feeding the feelings: my confession (please be gentle) | brave blogging link-up

Liv Lane

Over the past 48 hours, I have written two other posts in an attempt to avoid writing this one. The one I’ve planned for weeks to write. The one about the thing I don’t want you to know about, but you probably already do just by looking at me.

But today’s our “brave blogging day” in my blog ecourse; a day when I challenge all of my students to follow my lead, sharing something that feels courageous and vulnerable. Guess there’s no better time to stare down insecurity than when everyone’s watching.

So here’s the deal, plain and simple: I’m fat again. I’m not writing that to get a laugh…or a virtual hug…or an artificial compliment from any of you. Friends, it’s just the truth. I swore I wouldn’t be back here again – buying bigger clothes, loathing my double chin, out of breath after a flight of stairs. But dammit, here I am. Again.

I have been riding this roller coaster with my body for over 25 years. And it’s not even fun. 

Lately, I’ve just been sad about it. Not mad (been there). Not in denial (also quite familiar). Just sad that I have spent so much time battling mySELF, taking one step forward and two steps back so many times I’ve probably circled the planet by now. I have tried countless diets, cleanses, and weight loss programs. I’ve read so. many. books. I tried everything Oprah did…and bought all of her chefs’ cookbooks and weight loss journals. I abandoned dairy – twice. I joined a support group about losing weight through self-love.

In hindsight, none of those things worked long-term because I’m an emotional eater. Maybe even a food addict. When I feel sad or mad or hurt or stressed or tired or even super happy, I turn to food to calm me, to regulate my emotions, to help me find my center. I don’t binge; it usually only takes a handful of chips or a few bites of chocolate to get me there – to lift me up or bring me down, like a drug. But when a person does that several times a day, across a lifetime, she’s going to gain weight.

I seriously just figured that out. 

No matter how many times I heard or read about emotional eating, I never felt like it applied to me. Until this recent realization that I’m fat again. Instead of searching for the next diet or entering a drawn-out state of self-loathing, I started re-tracing my steps to figure out why. See, two and a half years ago, I lost over 40 pounds in a weight loss program; I only ate salads, ground beef and bars that tasted like chalk. Since I couldn’t feed my feelings, I wasn’t a very happy camper. And the weight came off so quickly, my body rebelled; I wound up in surgery to remove my gall bladder. That road to getting healthy was clearly far from healthy.

A few months later, my dad died – but something amazing happened.

For several months, I was so besotted by grief that I could hardly eat. It was the first time in my life I didn’t feel hungry – physically or emotionally. In hindsight, I realize my body knew that a handful of potato chips weren’t potent enough to heal that level of grief or bring my dad back. Food became a non-factor and I lost weight without trying. I let myself feel the feelings – and I survived!

Wishing You Well cardEventually, regular life resumed and other emotions came back into play, co-existing with a faded form of grief. The numbing with food returned, too (though I didn’t even realize it). And slowly but surely, the weight has come back.

Today, I’m uncomfortable. I don’t feel like me. I’m ready to shed what I don’t need. Again. But this time, I feel like I know what to do: feel my way through it. I’ve been reading Women, Food & God for the third time…and it makes sense for the first time. I’ve been experimenting…asking myself WHY I’m heading toward the food pantry – and sometimes it’s stopped me in my tracks.

On Friday, I’ll  turn 39. I want to spend my last year of this decade walking through fire…allowing myself to breathe and dance and walk through the hard stuff. I plan to enjoy the food I want when I’m truly hungry. I plan to see what new hungers arise – for creativity, for connection, for conversation. I plan to work with myself instead of against myself, paving a new path to lasting health. And I plan on sharing pieces of this journey here, appreciating every little bit of love and strength you’re willing to send my way. I hope this time next year, I can honestly say I feel amazing.

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Please check out the awesome bloggers below who are sharing their own brave stories today! SO proud of all of you!