Weight: 249.2 lb
Yep, that’s right. According to my home scale, my weight is under 250 lb. This is, as you can imagine, a big deal to me, and I’m super excited. Yesterday, when I stepped on the scale and saw a number that was just under 250 lb., I think I even let out a little squeal of glee, as I was sure this was going to be my daily high point. All I could think of was those last few pounds hanging on at my WW weigh ins, keeping me from my 10 lb. goal there, and how I vowed to my husband that this would be the week I would beat the scale and get my name on the WW center wall! Excitement was definitely building. And, I had the whole day ahead of me with my nieces and some cookie baking and some chat time and even a nice lunch and playtime with the dogs, so what could possibly put a damper on this high point in my day?
And then my niece burned her fingers on my watch. She reached right up and grabbed the edge of a piping hot cookie sheet while I was standing right next to her. Definitely the low point of the day. My sister-in-law took her to the doctor to be safe rather than sorry and the doctor assured her that my niece was fine, that she would heal perfectly, that she was not permanently scarred, that accidents happen and I should not feel badly and then gave her some ointment. My sister-in-law tried to drive home the point about accidents happening and the whole thing not being my fault and even called in my mother-in-law for reinforcements, but it was all to no avail. They could have saved their energy. I was already convinced that I was the worst caregiver. Ever. I mean, I had sole responsibility of the tiny two year old for less than 5 minutes and that’s the time she manages to suffer burns on her little palm and miniature fingers? There’s something wrong with that. So I ate three cookies and a couple spoonfuls of cookie dough when I returned home from the doctors office. And in the privacy of my bedroom, I crawled into bed to cry a little instead of heading to the gym to sweat a lot.
As I wallowed in my guilt and self-pity, it occurred to me that this was not the healthiest way to deal with extreme stress or negative emotions. That this wasn’t the friendliest coping mechanism for my waistline. That this pattern of behavior is exactly what landed me in the predicament where I have to lose so much weight, since I gained much of it during the fallout of a terrible break up and depression almost 10 years ago. Of course, yesterday I didn’t care, because I was sure I deserved every bad thing that could ever happen to me, but today as I reflect on this, I notice a pattern of coping with emotions that leads to negative self-talk and unhealthy choices. Once, I took up smoking to deal with my sadness. Often, I took up a lot of eating. In my low point, I’ll take almost anything that makes me feel better, even if I know that thing is actually bad for me in the end.
The funny thing is that it’s so easy for me to see the good in other people. I can seem to find a positive in almost any situation. And I’m aware when I’m being unreasonable and try to temper myself. But I at my low points, when I’ve screwed up royally, I can’t seem to find one good or lovely thing in myself and I’m over- aware of my own faults. I am my own harshest critic and then believe that everyone else is secretly thinking it too (or surely all the reasonable, sane people). I want to give up on fighting for anything better, to be healthier or happier, and believe that I deserve the hand I’ve been dealt or the hole I’ve dug and I should lie there and accept it. I can always find the grace to forgive others their mistakes, to shrug off shortcomings or missteps, but one wrong move from myself and I’m on the attack, loathing and fixating on every weakness. And I’m pretty sure that’s a bad thing.
So how do you fix a negative pattern? How do you cope more positively with your emotions? At WW, they talk about identifying the true problem you’re trying to fix with your food. They talk about identifying the emotions you are experiencing and the ones you are seeking from food. They talk about finding another way to meet those emotional needs, talking to a friend, journaling, playing with your kids or pets, instead. But basically, you have to first know what you are feeling and then learn how to cope differently. So maybe I’m already half-way there, since I’ve sorted out the what and the when. All I need to do now is come up with a different how.