So the last two weeks have been rough, emotionally. Since Thanksgiving, when I moved to my new place (which I love, love, love, by the way), I've been off-track with my food and fitness. In December, I started working on getting back to the behaviors that really support me, with mixed success. My success has been mixed because I've decided on several occasions, to eat for comfort.
What's going on that I'd actually consciously choose to eat for comfort? My girlfriend's father became critically ill and died in the first week of January. They're in Ohio, and I'm in Los Angeles, so due to the polar vortex I wasn't even able to join the family for the last days or funeral. Travel was impossible.
At the same time, my ex's wife (my daughter's stepmom) is battling cancer and this time it looks pretty grim (she's had a number of brushes with death as this has been chronic). She needs a ghastly surgery and there's really no certainty that it will prolong her life meaningfully. So I need to be here physically and emotionally for my daughter (and I'm trying to be decent to my ex).
I have had many days of deciding to just eat. Usually in the evening. Usually carbs or chocolate.
At the same time, I've been having a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. I attributed that to the general stress of all that's going on (not to mention life -- work, housework, parenting, attending to my elderly mother). A couple of nights ago, though, as I was drifting off, my mind jumped to all the chips and cheese I'd eaten that evening (without tracking, of course). Dang! I got this big jolt of anxiety and adrenaline.
Sure, my stomach was over-full, and that was uncomfortable. But then I also had this incredible anxiety. I had a concrete experience of the immediate connection between the over-eating and the anxiety. The very behavior I used to use to "sedate" myself when life was "too much" was adding to my anxiety! There's a direct causal connection, not just five weeks down the road when I don't like the number on the scale or what's happening when I get dressed.
Right now, today, eating poorly makes me feel worse. And I don't like it.
Maybe that last sentence is really the kicker. I don't like it.
In the past, I might have said I don't care. I don't care, I want the food anyway. I want the momentary thrill of the chocolate on my tongue or the fun of pulling apart those nachos and chewing them up.
But now, I don't like how I feel emotionally when I abuse myself. And that's what using food for emotional novocaine is, of course. Abuse.
So. Now is not the time for more self-harm. No harsh self-talk. No punishment with overexercise or rigorous "dieting." Nope. Now is the time for feeling the feelings, and gentle self-care, starting with good food in healthy proportions and some activity.
I've been on track again for a couple of days, and last night I noticed a big difference in my anxiety level. Here's to less anxiety and more self-acceptance, friends.