Self Compassion (Rather Than Self Degradation) After a Binge
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
In the grand scheme, everything is just fine.
Hurricane Irene blew threw NJ and hit it pretty hard, although I have to say that our area was largely spared any real damage, which is simply amazing. I live in the woods, we have incredibly tall trees, and generally if someone sneezes hard enough, we lose power. We had a few dips and surges, lost a few manageable limbs, and otherwise escaped unscathed. However, it was incredibly stressful to watch the trees bend, the river and stream flood, and I got not a lot of sleep--I spiraled this weekend turning to food for comfort and anxiety relief. As per usual, even after the cause for anxiety had long passed, I still struggled to get myself back on track and still made some over-the-top choices regarding food. I'm feeling grateful this morning for a fresh start and a clean slate.
I did do something I don't normally do in these cases--I tracked every bite of food I can remember eating in the past two days. It's an incredible amount of calories, as much as I used to eat when I was far, far heavier and the binges were more frequent, and it explains why I was so physically uncomfortable at the end of the day (I weigh half what I weighed then, but the binge was just as big). I'm certain today will be pretty uncomfortable. "Coming off" of those kinds of processed foods is already typically terrible, but added to that, I generally abstain from--or limit--my intake of dairy and wheat, and I ate a lot of both of those things in the past two days (that's what was in the house).
The good news is this: while this morning I woke up feeling terrible about the choices I made, I've since managed to shift my attitude and remember that I don't need to tell myself a storyline to go along with what happened. The choices I make don't make me "bad" or a "Failure," or "off and running," or any of a slew of other things the old tapes in my head would want me to believe. In the past, when I attach so much weight to things like this (no pun intended, really), I end up feeling worse and struggling more to break the pattern. If I stick to the facts, this was two days of bad food choices made in a (poor) effort to cope with stress. Even better, rather than beat myself up for those choices, today I'm deciding to treat myself with compassion. This means acknowledging that it sucks that I felt so anxious, and I understand why I chose food in the face of that--it's familiar and easy, and I didn't have access to a lot of my usual "coping strategies" courtesy of the limits of the weather. It also means recognizing that it sucks to wake up feeling so terrible about something you can't go back and change. It means not stepping on the scale to see what water and food weight my body is hanging onto as a result of the past two days and using that information to punish myself--because in the grand scheme, whatever weight I might possibly gain as a result of my choices doesn't matter and won't stick around anyway. Just allowing a little sensitivity for myself in my heart makes this all seem less huge and overwhelming. Being angry at myself, regret, punishment, or any other form of self-degradation just increases my stress level and makes me more apt to turn to food--in that light, why make any other choice?
It's a new day. I hope those who were in Irene's path made out as well as we did, escaping terrible damage. Love and light to you all.