Trying to lose weight can sometimes feel like walking on a tightrope. You're anxious, you're afraid you're going to fall off, and for every step forward, it feels like you end up taking a step back to regain your balance. For instance, this week I ate really healthy and got back to my pre-vacation weight. Finally! Then yesterday I woke up craving sugar and salt, and by the end of the day I had no doubt I had gained back a couple of those pounds I had lost. A few years ago, I would have jumped right off that tightrope in defeat. But today, my tightrope's not so narrow. I can take a few steps back and look around before I move forward again. Today I know that a step back is really just an opportunity to learn something new before moving on.
A few years ago (actually I just realized it might have been four...where has the time gone!?), I decided to talk with a therapist - once again - about my bingeing. She asked me to do something that none of my past therapists had done, but now seems so simple and obvious to me. She asked me to write a "slip" journal. That meant that every time I slipped and binged, I had to write in a journal about what was going on. Where I was when I binged, what had happened earlier in the day, what was happening later, the thoughts and emotions I was feeling, etc. The purpose of this was to look for patterns and triggers, and also to come up with solutions so that the next time I was in the same situation, I could come up with a healthier option. After this, I stopped seeing bingeing as a failure, but rather began to look at it as an opportunity to learn something new to help myself. As long as I made the effort to examine my behavior and come up with some solutions for next time, there was no need to feel bad.
Now, I can look at a day like yesterday and ask myself what happened and how I can keep it from happening again. There were two simple triggers that I can avoid or change in the future:
- I've been eating too much sugar. I made my first ever gluten-free zucchini bread, which I was really proud of, but the recipe used a lot of sugar. I know myself well enough to know that when I eat sugar, it triggers a craving for more sugar. So I'll be searching for gluten-free baking recipes that don't have a lot of sugar, like from Amy's blog, Simply Sugar & Gluten Free.
- My boyfriend and I went hiking, and I didn't plan well. I brought a bunch of snacks, but they were mostly starches, dried fruit, and nuts. I should have taken the time to plan a lunch that would include some protein and vegetables. After a day of intense exercise and unbalanced eating, I was completely off-kilter when we got home. I made a salad, and then proceeded to eat corn chips and cheese. Needless to say, the salad ended up back in the fridge. So next time I go hiking, I'll be taking the time to plan a balanced meal and snacks to take with me.