I hit a bump in the road about 2 weeks ago. I was flying high from 100 lbs lost. Flying high from my half marathon and from my 10k PBs. I was trying to find a balance of carb loading before my races/long runs, and dipping my toes dangerously back into the bread territory.
Let me back this story up a little. February brought about lent, and I was struggling with added sugars and desserts again (probably my biggest struggle). I also had been getting hives for....oh about a decade, and with the cleaning up of my eating I wanted to eliminate (or greatly reduce) their frequency. So with lent I eliminated gluten (my brother gets hives when he eats gluten, which is basically where the idea came from). And with that went the added sugars in desserts/chocolate. Within a couple of days my SLEEP changed. I was no longer tired all day, no longer fell asleep sometimes while watching a movie. I didn't recall feeling this 'refreshed' before.
Now, I know I also struggle with getting enough sleep. 5-6 hours a night is not enough. I know this. It is also a struggle. So I had always thought my tiredness was from lack of sleep. Which obviously, part of it was/is. But when I eliminated gluten (bye bye homemade breads, buns, wheat pastas, desserts, etc) a weird side effect happened that I wasn't expecting. I didn't feel so tired. It was noticeable. So noticeable that I feel more energetic, less generally tired. In such a noticeable way. So yaye! And the hives have went away for the most part.
I found rice pasta, gluten-free bread (don't eat much of that anyways anymore), so I never *eliminated* the starchy food category. Just an ingredient. And it's been a world of good!
Anyways, back to the story. Now, I know I feel better when I'm not eating gluten. And I rarely got hives anymore. But I knew I wasn't deathly allergic or anything to gluten, and I liked the taste of homemade bread, etc. So I baked bread before a race. And ate wheat pasta. And felt so exhausted! But with the great carb-loading I had super legs. So I'll just finish off the bread, I thought to myself. Oh, and dad is coming in to help with a couple items around the yard....why not make some buns for the burgers...and some cinnamon buns?
Oh, and it was at that point that the stress all sort of hit at once. I was SOOOOO strong and then BAM! And I know this about myself. When I am in that strong place in my head with my eating I'm like superwoman- the food in the stafffroom or on the shelves of the store don't phase me. And I know I can eat as cleanly as I like and I wish to ride that strength out forever. Or for as long as possible. Food is just a fuel. I'm in control of my purchasing, cooking, portions and eating. A little hunger before meals doesn't phase me. Oh, I like and am craving salmon? (and I do crave the healthy foods when I am feeling so strong) Let me make the best baked salmon with lemon! With steamed broccoli! Greek yogurt and an apple for a snack! Lots of fresh, healthy, whole foods. Yummy!
Because, you see, when I'm feeling like I'm craving chocolate, cakes, breads, sweets, etc, then the battle begins in my head.
And the stresses of the time, all relatively (some bigger, some smaller) acceptable and reasonable to deal with on their own, piled up at once. And the old me used to deal with stress by stuffing my face. And while I wish I would have stayed strong because what I eat is the ONE thing I CAN control while the situations around me may not be in control, I slid.
And wow, it was glorious.
Gloriously awful. A tasty, delicious backslide of epic proportions.
And potentially as painful for people who saw my tracker at the time as it was for my stomach and waistline. My skin started to break out, I got hives again (oh the gluten), I gained weight, I felt slower on my runs, I had side cramping during my runs, I was soooo tired all the time, I was grumpy, I started feeling low and almost depressed.
OK, I said to myself. This was it. Homemade cinnamon buns and a bun for my burger. That'll be it. 1 day. But it wasn't. One day lead to the next and to the next and to the next. I was in constant text with a good friend of mine, who hit a couple day rough patch herself, and who every morning and evening asked me how my eating was going. Who tried to encourage me that tomorrow will be better, pointed out how far I came and how much work it took to get there. My guy didn't understand, as he thinks that it's easy to just stop eating the food when you're full and just don't eat that other cinnamon bun. If only it was that easy. That did add to some of the stress. For those that struggle with compulsive (over)eating, we know that it is not easy.
Fighting that compulsion to overeat is draining. Very, very draining.
And for 10 straight days I battled. Like a war inside my head. The new me vs the old me. There were many casualties on the new me side (pounds gained). You'd think that with boxing and running I'd be stronger! But the old me has many more years on the new me, which may have resulted in some of her wins (pounds gained back, bad habits rearing their heads).
Everyday for 10 days my brain whispered to me, "you're good, you're strong, you've got this, you like to eat healthy, you want to run faster, you like the muscle definition starting, you can do it, you don't need those calories, just stop at one then, shhhhhh it's ok, you made it almost to supper- that's awesome and tomorrow will be even better, come on just walk past the chips, you are strong, tomorrow will be healthy, this doesn't make you feel good so lets turn this around, there are always stresses- don't let it get to you, come on- you've got this." Like a loop of kind and gentle encouraging words, floating through my head; a constant loop of positivity whispered across the synapses of my mind and soul. It's hard to describe, but at least there was one part of my brain still rooting for me and encouraging me. I drowned it out though with the crunch of the chips. It always came back, thankfully. It helped push me through to the other side of those 10 days.
I don't recall ever talking down to myself (I've head some other people do). My brain is a huge supporter of me (funny, but true).
side note: I am a huge drill sergeant when it comes to fitness. That's a little different. There the talk's like, 'lets go! pick up the pace! come on! you can do it! freakin run faster! push out one more!' I do get a little rough with myself if I've had a slow/rough run with the talk 'I felt sloooooowww! Why am I running?! Lets walk! This sucks! I don't wanna do this anymore!' But it's short lived as the voices in the back of my head push me further and tell me 'the next run will be better, you will do 1 more pushup with clap next time, you can and will do more next time.'
And as the stresses lifted and the urge to overeat wasn't so overwhelming anymore, I mustered all the strength I had to continue my healthy journey. The positive talk in the back of my head, much needed at the time, faded with every day of successful eating I had.
One thing: if you find yourself faced with struggles that are making you want to overeat, try to find a moment of peace and listen for that little voice in the back of your head- the supportive voice, the voice telling you that everything will be ok, the voice telling you that you are stronger than this.
You've got this!