The gift of feeling your emotions

Stress eating has made a reappearance in my life, and it is more stubborn than ever.  This time I even recognized it as it was happening but I wasn’t able to stop it. This is even more frightening than when I don’t see it coming.

So let’s start with work. I’m learning a new computer system — a system my coworkers have already mastered (or at least they act like they have).  I’m behind because they were practicing while I was away from work, helping my husband  recover from open heart surgery.

Every day last week I found myself walking away from my desk and walking up to the vending machines to buy something sweet or salty to escape the stress of having to consider and evaluate every keystroke I made. I would then eat the food at my desk while I slowly worked through the next keystrokes that would help me finish editing a story, a page, a newspaper section, or a story for our online site.

I also had a big disappointment.  I thought I had reached a deal that would help bring my weight loss site to a new level — something that would have helped me gain more followers and helped other people discover what I’m trying to do here to help African American women learn to eat more sensibly and lose weight.  But that deal fell through last week. And I was deeply hurt and disappointed.  So I ate to feel better.

Except I didn’t feel better after eating some of my favorites, peanut M&Ms, almond Hershey bars and mini-pretzels . And not just one, but all three, one after the other. I was trying to feel better and I felt worse.

Time and time again I find this is the hardest thing for me to do — take a deep breath and feel my feelings. Allow myself to feel what I’m feeling and accept the fact that being able to have those feelings puts me in a position to act positively. That feeling is the gift that can make me stop and act rationally.  I can make the decision to skip the bad food, and not ignore what I’m feeling, but feel the painful emotions, let them run their course, and move on. Because when I was eating all that stuff, I wasn’t even hungry. let alone satisfied when I was done.

Being in tune with your emotions really is a gift. Many people can’t do it — I think most people have trouble connecting consciously to their deep feelings on a regular basis. But even if everyone can’t do it at this moment in their lives, everyone can get there with some effort and self-awareness.

If I’m going to eat in a consistently healthy manner, I’m going to have to be even more in touch with my emotions than I am now. It’s a process. I know there are people who have learned to do it. I have a long way to go.  Binge eating hurts your body with harmful insulin swings, and that should be motivation enough for me to stop when I see myself going to that dark place.

So I spent the weekend trying to feel and not eat, and it’s been ok, but not perfect.  Of course, I am not at work, where I feel the most stress, and that is the real test.

Yes, it’s tough, but in the end, worth all the time and effort to try.

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