April Moments

Maybe, just maybe, telling the story is just as important as the story itself

Disgusticified – part 2

The reason I looked disgusticified was because the shirt, despite being an extra large, was tiny! When my husband saw the shirt, he commented that it looked like it would fit Riley, my 6-year-old niece.

Despite my hesitance, Mike assured that the top looked fine, and I should definitely keep it, even wear it out in public. I am not convinced.

It is fairly common for women to diet with the goal of fitting into a special piece of clothing. Usually, it’s a bathing suit or a bridesmaid’s dress. Not for me!

The piece of clothing that prompted me into diet mode was the “Wicked” T-shirt I bought for myself as a Mother’s Day gift.

My problem – the “gravity” in life I need to defy is my addiction to food! I think about food a lot, and I have many bad eating habits. Several months ago, my friend Betsy let me borrow what she calls a life-changing book, “Life is Hard, Food is Easy” by Linda Spangle. It involves a five-step process to overcome emotional eating.

My life is a constant weight loss, weight gain cycle. When I was on “the breastfeeding diet,” I lost about 40 pounds in approximately six months. I was the thinnest I had been since college, and it was fabulous! Co-workers and friends frequently said to me, “Wow, you’ve really lost weight.” In my mind, there is no better compliment.

Well, then Elliot started eating more solid foods. I was nursing him less, so the weight started coming back. Within the next five months, I gained about 20 pounds. I finally reached the point when I could no longer stand how I looked and, more importantly, how I felt.

About that time, my friend and co-worker Leah began doing Weight Watchers. I decided to join her. We hated it, but we encouraged each other, vented to each other and even had success together. We both lost significant pounds, enough that people were again commenting. For both of us, as long as the compliments were rolling in, we were doing well.

Then, we began to fall off the wagon. Interestingly, we rationalized each other’s bad eating habits much like we had encouraged the positive behaviors when were dieting. For example, we would say things like, “It’s OK if we eat this cake. It’s your birthday!” Or, “It’s impossible not to cheat if you go out of town.” Cheating was always OK, and points didn’t count as much – as long as we were in it together.

Eventually, we came to the realization that what we needed, and still need, is lifestyle change, not just dieting.

One of my biggest struggles is feeling as though I deserve certain foods if I’ve had a long or difficult day. My greatest culprit: the frozen coffee drink. Throw in some caramel or mocha flavorings, and I will readily hand over $4! On a recent grocery shopping trip, Elliot was more challenging than usual. After we left Wal-Mart, I had to drive through Starbucks and order a java chip frappuccino. I deserved it, I told myself!

The other day, while talking with Leah in her office, I recounted this story, and it dawned on me. The coffee drink is a coping mechanism. I am using food to deal with my emotions.

Who knew a simple T-shirt could bring about such revelation? Now, if I could only defy my personal gravity. It is one of my goals to say in reference to my food issues, as Elphaba sings so beautifully in “Wicked,” “Something has changed within me. Something is not the same.”

I cannot rely on food to make me feel better. Actually, it usually makes me feel worse, both physically and mentally, if I consume large amounts of unhealthy options. And, I need to learn that it’s OK to indulge occasionally as long as the portions are small. I do not need to punish myself for eating the foods I enjoy.

Spangle’s strategy, “smaller amounts, less often,” is a good one for me. For example, I know I cannot give up frozen coffee drinks entirely. Rather, she suggests enjoying your favorite food or drink, say once a month. Pick a date, stick with it and look forward to savoring the flavors and textures without the guilt.

Perhaps by obeying the simple mantra “smaller amounts, less often,” I can finally echo the thoughts of the misunderstood Elphaba, who concludes “Defying Gravity” with these words: “To those who ground me, take a message back from me. Tell them how I am defying gravity. I’m flying high, defying gravity… And nobody…is ever gonna bring me down!”

Originally published on ovparent.com.

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