Baby Steps

Hi friends!  How have you been this week?  I hope you've gotten to do something awesome, even if you've been suffering beneath Snowpocalypse 2011.  I got two days off classes and had some lovely relaxation time.  : )

So in the first post, I said that this week I wanted to spend time paying attention to how I react to food, how my emotions are different before and after, and really to just be more mindful of my eating. I want to make an effort to understand my bad habits before I try and change them.  What stuck out to me most about my eating habits is that when I eat at home, I eat pretty healthfully.  We buy decently healthy groceries, and I try my best to cook healthy recipes.  But when I'm not at home - when I have time between classes, when I'm out with a friend, even if I just go to the gas station - it becomes an excuse to eat.  And when I go out and I'm alone, I overeat.  And then after I overeat, especially when I'm alone, I feel like crap.  The depression causes me to overeat more and then I just feel more like crap, etc etc. 

I'm sure all of you out there are familiar with this cycle.  I think it stems from a different place for each of us, but I know that my overeating cycle begins the second I feel worthless or put down.  And I don't know about you, but for me the crazy thing is that nothing needs to happen for me to feel worthless or put down.  Nothing.  Often when I start feeling depressed I'm just sitting on my own couch, doing homework or watching Netflix.  I'll glance down, see the way my belly rolls up when I sit, and then the negative thoughts start flowing in: I am so fat; I'll never be able to lose weight; trying to be healthy isn't worth it; I'm ugly; this is bullshit - I want a cookie.  This week I've realized that it's the same set of thoughts every time, sometimes multiple times a day.  I think these thoughts are the old, self-hating child version of me retaliating against the emotional growth I've experienced in the past couple of years.  But since they're all pretty bad, I want to address each of these thoughts separately.

I am so fat.  To begin with, I am not so fat.  I'm not morbidly obese (although my BMI puts me just into the 'obese' category).  Also, "fat" is not my (or your) identity.  I cannot stress this point enough, to myself and to you.  I am not a fat girl that attends university, likes to bellydance, and loves studying culture.  I am a woman that attends university, likes to bellydance, and loves studying culture who right now happens to be overweight.  Being "fat" is a temporary state, and fat actually is good for me!  We all need healthy fats to live.  My current condition is a result of eating too much unhealthy food - ice cream, cookies, cake, pizza, anything from Sonic.  I also eat too much healthy food - cheese, dark chocolate, bread, etc.  This simple thought, I am so fat, is just me trying to hurt myself.  In the past, I never felt good enough.  Now, I know that there is no standard - I don't have to be "enough" of anything to have worth, and I don't need this thought anymore. 

I'll never be able to lose weight.  This is obviously not true!  I don't know why I think this.  Right before Christmas, I had lost ten pounds, and then I just let myself regain it over the holidays and the beginning of the semester.  Now I'm back to where I started (which sucks) because this thought keeps creeping into my head.  And anyway, losing weight shouldn't be my focus.  A healthy weight is just one component of an overall healthy life, and I know I wouldn't be able to maintain a healthy weight unless the rest of my life is in balance as well. 

Trying to be healthy isn't worth it.  Now I'm just straight up lying to myself.  Of course being healthy is worth it.  Sometimes I get sad thinking about foods I love (like ice cream) that I can never eat in moderate amounts and that I might have to avoid entirely if I want to eat a healthy diet.  I think this love of food is misplaced, though, and I want to work toward seeing food just as food and not this grand emotional and sensory experience that I have now. 

I'm ugly.  According to what standard of beauty?  And since when is anything important about me determined by how attractive I am to others?  Being overweight doesn't make me ugly, it just makes me unhealthy and that's the important thing to think about. 

This is bullshit - I want a cookie.  This, or some variation of it, is usually the last thought I have before I start really eating self-destructively.  Why do I think that consuming a sugary treat will somehow right the wrongs of the world?  Overeating food will not comfort me, it will only make me feel like crap.

I think learning how to handle my emotions and problems in better, non-food ways is going to be one of the first steps I take toward building a solid, healthy life.  Although building a "healthy life" might seem like a broad and insurmountable goal, I'm going to attack it in baby steps and work on one component at a time.  I want to challenge myself to incorporate one new healthy habit a week.  Last week I challenged myself to observe and understand my food habits.  This week, instead of allowing my stress or emotions to drive me toward food, I want to turn my habits around toward a healthier focus.  If I'm feeling stressed, I'll try to do some yoga instead of heading for the refrigerator.  If that negative overeating cycle begins, I'll remind myself about this post and go workout instead to get those endorphins flowing.  I know that I'm worth the time it takes to reverse bad habits, no matter how long it takes. 

I'll check in as the week goes on and let you guys know how I'm doing.  Have a healthy weekend!  : )

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