Note: Learn more about the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating program here or at www.amihungry.com.
Going through the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating training now is a bit strange, in a way, since I went through a lot of this on my own when I was losing weight, but I had to figure it out for myself. Some of what I’d experienced was already fairly present in my mind from writing about my experience, but it’s becoming even clearer now.
I remember how much I used to eat because of stress. If anything bad or difficult happened, generally the first thing I did was reach for the food. When I was in the process of losing weight, tried to get away from that, but it wasn’t easy. I particularly remember one time when I’d had a really hard day, things were getting ugly with my dad’s ex-wife, and just generally I was feeling overwhelmed. When I got out from work, I had a wavering moment, because the bus dropped me off right in front of a little convenience store that also sold things like subs, pizza, chicken fingers, and French fries. I was craving the chicken fingers and French fries, but by then I knew that I only want those specific foods because I was stressed. I managed to walk away from it, and kept going for a short walk before feeling better and returning home for a lighter dinner, when I was actually hungry. And I remember how that felt like such an accomplishment, to recognize that moment and to change what I might have done previously.
When I was younger I also ate a lot for comfort. If I was sad or disappointed or lonely, again, I typically turned to food, often cookies or cakes or anything sweet. It took me a long time to get past that, and to figure out other ways of dealing with that need for comfort. Another moment from when I was losing weight was when I felt that urge to eat for comfort, but I didn’t go for it. Instead, I realized that the comfort I was looking for was something to connect me to my childhood. So I put in one of my favorite movies from growing up, Ghostbusters, and did cross stitch instead. I termed it “comfort viewing” instead of “comfort eating”. And I did feel better, without the added stress of gaining back some of the precious lost pounds.
In watching some of the videos and hearing Michelle talk about getting to the root of some of our eating problems, I remember that my own initial reasons for eating were probably stress and boredom and loneliness, but then it snowballed. My parents and other family members became concerned about my weight, and that quickly became the major focus. And so I discovered later on that I desperately wanted my family to accept me for who I was, regardless of the weight. All my attempts to lose weight had therefore failed, because it was to please them, and it was also because part of me felt like I shouldn’t lose weight until I had gained that acceptance. When I finally started losing weight, I realized that I couldn’t let my health and happiness be impacted by other people’s views of me. I had to accept myself, and once I started doing that, and realizing that I wanted to be healthier for me – that was when I succeeded.