Confessions of a Closet Eater/Part-Time Health Nut

I’m a determined health nut until about 4 p.m. and then the wheels start falling off the healthy bus. In the midst of the rush of supper/homework/bath time/bed time/kid’s needing things/I need a dozen cupcakes for bake sale tomorrow…I turn from calm & zen to frazzled and tuned out. I lose my focus. As a result I’m not mindful of my eating.

Here’s the deal: I consistently exercise 4-6 times/week, I eat healthy foods, but I’m also an emotional eater. There are many terms for it: Over-eater, closet eater, binge eater, emotional eater. Those are just labels for an internal struggle that I’ve had for as far back as I remember (as early as 5 yrs old).

I know I’m not alone in this struggle, it’s just not easy to talk about nor to admit. It’s embarrassing (which is why there’s a term “closet eater”).

This isn’t a new pattern of behaviour for me, but it is one that through the years I’ve had varying degrees of control over. Even though I have lost the weight, the world of maintaining is one that is similar to the world of losing in that it takes diligence. I have to stay tuned in, even when I want to tune out.

That’s a tricky scenario for an emotional eater like me, because when there is stress in my life, my instinct is to turn to food.  Believe me, over the years I’ve over-analyzed this phenomenon to death.

If the formula for long-term weight loss was to simply eat less, move more…then there wouldn’t be such an obesity problem in our country. Yes, that’s a big part of the formula for losing and maintaining; however, it’s so much deeper than that. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another. I believe self-reflection is key. Everyone has some sort of struggle within their lives, whether it’s financial, within relationships, etc. My issue with weight happens to be more visual than perhaps another’s struggle. It makes me feel misunderstood when I hear the words “overweight” and “lazy” used in the same sentence. I can assure you that through out my life, my struggle with my weight has nothing to do with being lazy.

As I approach my 8 year anniversary of being at my goal weight, I’m still finding ways to deal with emotional eating. So what am I going to do about it? The same thing I’ve had to do every time I’ve realized I need to deal with life in a different way…

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” Henry Cloud

For every problem, there is a solution that will work if you figure out your personal triggers and you focus on your goals.

My 10 Steps to Combat Emotional Eating 

1. Journal what I eat. I’m too proud to write one bag of M&M’s 😉  Lucky for me, technology is way better than the days of carrying a binder around with me. There are lots of great apps that track eating and exercise.

2. Pay attention to how I’m feeling when I get the urge to eat when I’m not actually hungry. Eat with intention. Eat slowly (so my brain catches up to my stomach signalling when I’m full). Actually taste the food I’m eating (the texture, the flavour). Minimize distractions around me. This means no eating away from the kitchen table.

3. There are two types of triggers for me: Emotional and Food related. It’s important for me to realize what my triggers are and then to minimize those triggers. Emotional triggers can come in the form of relationships, sometimes I have to pull back from situations and relationships until I can get back on track. The food related triggers come in the form of certain foods that make me want to eat more and more. These are foods with little nutritional value and are high in sugars. I would never binge on apples. 😉

4. Remember that momentum goes 2 ways! As fast as I can feel like I’m spiralling out of control, I can just as easily take the steps to get back in control and follow that positive momentum into each meal and then into each day.

5. There’s a quote I often think about: “Comparison is the thief of joy” Theodore Roosevelt.  It’s difficult not to compare my progress with another’s; however, we are all different and our goals are different too.  The only person I should compare myself with is the old version of me.

6. Look at food in a positive way: Food is fuel, it is not for comfort. I have to look at my daily food intake like an allowance so that my relationship with food is one of sustenance. I give my kids their allowance and it’s up to them what they spend it on. They can spend it on quality items, or waste it. That’s how my food allowance is.  To maintain my weight loss, I must eat within a certain amount of calories. I can eat more calories if I add more activity to my day which is awesome. Exercise is important to this equation! I want to spend my allowance on foods that are high in nutritional value. I don’t want to waste it on foods that are low quality and that trigger the desire to eat more, and more. These types of foods for me are (my lovely triggers): Theatre popcorn, milk chocolate, and nachos.

7. Drink more water, at least 8-10 glasses a day. This flushes the toxins and salt out of my body and as an added bonus makes skin glow too.

8. Grocery shop once a week so my fridge is always full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Try not to shop hungry, that never goes well. lol

9. Take the well-meaning wishes and words of advice from others with a grain of salt. When I was obese, people would tell me how to lose the weight. Now that I’m at my goal weight I’ve been told that I focus too much on food and exercise, which is 100% true! I will tell you what happens when I’m not diligent with my food and exercise, I gain weight. That’s just how it is! Sometimes that pisses me right off that I have to be so diligent; however, I refuse to gain back 90 pounds. So yes, I focus on my food and exercise every day and that’s ok. 🙂 I try to do so in a positive way.

10. Be always mindful of what my goals are. Sometimes I write them on sticky notes where I see them everyday.  My goal is to be healthy, strong, and fit with balance. My goal is not a certain number on the scale. I need to align my actions to fit into that goal. I am then successful every time I eat a piece of fruit, loads of veggies, healthy proteins, each time I exercise. This also translates into my interactions with those I love. Being healthy encompasses relationships, friendships, family time. It all goes together to build a happy and healthy Mom which my kids need.

Now it’s time to get to work…

On my reading list (again): Women Food and God

A must watch for all Women:

Thanks for reading what was actually really tough to publicly share. The reason I shared it today was because of a conversation I had last week with a wise friend.  We discussed closet eating and she shared with me that this is an issues she knows many women struggle with. Even if we think we are in that closet all alone. 😉

I hope something I shared here will help another move forward. I know I’m ready to move forward.

From my heart to yours,

Christine

How Strength Training Taught me to Keep Going

I’ve been at my goal weight for coming on 8 years this May. I have managed to stay within the same 15 pound range under my goal these past years by eating healthy, exercising, and laughing my way through this crazy life. That positive mindset is important when reaching any goal, and this proved to hold important truth while I was shedding the weight and then maintaining.

Last year, I stumbled through several areas of my life. I had moments where I extended the middle finger to the foods of green and to the proteins that are lean. I hopped off that exercise wagon and then burned the sucker. I also sported a piss poor attitude about it all. To that end, I gained 15 pounds and saw my exact goal weight number of 165, however; there was a big difference in the feeling of seeing that number now versus 8 years ago. When I finally reached my goal weight 8 years ago, I was filled with pride and a ridiculous amount of happiness. Now….that number fills me with fear that I will put all that weight back on…10 pounds at a time.

Guess what my friends? That’s not going to happen. I can guarantee that, because my head is back where it needs to be.

It’s not about a magic number on the scale.

You see a few weeks ago when I realized I needed help, I hired a fabulous trainer Shannon Olsen. She set up a very different program than I am used to, with the emphasis on strength training (an area I was sorely lacking knowledge in) along with the cardio I know so well.  I have kept the weight off predominately through cardio; mainly running with a bit of strength training thrown in along with a healthy diet for the most part.  While this did work for me, after 8 years of doing the same thing over and over, my body and my mind grew bored and I lost sight of my goals.

I am so excited to have a new challenge!  Unlike straight cardio, I can see progress quite quickly with this strength training program.  Where last week I couldn’t possibly do 3 sets of 12 at a specific weight, by the next week I can lift that weight. It has been a big surprise to me how fast the body strengthens and reacts to something new. Even the word “Failure” is a positive word in strength training! It means you have worked so hard, that your muscles can’t work anymore and with failure comes rebuilding. In a nutshell, that’s what I’m doing within my mindset right now.

There are pivotal moments that happen throughout life that you can look back on and remember a shift within your old patterns of thinking. I had one of those this week.  I was doing squats with weights on my shoulders. My legs were shaking under the load; I focussed on my breathing and form so I could finish the set. As I finished the reps, I set the weights down with relief. As I stared at them during my rest, I realized that I used to carry more weight on my body daily than I had just laboured to lift.

And I let that sink in. How did I use to carry around that load and think that was “normal”.

This lifestyle choice is indeed a choice, and the end goal is not about weighing a magic number.  My body needs this lifestyle; my health depends on it, only I didn’t understand that fact when I was obese.

You see, if you continue with a negative habit over time (which in my case was over-eating and remaining sedentary), your body adjusts and reacts to the behaviour. It feels “normal”, in that it’s what you’ve known for an extended period of time. When I lived with an extra 100 pounds, I forgot what it physically felt like to weigh a healthy weight. I didn’t know I was sick. I didn’t want to relate the feeling of exhaustion, laboured breathing when climbing stairs, and sleep issues to my weight gain. It just “was” and I didn’t allow my mind to take responsibility for that. It wasn’t until a doctor was completely blunt with me that I understood it and I took the blinders off. I was so quick to blame my environment at first…my life was full of excuses: I have no time to exercise. I have an office job. I don’t know how to eat healthy. I hate vegetables. No one will support me. I’m alone in this journey. etc. Excuse, excuse, excuse.

When that doctor told me that I needed to lose weight or I would have health issues (as I was already beginning to have) I was still in denial. Here I was 28 years old, staring at a prescription for medication to control my high blood pressure and all I could think about was that I didn’t have it in me to lose the amount of weight he advised. Me? The red-faced kid at the back of gym class? I can’t exercise, and I have no will-power so I can’t control my weight with just food. No, there was no way I would be one of those annoying girls running from the gym carrying a big bottle of water in her yoga pants.

I was focussed on the aesthetics & a scale number,  and not on what healthy felt like.  

I didn’t know that I was just handed the greatest gift. I didn’t know that THIS was the moment that I was going to take control of my life and find out what my body could do when I pushed it. What my body would  feel like when I fuelled it with whole natural foods and not fast food.  I learned the new meaning of what fast food should be, a piece of fruit on the go. I had no idea what it felt like to have that endorphine rush after a workout. I didn’t understand that I would feel pride like I’ve never felt before.

And ya, it was going to take some time, and a whole lot of sweat.

Never give up

But I knew if I treated my body well, my mind would follow. When you finally show yourself a ‘lil love, you learn to in fact truly love yourself and in turn you love others too.

beautiful

This was me hiding behind a smile (I remember how I felt in this photo and that smile was all kinds of fake)…

Chrissy242lbs

The truth is I don’t have many photos from that time in my life because I lived life as a wallflower. Life was safe that way. I didn’t need to have an opinion, I could live in my cloud of excuses with no bother.  I will tell you one thing, life was dreadfully boring that way. I think that’s why I make up my own fun now and laughter is such an important part of everyday, because everyday can be fun if you want it to. Instead of living in my head, I try my best to live life out-loud.

Like this guy: he makes up his own fun.

and this guy too…

You can have your own fun at home without public attention of course, crank your music and dance it out. Maybe shoulder dance in front of your computer!

What was my point? Oh yes, I do have a point… Life is a whole lot more fun when I have my health. Sometimes I need a reminder of that so I don’t take it for granted! I also need to throw out my scale and just focus on eating well and moving. I get too fixated on a magic number that may not be ideal for me as I change my program. Eat clean, move more, laugh often, indulge here and there, laugh, dance, toast a friend with a glass of red, laugh, eat clean, lift a little or a lot of weights, laugh, sleep. Repeat!

If you haven’t tried strength training, I encourage you to try it. Don’t know where to start? Hire a trainer. Yes, hiring a trainer isn’t cheap, but look at it as an investment into your future. Try going for a fitness assessment and ask the cost for creating a program tailored to you. This is knowledge you will have for the rest of your life. It’s a key to vitality!

You are stronger than you even realize.

Thank you to my life-saver Shannon, you have no idea what it meant to me to have you urging me on and getting me back on track in your motivating way. I will always remember your calming and supportive strength, and you’ve taught me so much!

So this is me the other day on my 37th birthday and that’s a real smile. I’m ready to take on this next challenge.

photo

I hope your day is ridiculously amazing!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Recipe for Success via a Chick’s Weird Mind

I went for a run yesterday.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I ran. You see I’ve been “meaning to”, but good intentions mean nothing if you don’t actually lace up the runners. It’s like telling a friend you “meant” to phone them, but you didn’t because you were pinning crafts you will never actually craft on Pinterest.

Anywhoooo, As I was running I was wondering why I haven’t hit the trails in a while, and after much thought I had a EUREKA! moment.

I’ve put off running because my mind told me I need to lose these extra 10 pounds I’ve put on.

You would think that if my head said I should lose them, that would translate into the urge to run it off.  For me, It has the opposite effect.

What it does is put pressure on me and it panics me a little. Which spirals into NOT wanting to run, making a few bad food choices, which turns into more bad food choices, which turns into beating myself up, to pass me the chocolate, which leads to a chocolate face sportin’ a pout on the couch.

Here is the key to maintaining my healthy weight

(which for me is a weight that I can maintain and still enjoy chocolate and a martini with good friends).  

The key to maintaining is that my goal is to be fit and healthy.

~the will to exercise attaches to the desire to clear my mind of stress and improve health by building endurance and muscle. For the good of my mind, it has nothing to do with burning calories so I can lose pounds. Exercise makes me feel alive. I feel like Chuck Norris after a good workout, mixed with a dash of Angela Lansbury circa Murder She Wrote.

~the desire to eat healthy foods and drink lots of water produces understanding that these foods are what fuel my energy levels. Healthy foods
+ lots of water = energy, less sick days, and the added bonus of good skin.

~Balance in life is important. Enjoy the beautiful parts of life. Positive out, positive in. Live life with gratitude and a thankful heart. And above all, always give more than you take.

When I combine these factors: Exercise + Healthy Foods + A Grateful Heart: it’s a recipe for Success!

Onto the next part of the formula…Define success?

If I were to measure success by the number on a scale, I would feel like I’m failing!  Especially when I add weight training to my exercise routine.  Muscle weighs more than fat.

It’s the way I think about things that make me feel successful.

I will give you two scenarios to explain it, because this thought process eluded me for years!

Scenario 1: I weigh myself in the morning. I am up 2 pounds from the last time I weighed. Shit balls. Time to work out. Go for a run thinking about the stupid 2 pound gain the entire run. Return home. Drink water. Think about all the foods I want to eat but can’t eat because I’m chubby-chubberson…insert more self-deprecating talk here. Eat a salad with no dressing. Get hungry. Sport my angry eyes. Air punch something. Spend the day thinking about the chocolate bar I’ve hidden in the top shelf of the pantry. Stop taunting me Reece’s peanut butter cup.  Time for supper. What can I eat with the least amount of calories? I choose more salad. Put the kids to bed and the Reese’s peanut butter cup comes alive in the pantry, screaming at me “Hey Chrissy, I’m a cup of sunshine”. Go eat it and return to the pantry to find more snacks. Nothing looks good. Walk away. Return to the pantry with lowered expectations. Eat a bag of butter flavoured mini-rice cakes. Go to bed feeling like a loser with no will power. Will do better tomorrow.

Scenario 2: Wake up and feel off. Why? Realize I have missed part of the maintaining equation. Mood and energy is down, lace up my runners. Run in the sunshine focusing on gratitude simply for the gift that I am able to run. See a goose on the trail, run large circle around it while I scream a bit as it hisses at me. Thank you goose for improving my running time. Return home feeling like a million bucks. I’m awesome. Drink water. I’m hungry and the fridge is full of  fruits, and veggies and left over chicken. Perfect foods to give me even more energy. Drink more water. Feel productive and alive. Turn up music and dance like an idiot around my house. Kids roll their eyes. Try to force a son-mom dance…it’s like dancing with a mannequin. Plan supper, going to roast some veggies with olive oil, seasoned just right with a side of fish and dash of love (I’m corny that way). Eat until I’m full, it feels good to fuel my body with the right foods.   Drink more water. Feeling successful and full of joy and pride, I pat myself on the back. Watch Modern Family on the boob tube and choke on my water as I laugh. Life is good, today was great.

See the difference?! The key to success lies within the mind. That’s great news! I have lived both sides of those scenarios, and life is just a whole lot more fun in scenario #2. I believe I have also given you a glimpse into my weird mind.

I will leave you with some iPhone photo moments, taken when I stopped to enjoy the sunsets and to smell the flowers. 🙂

And a video that my friend Clint shared with me today that brought a smile to my face.

Clint also created a facebook page with thoughts, photos, and links to bring a smile to your day: http://www.facebook.com/sideofthebed

I wish you a ridiculous amount of success finding joy through out your day!

From my heart to yours,

Christine

Meditation

I have always wanted to learn how to meditate, however my mind is always going…thinking, thinking, thinking.  The days are so busy, how am I going to etch out some time to be silent in the middle of hectic?  Take today for example (and as I write this it’s not quite 2 p.m.)

I woke up this morning to my hubby whispering good-bye in my ear. The room was still dark, must have been really early.  The night before we had joked that I never say anything back to him when he says his daily good-byes. In my morning slumber, I believe I do so this morning I make sure I repeat everything he said to me…attempting to say it at the exact same time. We laughed and I went back to sleep. I was awoken thirty minutes later to the sounds of my dog Teddy frantically barking as my son was playing with him in the living room. My daughter soon joined in, and within a few minutes there was the familiar song of sibling rivalry going on. Wiping sleep from my eyes, I dragged my weary legs to the kitchen to make breakfast for all three kids.  They know not to talk to me first thing in the morning, they know to give me at least 10 minutes before any demands are made. Robotically, I spread peanut butter and jam on their toast. I make coffee. I need coffee.

The pace turned hectic as we rushed to get out the door for school.  Homework to be found, socks to be matched, clothes and hair to be fixed.  “Mom I can only find one mitt, oh and sign this sheet, also I need 2 cups of chocolate covered raisins by tomorrow for a cooking project.” my son yells to me.  I think to myself:  “Who cooks with chocolate covered raisins and Why don’t I get my act together and have everything organized the night before?”.  One would think that would make life easier.

I opened the garage door; the chill of winter slapped us across the face as I realized that the deep freeze is still upon us. I told the kids to jump in my car. We are running late. I’m not above driving the two blocks to school just so we don’t have frozen hair and eyelashes today.  There’s a lot of school traffic on cold days. There was a lady waiting to turn left at the school, meaning she had to cross the traffic.  The same traffic that wasn’t moving only because she needed to make a left hand turn. Suburb deadlock.  “Why must you turn left and hold up traffic lady! For the love of chocolate, just turn right and circle the block” I whispered under annoyed breath.  We ran into the school, my finger tips were numb. Kisses, “I love you’s” and “you’re awesome’s” were exchanged.

I returned home to clean up from the morning rush.  I feel tired and the day has just begun. E-mails to answer, phone calls to return, laundry piled up, the house in shambles, my accounting records for 2010 lay open waiting for me to finish them.  “Stop taunting me accounting records. Why must the government need these?” I say out loud. I’m weird like that, I’m a talk-to-yourself-er. I want to go back to bed.  I look up at the clock after the morning errands, and It’s already time to pick up my daughter from Kindergarten. In fact, I have exactly one minute to get back to the school.  I can’t find my keys, why am I so absent-minded?  Rush out the door.

When I get home from picking up my daughter, I have the overwhelming urge to work out.  I don’t like to plan when I’m going to work out, the inner exerciser be-yatch eventually calls out.  I quickly put on my workout gear, lace up my runners, grab my iPhone for music, and head to my unfinished basement to my make-shift gym (complete with non-drywalled walls).  My son plays his Xbox downstairs, and there is evidence of a lounging Teenager everywhere. I clean up, muttering under my breath.

Time to run.

I find my power list on my iPod filled with music that is the perfect pace for running. Green Day, Clutch, ACDC, BEP, The Offspring, Rihanna, Muse, The Black Keys.  I take a big gulp of water and turn the treadmill on for a 5 minute warmup walk.  I’m stiff at first, and after my warm up I tell myself I will just run for 10 minutes. I always tell myself that, so I don’t complain. I up the pace to 6.3 and I focus on the same spot on the wall that I’ve stared at for years while I run.

I have no time to  stress about my responsibilities  All I can do is focus on this run, on my breathing, and on the uncomfortable feeling that is creeping into my muscles…travelling up my legs and into my lungs. I want to stop after 10 minutes, but I push that feeling out and convince myself I will run another 10 minutes. I get to 20 minutes, my legs have found their pace. I want to keep going. I want to beat my previous 5K time of under 30 minutes. Time to pick up the pace. I turn it up to 7.0 for 5 minutes (uttering a couple MF’s along the way), and back down to 6.5 for the remainder of the 5K.

The music is timed perfectly to each running step. I feel powerful, like I could do anything I set my mind to.  I feel strong, proud, and in control.  The more uncomfortable I feel, the more I say yes…I can do this. This is just the feeling of being alive.  I can’t explain the feeling that washes over me. It is not comfortable; however I realize, this feeling is PEACE.  Uncomfortable yet peaceful. Because that’s where peace lies for me…in pushing out of my comfort zone, in challenging myself, and in moving on.

While I run, I think about a friend whom I admire. She has found an amazing bright patch of happiness that she’s carved out of darkness. Does she know how amazing she is? There’s no point in keeping the good feelings within. I will tell her how amazing she is, but first I must finish this run in under 30 minutes. 🙂

When I’m done my run, I sit on my weight bench and catch my breath. I reached my daily goal. I’m smiling. I’m happy.

No stress, just strength and peace.

I’m thankful.

Life is actually a lot simpler than I think it is.

I want to continue on my day with this feeling.

Love, love, love.

Peace, peace, peace.

Maybe THIS is my form of meditation.

From my heart to yours,

Christine