Weight loss is both easy and also so overwhelmingly hard. Easy because the science of it makes sense – you need to take in less calories and you need to burn more calories. Simple, yes. I want to speak to that as someone who started a weight loss journey with 100 pounds to lose and why just thinking about calories in vs out is not the only logic that can be applied to a weight loss and maintenance journey. I personally have had some demons to deal with in order to understand why I gained weight and the habits I need to break in order to keep it off long term. I can lose weight by being restrictive but once I lose it, I won’t ever keep it off if I don’t fight my demons.
Let me start by saying I had horrible eating habits when I was heavy. Horrible. I lived in the dorms and ate in the cafeteria my entire college career, and had a car which meant eating out as necessary but on a college student budget. If it was fried, covered in cheese or ranch dressing, Filipino food, could be served through a drive through window, or was open late, it was probably part of my diet. And then there was alcohol. And then next thing you know I’m in my senior year of college, standing on the scale on a Monday night at my newly rejoined Weight Watchers meeting with a fabulous leader who talked about her mini fridge full of chocolate for special indulgences, and I was 264.2 pounds and clueless as to how I had gotten there.
I won’t even spend time on this post discussing the usual “weight loss” things like weighing and measuring, asking for substitutions at restaurants, looking up menus before hand. I’m here to talk about the raw stuff that those of us who are in the “lots to lose” club may have had to deal with. Or at least as a big loser, I did. And still do.
Food has always and will always be one of my best friends.
I worked a lot in college to keep myself out of trouble, but also to pay for my life necessities. I would often get home on the weekend after the dining hall had closed and became pro at ordering Chinese takeout pickup, sushi or pizza and getting home from a long day at my job and put on my pajamas, park myself in my favorite chair and a snuggie and wind down. Food has always been my buddy, my companion. Food always understood what I was feeling. Food never judged. And now I still catch myself sometimes falling back into that trap. Not as badly – but I do know it’s a trigger I have to be aware of. When my husband has a long week of work and finally it’s Saturday night and I’m alone again, I can justify my night in with my frozen yogurt and my favorite movie. But again, food is my friend. And I let it be there to support me.
Food is a go-to at parties when you’re an introvert.
Despite being a performer with a degree in music, I am not an extrovert. Being around people I don’t know is hard on me. So when I go to social events and there’s a food table, you can bet you can find me there. Again, food is a friend (heyyy nice to see you again guacamole, how’s your wife salsa and the kiddos tortilla chip and brownies doing?) so it’s comfortable to be there. It also helps me avoid awkward social situations. But it means I often find myself indulging over and over again to avoid the social interactions. This was especially true when I weighed more. I wanted to lurk in the shadows and not be noticed because I was so uncomfortable. And while I’m conscious of it now and try not to put myself in that situation, it is still present and I have to be aware of it when faced with attending events with people I don’t know.
After years of negative talk (both self and others), it’s hard to feel worthy of certain things that you may really want and need.
It is all well and good to know what you need to lose weight, but it is another step entirely to actually follow through. For me, my correlation between whether or not I’m worthy took a while to translate to my food choices. Did I have any value when wanting to speak up for myself because the restaurant everyone suggested had a menu too hard to navigate? Was I worthy of not eating the treat someone brought me because I wanted to put my own goals before this person’s feelings? It takes a long time to deem yourself worthy if what you had previously heard from yourself, and maybe others, were not kind and caring messages.
I have a lot of feelings but I want to stuff them all down with (insert food here)
I didn’t become 100+ pounds overweight because I didn’t realize that a salad with chicken breast was abetter choice than a burger and fries. I became overweight because one of my fallbacks was emotional eating. It is easier to deal with your feelings when you have an it’s it in your hand to distract you, than it is to face them alone. In extreme situations, it’s almost avoidable to deal with your emotions when you just choose to eat instead. Emotional eating is so real, especially negative emotions. I would let my emotional hunger be fulfilled by food, when really that wasn’t what I needed at all. I am better about it now but not perfect.
Old habits die hard.
Like Homer Simpson with his beer and donuts, I have a strong bond with certain foods that I still have not yet broken. And it’s like I see those foods and the fact that I’m changing my diet and food mentality has completely changed. This proves to be especially true with foods that were big parts of my pre-weight loss self but are rarely integrated now. I binge on them because that’s what I used to do and haven’t broken those habits yet. I walk into my moms house and automatically go to the cupboard next to the fridge for a snack because that’s what I’ve done my whole life. I could have just eaten lunch and I would walk in and still do that. I haven’t broken my habits. Maybe I never will but if I’m mindful of them, I can be aware.
Weight loss isn’t always just about calories in and out. Sometimes we have bigger demons to fight and combat in order to lose our weight and keep it off. Don’t feel bad if you’re losing slowly but working on your mindset. That’s the key in all of this. ❤️
Cheers to healthy habits,