On Hunger and Emotional Eating

For about 12 weeks I’ve been sharing my journey weight loss and fitness journey, and today was a big milestone.  Today I hit my 5% loss mark, despite an emotional rollercoaster ride during the past week, and my out of control nighttime eating.

Emotional eating has to be a big part of any one’s make up who has weight issues.  We eat under stress or when certain emotional triggers are fired, and the next thing we know, there’s a quart of ice cream gone, or an entire large bag of Stacy’s Pita Chips.

Sometimes it’s the emotional memory of being hungry.  Our ancestors who lived a subsistence existence knew they had to enjoy a good meal because the next one might be a long way off.  Only the rich grew fat.  Some of us may have endured a childhood or adulthood with not enough food, and those experiences become the lens through which we look through for the rest of our lives.

Almost thirty years ago I hit a bad time in my life.  Suddenly single and drowning in bills, I had little or no money for food.  From over 140 pounds, I went to 107.  My friends thought it was the divorce that did it, but it wasn’t.  After paying monthly bills there simply was almost none left for food.  Some days my entire food consumption for the day was a large bag of popcorn.  I could’ve gone to my mother, the Food Bank, or friends, but I was ashamed that despite a really good job, my life was financially foundering.

Hunger is a painful thing.  It changes you in more ways than losing weight or suddenly drowning your figure in too large clothes.  It makes you think about food, stare at advertising or tv shows, holiday specials, and the like.  Once that part of my life was over, I discovered that eating made me feel frantic.  There was suddenly no emotional food gate that said “Stop eating.  You’ve had enough!”  No, after going hungry and feeling the pain of an empty stomach, there was no such thing as enough.

Thirty years later I’m taking the almost 100 pounds off that went on in emotional eating and escaping the emotions of hunger.  Weight Watchers has helped me take a look at my triggers and head them off as much as I can.  It’s a work in progress.

During the bad times, I used a gasoline credit card to buy a can of soda and bag of chips because my bank account was empty, and the hunger pains were driving me insane.  The gasoline station clerk told me I couldn’t do that anymore, since it was against the station policy.  She was angry that she’d get in trouble, and I felt humiliated that I had no choice.

That moment, and the nights hunger kept me awake changed my attitude towards Food Banks, Food Stamps, WIC, and charity hunger groups.  It’s easy to sit back and condemn the poor or dispossessed when you’ve never felt hunger, never worried about where a meal was coming from.  Never worried about how you were going to feed your children, or an elderly dependent parent.

Hunger and despair changes everything.

It’s getting to be that time…  You know, when women start shopping for the perfect dress or dresses for holiday parties.  It’s almost October, y’all, and no, it’s not too early to be plotting and thinking about that show stopping dress.

For some of us who need to shed a few pounds, or in my case a lot, thinking a month ahead of time isn’t outrageous.  I have a gorgeous evening gown that’s seen too many holiday parties, and needs to be retired.  And I want to drop kick my Spanx armor into tomorrow, hence the Weight Watchers and Jazzercise forays for the past 12 weeks.  (Sometime I’ll tell you about the Spanx show and tell in a limo one year…)

Neiman Marcus has been teasing me with ads on Facebook, as has some company called JJ’s.  In the past I would scope out the local Ross store, where I once scored a fabulous evening dress.  The discounters like Ross, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx are so iffy to deal with, and then there are the people who think it’s okay to let their kids run amok there.  (Ladies, I do not want your toddler, boy or girl, to stick their head under my changing room door again.)

And then there’s the footwear issue, and I’m not talking about fashion magazines.

Last holiday party was at a Houston location that looks like a Tuscan villa and fortress plunked into suburban sprawl.  A prime wedding venue, it’s a great spot for corporate parties, although not in the same league as the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  As I stood there at the end of the party with a cluster of people waiting on their cars, there was a common thread.  Women were wanting out of those three and six inch heels, and they were in pain.  A lot of pain.  I feel those kinds of heels are like the original Hans Christian Anderson story of the Little Mermaid.  You know, the real story where Arial was in agony to walk on land, but was dumb enough to do it for true love?  Won’t go into that story now, but we all know it ended badly.

The crux of this is I can’t or won’t wear high heels anymore, and it has nothing to do with my innate clumsiness, or ability to fall over in any given moment.  By my age, I’ve been to too many parties where my heels were wearing me, and no amount of alcohol made them comfortable.  The end result is that I wear low heels or beautiful flats, and that means hemming, expensive hemming on evening dresses.  No waiting until the last moment, unless you’re handy with double stick tape or a stapler, and that never works well.  Triple wrong with a glue gun.  Trust me.

Last year I wore low heels for the first time to DH’s employer holiday party, and he kept asking me how I was doing.  This was conditioning from years of listening to me complain the entire evening how badly my beautiful pumps hurt my feet.  I was happy, and didn’t fall down the beautiful stairs even once.  At the end of that evening we were waiting for the parking valet to fetch our car.  All around me I heard the complaints and sympathized with my fellow female party goers, but for once was NOT feeling like I’d pass out from the pain.  I may be short and stout, but I’m no Little Mermaid fashionista footwear victim.  

Wait, does that make me a teapot?
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