Friday, August 17, 2018

Health, Fitness & Diet ~ Being an Emotional Eater

I have always been one to be a bit of an emotional eater.  Usually it comes and goes throughout the years, but I can usually curb it and reset.

About 8 years ago though, that is when it would come in to play more often and stick around longer and longer, and was getting harder to curb it.  Then, about 3 years ago, it came and didn't go away and I added in excessive spending. 

8 years ago, specialty coffees were what I was drawn to.  After the loss of our daughter at 17 weeks, miscarriage, I was still a classroom teacher.  I would find myself by nap time running out the door as fast as I could.  I would head to a Dunn Brothers nearby, get a coffee and sit there.  Needing to convince myself to go back and finish the work day.  It was my way of dealing with the grief I was facing.  With time, things began to balance out again and I spent less time running away and dealing with emotions, as wells as spending less time getting coffee.

3 years ago, I was adjusting to a big change...well, several.  We moved, we were getting ready for my youngest son's arrival, then there was the transition time with a newborn and 2 1/2 year old, then learning new rhythms and routines as they change so quickly as the kids grow.  I didn't handle it well, not in the very least (at least from my perspective).  I was dealing with post partum depression and anxiety, never feeling quite like I was enough, making too many mistakes, and an inner negative voice, as well as lack of sleep that goes with having kids.

I would find any excuse to swing through the drive thru and get a frappe just to get out of the house.  Then, one little issue of something not going right I would find a way to make a stop while we were out.  As time went by, it became more frequent, to the point where it was just habit.  Then, just in this year, it amped up to a frappe or diet coke in the morning, then one in the afternoon.

I tried on and off to stop, flat out or use only for special occasions.  But just like that container of fresh baked cookies on the counter, it made me want both more.  Add in cookies galore, or mm or any other sweet treat by the handful as a quick fix instead dealing any emotional issue at hand, mine or the kids or behavior issues

So much so, it became a crutch.  One I knew was and would always be there, could rely on to help me get through until the next downtime or quiet time. 

It reminds me of my oldest in swim lessons needing to complete one more skill on his own to be able to move up, but he wouldn't go for it.  Why?  Because he had become so comfortable with his teacher and no matter how much encouragement she gave him to go for it, he knew that she would always be there and he didn't have to put in as much effort to attempt the skill.  So, as a little extra push, they suggested we move him up to the next level anyways, to change up teachers to one he has swam with on occasion throughout the last year but not been his consistent teacher.

Sometimes we need something, big or little, to push us to our potential, to push us past our fear, to make us face what is truly in front of us.

When it comes down to it.  I didn't want to deal my own emotions or had forgotten how.  And I was way to connected to my kids' emotions on top of it all.  Add in the fact that I, for whatever reason, would carry the emotions of those around me, well, I was a bit of a mess. 

So I turned to food.  Instead of dealing with the emotion, the behavior at hand, I just pushed down in and ate something or spent money.

Not the best way to move through the day, but at the time, it work or at least seemed to.

Move forward until early this year and I began to finally accept that some things needed to change, and that change, it had to be with me.  I found my way, through finding me, and learning tools to face the emotions.

I am still a work in progress and still make mistakes, but I am getting further along in not falling into the emotional cycle of using food as a fix.  If you have read my prior posts, you know that back in June I got a kick in the pants I needed to push me out of my comfort zone and break my habit of diet coke and frappes every day.  I had gained a bunch of weight and my blood pressure was raised.  It was enough to challenge myself to stop frappes and diet coke that day.

That wake up call was a catalyst that I needed to move forward, to learn to actually learn to deal with my emotions in a health way, to disconnect the emotions of those around me from me (because you know what? You are not their emotions).  Why?  Because on the day of my doctor appointment that I found out the health data, I gave up pop and frappes.  I challenged myself to go until I had my recheck appointment 3 weeks later.  When I found out things had gone back to normal and my weight was going down (keep in mind a bigger reason for that happening was because I went off birth control), and I saw how close I was to being 30 days without either, I knew I could make that push for the last week.

Now here I was, a few days into it, still thinking that I could do this, easily.  While the first week was relatively easy, the next week wasn't.  I still needed to face my own emotions.  As I began to face mine, I began to be able to disconnect from other's emotions.  I was able to find a grounding that I could come back to.  I kept it simple.  I focused my breathing in those tough moments.  Then as I let myself feel the emotion, I began to wonder why I thought I needed that frappe or diet coke.  If I was at home, I would write it out and let it go.  If we were out and about, I had a necklace that has a special meaning that I would hold in my hand or rub my fingers on to help release the emotion.

As each week passed by, I found myself less and less interested in those sugary things and didn't need them as a crutch anymore.  I find myself indulging less or going over the top in excess less.  Sure, I have a sweet treat every now and then, but not as a fix for my emotions.  For that, I still continue to breathe through it, feel it, let it go.  If it lingers I take a moment to go back and think on it to see why it's still there.  Not sure if it's related or not, but I don't find myself having those emotional swings as often and they don't seem as bad, but I do know they don't last as long.

I have begun to learn how to face my emotions, to deal with them in healthy ways.  Is it always easy?  No.  Do I misstep?  You bet.  But I am starting where I am, stepping forward, and figuring it out.  As I figure out how to better deal with my own emotions, I can help my kiddos face theirs and help them work through them better. 

How about you, do you have a crutch you use to deal with emotions?  Have you learned how to face them and deal with them in a healthy way? 

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