Food, Feelings and… Eleanor Roosevelt?

Originally posted Aug 2008 at Sparkpeople.com

I had a sort of crummy day yesterday. I don’t want to give details, but trust me when I say I had a total meltdown. David allowed me to order a (small) pizza (BLT of course!). I went back for a 4th slice David let me get to the box and then asked…

“Are you still eating because you’re hungry? Or because you are upset?”

“I’m eating cause I’m sad!” I wailed back at him. He opened his arms up to me and I very literally collapsed in them as I sobbed. He held me and kissed my wet face and told me it would be ok. After crying for about an hour, I pulled myself together. I went back to David and thanked him for stopping me. He said he just felt like he had to say something since I had asked him to help me stay on track.

I’m not sure he realizes just HOW much he helped. I mean, I made it to today. The world didn’t end, my heart is intact, though scarred, and I learned I don’t need to eat to feel better.

So, as I finish breakfast this morning (a protein shake, a banana, and 2 ounces of lean turkey) let me tell you this: “If hunger is not the problem, food is not the solution.” I don’t know who first said it (I saw it posted on the Weight Watchers forum.), but it is very true. You can’t expect food to make you feel better. It doesn’t work.

That leads me to the next thing- Feel your feelings, don’t feed them.” It’s ok to feel sad, disappointed, worried… But if you try to suppress them, well, we all know the effects of stress on our body! Eating to avoid dealing with an issue is not the way to go. When I feel some sort of negative emotion, I feel drained, empty inside. I eat to feel full- even if I am already physically full. There are healthier ways to be fulfilled and satisfied- working out, taking a walk, stretching, playing with your pets, volunteering, singing, reading a good book…

That leads me to the next thing- “It’s food, not love.” Yesterday, I wanted to eat because I was disappointed, worried, confused and sad. What I really needed was to David say “No matter what happens, I’ll be here and I’ll still love you.” I know that’s true, and he demonstrates it in lots of different ways (for instance, he makes me a healthy breakfast every morning, and he makes the bed when he gets up in the afternoon), but yesterday I need to see his lips move and hear it with my ears. If you need something, don’t be afraid to ask for it. I am shameless when it comes to fishing for compliments from my husband. But you know what- I always feel confident/beautiful when he responds. If you need a hug- give one. Identify the need and fill it- don’t fill your stomach!

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I put a nice little crack in my chain of bondage to food last night. Today I am a little bit stronger, a little bit more courageous and a lot more confident. I lived through a rough patch and I can take the next bad thing that comes. You can do it too. You can live through the negatives in life. You can break the hold that food has on you.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a wise woman. She also said “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built” I think she means that if we face challenges head on, without backing down then we grow a little stronger each time.

Let me close with a couple more encouraging quotes.

“Sometimes you have to fight the battle more than once to win.”

“You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.”

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” (Robert Collier)

(I originally  wrote this in 2008 shortly after finding out I had a tumor and the possibility that I might not able to carry our genetic children. Obviously, we have THREE beautiful daughters that are very much ours. God can work miracles in anything.)

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Sabotage, His Eviler Twin, and Their Distant Cousin

I wrote this for my Spark People page way back in like 2008.

Sabotage, His Eviler Twin, and Their Distant Cousin
(And How They’ve Been Banished From the Life of Tara)

“Sleep well tonight. I love you.” David bent down to kiss me.

“I love you too. Have a good night. Don’t forget your lunch!” I looked up from the computer.

As he walked out of the room, I held my breath for the sound of the door closing. Slam! There it was. I heard his car sputter to life and I tiptoed out of the quilt room to the living room door.

There, he was gone. Now I could eat.

Now I could eat? What the heck was I doing? I wasn’t hungry, I was about to take a shower and go to bed. (I should mention that David was working 3rd shift!)

At least, that is what I thought.

I went back to my computer to work on some more quilt designs, thinking that if I ignored that little evil voice, it would go away.

You know the one I mean. The one that makes you think you need something to eat. The one that while your grocery shopping tells you your lunch will not be complete without Doritos, and that you should invite Oscar Mayer and that Little Debbie would be very offended if you invited him and not her. The one that will throw any excuse your way until you bite (pun intended).

The one that says, “You’ve had a long day, you need some energy.” Or “You worked out, you should have some protein to rebuild your muscles.” Or “It’s ok, popcorn is full of fiber.” Or “You have to eat so you can take your meds.” Or “Just one more. You can stop tomorrow.” The one they call…Sabotage.

Instead, I found myself heating up some chicken tenders. When I was finished, I pushed the plate back and heard another familiar voice. The eviler twin of sabotage. The one called Guilt. I bet you are well acquainted with him too.

This one told me “How could you just throw all your good choices away like that? Looks like you ruined the whole day.” And “You silly girl! You’ll never lose weight if you keep eating!” and “You don’t deserve to feel good about yourself anyway.” And “You know you’ll just do it again tomorrow. Why even try?”

“That’s not true!” I argue back. “Tomorrow will be different! I won’t eat sweets and I won’t eat after dinner, and I will work out everyday!”

Then Guilt replies. “That’s what you said last week! I bet you won’t last 2 days!”

Then Self-Pity (a whiney distant cousin of the gruesome twosome) chimes in “Poor Tara. She doesn’t have any self-control. Too bad…. She would have looked fantastic in that great dress… *Sigh* Maybe she can find it online in a larger size.”

I’ve decided to shut the Triplet Terrors up for good.

My first plan of attack is on Sabotage. I am adopting a new mantra. Instead of telling myself I will start my diet tomorrow, I will tell myself that I can have whatever I am wanting, tomorrow. My theory is, is that I will either a) forget about it or b) plan my day better to allow for it. After all, the food will be there tomorrow. I don’t have to eat it all today. My long lost friend Willpower will help me. He’s the one that helped me lose 30 lbs for my wedding. He tells me I did it before and I can do it again. He’s the one that will make me get up off the couch and onto the bike. Motivation will be there too. She’s the one that offers rewards for a job well done, like a new book and a bubble bath, or new charm packs.

The next attack is on Guilt. I know I will make some not-so-good choices. But that doesn’t mean I’ve ruined the whole day. When Guilt starts creeping in I’ll call on Better-Next-Time. She tells me to count it as a vegetable, move on, and make a better choice next time. You know what is great about BNT? She gives you as many do-overs as you need. And the more you make better choices, the easier it becomes. I recommend not counting everything as veggies though, or Guilt might get stronger. I have to actually EAT veggies to get the nutrients.

As for Self-Pity? That’s where Confidence and Self-Worth come in. They are the ones who have helped me come up with positive affirmations about myself like “I am worth it!” and “I deserve to be happy and healthy” and “You are AWESOME!” They remind me that I’m smart, I’m creative, and I am working hard to accomplish my goals. They are the ones that tell me dress for your body now! Just because I’m not the size I want to be, doesn’t mean I have to be frumpy and grumpy. I can be stylish and an XL. (There’s just more of me to love, right?)

Oh, and I am going to start taking my meds at dinner so that excuse will be… eliminated.

So… Good riddance Guilt! So long, Sabotage! Sayonara Self-Pity! I have new friends now!

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