OOPS!

Well….. I have been doing this a LONG time…. 13 years now, not counting all my previous attempts.  So, you would think I would remember… that I would know better…. But…..

Yes, I have been struggling, but I decided to start again with tracking, something I have not been consistent about for quite some time.  Yesterday was pretty good.  And this morning I had EVERY intention of having a great, stick-to-my-points, day. 

And then this happened. 

It is small…..really small…. The smallest ice cream cup a person can buy.  Only 3.6 oz.   Can’t hurt, right?  I had a great on point breakfast and then decided to have a tiny treat….

I ate it all, which wasn’t much!  And then I went to track it and wanted to check the points.  It is less than a ½ cup serving, so it had to be less than the 12 smartpoints I usually track for a ½ cup of this ice cream. (note to self, this ice cream ranges from 11-15 points per ½ cup and this particular flavor is 14 smartpoints per serving). 

WHAT was I thinking??? I know to ALWAYS look up the point values BEFORE eating.  Oh. My. Gosh.  How many times over the last 13 years have I talked about or heard about checking points before eating?  Yet, I thought I knew the points without looking, it was smaller than a normal serving size after all.  HA! 

This little, less than ½ cup serving of ice cream was…. Wait for it….. 13 smartpoints!!  13!!!  WHAT!! 

So, here I am.  The experienced Weight Watcher member and former coach and I figured I KNEW what the points would be without double checking.  Oops!  A lesson learned.  A reminder to check BEFORE eating. 

And a lesson in slips.  They happen.  We all slip.  We all hit that bump in the road.  We all have those “Oh my gosh” detours.  And even the experienced have those moments. 

But that slip is NOT failure.  The bump does NOT derail everything.  It is a just a moment in time.  A moment on the journey that allows for feedback.  It is an opportunity to learn.  To realize what works and what doesn’t.  An opportunity to see that sometimes on this journey we slide a little, sometimes even a lot, but it doesn’t mean we have failed and cannot succeed.  We learn and we can get back on track.  We move on, rerouting the journey so that we keep moving forward…. One-slip-at-a-time….. One-step-at-a-time….

That slip is just another steppingstone on the path to success!! 

So, I tracked that little bit of ice cream.  And combined with my breakfast, I am almost out of points for the day.  The day is just starting.  Good thing I have those 0 point foods to rely on today!  And those extra points for the week.  I have my plan for the rest of the day and this slip WILL NOT derail my progress!

This is proof that I am really on a perfectly imperfect journey!  And all is still right with the world!

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Swimsuit Shopping… Ugh!!

It finally happened.  My favorite swimsuit, died.  I have had that swimsuit for 10 years.  I wore it a lot!  And this week, I wore it for the last time.  When pool season started a couple of months ago, I noticed that my swimsuit was getting thin…REALLY thin.  Uh Oh! 

And this week I put it on to jump in my pool and the skirt hung down to my knees.  The material had separated.  It was done.  Time to throw it away and move on.

But THAT meant a trip to the store to buy another swimsuit. 

THAT was terrifying.  Trying on clothes in stores, looking at my reflection in the mirror, has never been my favorite thing to do.  Not when I was at my heaviest.  And not when I was at my thinnest.  Those mirrors are not flattering.  And looking at my flaws was discouraging. 

We are our worst critics and it is easier to see the flaws….. those things we don’t like about our bodies tend to stand out, making us notice them first.  I know…. It is a mindset thing…..  

So, the thought of trying on a swimsuit was just a bit stressful.  But I had to do it.  It would be far worse to buy the swimsuit that I had not tried on first and have it not fit or not cover certain parts of my body.  And I know that would be far worse, because I have purchased swimsuits, more than once or twice in my lifetime, that I did not try on first.  And those NEVER worked out!

I headed to the store and found a few suits to try on, in a size I thought would work and styles I felt would cover what I wanted covered and colors that would make me smile.  I was trying to see the positive. 

And then I stepped into the dressing room….. Ugh!  Those mirrors!  Swimsuit shopping is far worse than any clothes shopping trip.  At least with shirts, I could find layers to cover the parts I was ashamed of, the extra weight I was carrying….layers creating the illusion that it wasn’t there, that I was thinner than I thought.  Layers would hide the flaws.

A swimsuit though, hid nothing.  Yes, a skirted swimsuit would help to hide the hips, but the rest, well it was all there for anyone and everyone to see.  A swimsuit hid none of the flaws.

That is HARD to see.  REALLY HARD! Especially for a person who is hard on themselves.  There is so much body shaming in our world, so many faked and photo-shopped photos of how a woman’s body “should” look, that it is often difficult to see beyond those flaws, to see the positives, to love our bodies and celebrate what they can do.  And standing in that dressing room, reminded me just how hard it is and that I still have work to do, myself.

Because, if all I see or look for is the flaws or the negatives, well THAT is absolutely ALL I will see.  And I will NEVER see the positives or the beauty and strength.  I have worked long and hard on this.  I have struggled to change the mindset, sometimes successfully, sometimes failing.  I have done the exercises talked about in WW workshops, where I look in the mirror and find the things I love about my body, the strengths I have.

Standing in that dressing room, yesterday, trying on quite a few swimsuits, I realized that, yes I still have work to do.  I don’t know that I will ever fully switch my mindset, but I can be more aware and mindful of my thoughts and the words I say to myself.  And thanks to my journey with WW, I have the tools to help me change my mindset and the tools that help me to be mindful of what I am saying to myself and HOW those words affect me. 

Yes, I was stressed.  Yes, I was dreading the mirror.  Yes, I was dreading all the flaws that the swimsuit would highlight.  But I still went swimsuit shopping.  I faced the mirror.  I faced the criticism running through my mind.  I confronted the words of my dad, that I still hear, all these many years later.  And I tried on swimsuits.  Oh, some were awful!  Just awful.  But I found two swimsuits that didn’t make me completely cringe….. actually, they made me smile because they were filled with color, LOTS of bright colors rather than the solid black I usually picked. 

I faced my dread and shut down the negative thoughts as I stood there in that dressing room.  Okay, I may not be where I want to be.  I may not have that thin waste, and I may see too much loose skin.  But, there are positives and THAT is where my focus needs to be, something I have learned to look for and notice through my journey with WW (Weight Watchers).  And it is the lessons learned and aha moments  in workshops that helped me switch what I was thinking while standing in front of the dressing room mirror in a flaw-revealing swimsuit.  I could see some positives– I have legs I love.  My legs are strong.  I tan easily in the summer sun.  My smile brightens my eyes.  And my eyes come from my birth mom.  THOSE are the positives I will focus on for now.  Those are the images that will keep me going as I work toward my goals and toward becoming my best self. 

Changing my mindset.  Thinking differently.  Choosing differently.  THAT is a part of this journey I am on.  I may be my own worst critic.  I may not love everything about my outward appearance.  BUT if I stop looking for, purposely looking for, those negative flaws and instead CHOOSE to see the positives, well then I WILL reach my goals.  Because our choices reflect our thoughts. 

CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS AND YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR WORLD!

I am doing that now. I am refocusing on the positives, thanks to the death of my favorite swimsuit!

Secret Eating

I was asked recently by a friend and fellow WW member to explain secret eating, the why, the how, the reasoning behind it, what it got me/gets me.  She understood emotional eating, but why the secrecy?

You see, she wasn’t a secret eater…isn’t a secret eater and she wanted to understand, so she asked me to tell her more.

I am a secret eater, though I do it much less often today than I did years ago. 

Secret eating was and still is a part of my food addiction, a part of how I deal with my emotions.  And it is a way to avoid the judgement, you know “that” look from others when we are eating something we “shouldn’t” or in a “greater volume” than they think we “should” (the whole bag of cookies…..).

We talk a lot about eating our emotions in WW Workshops.  Something I relate too.  I am an emotional eater.  Eating emotions is a habit ingrained in us from an early age.  Sometimes it is a way of celebrating.  Sometimes emotional eating is to fill a void…. giving us comfort, something to do, calmness and a whole list of other “needs” that our emotions are looking for.

Yes, food fills those needs.  Though only for a short time.  And we continue the habit of eating those emotions because we get something from it, we get that reward we are looking for or the need met.  If we got nothing from eating our emotions, well then we would stop. 

But we get something. 

And then we feel guilty and need to eat that guilt.  An unhealthy cycle that is difficult to break. 

But it can be broken. 

And that is what we work on in the WW Workshops, strategies to change the habit of eating our emotions and to find some other way to feed the hunger we are feeling. 

I am an emotional eater.

I am better than I was before my 5th start with Weight Watchers.  It was in my workshop that I learned strategies to deal with emotions, other than eating them—ways that fed the needs of my heart and head without food.  Journaling became my “go-to” when emotions threatened to bring back old habits.  And that journaling, along with other changes got me to my goal weight and gave me a self-worth that I had never known. 

I would love to tell you that I am “cured” of emotional eating.  But I am not.  I am human.  I am imperfect.  I still fall back into old habits.

But…. I don’t stay there.  Now I can get back on track more easily.  My emotional eating lasts less time than before WW.  My new healthier habits do take charge…. eventually.

But the secret eating is more difficult.  It is different……

So, when my friend and co-worker asked me about it, I told her. 

Secret eating is about emotional eating, but not about finding comfort, or something to do, or healing a broken heart.  For me, Secret eating is about STUFFING those emotions back down.  I don’t want to deal with them.  I don’t’ want to face the pain. I don’t want to own those emotions.  I want to stuff them back down into the hole from which they came. I want to hide them deep inside me and forget they are there.  Some things are just too hard to deal with. 

So, I ate them.  I stuffed the emotions back inside me with that food.

But why in secret, my friend wanted to know? 

Because eating in secret meant I could lie to myself.  It meant no one would know.  It meant I didn’t have to own it or recognize it or acknowledge that that is what I was doing.  I could eat those emotions, stuff them back inside and then hide the evidence…. In my purse, in my dresser drawer, deep in the garbage can, in the car, behind the linens in the closet…. anywhere I could hide the evidence. 

And then it didn’t happen.  If no one knows then I can continue to ignore and not have to admit the shame and guilt.  Eating in secret meant I could stay in denial.  The shame and guilt I felt was overwhelming and having someone else see what I was doing, what I was eating, would make that shame, that guilt, too heavy to bear and it would bury me.  And if no one knows then I could avoid the judgement (I was judging myself harshly, so I didn’t need anyone else to judge me).  So, I ate, secretly……

And the cycle continued….

The thing is, it didn’t change what was going on.  The emotions were just buried now, under the guilt for eating those cookies and candy bars and hiding them.  The guilt was the focus now.  And I could just eat that too! 

I found that I was fooling myself into thinking that no one knew.  My husband knew some of the time, and because he loved me he didn’t say anything.  The guilt and shame I would have felt if he had told me would have been much harder to bear.  I could let myself down, I could lie to myself and I could disappoint me… but to do that to my husband or my kids, well that would not have been a good thing at all.

And my body showed the effects of my secret eating.  It didn’t matter how many times I hid what I was eating, or that I didn’t own it or track it because what I was eating, alone and in secret showed up….. it showed up in how I looked, what happened with my weight and more importantly, how I felt about myself.

It still does.

My secret eating is much less now.  I deal with my emotions.  I face them.  But…. There have been times these past couple of years that were just really hard…. And I struggled.  I would pick something up at the store…. candy, cookies, doughnuts, chips, peanut butter… you name it…… and hide it and eat it when I was alone.   These extra 26 pounds are proof that sometimes, when life gets hard, old habits can creep back in.  And I ate secretly, for all the reasons I have already said. 

But, I know what I am doing now.   I know that it won’t heal what needs to be healed.  IT won’t fix what needs to be fixed.  Eating in secret still shows up in public.  So, I stop.  I stop before it goes too far. 

Because of all that has changed in me and all of the healthy habits, I can stop that secret eating before I go too far, before I can’t turn back.  I don’t’ have to stuff those emotions any longer.  And I don’t have to hide because of the shame and guilt.  I can catch it and reach out for accountability.  I can tell someone, mainly my husband, and that helps to get rid of the guilt and shame.  And I can go to a workshop where I know I am not alone in this. 

Will I ever be completely cured?  NO.  But I have the tools in my pocket that help me to get back on track quickly and strategies that keep me moving forward, learning and growing. 

I heard in a meeting a few years ago from a wise leader when the topic was emotional eating….. “if you won’t eat it in front of others, then what is it you are really hungry for… what are you feeding because it isn’t physical hunger that makes you hide what you are eating.” 

Those words run through my head and get me to stop and think.  And rethink.  And deal with things.

I am still striving to be the best version of me that I can be.  And that means continuing to learn and grow on this amazing, perfectly imperfect journey.