. Right back to cruising after.
21 years old = Came up on birthday waking up thinking “What the heck was I doing and why”. I want stability. Meet EX at a night club. Before 22, we're married, DS is a month old, and EX and I fight a lot. First “other woman” shows up.
22 – 26 = fights, separations, reconciliations, at least three more “other women”
27-29 = permanently separated, still clinging to hopes. Brain finally says “No more.” Divorced, I try some dating sites just to see if I can get into the swing of things again. One wants sex, one wants an audience for his hobby, one wants partner for dance class. Bah.
Right around 30 years, I make the irrational decision that sets me off on the wrong path.
** Guys don't hit on fat girls.**
Now, I know that is neither entirely true nor rational. But it made loads of sense at the time. At most, I weighed 185 at this point, possibly closer to 175. It wasn't important to me. Somehow logic dictated “I need to get fat so guys stop hitting on me.”
So I went from eating normal enough to overindulging. All the delicious foods I normally ate only on rare occasions became fine to eat as often and as much as I wanted.
I remember going to the bakery near work and buying an apple pie, bringing it back to work, and eating the entire thing myself in an afternoon. Delicious, very delicious, but the only reason for eating that much was to make sure I'd get fat. I'd bring donuts to work for everyone, take at least one or two, but also have a separate bag or box just for me. I'd cook Hamburger Helper and eat it all (it's 4-5 servings as I recall) with 32 oz of milk to gulp down as well.
I don't even remember now at what point I passed 200 pounds. I remember my mother commenting about it because I had always before that said I'd never get over 200. I just shrugged and said it didn't matter any more.
Now, it wasn't constant. I would eat like that some days, then other days would just be so hectic I'd have one meal and several cups of milk. I sat at different weights for stretches of time. 205, 220, 235. I'd bounce up and down. One point of weight loss I had wasn't intentional ... my paychecks were so painfully late and irregular that I fed the kids and not me or had a slice of bread for dinner as my only food for the day. Once I had money, I went back to eating too much.
Other ideas joined in over time. Amongst those was the idea that no one really cared enough to know the real me. I wrote a little poem in a journal at one point:
When you look at me,
What do you see?
Do you see me
or do you see what I want you to see?
Even those who tried or thought they were close to me, deep down I felt like I couldn't lower enough masks to let them see the real me. I've even called it The 500 Masks of Blue. (Yes, a play on the book The "500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins".) I take off a mask here or there to let people closer, but there's always more underneath to keep that comfortable distance.
Then there's the whole side of sexual attraction. The few "lookers" I could crush over, I could never rationalize them being attracted to an obese body. Or, if they were? Worse. Gah! The horror of a guy who wanted me to keep my body like that. So somehow I wanted someone who could love me fat, but not love my fat. I made no sense, not even to myself at that point.
In the year or two before I started this whole journey, I was coming to recognize the irrational decision that started the whole mess. I've been slowly unraveling the pieces since, trying to untangle my messed up psyche, as it were. I was trying in a very sporadic way to lose weight, even mentioned it once, but it wasn't a focus - just an "I should ..."
When I finally made the decision that my physical weight had nothing to do with being able to avoid relationships, I was ready to start the journey.
It wasn't that hard to disconnect the two. I'd withdrawn from the world in so many other ways … and still had issues with online male friends. One got obsessive and jealous of another, having some fantasy of me being his soulmate because we're the same age and single. Others wanted cybering. Sometimes it felt like being friendly with most males in-game was a come-on, even after being honest about my weight.
I definitely still need to address the avoiding relationships angle (and the trust issues as well), but having mentally unlinked them from being fat, I simply stopped eating the way I was. In four months, I've had men make comments and pushed them away without thinking about food. I even ran into someone I knew from an earlier stage in my life who wanted to reconnect - and turned down several attempts to invite me to dinner, to a movie, to spend time together. There is no corresponding “ack, must fatten up to avoid attention” - just “ack, don't want to be that kind of woman again”.
Maybe I'm wrong, but right now I feel like I already broke the "trigger" as it were. Strategy-wise, I think I've got it under control.
And maybe some people would call it emotional eating even in the form I gained weight doing. (The key difference I think of, though, is that I never did so mindlessly. I ate with intention - because it tasted good or I craved a flavor and because eating as much as I could helped me add more to my body shield.)
Only time will tell.