The Challenge is Always There

The struggle with food never really ends. Even after losing a tremendous amount of weight and keeping it off for three years, there are still moments when the challenge presents itself again. I’m fortunate in that it doesn’t happen often and I usually get a handle on it pretty quickly so that it isn’t an issue. I feel like I’ve changed a lot in the last few years and my relationship with food is much healthier.

Everyone has a normal amount of stress and anxiety in their lives. Maybe they suffer from depression from time to time or maybe the stressful cycles are seasonal. I definitely suffer from stress and anxiety but having a healthy exercise routine keeps that at bay. And when things “get tough” occasionally, there’s nothing like a really good sweat session to get it all out. I don’t turn to food as much to put a salve on those feelings. The exercise gives me a boost of endorphins and happy feelings, and it releases whatever stress and anxiety was clogging my brain up.

Unfortunately, when something out of the “norm” in terms of stress pops up, it’s easy to get derailed. Recently I had one of those “derailing” moments. Michael went to Costco and I’d already eaten a very satisfying dinner. I didn’t even WANT to eat candy but I did. Michael recently bought a 6 pound bag of Gummy Bears at Costco. I don’t even LIKE Gummy Bears but those suckers are in the house taunting me. Same with a freakin’ Costco bag of M&M’s (which I do like).

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I stood at the kitchen counter and instead of measuring out serving sizes, I stuck my hand in the bag and poured the M&M’s into my mouth. I probably ate 2 servings. Did I track them? Nope. Did I measure? Nope. That was as close as I’ve gotten to my old days of “bingeing” and it wasn’t pretty. Did I enjoy the M&M’s? Not at all. Did I feel bad after I ate them? Yes.

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And I did go swimming. And I avoided the candy at work, only ate one serving of those stupid Gummy Bears and tried not to beat myself up about the misstep.

I realized that too much of my life has been obligations lately. This is not to say that I haven’t had fun. I’ve loved snowshoeing with Michael, celebrating the holidays and of course the recent buzz my little story received. I still love working out, despite the fact that this time of year it’s more annoying trying to get a machine in the gym. But once in awhile exercising feels like a chore or obligation. When the fun has been taken out of it, it’s time to think of something different to do. Exercise can’t ALWAYS be the solution.

It’s important to find a balance in life and when the scales are not balanced it starts to show the effects. Stress eating, exhaustion, sickness, depression, lots of things can happen as a result of not taking care of ourselves. My counselor gave me a list of “Adult Pleasant Event List” and suggested I try doing some of these things to find a balance in my life. I’m going to skip #115 “Eating gooey, fattening foods” and try to incorporate some of the other things into my life. For example:

  • Take a class (I’m already signed up for a manual photography class next month and I’m thinking of taking this class)
  • Walks in the woods (perfect for practicing with my new camera)
  • Playing with animals (Fat Kitty needs lots of play time if he’s going to lose some weight)
  • Going to Museums (I bought a Groupon for one so I will be doing it soon!)
  • Sitting in a sidewalk cafe
  • Discussing books (I’m thinking about starting a book club)
  • Going to the beach (I only live 90 minutes from the Oregon Coast, day trips are fun)
  • Practicing yoga (desperately needed)

I like my list. I like planning things. I like making lists even better. Maybe this will give me some focus so that food is not where I turn when times get tough.

Not only that, I think it’s time to ask Michael to hide HIS treats away from where I will find them. My food issues do not mean he can’t have the treats he likes, but my hope is that he can enjoy them without involving me. 🙂

I wanted to share what was going on in my life with my readers. Yes I have a good relationship with food and exercise but I am not perfect and I still struggle sometimes.

QUESTION: How do you find a balance in your life? 

20 Responses

  1. Man, flipping gummy bears. My wife got a 3 lb bag from her secret Santa at work this December. We’ve finally finished them all, but it’s impossible to not dip your hand in at least once a day!

    No more huge ass bags of gummy bears (or any other candy) in this house! I mean damn…

    Excellent post. Whether you’ve gained and lost or are just trying to maintain, EVERYONE has to deal with food issues every day. No exceptions.

    Congrats on the news piece! Pretty cool stuff.
    Dan @ Essentials of Nutrition recently posted..A Sandwich for a Sith Lord

  2. Once again, a timely post. I am on Weight Watchers now and I really like it so far. I track everything I’m going to eat for the entire day first thing in the morning, and make any adjustments I need to throughout the day.

    I had my dinner planned last night, staying within my points for the day. My sister came by and gave me bad news about a relative with cancer and it totally derailed me, I had more for dinner then I planned and kept eating bread even though I didn’t originally intend to. Totally put me over in points for the day, and up until then I had been doing great. Stress definitely makes it harder to stick to a plan.

    What’s interesting to me is that I never considered myself a stress eater until last night, I had never made the connection. Now that I’m aware, hopefully I can deal with it in other ways from now on.

    1. Thanks, Candace. I am sorry to hear about your bad news. Bad news has the tendency to shake us. We can be super strong until that moment. I’m glad you’ve made the connection with stress and eating. Once I made that connection it was easier to control it (i.e try not to have those treats in the house to tempt me when I get stressed etc).

  3. What a great list Lisa-Eirene! I love the long walk in teh woods one and of course the Yoga one.
    I joined Overeaters Anonomous a month ago and along with my diet exercise and yoga practice find it’s a great balance.
    Like you said I’m not perfect and I struggle sometimes too! It’s great to know we aren’t alone!
    Samantha recently posted..Wear- A Doggie’s Wardrobe

    1. I think it’s great that you found a support group to help! I always wanted to join something like that when I was struggling with my weight but didn’t know where to look at the time.

  4. Okay this might seem ridiculous but could you divide the bag of Gummy Bears into individual servings in their own plastic bag? Then when you have the craving, you only grab one serving? I’ve done this before with cereal, chips, and even candy. It’s more difficult to overeat when your bag has only 1 serving.

    As for the balance, I think the best option is to forgive yourself and let it go. We all overeat at some point, it’s life. And balance is being okay with the occasional overindulging days and not beating yourself up! Good luck 🙂 It’s always hard but then again, so is constantly berating yourself.

    1. Not ridiculous, Sarah. And sadly, I feel really stupid for not thinking of doing the serving sizes in little baggies! I used to do that with everything else–cereal, crackers, snacks, etc. So I wouldn’t overeat. It worked great. How did I not think of that?!

      Thanks for the insight. 🙂

  5. I got over Gummy Bears a few years ago. I ate an entire pound of the sugar-free ones. You know, the ones that have a warning on the package not to eat too many? Yep, those. There is a very good reason for the warning!
    I’m a stress eater also and can’t control myself around large quantities of food, including bags of favorite chips, almond M&M’s and buffets. I can’t be trusted, so I just can’t have them in the house, although my husband and kids could eat those things in reasonable amounts.
    It’s great that you can normally resist and that you accept responsibility for hearing Michael’s snacks speaking to you in your time of stress and aren’t angry at Michael.

    1. I haven’t seen that warning, but I believe it!

      It’s not Michael’s fault that I stress eat. I may have been irritated that he got the Costco sizes but I’m not going to keep him from eating what he wants. I just need it to NOT be where I can see it!

  6. I hate gummies! LOL. That is one food that I would not eat if it was in the house, no matter what. M&Ms are another story. Those have to be hidden from me because I can binge on them like nobody’s business.

    Balance is hard. I have been doing some stress eating, particularly yesterday. Snacking on cereal and nuts. Exercise doesn’t always work for me with stress either. I will work out, and then still snack. I hate to say it, but sometimes I do feel better after I eat something.
    Lori recently posted..Wheat Belly Review

    1. Thanks Lori. 🙂 It’s nice to know that other people struggle too. Especially you–someone I look up to because you’ve also lost a lot of weight and kept it off. The food that you post is so sensible and looks measured out. I am always impressed by your portion control!

    1. So true Tina! I think a lot of people think I have conquered ALL my demons. While I do have a pretty good handle on them most of the time, there are still mistakes and bad days.

  7. Oh yeah. I have my daughter keep her Halloween candy in the garage, in a reusable bag tucked away. She can pack a piece or two in her lunch when and if she chooses. I can’t eat the stuff any more. Too many excuses. Too many ” this is just a 100 calorie pack” or I’ll buy this and bag it up and only eat one serving ( Skinny cows , jelly beans ,etc). No dice for me. Sad, but easier because I just choose not to eat it, so there’s no struggle. and no more eating off the rails.

    As far as balance, I wear a bracelet most days, not the same one ,but an inexpensive one. It reminds me to have a work life balance but also to eat foods that keep me balanced. If I do have over eating feelings can ask myself okay what do I REALLY need. Usually sleep, to vent , to drink water, to take a break, etc.

    I can do photography on a short hike at lunch. On the weekends- tide pools. I can totally immerse myself in those activties. And, I found a website I can add to their database and see what other plant and animal life is around me. So cool. Here’s a link to my collection

    Good luck with your activities. I can’t wait to see your photography on your blog. Post an index card on the bag of gummies and M&m’s that says “the answer is not in here”. Good luck and I think it’s totally normal to overeat from time to time. The Trick is to catch it quick. Sounds like you did.
    Karen P recently posted..Excercise & Fitness challege- week 1, Jan 2012

    1. Karen, thanks for your comment. I agree that the struggle isn’t really there if the options to eat the crap aren’t that. When I was losing the weight I tried not keep anything like that in the house. It worked. I didn’t crave it if I didn’t eat it and I didn’t want it if I didn’t see it.

      Thank you for the links! I will check them out. I am new to photography with a manual camera and it has been fun experimenting so far.

      And I love your index card idea!

  8. Your first sentence sums it up. It is sad, but true (for me too, at least) that the struggle never ends. It is better than before- but always present. TOM plays a big role in my struggles. Boredom too. The good news for me is that it is easier now than ever before for me to stay on course. I am also more forgiving of myself and the negative self talk does not happen nearly as much. All steps in the right direction!!!
    I know this does not make you feel better- but it is nice to see that you have struggles too. It makes me able to relate so much more to you. It also gives me belief that I can be as successful as you, despite the struggles. The struggles don’t mean we are going to revert back to old ways. They are challenges that we have to overcome.
    Jill recently posted..It Was NOT the Last Time!

    1. Thanks Jill! I get why it makes you feel better that I struggle. I don’t want my readers to think I’m perfect by ANY means. I definitely still struggle. Sometimes I just don’t share it. It’s good to share. It gives accountability.

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