Avoiding The Spiral

I’ve written a lot over the years about my emotional relationship with food. It’s never as much about weight or size or calories as it is me trying to maintain a healthy relationship with food. Over the last several months as I’ve gotten my eating in check and my training schedule on track, I’ve felt really great and a lot of that is because I’m not giving food any power over me that it doesn’t deserve. That doesn’t mean I’m not eating donuts (I had two last week at the office) – or that I’m 100% healthy, it just means food is fuel. I try to constantly be thinking about how it’s fueling my body both physically and emotionally. And this Thanksgiving break? I just stopped thinking about it. Hence the gray day yesterday because food became my method of coping with stress and sadness and not about fueling my body physically and spiritually.

And that happens. The problem is now? I need to avoid the downward spiral that follows because – and everyone who deals with this knows: When I feel shitty about how I’ve been eating? I EAT SHITTIER TO MAKE MYSELF FEEL BETTER.

Now, if you’re like my husband and have never really let food dictate feelings in your life, this seems ridiculous. You know your crappy eating has made you feel terrible, so to make yourself feel better you eat worse? That makes no sense.

BUT. As we’ve discussed before, many of us know and it makes sense to us.

So I started by asking Donnie yesterday afternoon if I could run this morning. Usually he gets Monday mornings, but I know if I need control over my day, I need to start with a run because that focuses me. I tearfully said, “I just need to start my week of on the right foot after the stressful few days because I’m feeling overwhelmed. Please? Can I run in the morning.” Of course he obliged and 2006 Zoot shook her head thinking, “I have no idea who that woman is who is begging behind tears for a run.”

WAIT. That’s not what I did first. Actually, what I did first was eat terrible the rest of yesterday because I had already declared it a “Bad Day” and once a day is “Bad” I give myself permission to eat everything because I tell myself, “Tomorrow! Tomorrow we’ll do better!”

Which is all terrible and not at all how your supposed to look at your relationship with food. HENCE ME TRYING TO AVOID THE SPIRAL.

So! Today. I’m going to start with a run. Then, I’m writing about it here to make you guys hold me accountable. Zoot is not going to fall down a pit of stress eating today. She is going to eat what her mind and her body needs so she can shake the gray away.

Next? I’m getting rid of the junk food that’s left. There’s not much, part of my binge-eating mission last night was to eat it all before today (WHAT? I KNOW. I’M TEXTBOOK.) but there’s a little bit so I’m going to make sure it’s not here when I’m home from work tonight. I’m going to log what I’m eating today. I don’t do that every day, but on days I’m worried (Rest Days on my training schedule tend to have me over-eating) that I’m not balancing the fuel right in my body, I log my food. So today? I’ll log it so I can see how I’m fueling and say, “Good job on protein today, Kim.” I can see specifically how I’m eating and really make sure I’m asking myself if I’m taking care of my body and my mind with my choices.

Finally? I plan. Part of the bad holidays was having a weird schedule where I couldn’t really plan like I normally do. So today? I’m packing my typical breakfast and lunch and snacks so I can map out my day accordingly so I’m making it easy to take care of myself, not giving myself as many opportunities to make decisions based on anxiety over fuel.

Once I have a good day after a few bad ones, I’m re-fueled again and avoiding the spiral is easier. My mind needs good food as much as my body does and I can handle stress and depression better when everything is in balance. The spiral is self-destructive because when I cope with that misbalance by eating terrible, it makes it that much worse. Especially where sugar comes into play. I’m that rat in the lab who is acting crazier than the cocaine rats and the only addiction I have is sugar. When I get too much of it, it messes with my emotions and my anxiety which – of course – MAKES ME WANT MORE SUGAR.

So I really have to remind myself of that today.

It’s like the first day of detox when I’m having to get several bad days of eating out of my system. All I want all day is more sugar, but tomorrow? Tomorrow will be better once most of it’s out of my system.

Here’s to a day of smiling through the rain and remember to love myself by giving my mind and my body the food it needs and deserves. I owe my body that much, it’s been kicking quite a bit of ass lately.

3 thoughts on “Avoiding The Spiral”

  1. Having even a little bit of sugar awakens the sugar demon in me, so I can relate %1000000 to this post. I also do the thing where I declare a day done or bad and just continue to eat all the things. I don’t run it off though, most days, but I do do some high intensity cardio and biking to help move my butt.
    It’s interesting, to me anyway, how we have learned to demonize ourselves and our food based on our emotions. And it’s universal, at least to what I’ve seen or experienced. There is almost always a “me too” in the crowd when talking about food issues. I’m working with my therapist to heal from the triggers that cause the shame spiral and the relationship with food (among other issues I have), but it’s reassuring to know, as I go about my day, that I am not the only one dealing with this.

  2. I have been diligent about tracking my calories for nearly a year now (got a Fitbit as a gift and decided to use it to my advantage). I had never really understood nutrition before, or more accurately, calories and food portions. And, I had not officially known how many calories were in alcohol. I have learned a lot over the year I’ve been tracking my food. Whether I stay in the ballpark or blow it out, at least I try to record as accurately what it is I have chosen to do. This Thanksgiving I didn’t do a thing other than record my alcohol calories. It was the least I could do, and there were a lot of them. Today, I’m back on track, so will write down the 2 birthday donuts I’ve had already along with the whole milk organic yogurt. I try to remember that my best gift to myself is knowledge so that I can make more informed choices. Along with knowledge is kindness. I want to be as kind as I can to myself when I know I haven’t made the wisest choices. Overall, I’m ahead of the game now, and I’m going to make sure I keep the progress I’ve made over the last few years. BTW, wonderful to see you at Boot Camp and on the mountain. You. Look. Wonderful. I’m so inspired. Warmly, Susan

  3. You know what really helped me recently? Watching John Green’s video on the last Friday of Pizzamas about Mental Illness. https://youtu.be/Z_y4CACK-9g. It really made sense to me the whole ‘your mind is lying to you’ thing, so I’ve started repeating that to myself to try to see the forest through the trees.

    As a side note, THANK YOU for talking about Nerdfighteria so many years ago. Not only did it lead me to discover the vlogbrothers & John Green’s books, but also a whole world of science YouTubers & booktubers & just wonderful YouTube channels which I adore.

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