Today's post is a continuum of all things emotional eating and how habits are formed. I think it explains why we can relapse or revert back to emotional eating when the going gets tough. Let's face it, when you're on a mission, it's relatively easy to lose weight - you're pumped, you're focused, you've got the goal. I speak to so many people who tell me, "I'll never regain it!" only to end up regaining and then some - in the meantime those who are in diet mode look on smugly and say, "I'll never be like that!". However, unless you do the work upstairs, this is EXACTLY what will happen.
Our responses to stressors are often learned. I know that when I was a child, the last thing that I felt when I was stressed or anxious, was hungry. I learned the behaviour through seeing patterns in my family and in others - "eat something and you'll feel better". So naturally, some event happened, I ate to "feel better" and off I went. I would feel stressed, tired and anxious on coming home from work, so I ate something to feel better. Eventually I just used to come home from work tired and not particularly stressed - what would I do - eat something! And although a stressor was the initial driver, the habit still remained. Do it over and over again for long enough and it becomes an ingrained habit. Get anxious? Eat! Get bored? Eat!
This behaviour peaked after my second daughter was born. When she was nearly two I started to change my lifestyle for the better. I lost the weight, I did three Figure Comps , and yes, I worked on the mental side of things on the way down. And yes, for the most part, I've done pretty well with maintenance.
However my experiences this year are a potent reminder that "life is managed, not cured" - you don't just lose the weight and be done - you spend your life literally being a continual work in progress. My own experiences with both internal and external stressors this year have seen some habits that I thought I had seen the last of, return with a vengeance. It's been a reminder to focus on what I want, not what I don't want.
One habit that I'm reacquainting myself is mindfulness - it's impossible to be mindful and savour your food when you're in the grip of an emotional eating experience. In an emotional eating experience, "hunger" is immediate and insistent whereas if nature takes it's course, true hunger builds gradually and it's easier to go for nutritious food rather than crap that doesn't do you any good.
Tonight I had chicken thighs for dinner with brown rice,broccoli and almonds, inspired by Katie Pirate and Miss Shelley - I've always been a breasts kinda girl and a bit of extra fat has left me feeling full and content. I think Cavewoman Liz is going to have to have a new rule when approaching a chook - eat the legs first!