Sunday, April 11, 2010
Guardian Angels and Other Good Stuff
I am trying to maintain some sense of equilibrium. My emotions have been all over the map for a few weeks now. As some of you might remember, I’d been trying intuitive eating, rather than counting every single thing I ate, for a while now. I was kind of forced to come to this decision, because the compulsive counting and restricting wasn’t working either: it made me feel angry, resentful and ultimately, very rebellious. So I knew I needed to try something else.
When I went away for the weekend, twice, and couldn’t keep up my usual routine, I not only didn’t mess up, I actually did better on the scale than if I’d stayed home. This gave me the idea that I should try this full time. What I wasn’t considering though, is that it wasn’t just intuitive eating, and resisting temptations, that I did well with; there was another element at work here that I was failing to consider: I did well because I was away from the stresses of my daily life.
For most of us, our usual routine, both family life, and work, is stressful. It’s being in the trenches, the day-to-day stuff, not relaxing on a beach somewhere, that is so challenging in life. It’s why monks, who are trying to attain serenity and enlightenment, go off and live in a monastery! They remove themselves from the mundane, the anxiety inherent in coping with human relationships, or being taxed beyond one’s limits. The real challenge toward these goals is to do it immersed in one’s daily responsibilities. And for me, at least, compulsive eating is about trying to repress anxiety, or other negative emotions, such as anger, fear, and sadness, through the use of food.
So, even though I was able to do great with my food, away from these stresses, it didn’t mean that I could continue that so successfully while immersed in my day-to-day life. As a result, I have continued to struggle with the temptation to push down my feelings with food. I was already on shaky ground, eating over my points limit pretty consistently, just generally frustrated, when Easter came along. I was already ripe for a relapse just because I wasn’t in a good place, but when that sugar came into the house, I lost all resolve and dove in.
The sad thing is, at that point, I’d been completely sugar-free for three months. I indulged in sugar for three days, but because it sets me up with cravings, I continued to make poor choices for the rest of the week: white flour, processed foods, all sorts of things that are never a part of my food plan, suddenly became fair-game.
Now, I really should tie a string around my finger, or have some other touch-stone that can serve as a reminder for myself, because I have learned this again and again, but I keep forgetting: It is never worth it to eat sugar. Here’s why:
1. I always gain weight as a result
2. I always feel like crap as a result
3. It takes days, weeks, and sometimes even months to get off of it again, because the cravings are so powerful
4. Losing weight is so hard, and to gain it thoughtlessly like this is simply self-defeating
When will I learn? I need a little angel standing at my shoulder, saying, “Jackie, don’t do it. The reward is very brief, and the consequences far outweigh the benefits.”
For some reason, when I am in a good place, I can be that angel for myself. But sometimes, old knee-jerk responses kick in, and I am left trying to fix something that feels broken; searching for a way to comfort that sad, lonely, hurting little girl inside, who probably just needs a hug, and someone to say, “It’s OK Jackie, you’re going to be all right”.
In my family I learned that the way to fix ‘broken’ was always outside of yourself: it was in the refrigerator, or the medicine cabinet, or a bottle. No one ever told me that the answer is inside of me. Or that I had the power to feel better simply by tuning in and saying, “What do you need today? Right now, what would make you feel better?”
And I also know that there are a dozen answers to that question:
1. Go for a walk
2. Call a friend
3. Get out in nature
4. Take your camera and take some pictures
5. Get out your sketch book
6. Take a paddle in the kayak
7. Give yourself positive messages
8. Cut yourself some slack
9. Listen to uplifting music
I am human: I falter, I fall, I struggle, but Thank God, I usually have enough healthy Jackie who wants me to get up again, get back on my feet. I just have to remember that I have guardian angels that are with me every minute of every day, and all I need to do is ask for them to surround me, to draw near and give me strength. Because, I am OK, I am beautiful, and it will be all right.