I’m struggling right now.
I’ve been writing this post for a few weeks, but kept editing and waiting as I tried to figure things out in my head. I don’t want anyone to think that I claimed innocence or ignored some of the comments to be rude, but rather I was working through some issues and deciding on the best way to address them. Getting questions and accusations during that process is disconcerting, but I hope that this post will clarify a bit of what many people have been curious about.
I recognize that much of the issue people take with my posts is my fault. I don’t always share everything, plus I know I have new readers that don’t know my full history. I take responsibility for anything that has come across as triggering, harmful, or simply in contrast to the healthy lifestyle I strive to promote.
Currently, I’m struggling with emotional eating.
“Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger,” says Jane Jakubczak, a registered dietitian at the University of Maryland. “Instead of the physical symptom of hunger initiating the eating, an emotion triggers the eating.
If you’re eating to satisfy an emotional need, you’re more likely to keep eating. When you’re eating because you’re hungry, you’re more likely to stop when you’re full. Emotional eating can leave behind feelings of guilt; eating when you are physically hungry does not.” (source)
It’s hard for me to come to terms with this. I had been doing so well and thought that eating issues were in my past, so it’s tough to admit that a new wave has resurfaced. I’ve thought that maybe it was just a bit of a phase that would go away, but this time it seems like something I really need to work on.
My food and eating history is complex. A stressful breakup in high school spurred a control-based battle with Anorexia, then my attempts at recovery led to overeating and occasionally binge eating. When I finally took charge of my health and got my act together, I felt great. I focused on real foods, training for a race, and building back my confidence.
Things were golden when this blog was created. I was living at home with very few expenses, working a job with reasonable hours, training for a marathon, and getting plenty of sleep.I didn’t overanalyze my meals, but definitely focused on eating really well. I’d also admit to being more rigid and less social at that period than I am now, which made it much easier to stick to health and fitness goals.
Unfortunately, glorious low-stress periods are often short lived. I moved to Dallas about a year and a half ago and it was the start of a lot of changes in my life. Another breakup, living on my own in a new city, working a job that I was not happy in, and in general having a lot more on my plate. It’s not much for some people, but it was stressful for me. Some of the good habits that I had been maintaining were falling through the cracks.
My recent struggles with emotional eating started at the end of the summer with what I’m seeing as my quarter-life crisis. Deciding to quit my job and make a total career change was really tough on me emotionally. I had feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and excitement all at once, and it took a toll on my health. I’ve felt much happier since making the decision, but moving home, knowing my future is still up in the air, and being unemployed is not easy for me.
My family has a history of addiction, which has manifested itself with both alcohol and food in my relatives. I never really thought I was part of that, but I am learning that certain life events and circumstances are triggering a little bit of it in me. Luckily I have pushed away the under eating tendencies – my eating disorder was such a bad time in my life that I can’t even fathom heading back in that direction – but now I go towards overeating which isn’t good either.
It’s likely not very noticeable, but I have gained weight since summer. I don’t know how much because I haven’t weighed myself, but based on how I look and the way my clothes fit I’d estimate it’s about 10 pounds. Nothing major, and certainly nothing unhealthy (I think I look fine!), but it’s a physical reminder that my eating habits haven’t been wonderful. My normal choices of vegetables and proteins have been followed with sweets and snacks far past the point of fullness. I’m not treating my body well, and it’s hard for someone that is so involved in health and fitness to admit that.
It’s also important to remember that my life hasn’t just stalled because I’m not eating the best. I’m still a happy person! I still get work done each day, volunteer, work to find my passions, exercise (hello 22:18 5k PR!), travel, build a relationship with my boyfriend, and hang out with my friends. Food is only ONE part of my life, and while it’s unfortunately not the easiest part right now, life goes on. There are tons of amazing, wonderful things happening for me and I am focusing on my blessings.
I recognize that my history makes me more conscious on a daily basis of what I put into my body. Sometimes I wish it weren’t that way, but I can’t change my past. The plan is to actively work on my relationship with food. It may include experimenting with different foods, different meal sizes, etc. I’m just going to figure out what makes me happy and what allows me to feel good about myself each day, and I hope you guys can bare with me! I know it won’t always be perfect, but I’m going to do my best.
I want to add, because I know I’ll get comments, that I don’t think that this little speed bump at all affects my ability to work in the health field. I chose to educate myself on nutrition for my own benefit, and as a result I’ve been able to help others. My previous (and current) struggles and willingness to be open about them have connected me to girls that appreciate that type of support. I am not an expert or a professional, but my personal experiences have taught me a lot about how to manage different health issues, even if I don’t always take my own advice.
The career change I am moving towards is not nutrition, and I promise I’ll tell you more about it in a few weeks!
It’s scary to post this, but good to get it out and hopefully helps you all understand a little bit more about what I’m going through. I’d like to remind everyone that all people and all bloggers have their own struggles, many of which feel embarrassing and aren’t shared. Everyone has the right to fat days, getting a little off track, and wanting to clean up their diet regardless of their past or present weight. It’s impossible, especially through the internet, to ever know fully what someone is experiencing, and the best thing we can do as friends is be open and supportive.