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Posts Tagged ‘holiday overeating’

Oh hai.

I sort of wandered off there for a bit. Wandered off and ate pretty much everything I could get my hands on, to be precise about it.

Later on the day of my last post, I went to my office holiday party. It was my first year as a staff member (instead of a contractor) and, thus, my first invitation to the holiday party (because my company is SO inclusive). I expected it to be annoying, since I resented it from two years of non-invites, but what it was was swanky. Rooftop of a building in Hollywood, great views, fancy everything, free booze, lots of food. And I found ways to have fun: I drank with my coworkers and I ate with my coworkers. I just let go, and it was GREAT. Nothing to care about, no more trying or straining or struggling. Just fancy and free. I ate a lot of desserts and I didn’t even care because I was kind of drunk – and they were all delicious!

Thus began my descent into December decadence. I just ate, whenever, wherever, whatever. It was super fun. Sometimes I felt physically ill and that was less fun. Eventually, I started to get anxious about what I was doing to myself, and that was also less fun. By the time the New Year rolled around, I had packed on seven pounds in a little over two weeks. Because this body? It does not play.

The seven pounds were a good hint, but they weren’t the only reason I knew it was time to stop the party train. I didn’t feel as good; my body felt different, heavier and more awkward. And I didn’t feel great about myself either. All these old anxieties came flooding back. I have a lot of confidence and value wrapped up in the work I do to take care of my health – in my ability to exercise hard and be in good shape, in my conscious choices to eat well and choose real food.

So. I put down the chocolate croissant (and the pizza and the gummy candies) and got back to work.

It’s intense. I hated it at first. I hate it sometimes still. I do best when I focus on just one day at a time. And when I understand this as an opportunity to look at my relationship with food, to understand it better, to keep working towards that healthier median.

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-1

On Christmas night, after the gifts had been opened, dinner cooked and eaten, time shared with family, and my parents had left to take my brother to the airport, I sat down alone in the kitchen and I ate cookies.

I ate more regular, sugar and butter filled cookies in 15 minutes than I had eaten in the entire previous year. Three times as many at least. Maybe more like six times. Because I really do not eat cookies anymore. I’d maybe had two so far this year – maybe? And then I had about 10. They were small and homemade, and not overly sweet. But they were very clearly still cookies. Cookies that I ate with a vengeance.

Why did I do that?
Because they were there.
And because I don’t like being told what to do.
And because eating is a way I cope with emotional stress.

So point #1: They were there. I mean… this is why you don’t keep cookies in the house. This is why we shouldn’t surround ourselves with unhealthy food. Because if it’s not there, we won’t eat it. And this is why the holidays are so dangerous. Because the treats – all the delicious, unhealthy treats – are everywhere. The month of December is like an exercise in will power and decision fatigue for me. How many times can I face a temptation and say no? Very many times. But – as studies show – it gets harder as I go. Having the treats just lying around, practically begging to be eaten, adds to this challenge. This situation alone is one I have become much better at managing (see Thanksgiving). It was in concert with the other two issues that my real troubles began.

Point/Issue #2: I don’t like being told what to do. I grew up with a very strict father. There were right and wrong ways to do everything, and I spent my childhood and teenage years using my best people-pleasing instincts to figure out all the right things and do them, appropriately, like a good girl, so I would not get in trouble. In doing so, I skipped the rebellious teenager phase. But everyone needs to rebel at some point, so as an adult, I became verrrrry resistant to being told what to do. Particularly concerning food. Because often, food was the way I rebelled. I ate what I wasn’t supposed to, and I ate it all the time. And I sure as fuck didn’t need anyone to tell me about it! How I was doing it or, more pointedly, how I should not be doing it. And as it turns out, many folks feel pretty free to tell overweight people how they should be eating differently. Which is… not cool. And was really not cool with me.

I have made the choice now to eat healthy food in reasonable portions. It is my decision not to consume sugar, butter and a number of other unhealthy foods. And I have done pretty damn well with it. So, if I should choose to make an exception in how I eat – if I should say, choose to eat a cookie on Christmas – I feel like 1. that was always my own goddamn business and 2. at any rate, at this point, I’ve pretty well proven that I can handle it thanks. I know my family means well and that they are just trying to support me. But. When they say, in the exact same tone they always have said, “You don’t need to eat that” I. see. red.

I’ve never been one for confrontation though. I’m much more partial to quietly getting even. So if my brother tells me I don’t need to eat something or my father says “Uh-uh, Jennie!” like I’m the family pet trying to steal scraps from the table, I am not going to yell, “I DO WHAT I WANT!” and then do what I want. But I’m going to think it. And I’m going to bide my time, and eventually… I’m going to do exactly what the fuck I want.

This is probably how I gained a significant portion of my weight. Lots of fuck-you eating. I’m pretty much over it now though because I finally, finally after oh-so-many years have come to understand that the only person the fuck-you eating really hurts is me. Which is why I still needed the third factor to take me to the cookies.

Point/Issue/Factor #3: Coping with Emotional Stress. We all know the holidays can be stressful. Travel, families, shopping in horrid malls. It’s always a lot, even when it’s also lovely and fun. But this year, there’s something else I’ve been contending with: big change. I’m getting married in a few months. And even though I haven’t been a child in my parents’ home for years, and in those years, many things have changed, marriage creates a delineating line in a way other transitions don’t. My parents are my family, of course, but now I will also be starting my own family. I may not always go to my parents’ home for Christmas. When I do, I will have my spouse with me. It’s all very exciting and wonderful, of course, but there is also loss there. It may have been a long time since I was physically my parents’ little girl, but part of me will always feel like I am.

Life changes, always, I know, but it’s still hard for me sometimes, even when it’s good change. So when I found myself sitting alone in the house I grew up in, looking around at the decorations I have seen every year, knowing how much time has passed, how it will keep passing, and how the way things have been will pass on too, well… it was a lot. And the cookies were right there. An old habit and not a good one, but a comfort still. So I ate them. I ate the cookies. And maybe some cake too.

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