Anchor of Shame





How I felt sitting there listening. 

The shame was immediate.  Intense.  An anchor around my neck pulling me under.  FAST!

Shame has a way of doing that.

Where was I that was making me feel so worthless and ashamed?  I was at the doctor’s office.  I was being examined by a PA, instead of my primary care doctor.  I was there for a specific issue that would need antibiotics. 

The PA walked into the exam room with her laptop open to my medical record.  She asked me how long I had been dealing with this sore throat and painful sinuses.  Her response to my answer was a sucker punch to the gut that came straight out of left field!

“Before we get to that, let’s talk about your exercise and weight.  Did you know there are new medications to help with weight loss?…..”


In that moment I held my breath so that I could stop the tears welling up inside me.  

In my silence I was boiling inside- a cauldron of shame, disappointment, shock, fear, worthlessness all threatening to bubble over and erupt at any moment.

She continued. 

I sat in silent disbelief.

She continued.  Trying to convince me that I needed medication, a little pill, that would curb my hunger and make me lose weight.  A pill that would balance the metabolic hormones that were obviously (to her) out of whack in my body.  A “miracle” pill.

I remained silent.

When she was done and finally ready to examine me, all I could manage was- “I went back to Weight Watchers.” And “I need to do my research before I agree to take a pill” (knowing full well I was NOT going to take the “magic” pill).

I was so ASHAMED in that moment.

She didn’t know me.  She didn’t know my history.  She didn’t know how Weight Watchers has worked for me.  She didn’t want to hear me. 

This was HER issue.  HER value.  HER kickback forefront in her mind.

But I was the one wearing the anchor of shame. 

I KNOW I need to lose weight (thank God I have only gained back 35 of my original 85 lb loss). 

I KNOW what I need to do.

I KNOW it can be done.

I DO NOT need a pill.

I DO NOT need to be shamed.

I DO NOT need to be judged by anyone.  I judge myself quite harshly.

What I NEED is to feel less shame.  To feel supported.  To take care of myself. 

I left the doctor’s office with a prescription for antibiotics and that anchor of shame, disappointment and self-loathing wrapped around my neck.  And I did what I know to do, as a food addict, to make me feel better….to stuff the emotions that were threatening to erupt….. I ate.

I went home from the pharmacy and found the jar of peanut butter.  I made 2 pieces of peanut butter toast and while the bread was in the toaster, I also made a half sandwich.  I ate those.  And then I ate, not 1, but 2 (TWO) Hershey candy bars.  I went to what I know. 

And I felt better for a little bit.  Until I didn’t. 

I am a food addict.  Being hungry isn’t my issue, so a “magic” pill to curb my appetite is not going to fix me.  Finding a new way to deal with the emotions, without food, is the only way to fix me. 

I wish more people, especially medical professionals, understood food addicts.  It isn’t a lack of will power.  It isn’t being hungry all the time.  It isn’t a moral failing.

Food addiction is real.  Difficult.  Shameful.  Demeaning.  Navigating food addiction is about finding MY worth when I am feeling worthless.  And it is also about learning new ways to deal with emotions and life without food.  Hard to do when we HAVE to eat to live.  And food is EVERYWHERE!

I wish more understood.  I wish there was less judgement.

Yes, I ate to stuff my emotions today.  BUT I will NOT let this moment define me as it has in my past.  I will NOT let the anchor of shame weigh me down any longer.

I WILL move on, grateful for ALL that I have learned on my long journey.

I will remind myself that I AM worth it.

I CAN and WILL do this- in my imperfect way.  WITHOUT a little pill!


30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge- Halfway Through

“If you eat when you are not physically hungry, then how do you know when to stop eating?”

I heard this question in week one of my 30-day challenge, and it hit me.  I was listening to a Mindful Eating masterclass on my CALM app, while swimming laps in the pool. 

I stopped mid-lap when I heard the question.

How do I know when to stop eating? 

This question the first week of my mindful eating challenge, brought me to a new level of awareness- I did not let myself get hungry.  Truly physically hungry.  I had lost that somewhere over the years and didn’t even realize it.  And when I did think I was hungry, it was really that my blood sugar took a nose-dive because of the amount of sugary foods I had been eating.  I still wasn’t truly physically hungry.

So, hearing the question had me reflecting.  What made me stop eating?  It was definitely NOT being full, as I was stuffed, painfully stuffed, more often than I wasn’t.  So, what was making me stop eating?  The empty bag of chips I just finished?  The acid reflux that was painful?  The nauseous feeling of overeating?  Having to change from my jeans to my sweats for comfort?  My husband walking through the door? 

That question changed the trajectory of my journey.  And I started paying attention to my physical signals for hunger, instead of the emotional, head and heart, signals.  THAT has made a difference.  I have eaten less this second week.  I am eating when I am physically hungry, most of the time, instead of for other reasons.  When I eat for true physical hunger, I eat less.  I am not stuffed.  I don’t have huge blood sugar drops.  I don’t have acid reflux.  I don’t hide food.  And I can wear my jeans all day.

This is what mindful eating does!  I am still not tracking my food.  But I AM paying attention.  I AM being more mindful.  Yes, there are still moments of mindless eating, but they are becoming less often, as I get more mindful. 

This is what this challenge was about. 

So, what is driving you to eat?  Do you know when you are physically hungry?  What tells you that you are physically hungry?  What differences do you see when you are mindful and eat mostly (because this is not a perfect journey) for physical hunger rather than emotional hunger? 

I am feeling so much better already!  More to come on what I have learned these first 14 days.

My 30-Day Challenge– Day 1

I have been slowly trying to change habits and my mindset and I have been working on doing the things that I know to do that work.  But it isn’t working. 

I keep talking to myself, having those conversations about what I am doing.  I tell myself “Today is the day” and then I tell myself, “Oh, one more day of eating chips or brownies won’t hurt.  Go ahead.” 

2 contrasting voices in my head, fighting to be the strongest and the loudest. 

Yesterday I decided it was ENOUGH!  ENOUGH! 

So, I asked myself what my biggest hurdle was, what the biggest saboteur (besides myself) and I realized then that sugar is a BIG issue for me.  I am a food addict and sugar is one of my biggest problems. 

Realizing that, I decided to start a 30 day “No Sugar” challenge.  30 days of not eating anything with added sugar.  No candy, cookies, donuts, cake, etc.  No sweet treats. 

Today was the first day.  And boy was it a struggle.

Today, I paid attention, ALL DAY, to what I was eating and craving.  And I paid attention to what was sending me to the pantry and the fridge. 

It was shortly after lunch when I found myself in the pantry.  Just standing there.  Looking.  What the heck?! 

Standing there, I asked myself what I was doing.  Was I hungry?  What was I looking for?  And my answer was that I was not hungry, and I had no idea why I was in the pantry searching.  So, I left the pantry and went to do something.  Something that would keep me busy.

I was beginning to realize that telling myself this would be 30 days of NO SUGAR was leaving me feeling deprived.  And when I feel deprived, I eat.  Period! 

Losing weight and getting healthy is not about deprivation.  It is not about doing something for a little while (until I reach my goal) and then going back to how I was eating when I reach my goal. 

Losing weight and getting healthy is about changing habits.  And the foods I eat now, need to be the foods I will continue to eat the rest of my life.  Is it realistic to think that I will NEVER eat another cookie or a brownie?  NO!  But if I plan, portion and pay attention then I do not need to deprive myself. 

If I eat mindfully, then I will feel satisfied and still lose weight and get healthy.

That was when it hit me!

My BIGGEST hurdle and my BIGGEST saboteur was mindlessness…. Mindless eating.  Yes, sugar is an issue.  Yes, chips are an issue.  Yes, snacking is an issue.  Yes, not tracking is an issue.  Yes, portions are an issue.  Yes, emotional eating is an issue.

 BUT the BIGGEST issue is not being mindful!

So, my first day of my 30-day challenge is changing.  I am still doing a 30-day challenge, but this one is now 30 Days of Mindful Eating. 

There is a lot to learn when we pay attention to not only what we are eating and when we are eating and how much we are eating, but also WHY we are eating.  And we can only pay attention to all of these when we are mindful.

So today is day 1 of my 30 days of Mindful Eating.  And today I paid attention.  I stopped myself when I was searching for hidden candy (and I have A LOT of hidden candy places!), and when I was standing in front of the open fridge looking for who knows what.  And I asked myself “what are you doing?”  “Am I hungry?”  “Is it physical hunger?”  and if not then “what am I hungry for”. 

I paid attention today.  And I learned that I eat more often for emotional reasons (a struggle I have had all my life) or just out of habit (sit down to watch tv = eat) than I do for true physical hunger.

Today I also learned (I have always known this, but it was reinforced today) that eating mindfully leaves me feeling more satisfied and I eat less. 

And though I did not physically track my food today, I consider Day 1 a success!  

Who wants to join me on a 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge? 

Just 20 lbs……..

“Just 20 lbs, that’s all”

This was said to me by my doctor in 2006 after I had thrown my back out.  Just 20 lbs and my back would have less stress on it and feel better.  He was right.  Losing those 20 lbs helped.  But I didn’t stop with just 20 lbs.  I went on to lose 85 lbs, reaching my goal weight in January 2008.  I vowed then, that I would NEVER need to hear those words again.  I was NOT going back to daily pain in my back.  Not after finally finding freedom from the pain. 

And then, a couple of weeks ago another doctor said to me, “Just 20 lbs”.  There it was. Those words again…… Only this time, it wasn’t my back that prompted those words, it was my hip. 

I have had pain in my hip, at times so severe I can’t stand, walk or sleep.  So, I went to the orthopedic and heard those words again.  Weight gain affects so much more than my self-esteem and how I see myself, it also affects my health and my body.  My hip is not happy with this weight gain and no matter how many times I tell myself it is time to do something about it, I sabotage myself. 

Yes, I sabotage myself. 

16 years later, hearing those words again hit me hard.  I am NOT back where I once was (now needing to lose 35lbs not 85 lbs), but I am at a weight that is not healthy for me.  And healthy is far more important than how I look.  I have goals.  I want to participate in my granddaughter’s life, not watch.  I want to live to a very old age and enjoy my life, not spend it watching from the sidelines.  I want to hike and enjoy the outdoors.  I want to skip down main street at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.  I want to go on walks with my husband, swim in the pool, shop, dance and so many other things that require my hip and my back to be healthy.

So, I am working on it.  Imperfectly.  But working on it.  I have started to make changes.  I am working to change my mindset.  I am sabotaging myself a little less each day (I am not perfect and still fight that sabotage, while acknowledging the wins along the way)

Just 20 lbs. and then more……


I Got on the Scale

I got on the scale. 

I have not stepped on that darn metal box in over 2 weeks.

I knew it wasn’t going to be good.  My clothes are really tight and uncomfortable.  But…. I was not prepared for the number I saw.

How the hell did THAT number happen? 

I sat down and before I knew it, my cheeks were wet. Yes, the tears had come.  I was shocked, angry with myself and frustrated!

The thing is, I knew this was happening.  I just didn’t want to admit it. 

It is very easy to lie to myself.  All the things that work for me, that keep me healthy—eating fruits and veggies, tracking my food, cooking healthy meals, walking—I was doing those things. 

You see, we can tell ourselves we are doing all the right things.  We can track our food and it looks like we are doing really well- points and/or calories are where we need them to be.  Step counts on our tracking devices show we are getting those steps in.

But what all of that doesn’t tell us is how honest we are not being. 

Tracking food only works when I track EVERY bite, EVERY sip.  If I eat the chips, cookies, candy, donuts, cake, and a myriad of other snacks, and I don’t track them… well…. They still count.  NOT tracking food does NOT mean the food doesn’t count.  My daily points may show I am doing well, but the untracked foods, well they tell a different story. 

Eating those healthy meals are GREAT but when I eat them AFTER I am over-stuffed with salty and sweet snacks, those healthy foods really don’t do much to help me, instead they now become a part of a greater problem.  They become an illusion of healthiness, behind which the truth is hidden. 

Wearing my fitbit is awesome.  It keeps me aware of those steps.  Most days I hit my step goal.  And hitting that goal or going over is just another illusion.  How many of those steps were gained through walking and how many of those steps were gained by folding clothes or moving my arm back and forth during my normal day?  How many of those steps were actually from intentional exercise that got my heart rate moving?  Not many, I can tell you that.

It is very easy to hide behind the illusion of healthy eating and exercise.  And then look for “reasons” for the weight not coming off- there must be something wrong with my thyroid or other health issues going on or maybe it is a medication that is making me gain weight rather than lose, afterall, my trackers show I am doing well…..

BUT the scale doesn’t lie.  Clothes don’t lie.  Looking in the mirror tells the truth.  And blood work doesn’t lie.

This morning I finally faced the truth.  As tears flowed down my cheeks, I realized that I am the reason my weight is where it is.  No one forced me to eat those three donuts in one sitting, or the entire bag of chips.  No one forces me to eat peanut butter toast with butter, not one piece but three.  No one forces me to buy the chips, candy and cookies and no one forces me to eat them.

I am responsible for where I am.  It is time I accept that!  Time I do what I keep saying I am doing.  It is time to be honest, completely honest.  And time to make my trackers tell the WHOLE story. 

If I want to live to be 100, if I want to be healthy, if I want the pain in my joints to lessen, if I want to be a participant in my granddaughter’s life rather than a spectator, then I NEED to step up to the challenge.  I need to make me a priority.  I need to be honest.  I need to do the work necessary to get back to being the healthiest and best version of me I can be.

Stepping on the scale was the first step.

A healthy, fully tracked breakfast was the second step.

A 2 mile walk was the third step.

And writing this post was the fourth step. 

Today I am being honest with myself.  Finally!  I am making changes.  One day at a time!  One meal at a time!  One step at a time! 

I can and I will do this!  It just took getting back on that scale to get me going. 

Weekly Accountability- March 11th

Peanut Butter.  My kryptonite!  I should have know when the Peanut Butter cravings started.  And then I bought and brought home a jar of peanut butter. 

I don’t know what was behind it.  I am still trying to figure it out.  But Peanut Butter happened (my comfort food.  The food I turn to when my emotions are all over the place…. When I need comfort, peace, or…..)

So, when I stepped on the scale this morning, it was not a surprise.  I gained 1.6 lbs.

I know why.  And I know what I need to do. 

Looking back on my week, my imperfect week, I can see some things that did not work and some that did.  I had every intention of having an awesome week—I planned to track, to plan healthy meals, and to move more.  Then the Peanut butter showed up and all plans went right out the window!

So, what worked? 

–I planned healthy meals and made two of them.

–I tracked one day

–I realized what was happening and how out of control I was and that realization led me to update my vision board.  I needed and still need the motivation.

–I attended my virtual workshop this morning.

–I stepped on the scale despite knowing it would be up.

Even on the rough weeks things can still happen that go well.  Growth still happens!

What did I learn?

–When the peanut butter cravings start I need to ask myself what is going on, what is pushing the button to need that comfort.  I knew, but forgot, just how dangerous peanut butter is for me and what it signifies.  I only want it when I am worried or stressed or angry or hurting….. I have been reminded and now I know what to do to NOT eat those emotions!  NO peanut butter can come into the house!  Lesson learned.

–I can get right back on track when I understand and am aware of what is happening and why.  Awareness is one key to getting back on track.

–One week does NOT negate ALL my progress!

–I do NOT like Peanut Butter!  Huh?  You read that right.  I do NOT like Peanut Butter.  Unless, I need it for comfort and then it takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of my mom. 

–and once again, I see that a slip is NOT failure!  It is feedback.  An opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t.  And it creates another stepping stone on my path to success.

It was one of THOSE weeks.  Peanut Butter happened.  But it is NOT the end of my journey.  I did NOT give up!  I found a way to motivate myself (you can read that here) and to acknowledge what was going on.  And then I got back on track, back to taking care of me, and back to putting me first.

How do you handle emotions?  What is your kryptonite?  How do you get back on track after one of THOSE weeks? 

The Saboteur on My Shoulder

You know that old adage about the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other?

Well, I have a Saboteur on one shoulder.  And that Saboteur (my negative self) has been loud and in control more than I would like to admit and far more than the Supporter (my positive self) on my other shoulder has been. 

How do I know? 

I start every day with the same conversation with myself—“Okay, today it is time to get back on track.  Today is the day! Time to get serious!” and sometimes that conversation has some not-so-nice things to say about me.  I chastise myself for the choices I made the day before, but I KNOW that this is a new day and I CAN change that….. until I don’t….

And the Saboteur becomes the louder once again. 

The conversations with myself continue all day.  “Come on, you can have this _____ (insert anything sugary, salty and high in calories, including an entire bag of chips!)”  “You have plenty of time to reach your goal.  One day won’t hurt!  You can start tomorrow!”  “You had a healthy breakfast so these chips (or donuts or cookies) won’t hurt!”  “You went for a long walk today, why not reward yourself?  You deserve this!” 

And the conversation then continues into the night, with me ending the day in the same way that it started—“Seriously?!  You have got to get a hold on this!  You have got to do something.”  “Okay, in the morning I will!  No more messing around!” and these things are followed by some not-so-kind things about me once again.

And then the next day is a repeat… the same conversations, the same behaviors….


The Saboteur is very good at her job…every day she entices me to make the choices that lead me away from becoming the very best and healthiest version of me and she makes me doubt myself along the way.  She does this by disguising her words in positives to trick my mind- “Tomorrow is a new day, you can start over.”  Or “You deserve this” or “You went for your walk and have eaten healthy, you deserve a treat.”  These and many other tricks of the mind are what the Saboteur uses to get me off track.

The Saboteur on my shoulder has been louder than my Supporter, who just shrinks away, thinking it is a losing battle at this point.  But is it?  Really?  Is there nothing I can do to quiet the Saboteur and increase the volume and power of the Supporter? 

Actually, there is!  And it is all up to me! 


Awareness is the first step.

I have been reflecting on this for a few weeks now, really paying attention to the voices I hear and what is driving them.  And this is empowering ME!  I am more aware of what is happening and who is louder- The Saboteur or the Supporter. Awareness is necessary for change to occur. Awareness is THE key to quieting the Saboteur so that I can hear the Supporter!

You see, both the Saboteur and the Supporter are part of me.  They come from me.  They are born of my mind, my thoughts and my feelings.  They both affect my mindset and are affected by my mindset.  They both affect my emotions and are affected by my emotions.  They both affect my thoughts and are affected by my thoughts. 

These two are pretty powerful.  They are me.  I am the Saboteur and I am the Supporter!

I have learned that the Saboteur becomes more powerful when my emotions are at play—boredom, loneliness, worry, stress, and even joy….so many emotions at play. The less time I spend taking care of me allows the Saboteur to become louder.  The more mindless I become in my daily living, the more the Saboteur takes over.  And the Saboteur gains strength from my negative self-talk, my lack of belief in myself and from my stubborn self.

I have also discovered that there are some things that make the Saboteur quieter and allow the Supporter, who is naturally quieter, to become louder. 

What quiets the Saboteur so I can hear the Supporter?— Forgiveness!  Mindfulness—in my everyday living!  Self Worth—believing I am worth it!  Taking care of me!  Calm!  Positive self-talk!  Patience (a REALLY hard one for me)!  Time outdoors!  Family time!  Writing!  Walks!  And most importantly- Starting my day with these words “I am Worth It” BEFORE the Saboteur has a chance to say ANYTHING!  

The power is within me.  I get to choose which voice I listen to.  I get to choose how I react.  I get to choose to take care of me first, thus quieting the Saboteur.  I empower myself when I CHOOSE!    

I am in charge!!

THAT realization is so empowering!! 

Though the Saboteur has been loud the past few months and been in control far more than I would like, I am a NOT a failure!  I am still learning.   I am still growing. 

I am not perfect on this journey and I sometimes stumble. And then, awareness helps me find my way back! I may not silence the Saboteur forever, but I can make the Saboteur whisper (which is easier to ignore) and give power to the Supporter to be louder.  I can use the tools and techniques I have learned through the years and pull them out when I need them.  

This journey I am on, that we all are on, is not perfect!  Far from it!  Perfection is not important on this journey.  Perseverance is.  Progress is. Growth is.

I will keep on going, keep on learning, and keep on believing in me! 

(FYI- as I post this, the Saboteur is whispering in my ear that I should make brownies tonight, that that would be a real treat for my husband…. And I am NOT letting that voice get any louder than a whisper!) 

I Ate the Whole Cake and I Do Not Feel Guilty!

Yesterday was my birthday.

It was just one day.

And I wanted a homemade Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd in the middle and Swiss Meringue Frosting.  Yum!

So, I had it.  I did not try to lighten it up.  I did not find an alternative. 

I chose to enjoy what I really wanted on my birthday.

And I ate the entire cake!  WHAT??  That sounds terrible, right?  Well, it really wasn’t. 

You see, eating healthy and losing weight is NOT about DEPRIVATION.  And it is NOT about EXCESS either. 

Eating healthy and losing weight is about MODERATION.

And yesterday I practiced that moderation.

And today, there is no guilt.  Today I do not feel deprived.  Today I am NOT obsessing about what I missed out on.

My husband and I made the lemon cake, but instead of turning the batter into a 2-layer 8-inch cake, we made mini-cakes in my big muffin tins.  They were the perfect size. 

In the words of Goldilocks, they were “just right”!

We made 4 total mini cakes, (yes, I am having one more today!) and then we threw out the remaining batter!  WHAT?  Who does that?  Isn’t that wasteful?  As my mother and grandmother used to say, “You can’t waste that, there are starving children in the world!”

I threw it out anyway!

It was not hard.  It felt good.  Because I knew that I was not depriving myself of the treat I wanted.  And by tossing out the excess batter, I was not creating a temptation I knew I could not resist.

I have learned the past couple of months as I continue to traverse this journey, that deprivation sabotages my efforts.  It just does!  And for me deprivation doesn’t just mean NOT having the food I want, it means forcing myself to eat a less satisfying, less flavorful, lower calorie/lower point version of what I am wanting.  And that substitution often leads me to eat more of that substitution, not saving me calories or points, leaving me less satisfied and sabotaging my efforts.  (some substitutions, like spaghetti squash for pasta, work for me as they are still delicious, but for my treats, well….the real thing in a smaller portions is better!)

So, I had my lemon cake in moderation.  And that is what works for me.

I enjoyed my birthday.  I went for a long walk in the morning, I got a delicious breakfast sandwich from Panera after my walk and had a yummy dinner cooked by my husband, with my Lemon Cake for dessert.

And I ate the whole cake!  Saying that without feeling guilt really empowers me.  I CHOSE to have this treat.  I CHOSE to enjoy my day.  I CHOSE to toss out the unused batter.  And I CHOSE to eat the whole cake!  Mini cake that is!

What could be better?! 

This journey is far from perfect for me.  It is a journey of learning what really works and what doesn’t.  It is a journey of growth.  It is a journey of learning how my thoughts help and how they hinder my progress.  By choosing to have the treat, and choosing to have it in moderation, I put myself back in control, taking away the power that food and guilt have had and can still have over me. 

I am learning.  I am growing.

I can get health.  I can lose weight.   And I can have my cake too!

Here’s to 2021

Happy New Year!  I don’t know about you, but I am so thrilled to have 2020 behind me and am looking forward to 2021 and a return to some normalcy. 

A new year offers an opportunity for change.  An opportunity to recommit to our goals. 

New Years day often finds us making resolutions…. Promises to lose the weight, get healthier, workout more, and so much more. 

Did you make your resolution yet? 

I stopped making resolutions years ago.  Why?  Because, frankly, I never keep them.  I always had grand ideas of what I was going to accomplish, but often lost motivation a few weeks, sometimes a few days into the new year.  So, I stopped making resolutions.   Instead, I decide a theme for the year, something that helps me to grow into a better version of me, something that challenges me to step outside my comfort zone and to make real change.  Something that encompasses ALL of me, not just my weight or health. 2021 is the year I continue to live mindfully, present in the moments of each day and it is the year I focus on kindness, toward others and myself as well as focusing on daily gratitude.   

But not setting a New Years Resolution does NOT mean I don’t set weight/health goals when the new year arrives.  I set them all year, but the new year allows me to refocus. and gives me an opportunity to look back and see what worked and what didn’t work the previous year.  Then I can set my course toward the goals I have in mind—long term goals and short-term goals.  I can learn from the past and use those lessons to help me achieve the goals I have for myself in the new year. 

2020 was rough.  REALLY rough.  I struggled. I started 2020 by getting a virus in mid-January that turned into pneumonia, keeping me from participating in my favorite 5k race…. The race I look forward to ALL year.  I was sick for over a month.  And then, a couple of weeks after getting better, I injured my back, seriously.  I couldn’t walk.  I couldn’t do anything for a few weeks.  Slowly I got better.  Slowly my back began to heal….. but by then, we were in the midst of a stay-at-home order and I wasn’t going anywhere.  Life just stopped.  For everyone.  Our routines were upended.  Life as we knew it was at a complete halt.  Being sick was stressful.  Being in pain was stressful.  BUT a pandemic, and all its effects, THAT was even more stressful. 

Stress became the daily staple of my life.  And my weight was showing it.  I found myself 34 lbs above my goal weight and very close to a point I said I would NEVER go back to again.  NEVER!  I had to do something.

But we were in a pandemic.  And what worked for me in the past, well, it wasn’t there now.  I couldn’t meet with my friends for weekend walks.  There were no in person 5ks to sign up for or train for.  And Weight Watcher workshops were all online…..which just isn’t the same.  I couldn’t talk to friends online before the workshop or visit after.  It was NOT the same.  The world was different, and I was going to have to figure out how to do this differently.

All of this added to the struggles of 2020.  I am an emotional eater, so the stress, the worry, and the fear were taking a toll. I REALLY struggled.  (Oh, how I long for the day I can meet with friends and hug people again!) 

More health struggles popped up for me…. the end of May found me excessively tired and dealing with a bad cough.  This lasted for months.  I thought I was losing my mind….it had to be all in head, right? And then more symptoms, more pain, this time in every joint of my body….severe enough to prevent me from walking at times or prevent me from using my hands to pick up something…… making any thought of exercise out of the question!  And bronchitis….. Finally, in early December, a diagnosis of Valley Fever and the beginning of treatment.  THIS was and still is testing my patience, but that is for another post.

Yes, 2020 was a struggle. 

Yet, I found, through the challenges that I have inside me, what I need to get to where I want to go.  I have what I need to reach my goals, right there inside of me. 

I just have to believe in myself. 

I have to make me a priority. 

I have to remember what is really important to me. 

I have to remember to not give up what I want most for what I want in the moment.  

And I have to remember just how far I have come!

I took the first steps to getting back on track the beginning of November.  I stepped on the scale and told my husband right away what it said.  He is my weight accountability now.

What other steps have I taken to get me back on the path that will lead me to my goal?  This–

—A little movement is better than NO movement!  I found that if I wait until later in the day, the pain is not quite so severe and I can go for a walk, sometimes just around the block and sometimes a mile or two.  Just depends on how I am feeling.  I also discovered that the more I sit, the more pain I am in, so moving helps me heal.

—Tracking and portions!  I found that tracking is not so difficult on a phone app.  I am not perfect in my tracking, but I am tracking.  That awareness is so very important.  How can I know what I need to adjust if I don’t know what and how much I am really eating?  And that means, weighing and measuring my food too. 

—Accountability and motivation—I still use my WW app and read the stories, but I don’t follow the points for now.  I track calories and I pay attention to calorie-density of foods.  I look for the foods that will keep me full longer and keep me satisfied.  I have an accountability coach that checks in with me every week to see how I am doing and helps me to set a new weekly goal.  And I find motivation online, reading stories of others and in my talks with and messages with my friends. 

—I am taking time for me.  Time for meditating, using the CALM app and time to just read or listen to music.  With all the stress of these days, I need to take a step back and just breathe sometimes. 

—And starting today, I am adding yoga to my days, to help with the pain and to give me those moments where I can just breathe. Another way to take care of me.

These are just the first steps in taking back the control of my health and my weight.  And they are working.  I am down 9 lbs now in 2 months.  Would have been more, but Christmas goodies happened…….

I am jumping into 2021 full speed.  I have my long-term goal to get to my goal weight and then below it.  And I have my short-term goal—just 5 lbs.  5lbs at a time.  I CAN do that! 

Add to that my 2021 theme of being kinder to others and to myself, practicing daily gratitude and living mindfully and the year should be a much better one!

This journey, though, is far from perfect!  But it is so worth it!  I am worth it!  And so are you! 

What are your goals for 2021?  What are you doing to get yourself on that road toward your goals? 

Let’s do this together! 

Here’s to 2021! 

What do I Get From Lemon Oreo Cookies?

It has been a while since I have written. 

The last time I wrote I was struggling with defining what success looked like to me, for this pandemic.  And I set a goal—to track most days, to be mindful in my eating, to focus on things I could control rather than those I couldn’t….. well……

My focus has not been there.  Motivation is hard to find when the “routine” things I rely on are not routine any longer. 

Things are still not back to normal.  I am still staying home.  I am still doing online shopping.  I am not getting together for lunch with my friends.  I don’t get to go to my workshop.  I am not meeting with my friends to walk and talk.  I am not running errands.  I am staying home almost all of the time.

Life used to be chaotic.  Life used to be busy.  Life used to be routine.  My world was bigger than it is now.  My world now, is here, at home. 

I miss routine.  I miss hugs.  I miss meeting friends and visiting with them.  I miss having people over to my house.  I miss walking into a store.  I miss…… a lot. 

So, with these days still in the twilight zone, motivation is hard to find.

I am finding ways to deal with things.  Instead of in person gatherings, there are messages, emails, phone calls and video chats.  Not the same, but better than total isolation.  I am writing, maybe not here on my blog or on my other blog, but I am writing.  I am watching lots of movies and binge-watching Netflix.  I am scrapbooking, traveling the world through my memories and pictures.  And I am practicing mindfulness through meditation and walks in my pool. 

But…. I miss my life!

When routines are out the window, motivation is hard to find.  The world feels chaotic.  Stressful.  Uncertain.  And that is when old habits pop back up!

Emotional eating has always been my Achilles heel.  And right now, that habit has come roaring back.  It is familiar.  It is routine.  It is “normal” in a world that does not feel so normal.  Habits bring comfort.  Even habits that are not healthy.

Habits make it so that we do not have to think.  It just happens automatically.  Without thought.  Sometimes that is a really good thing.  Imagine if you had to think about it each time you brushed your teeth, took a shower, tied your shoes…. You get it, right?  I just do those things, no thinking about how to do it, the steps involved, nothing….just do it.  Those habits free my mind to think about other things. 

But some habits are not so helpful.  They are still automatic, and I don’t think about them, but in the long run they just don’t help.

In many WW workshops we have talked about habits.  And I am currently reading (for the 5th time) the book “Target 100”, written by Liz Josefsberg (a former WW Leader and now motivational speaker and weight loss coach) and I am listening to a masterclass on the CALM app called “Breaking Bad Habits”.  All three reinforce the same thing—a habit consists of a trigger, followed by a behavior, followed by a reward.  The trigger causes the behavior and the reward reinforces that behavior and then we repeat the habit.  We get something from the habit, or we would not keep repeating it.

But what do we get?  What is the reward?

Those are the questions I asked myself when this happened—Lemon Double Stuffed Oreos! and I ate most of them in less than 24 hours.  There were only 3 left when I asked my husband to PLEASE throw them away, in the big garbage can so I couldn’t get to them.  Only 3 left.  That is when I KNEW I was emotionally eating.  Until that moment, yesterday, I hadn’t really been paying attention.  The chips didn’t signal me to stop.  The cookies.  The crackers.  The bagels.  The brownies.  The cake.  No, none of those made me think that maybe, just maybe I was eating more from emotion than true physical hunger. 

I was tired.  So, I ate. 

I was stressed.  So, I ate.

I was lonely.  So, I ate.

I was sad.  So, I ate.

I was angry.  So, I ate.

I was bored.  So, I ate.

I was……. (fill in any emotion).  So, I ate.

Then those Lemon Oreos happened.  And this morning I listened to more of the masterclass on CALM.  Yes, you guessed it.  Todays lesson on breaking bad habits hit on eating—non-physical hunger eating.  And I heard the question— “What do I get from this?  Is there something better?”

What do I get from eating when I am not hungry?  What reward does food provide me? 

Comfort.  Relief.  Numbness.  Avoidance.  Distraction. 

Food provides those things for me.  But only temporarily.  For a moment.  Then the guilt steps in and I eat again.  It is a cycle.  A habit that is not helpful.  A habit that I know I can change, I have done it before…… but life is different now and going back to old habits brought about a comfort I need when the world is as uncertain as it is right now.

But awareness is the first step to changing a habit.  And now I am aware (again).  So, how to change it?  How do I stop eating when I am tired?  Bored?  Stressed?  Lonely?  Sad?  Etc.? 

I have to work with the habit loop.  The emotion is my trigger.  And instead of it triggering me to eat,  I need another action—call a friend, write, go for a walk, scrapbook, read, take a nap, swim, just sit outside, listen to music, dance…. There are so many things I could do instead.  So many things that would give me what I need, reward me in ways that won’t make me feel guilty.    So many things that will provide me a reward that is the same or better than what food provided me… and the reward from a non-food behavior will be much more long-term instead of temporary.

But there are a lot of emotions that drive me to eat and changing them all at one time, will be too overwhelming.  So, this week, I am going to focus on one.  And I am going to be specific about the new behavior.  Being specific means, it will be doable.  And I am going to be accountable, right here, because accountability means I am more likely to do it.

So here is my plan, my habit change and how I am going to do it this week–

Stress is the hardest emotion for me to not eat.  Instead of eating, when I am stressed, I am going to go outside—in the pool, in the hammock or walk.  How will I remind myself to do that instead of eating?  My sandals will be by the door and on my fridge and pantry will be a picture of my backyard with the words– Feeling stressed?  Go outside!  You won’t feel guilty after! 

And my reward will be the calm I will feel. 

Stress (trigger)— Go outside (behavior/action)— Calm (reward)

What’s your plan to battle the emotional eating habit?  What are you going to do instead and how are you going to remind yourself to do it?