I think I have to preface this: I totally believe in a lot of things people think are completely bizarre. I’m just giving you an FYI, so that if you think I’m nuts, you won’t bother trying to tell me so. I think a lot of things are true that are outside the mainstream, but I’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of research, and I’m comfortable with my conclusions. So there you go.
I’ve gained a lot of weight. Well, not a WHOLE lot – after I was sick, I only weighed about 155, and now I’m back up to 173. Before I was sick, I was about 169, so overall that’s only a 4 pound weight gain, right? ::::sigh:::: Except that I kept the rest of it off until Christmas last year. And then I maintained at 161/162 until April, when my grandma died. And then it just all went to hell in a handbasket. So even from my “maintain,” I’ve gained more than 10 pounds. Geez.
I’ve tried various diets, but since I eat emotionally, they don’t always (::::cough, cough:::: EVER) work. So I’ve just been trying to pay attention to they way I feel when I eat, when I’m hungry, when I’m bored, etc., etc., etc. When I was sick, I got the chance to work on a lot of emotional issues that related to the illness – that was part of the reason I was able to keep the weight off for so long: I was literally getting rid of old entrenched thought patterns. But I must not have gotten rid of them as thoroughly as I thought. ::::rolls eyes:::: I don’t know why I can’t spend 3 weeks unlearning everything that’s been festering in my brain for the last 30 years – that just doesn’t seem fair. Ha!
In the 12-step world, they use the acronym HALT for anytime you want to drink, use, eat, have sex (whatever your addiction happens to be). It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. You’re supposed to ask yourself if you are any of those things when you feel like “slipping.” “Tired” always fit me, but “Angry” and “Lonely” never really did. And it makes sense to eat when you’re tired: not from a nutritional standpoint, but from the standpoint of a body that has to run on SOMETHING, and it’ll take a blood-sugar spike as a substitute for sleep if it has to.
But recently I found a different list. The principle was the same, but it was phrased a little differently, and geared toward food specifically. Here’s the list to the best of my recollection (because of course I can’t remember where I found it now).
Are you hungry? If not:
What are you stuffing?
What are you burying?
What are you not saying?
What are you trying to keep from saying? [That’s different from “not saying,” btw.]
What are you trying to keep from feeling?
What are you hiding from?
Wherever I found it, the woman (why is it always women who go through this horseshit? – Don’t answer. I already know) was talking about how she wasn’t really changing her eating habits consciously. She was just running down that list every time she ate something and wasn’t hungry. She had a really funny bit about downing a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while thinking about what she was burying. But just the fact of thinking about it caused her to slowly decrease how much she was eating for stress relief. She found that by thinking about the issue itself, EVEN IF SHE BINGED WHILE SHE DID IT, she felt less of a need for the food. It was really interesting.
Since I’m an emotional eater, I figured I’d give it a shot. It seems to be working; I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I feel vaguely unsettled and I want to do/eat things I haven’t wanted since I was a kid. My emotional issues are all centered around childhood and the fear of being an adult and taking care of myself (even though I’ve BEEN an adult for a while, LOL), so it makes a weird sort of sense that I’d want to do little kid things. I’ve been craving hot chocolate and last night I watched Disney’s Cinderella for the first time in more than 10 years. And I’m tired all the time: that’s another sign for me that things are stirring in my unconscious, because I also hide from things by sleeping.
The thing I keep coming back to, when I’m standing there with a cookie, telling myself sternly, “you can only eat this if you figure out WHY you want it, and ‘because it tastes good’ is NOT a reason,” is that I want to be taken care of. I want someone to feed me milk and cookies and tuck me in and check under my bed for monsters before the light goes out. ::::sigh:::: The funny thing is, I don’t really want the kind of life that would entail. I could theoretically put myself in a SAHM situation. But I don’t want that, either. I wouldn’t want my mother’s life – especially the part about staying home with the kids! I like working, I like my independence, I like all that stuff.
But those two desires cannot exist in the same mind without making you a little nuts: I want my independence, but I want someone to take care of me. Nope, can’t have both. One of them has to die. But I’ve been ignoring my own paradox, and literally stuffing the voice that says, “This thought pattern isn’t possible.” I’ve been eating myself into a stupor so that I don’t have to face the fact that it’s time to let some old fears go. (And in the past, when I’ve dieted, I’ve just used alcohol instead of food to get to the same stupor.) It’s time to let go of the fear that I can’t support myself. It’s time to let go of the fear that I can’t take care of myself emotionally.
Actually, writing all this out helps tremendously. I’m thinking that instead of asking myself that list of questions every time I reach for a cookie or a piece of pizza or a glass of wine, I’m just going to say, “I can take care of myself.” And then, if I still want whatever it is, I’ll still have to run through the list to figure out exactly WHY. Something tells me that this will be a long process – and I’m an instant-gratification girl, so that’s why I usually don’t make it through long-process solutions – but I have to remember that I’ve got 30 years of thought-patterns to overcome. Those fears have already worn deep grooves in my brain, and before I can even change them, I have to haul them up out of those grooves. I didn’t get here overnight, and I won’t get out overnight – but with some self-awareness, it doesn’t have to take 30 more years, either.