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Why People Regain Lost Pounds June 29, 2010

Posted by Jen in Emotional Eating, Motivation, Weight Loss.
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Many, many people go on diets and lose weight each year. And a good percentage of them gain it back. Why?

There are probably a number of contributing factors. For many people, losing weight is “fun”. It’s something to do, it’s a goal to work toward, and there is excitement every time a pound is lost. When goal weight is reached, however, some of that shiny-ness and excitement wears off. Eating more than your fair share of veggies gets boring. Your friends or family are all eating deep-fried potato skins and you want some, too. So you splurge. And then you feel bad about splurging, and you splurge again. As the pounds slowly pile back on, so does the guilt.  And what does guilt cause? Probably a trip to the Burrito Barn, with extra sour cream.

Or maybe the weight loss was easy because you were in it with a friend or community group. But once the 12 weeks or 6 months of the weight loss project is over, your dedication is over, too. You thought you made a permanent change, but now it just seems hard to keep up that schedule of exercise and brown rice-eating. You lose motivation and once again slip into old patterns.

Or maybe weight loss was a way of escape from day-to-day stresses. If you take on dieting and exercise as a project, as something to do to “fix” yourself, it’s very possible you won’t be able to maintain the weight loss. Once you’ve gotten yourself back in those skinny jeans, you may realize you still have a list of things you don’t like about yourself, and you aren’t “fixed” enough. Since you’re not good enough or deserving enough anyways, you might as well finish that cheesecake, right? Or skip your weight lifting session? It’s easy for the weight to creep back up.

I want to make it clear to you that guilt, lack of motivation, and a constant feeling of not being good enough are all problems – in your mind. It’s all in your head. I believe the number one obstacle to permanent weight loss is that miraculous brain inside our heads. You may think you gained weight in the first place because donuts and fast food are too tempting to pass up, but the real reason is because you were being led by your mind. Trust me, your body did not request sugar laden Krispy Kremes, your head did.

Why would your brain do that to you? Well, mostly because it’s trying to protect you. Food is a fantastic, relatively cheap, and legal way to get comfort. If you feel unloved, hey, a candy bar can give you some attention! If you feel angry, well, eating a bag of potato chips is sure easier than having that tough conversation with your spouse. Your mind thinks you’re in danger. It thinks you can’t possibly face that scary stuff. It wants to protect you and the best way it knows how to do that is by encouraging you to take care of yourself with food.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You are good enough. You are strong enough. You are brave enough to face your fears, your feelings, your doubts, your innermost desires. You are beautiful the way you are, strong enough to make any change you want to, and you can start anytime you want.

If every single person who ever lost weight knew their worth, learned to doubt the voices in their head that tell them they can’t do it, and started listening to their bodies, they’d keep the weight off. No one who is satisfied with their life is going to eat 13 chocolate chip cookies. Unless there’s a prize involved.

You are worth it. You can face it. You deserve to live the best life for you.

A Way Out of Binge Eating June 28, 2010

Posted by Jen in Binge Eating, Emotional Eating.
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I remember a time when the only thing that seemed to make me feel better was thinking about food.

I’d fantasize about a warm chocolate chip cookie or a piece of bread with a thick slab of butter. I’d distract myself from whatever was at end, thinking about what I could eat when I was alone.

And oh, did I feel alone. Being trapped in a binge eating cycle is one of the worst feelings there is. There’s the constant desire to stop eating to avoid your feelings, but then the pull of the food in the cabinets, telling you stories about how it will make everything better, is always just around the next bend. After the binge is over there is silence, regret, and a story about how next time you won’t do it. How you’ll start a diet and make it better. But then there’s always a next time.

Is it possible to break the cycle? Is it possible to stop using food to soothe, to avoid life? Absolutely. I’m know, I’m living proof.

I used food to ease anxiety, mostly. Anxiety over my career, my love life, my overwhelming feelings of not being good enough. I also used it when I was bored, or sometimes when I was excited. There was always an initial rush, but then a huge letdown as I got fuller and fuller, and felt more and more terrible.

But I broke free from that. Yes, it took time and effort, and sometimes I had to dig my nails into the palms of my hands to get my back to the present moment and away from the kitchen.

But it’s possible, and it is so worth it. Now I use one of the many other tools in my toolbox to deal with anxieties, boredom, loneliness. I sit quietly, meditate, go for a walk, read, stretch, or simply sit and face the feelings I would have tried to avoid in the past.

I am worth it, and so are you. Sometimes when you are trapped in a terrible binge cycle, you may feel awful, worthless and guilty. But I promise you, you are special and wonderful. You deserve to get better, you deserve to get in touch with your hopes and dreams, and you deserve to live the life you want. You are worthy, I promise.

There is a way out. There are other ways to make yourself feel better. If, right now, the only thing you can do is remind yourself that you are special and deserving, do it. If you can meditate for a few minutes, do it. If you can for a walk, or describe ten wonderful things about you, do it. If you can scream at the top of your lungs, “I am worthy and I can do this!”, do it!

There is a way out. Take it one step at a time, and you’ll find your way.