The best way I can define the feeling eating gave to me is to link it to the way exercise now makes me feel. It is a release. I used to feel empowered when I ate. Now I feel a burst of energy when I exercise. And I know I am dealing with daily stress in a much healthier way.
When you're happy, you eat. When you're sad, you eat. When you're stressed, you eat. The list goes on and on for those of us who are emotional eaters. Whenever something would happen, good or bad, I would grab some kind of food. At work, if I was having a bad day, I would go in search of chocolate. I rarely kept it in my office but someone always had some. Momentarily, it made me feel better. But it usually led to my eating more than just one piece.
As I've said before I live alone. It's so easy to lie to myself about what I'm eating when there's no one watching. I had a couple of co-workers ask me this week (after they saw my Christmas card), what did you used to eat? I answered with, pretty much anything I didn't need to. Every week, I bought a few bags of candy at the store and I can almost guarantee that by the end of the week they would all be gone. Of course I would lie to myself and say, I only had a couple of pieces. I wish! Then there was the graeter's ice cream, cookies, donuts, etc. You name it, I ate it. And I bought it at the grocery store. Eating made me feel less alone. And less bored. As my clothes got tighter, it got harder to walk up the stairs, I got sick more often, etc., I got more depressed. I just didn't know what to do so I kept eating. It got to a point where I stopped getting on the scale. I would squeeze into clothes and pretend that I was okay with the way I looked. And felt.
Last year at Christmas was probably the saddest and most down I've ever felt. I remember it was Christmas night, everyone else had left my parents house and I was getting ready to leave. And I started crying. I tried to hide it from my mom but she knows me too well. She asked me what was wrong and I said I'm not sure but I'll be fine. I was taking their dog with me for a few days as they were heading out of town with my sister and her family. Deep down, I was jealous. And that whole feeling of not mattering to anyone was at the surface. I tried to push it down again but it was getting to a point where there wasn't anywhere left to hide it.
I remember spending most of my Christmas break by myself, hanging out with the dog. And eating. I lived for the moments I spent with my niece, nephew, brother and sister-in-law. My nephew even spent the night with me for the first time and it was the highlight of my break. My sister and everyone else got home on New Year's Eve and she called to see if I wanted to come hang out. I knew my mom had told her about Christmas and I told her not to feel guilty. That was my mindset a year ago. I never thought anyone would want to do anything nice for me or just because. I ended up going to her house and hanging out for the night. It was the other highlight of my break.
As I went back to work, I just couldn't get past how down I felt. I wasn't feeling very good but it was like I was looking to be sick so I could just go home. By Friday, I ended up leaving work early. I really wasn't feeling good but it was an easy excuse to lock myself up in my house and sleep. And eat.
We all express our emotions in our own ways. I used to express mine by stuffing my face with food. The funny thing is, I don't really remember when that changed. Although I will say that having someone hold me accountable for what I put in my mouth has been a key to this journey for me. Also the fact that she is my friend and will give me alternatives to try or tell me funny anecdotes (such as, "Pizza looks like an old man's face with zits" or "donuts look like oversized ears"). Yes, these are actual messages we've sent back and forth. And they make me laugh on a regular basis.
Sometimes, I wish I could have figured all of this out sooner. But, I really believe it took me this long for several reasons. Some of which I probably don't even know yet. I'm still learning and growing. And I hope to continue to do so every day.
My friend Kim took a picture of me last night and I think it just shows what happiness looks like on me - Personally, I think it looks great! :)
Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood - Helen Keller