One of Those Weeks
After a rather virtuous start to 2017, I found myself hitting a bit of a wall last week. As suggested in my last post, I gave myself lots and LOTS of grace with regards to Mission: Victoria’s Secret Body. I cleared out the remaining Christmas chocolates and cake by depositing them all in the gaping hole in my face, and I decided I would give myself the week off from any exercise. I initially felt released! “Yay! I can be OK making decisions like ‘eat that wedge of fruit cake’ because I am just loving myself and not judging myself and this way I am much more likely to live a balanced way of eating” However… I moved quite quickly from a place of mindful and controlled eating of sugary and chocolatey stuff, to eating because I could and because I wanted to.
And why did I want to? Honestly? Because actually there are a few things on my mind at the moment that had greater emotional weight than I realised.
I had transitioned very swiftly into the deep rut of Emotional Eating.
However, my subconscious mind understood this and subsequently decided to stop me identifying the error of my ways by feeding my conscious self little lies like:
‘You’re hormonal – you’ll stop eating like this next week’
‘You’re in control still – you just preached on giving yourself grace and that’s what you’re doing now!’
‘It’s only one bite… ‘
And so for the rest of the week I succumbed to most of the pretty foods in sight. I quite possibly (definitely) even manipulated our Saturday night at the commune so that we had to get fish and chips for dinner (Nb: we are not actually in a commune) which I ate so fast that I actually hurt and yet still forced down more chips and finished off Chris and Kate’s Ketchup supply. Now, please note, that not all of our meals were like this – in fact all of our meals were wholly nutritious (apart from the fish and chips) but I was going to town on all the extras in between.
Self Sabotage & Secrecy
I had to drop into Tesco to pick up some body wash on Tuesday, which of course means scouring the aisles for unnecessary food items that I really need. In my basket went a tin of Quality Streets. This wasn’t even an impulse buy. I spent about 5 minutes weighing up the merits of buying a 750g tin over a 500g tin. I went with the 500g because I knew if Simon caught me it would be harder to justify to him the larger tin.
My reasons for this purchase were quite reasonable. Firstly, I didn’t get to eat any Quality Streets at Christmas this year – only Roses. Secondly, I would buy them to take into a staff room for my birthday in February, which falls on a Saturday this year. Sound reasoning me thinks.
I did the rest of my shopping and as I approached the til, I realised that I was totally sabotaging any attempt to eat more nutritiously in the coming weeks. Even if I did manage to not open them until my birthday, I will clearly also be eating cake to celebrate so they were totally surplus to any celebratory plans.
Instead of a walk of shame out of the supermarket clutching my tin, I did a gallant stroll back to the aisle of heavenly purple and put the tin back. One win to me!
It got me thinking about how often I sabotage my own success with eating by placing opportunities like that in front of me. Until about 3pm today I had a packet of mini-eggs in my glove box. Why?! What’s happened to them?! What do you think?!
This time of year is a nightmare for me in petrol stations. A typical conversation between Simon and I:
Simon: Have we got anything sweet to eat?
Me: Hmmm… (knowing full well we have ) Well I got you a creme egg from the petrol station?
Simon without hesitation: You ate the other two didn’t you? (He knows me so well)
Me: ummm…. did you want a cup of tea with it?
THREE FOR TWO creme eggs are SUCH a BARGAIN! If you’re judging me for this, ask him about my pork pie phase
Applying Self Love
So this week, whilst I have continued to eat crap, I have also begun to get back to basics applying some precious self-love. This is key to success in all aspects of life – but definitely for me with food. I’ve talked a lot about self-love but I’ve not talked much about how to apply this practically, so I thought I’d break it down:
- I acknowledged my feelings
- I acknowledged my feelings don’t define me
- I applied truth
Hormonal? Stressed at work? People making too many demands? Shit generally hitting the fan? World falling away underneath you? These are all reasons that people start eating emotionally and then see it spiral out of control. Whether it’s just a phase, or whether there’s a whole load of uncertainty ahead, or disappointment that we’re carrying, or bereavement, or whatever it is – it’s so important to simply acknowledge it. When we acknowledge how we are actually feeling and what is actually bothering us, we do two things.
- We validate ourselves
- We bring it to the front of our mind so we can be mindful of the consequences of it
When we acknowledge what the source of our upset might be, we are telling ourselves that it’s OK to have an emotional response to the situation. We give ourselves permission to feel. When we validate our feelings, we are saying to ourselves that we are worth listening to and that our feelings are important. Even the trivial stuff is still a valid feeling. I remember a friend telling me that when she’s hormonal she could cry over the fact that her pencil just snapped. It made me laugh because it’s so true! It’s trivial in the grand scheme of things, but in the moment, the feeling is very real and therefore valid.
Acknowledging the source of our upset also helps us call it out from our unconscious. You know the day when you get your period and you suddenly go “oh yeahhh!!! that’s why I wanted to punch the old lady in the self-serve queue in Co-op for taking so long yesterday”. It suddenly makes sense! Calling out the source of our frustration doesn’t bring it to the front of your mind so you can ruminate and wind yourself up, but it does mean you can go “ahaaa! that’s why I wanna eat Nutella by the tablespoon today”. When we know why we’re eating like a glutton, we have a greater chance of helping ourselves stop it.
That’s Not Who I Am
Once we’ve acknowledged how we are feeling, we then need to remember that our feelings don’t define us. My feelings don’t reflect my sense of self, my identity, my qualities or my character. Just because I feel sad about something, doesn’t mean that I’m not valuable or lovely. (I am so lovely!) We often let our emotional worlds have a big loud voice. We can let negative thought processes attached to our feelings (and the side effects of our feelings like stuffing our faces with crap) override who we really are. I may feel gross and frumpy but I’m still Amy – lovely as I am.
The Power of Post-It Notes
I have a thing for stationary and I’m rather partial to the odd post-it note (heart shaped, fluorescent, I just love them) so on the wall by my mirror that I sit in front of every morning I have a handful of post-it notes with truth about who I am on them. One of them says “I am lovely”, and another says “I am strong”. I don’t always read them but they are so encouraging to return to on weeks like this one. It can be hard to read them and believe them sometimes, but I reckon the more I do it, the more I believe it and the more I love myself.
I Dare You!
So Wednesday morning, after my Tuesday Quality Street quandary I began afresh. Well in my mind at least. I stood in front of the mirror and out loud I acknowledged my feelings and then my circumstances. Then I told myself who I was.
“Amy. Yeah, you know what, I feel sad at the moment. X, Y & Z is on my mind and the truth is, it hurts and it sucks. BUT…. I am still lovely. Yes my eyebrows need threading BUT… I am still beautiful. Yes my skin is breaking out BUT… I am still strong. Today I am powerful to make good choices and I deserve to nourish myself”
This is the best pep talk I can give myself. It sets me up for the day. I don’t have to give myself a high five but sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t feel like anything has changed, but I know the truth still stands regardless of my feelings. Sometimes I feel I can conquer the world!
I dare you to give this a go! You may feel a bit stupid but who’s watching?! You may feel a bit emotional – but own it! It’s true! I guarantee that if you start reminding yourself of your value each day, you begin to live from a place of purpose and strength. You become empowered to make better choices and you feel free to give yourself grace when you fall short of your own standards.
You may struggle to think of anything to tell yourself so let me help you out with some truth to say in the mornings:
- I am precious
- I am beautiful
- I am valuable
- I am strong
- My life is full of purpose
- I am lovely inside and out
- I love my eyes/hair/legs/bum
- I deserve the best today
- I am loved
- I make a difference
This isn’t being obnoxious or arrogant or self-indulgent. This is simply acknowledging ourselves for who we are – and we are each amazing individuals in our own weird and wonderful ways!
I imagine I will have more weeks like these in the future. It’s an ongoing process after all! But for now, I’m going to breathe a sigh of relief that I’ve confessed more of my secret eating habits to you and enjoy some pudding before bed!