But then, and you know this moment, I got in the car and looked in the rear view mirror - I FREAKED OUT! What the hell did I just do? I loved my hair! Immediately, I started rummaging through my bags looking for something to eat and if I had some bad snacks with me, I would have blacked out and just devoured them as I drove home...every once and a while longingly reaching my hand up to feel the void where my hair used to be. When I realized what was happening, I froze and said to myself "Seriously, Jess?".
That's the old me. It's a lifelong pattern for me and I would venture to guess I'm not alone.
I can't even count all the Sundays where I went out to breakfast and splurged because of a late night out or because I deserved a great meal after "being good" all week. Then, I'd continue to snack all day off and on, with no regard to hunger. Of course, I was feeding cravings more because I know, the more empty carbs I have, the more empty carbs I want. To cap off the day, I'd order some sort of comfort food like a calzone, pizza or pasta for delivery. But, then I'd want something sweet...so I'd eat a bag of jelly beans for good measure. Do you think I was congratulating myself on a week of great workouts? Maybe feeding my anxiety about the Sunday Blues before another stressful work week? Hell yes! Filling myself with food never solved whatever the issue was and it always made me feel worse.
Breaking emotional eating doesn't happen overnight but the first step is noticing when it's happening and taking ownership to break the pattern. After I realized what where my mind went after feeling the regret of my decision at the salon, I stopped and took a deep breath and sort of smiled because I've been through this before…and I've got this. I put on some great on an Amos Lee album, ate the apple on my passenger seat and made a plan to make time for a metabolic resistance circuit when I got home (because that's my happy place). Other positive choices could have been to take a bath, do a quick yoga flow, get out and walk to the park with the kids or make time for some trashy show waiting in my DVR cue. I chose to take care of myself emotionally, without feeding the negative emotion - literally. I know first hand that the more you exercise this restraint and awareness, the stronger and faster you snap yourself out of it.
Next time you find yourself tempted to emotionally eat because of sadness, anger, fear, stress…think about what you can do to turn that feeling positive and do something good for you. It's all about control...consciously shifting your mind from negative to positive. It's pretty powerful when we start to trust our mind to make that shift rather than relying on something external; food, your spouse or friends opinion, alcohol, drugs, etc.
3 Tips to Overcome Emotional Eating:
1. Take stock. Sometimes you might not know why you're feeling anxious so, try to be present and think for a minute. Take a few grounding breaths, breathing in through your nose for a count of 4 - hold for count of 4 - breath out nose for count of 4 - hold for a count of 4. Repeat a few times. Think about what triggered the impulse to eat and let yourself feel it for a moment.
2. Address it or table it. Either think on the reason you were about to indulge - maybe you lost a deal at work or you feel a little overweight (so, what's another cheat?). Make a plan to address it head on now or to table it to address with a friend, a therapist or yourself, through journaling, later.
3. Go positive. Negative emotions can spiral out of control. An indulgence can makes us feel worse, cause our energy to crash and lead to a series of poor decisions. Choose to go positive and find a way to take care of yourself in a way that doesn't involve food.
By the way, my new 'do is growing on me. Change is cool…I'll roll with it!