I have had many conversations with a fellow bariatric friend of mine about the subject of learning what my eating triggers are and how to deal with them.
“You’ve done the easy part,” she tells me, as if any part of this weight loss journey has been easy. “Now it’s time to work on why you overeat.”
She tells me all the time that I need to learn what my eating triggers are and learn to deal with them differently than I have in the past. This is especially important now that I can eat a little more. She’s ten years post-op, and she said she is still learning herself. (She looks great, btw. She’s lost 135 pounds and has kept them off for ten years, so she’s doing something right!)
So, here are some of the things that I know cause me to overeat, eat without thinking, binge-eat, or whatever you call it:
- Stress – My job, although wonderful, is very stressful sometimes. I find myself snacking more during the day.
- Well meaning (or otherwise) rude weight loss comments from others – Why do I care what they think, right? But sometimes I do. I’ve worked so hard to get where I am, and I hate that other people think they have a right to judge or tell me what they think I’m doing wrong. That’s the one thing I’ve always hated about “dieting”. Other people’s comments. Weight loss is at once private and public. I could write about this one all day, but I won’t here. Maybe in another post.
- Plateaus – Everyone hits them. Mine has lasted almost 5 months. The science of dieting seems simple enough. Eat less, burn off more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. Right? Wrong. That’s true and not true. Yes, you do lose weight if you eat less, but your body is not a machine. It is complex. It has to readjust to the new lower weight. You have to keep the diet change up for the weight loss to begin again. You have to increase your activity. You cannot stop. You have to have faith that it will all work out. I think that’s the hardest part for me.
- Negative thinking – We all do it. It doesn’t help that sometimes those negative thoughts are reinforced by the thoughtless masses who feel free to comment on your diet, body changes, etc. Mass media does not help either. Constantly seeing images of fat stomachs walking down the street while the news media bemoans the obesity epidemic in this country. Reading magazines with unrealistically skinny super models on the cover and adorning every page. It is easy to feel bad about yourself when you are constantly bombarded by these images letting you know how wrong you are.
- Change – Change is stressful for as it is for anyone. I have changed my life a lot in the past two years. I lost 127 pounds. I changed jobs. Now I am moving into a bigger apartment. All of this change has been for the good, but I am still overwhelmed sometimes.
So, how do I deal with all of this without overeating. The truth is, sometimes I don’t. I have definitely fallen victim to an eating binge even since the surgery. Admittedly, more often than not, I am able to fend off a binge by doing something constructive, eating a healthy meal, taking a walk, writing. But more than once, I have caved. I try not to beat myself up about it, because that just makes matters worse. Everyone makes mistakes. Still, I recognize that I need to learn to deal with this issue.
Learning to constructively deal with my eating triggers may take a lifetime, but I am determined. As difficult as it is, I have to do it. I do not want to ever go back to the life I had before.
There are some good things to be said for all of this. Despite a few episodes of binge eating the following remains true:
- I am still committed to losing the last 46 pounds that I want to lose.
- I am still committed to never gaining the weight back. And on that note…
- I have not gained any weight. Not one ounce.
- Despite my prolonged plateau, I came down one size in pants from a 14 to a 12.
- I can sometimes wear a Large instead of a 1x.
- That means I can shop in the normal women’s department and not the plus sizes anymore.
- I have purged my wardrobe of almost all of my plus-sized clothes.
- I still eat much healthier than I did before the surgery. (5 fruits and veggies per day, 70 grams of protein, keeping starches at a bare minimum!)
- I can walk without struggle.
- I can breathe.
- I really feel as if I can be a full participant in my own life again.
- I have great people in my life. I really am very lucky. I have great friends and great family, all of whom have been extremely supportive of everything I have done.
So, the struggle continues, but I have no intention of giving up. I stay focused on all the good things I have accomplished. Even though it is hard sometimes, I have faith that I will get to where I want to be in the end.