Greetings to all!
I don’t know about you, but I had a bad winter last year. I have severe fibromyalgia and my pain level was much higher. I got through it but I’m not looking forward to this winter. I maintained my weight last year throughout winter although the temptation to “eat away my pain” was there.Â Do you find certain seasons or circumstances to be more difficult to maintain your weight loss than others? In winter people tend to want to overeat and hibernate. That works for bears because they overeat and then stop eating while they hibernate. It’s a little more complicated for humans.
We all have times of illness, stress, celebration and sadness. It wasn’t until 1999, when my family went through an excruciating period of grief, that I took a look at myself and said: “You can go through this eating hot fudge sundaes and come out the other side even fatter, or you can use your grief as a reminder that hot fudge sundaes don’t change a thing.” That’s what got my weight loss going until, sixÂ years later, I lost 100 pounds.
The point is this: If you want to consistently lose weight, you have to get to the point where you don’t turn to food when external circumstances are hard to deal with. Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas cookies, birthdays, not feeling well, arguing with someone, getting chewed out by your boss, losing someone you love, losing your job . . . Many peopleÂ useÂ circumstances as a legitimate reason to eat what they know is not healthy for them.
The good news is, you have the power and ability to change this automatic response to circumstances. It won’t be easy, especially if you are surrounded by overweight family members and friends, or live in a culture where fried chicken and macaroni and cheese with extra cheese is a normal meal. Maybe you live in a world where cocktail parties are held regularly and dining out is your norm. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom with three children under the age of five and no emotional or physical support from your spouse or family.
Thin people don’t use food for celebrations, stress or sadness.
So how do you start changing your response to circumstances? You need some new responses that don’t include food.
Spend a week or more making a list (write it down!) of other things you enjoy. Please go beyond the “take a walk, read a book, get in a bubbleÂ bath” clichÃ© that weight loss organizations throw at you. You may have to thinkÂ about this a long time to come up with some creative ideas. Think about it for a moment right now . . . It isn’t easy, is it? That’s because you’ve used food to celebrate or commiserate all of the things that have happened to you for so long.
You have to think outside of theÂ ice cream carton. Take up a new hobby? Go back to a hobby you’ve given up for whatever reason? Are you the kind of person who enjoys nurturing and giving your time to other people? Maybe you should look at some volunteer possibilities. How about helping kids with reading in school? Schools need volunteers in many areas. Maybe you want to go back to school. Try taking one class at a community college.
You’re going to have to sit with this list for awhile until you come up with some ideas you will enjoy (almost) as much as eating. Then, when life falls apart, you can turn to something other than food to get you through.
What are your favorite non-food rewards? Post a comment and share with others.
Until next time,
Susan L Stewart