Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Every once in a while, I come across a comment from someone who says that they find weight loss and maintenance easy and I have to admit, it shocks me a bit. I can find lots of positive adjectives to describe this process and how it's changed me, but easy definitely wouldn't be one of them. I also feel a bit jealous of people who find maintenance easy--if others find it easy to maintain their losses, why can't I? I've developed lots of great strategies to deal with the temptation to binge, I love the healthy food I make for myself and generally love my lifestyle, but the compulsion to overeat and make poor choices is almost always there, simmering just under the surface.
I've been thinking a lot about exactly why this is for me and I've come to realize that it's because of why and how I got to be so overweight in the first place and why I had previously never been able to maintain my losses before. I didn't put on so much weight because I'd had a baby or medical issues or even because I'd let it slowly creep up over time. Overeating was just one of many self-destructive behaviors I've indulged in because I didn't value myself and my body enough to treat it well. And like the other compulsive behavior I've engaged in at one point or another, the temptation to fall back into my old bad habits is always there. Regarding my old smoking habit, which I haven't done in nearly ten years, hardly a day goes by where I don't want a cigarette. Every time I see someone else having one (and here in Italy, that's often), I want one too. I don't give into that feeling, but it's there and that's why it isn't easy. The same can be said for my eating habits. When faced with something that tempts me, I almost always still want it and have to make a conscious effort to refuse it or eat it moderately. That's still not easy for me and, like giving up smoking, I don't know that it will ever be.
Even more difficult than identifying the fact that my overeating has been part of a pattern of self-destructive behavior is pinpointing exactly why I felt compelled to hurt myself. I didn't have a bad childhood and I haven't had any majorly traumatizing events that would have triggered this. What I do have is a family history of substance abuse, often coupled with depression and/or anxiety. Some people in my family have turned to drugs and alcohol--my drug of choice was food and cigarettes. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I was trying to cope with when I was abusing my body, but at least I've identified the pattern and can see how my own destructive behavior mirrors the behavior of other people in my family.
Being disciplined helps. Planning my meals helps. Eating beautiful, tasty, healthy food helps. Choosing my indulgences wisely helps. Staying connected to my support systems helps. Working on bolstering my self esteem and healthy coping mechanisms helps. Sticking with all of these things for the long haul helps. But they still don't make it easy--they make it manageable and I'll take that any day over a perpetual cycle of self-destructive behavior.