Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Confessions of an Emotional Eater

One of the best ways to avoid emotional eating is to plan ahead and have other outlets for your emotions. That way you are ready and able to deal with emotions in a healthier way. One of my ways of dealing with emotions is writing on my computer, whether it is articles or blog posts or connecting with people on Twitter or Facebook or through email, I have found the computer to be a great tool in my weight loss success plan. So imagine my dismay when I am without a computer because it crashes. Then imagine, after buying a new computer, less than 2 months later the NEW one crashes--the morning I am leaving for a trip to help my 80-something mother through a surgery and multiple doctors’ visits.

Whew. I was not a happy camper.

Sure I had some other alternatives such as going for walks and talking to my family back home, but the computer and writing are such an integral part of my process that losing that outlet was a big blow for me. And I confess: I ate. A lot.

But the point isn’t really about what I could have done differently, what I could have done better; it isn’t about pointing out my flaws; it certainly isn’t about beating myself up for not being perfect.

The point is just that…I’m not perfect…and that’s okay! We don’t have to be perfect in order to be healthy. Truth is, being perfect is not only not possible for mere humans, it isn’t really healthy to strive for perfection as the goal. I know this because for many, many years that is exactly what I tried to do. And when I fell short of that goal I was really hard on myself and I either was super-critical or I just gave up on all attempts to be healthy…usually I did both! While I was labeling myself as a “perfectionist” I was really setting myself up for failure and then getting mad at myself when the inevitable happened.

My mother’s surgery went well (thanks for asking), I’m back home now, my new (and newly repaired) computer is as well, and I have brought a few extra pounds with me as a souvenir of the trip. It isn’t the end of the world…it isn’t even the end of my wardrobe, although things are a bit tighter than I’d like.

So now I can get back to dealing with my emotions in a more healthy way than by eating. But you know what? I’m not kicking myself about the eating…it definitely was a tool I used to help me through a challenge. Whether there were better tools available or not is actually beside the point. Now that I am home in an environment where I feel a bit more in control, I can go back to doing the things that I know work for me in the long run.

This trip was the perfect storm for me…allowing me the chance to eat for purely emotional reasons…and I came out of it, a bit battered but intact! I know that there will be more storms in the future and some I will weather fine and others will toss me around a bit. That is part of what life is about…it is about the long haul, not the single storm.

Ironically, by letting go of the need to be perfect I am able to accept who I am and realize that I am still a good person who deserves health…a person who can take it one step at a time, even if once in a while those steps run a little backwards! The journey to permanent weight loss is not a straight path. This experience reinforces for me that I am on the right path, that by loving myself enough to be gentle with my transgressions I will come out of it faster and healthier…and weighing less, too!

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