I do NOT deal well with stress. I am a stress-eater.
Usually my stress-eating manifests after a particularly contentious bedtime with my five-year-old. I set myself a new goal to avoid eating after 7pm, rather than 8pm, since I had a tendency of rapid-fire binge-eating if Connor’s bedtime didn’t go well, in order to get my emotional eating done before my 8pm food cutoff.
My job, thankfully, is not generally a stressor for me. One fateful day, though, a co-worker came to my desk right before lunch and engaged me in a work-related debate in which he started with false assumptions. It lasted entirely too long, it stressed me out, multiple co-workers attempted to come to my rescue, and at the end of it, I ate my lunch from home plus a serving of lasagna from the cafe downstairs. Plus a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup I brought in from Connor’s Halloween stash.
(I had planned to go on a camera walk over my lunch break that day, but after that, I really wasn’t feeling it. Instead, I just got outside and walked to a local coffee shop in the 71°F weather. In November. In Ohio. And then I impulse-bought an eclair along with my skinny latte.)
On the topic of impulse-buying food, I failed to plan out my meals for the first week of November, and found myself buying all sorts of unhealthy things for lunch (and making less healthy choices for dinner.. Dinner on Tuesday the 1st included Kraft Dinner, lunch on Wednesday was supplemented by a piece of lasagna I bought from the cafe on the 6th floor (plus that latte-and-eclair snack I already mentioned), Thursday’s lunch was a chicken salad sandwich with a side of macaroni and cheese, and lunch on Friday was a piece of pizza and a piece of cheesecake. There finally came a point when I stopped tracking that week because why bother?
I tracked sporadically through the rest of the month — days of focus and planning interspersed with days of fuck all. As my weight crept up by first two pounds, then two more… I really stopped giving a shit entirely. One shitty day snowballed into a shitty week which charged head-on into a shitty month — all on the heels of my most successful weight loss month this year.
While I’m tempted to smack my own hands and berate myself, the correct response is actually to LEARN from this. Especially when my hormones are in flux, I need structure in my meal planning. As good as all those carbs might sound, they’re absolutely not what my body truly needs. I know that overdoing the carbohydrates leads to binge eating for me — I’ve already learned that. It’s a known thing. The next step is to get my higher brain to override my lizard brain and actually make healthy meals happen.
I actually did manage to turn things around at Thanksgiving. Sure, we ate too much at the Thanksgiving Day buffet, and Mom brought two and a half pies for three adults and one child, but the rest of the weekend was pretty tame on the eating front. It helped that Aaron was on vacation during Thanksgiving week, so I was less likely to binge-eat after Connor went to bed. I won’t binge when I’m being watched — hence why photo-journaling my meals works so well for me. (Maybe I should start that back up…)
According to my Weight Watchers weight records, I’ve stayed within an eight-pound range this year; per my own daily records, it’s actually a ten-pound range. I’m clearly not going to reach my Ultimate (I think) Weight Goal in 2016, but that’s no reason to bug out entirely and top out at a new max weight for the year. If I can get and keep my weight trending downward on the long term, that will be a win. My stretch goal is to get back down to the bottom of this year’s weight range (that’s six pounds above Goal) by December 31st.
There is no “after.” It’s all a journey. Once I reach my Goal, I might decide it’s not my Goal after all, like I did once before. There’s no reason for me to feel like I’m not progressing fast enough, though, because slow weight loss is statistically more likely to stay off.
I tell myself this, yet I still feel like I should have been done with the active weight loss phase by now.