K is for Keeping Sane
The recent #fitblog chat reminded me that there are some other really important aspects to the whole weight-loss journey-thing. It isn’t always about food, counting calories or exercising. A big part of losing weight and keeping it off is also the emotions behind it.
The emotions involved in our weight loss can be positive, negative, they can inspire us to keep going, they can sabotage our efforts if we allow them to. Who here hasn’t let a really bad day lead to an excuse to overeat/overdrink/fall off the wagon of good health? I’m the first to admit that my moods can sometimes be detrimental to my healthy lifestyle. Over the last three years of maintaining my weight loss I’ve come to use exercise as an outlet for frustrations and negative emotions instead of turning to food like I used to. This is not to say I’m successful 100% of the time, but I do my best.
Q1) Do you think that emotions play into your healthiness journey?
Emotions affect how I EAT more than whether or not I exercise. The one thing I can guarantee in my life: I will find a way to work out and that will always make me feel a little better. Food rarely makes me feel better anymore.
It’s so hard to avoid the food trap sometimes. When life is good, Michael and I like to celebrate special occasion with a trip to a nice Portland restaurant. Maybe celebrate with some nice wine, split a dessert we’d normally not eat…And when life hands me lemons I’ve often turned to comfort food to make me feel better. Happy or sad, food is often the choice. It doesn’t have to be though.
Q2) What do you do to take care of the mental side of your health?
I am doing much better with the mental aspect of weight loss and maintaining. I try really hard not to beat myself up if I “slip.” I remind myself that it’s JUST ONE DAY. It’s NOT the end of the world. It’s NOT going to derail everything I have worked for. This works most of the time (of course I have my moments).
Going scale-free helped a lot. I was less obsessed with the number on the scale when I didn’t see it every day or every week. It was on my mind less. When I go back to the scale it also reminds me how negatively it impacts my life. I don’t need to see that number. I know if my eating has been out of control, or if I’ve gained because of how my clothes fit. My strength and fitness are more important than that stupid number. And it’s better for my mental health if I don’t weigh myself often.
Q3) Do you feel healthier emotionally when you work out?
YES! As a reformed-couch potato that was morbidly obese and used food to soothe every emotion, I’ve grown to love exercise. Exercise was a healthier outlet for me and it worked. It got the emotions out that I was feeling and didn’t want to face.
Stress tends to build up in my body and do nasty things to me like cause colds, illness, twitchy eye-ball, insomnia…the list goes on. The biggest stress-reliever for me is swimming. Swimming never causes me stress or injury or anxiety, the water is relaxing and I can zone out. Perfect.
Also, when I was commuting to work by bike this summer, I noticed that whatever work stress I had that day disappeared on my bike ride home. It helped a lot.
Q4) Besides exercise what do you to to keep mentally “fit”?
This is where I struggle. Sometimes I wonder if I have substituted exercise for food as something to soothe/numb/fix my emotions. I also struggle with the fact that the medications I took for so long kind of stunted my emotional growth. My emotions are often right under the surface, ready and raw.
I don’t think there’s any shame in therapy; in fact I think everyone in the world should be in therapy to learn new tools for emotional/spiritual growth. Learning ways to deal with stress, how to communicate raw emotions more effectively can only make us better people. Therapy helps me vent the emotions that exercise can’t exorcise and I’ve learned some good coping mechanisms that are not food!
QUESTION: So how would you answer these questions?
A-Abstinence * B-Balance * C-Calories * D-Vitamin D * E-Emergency * F-Fast Food and Fine Dining * G-Gym Bag * H-Happy Weight * I-Intervals * J-Jumping *