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Don't Eat That: A note to my-younger-self

January 25, 2014 4 min read

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Photo Credit: Emotional Eating Report[/caption] Many moments I remember are anchored in food. Similar to a vivid memory of what I wore, there are emotionally intense moments when I remember what I ate, so clearly, I can almost smell them. If there was a single most-important message to impart to my-younger-self it would be "Natasha, don't eat your feelings. Run."

An affair to remember...

Me - 14 Years Old

Me - 14 Years Old
The first want/need/had-to-have-or-die item was candy. My mother used to purchase those sugar-free candies for me. I hated them! They made my tongue numb but they were sweet so I ate them. When Mom wasn't looking....Chocolate, chewy, nutty, funny colored, sweet or sour. It didn't matter, I had to have it. I had a friend with a bucket of it in her bedroom and she never touched the stuff. My hand was in that bucket every time I visited! I was so desperate to have the sugary shit I even stole packs of gum from a Thrifty's and shoved my mouth full of it before my parents caught me and made me admit my crime to a cashier.  From candy I graduated to bigger quantities and wider variety. Anytime I had a problem, no matter how minute, I ate. When I failed at something, got into trouble, found disappointment, encountered boredom, or had my feelings hurt, I ate. Without fail, the only thing that mattered was what I could put into my face at regular intervals until I stopped thinking about what was going on in my life.  You get it - I ate a lot and I made crappy choices; story of my life, man! There were three major turning points for me. Just like smoking - I tried to quit but it wouldn't take. Looking back I can see that I wasn't ready.

Attempt #1 An unhealthy change...

Age: 19  I ate primarily pineapple, vanilla yogurt, Dexatrim, anti-water pills, Xenadrine (before they removed the ephedra) and caffeine. I thought I was chasing a dream. What I was actually chasing where other girls with the same name doing the same thing. They had somethings that I didn't, including a rail-thin figure. You know, at the time, I could run two miles without stopping too. Give me enough diet pills and I am pretty sure I could have pulled a Mack truck. But my attempt at "diet" and exercise was a train wreck. Faced with disappointment or loneliness I would binge. I would attempt to throw it up (because that gets rid of it right?) and when I couldn't  bring myself to throw up I would eat more because I was ashamed.

Attempt #2 An unhealthy pregnancy...

Age: 22   I had made several attempts to sit up in my bed (from flat on my back) when I came to the realization that my stomach and lower back muscles were not strong enough to even respond. It didn't occur to me, until that moment, that I should have taken better care of myself. For goodness-sake; the first thing I wanted to eat after pushing them out was a McDonald's quarter pounder - what the hell? At first I didn't want to eat but hunger forced me to give in. I felt like crap, I was fat AND at war with food. The next year was spent oscillating between healthy food and what made me feel good. Ultimately the "feel good" won out. I tried again over the years but it never stuck.

Attempt #3 How dare you try to change me...

Age: 30  We were fighting again, my husband and I. (We had been through a lot in the two years prior to this argument.) He gently tried to tell me my weight was out of control; that nightly trips to get ice cream was the wrong way to live. He had planned to tell me he was ready to lose weight and get healthy but he never got that far. Our intentions were really good this time. It was decided that we needed to cleanse ourselves of all the crap. We made a huge sweeping change. We ate mostly raw foods and drank a lot of fruit and vegetable juice. It went well until we went out, or got busy or whatever. There was a lot of internal pressure to really change but, in the end we used time and money as our excuse to fall off the wagon.

A lasting change...

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Me- Fall 2013

One year ago something amazing happened. I started running. My personal-goal was to keep it simple. I wasn't going to make sweeping changes, from one extreme to another. I was going to start small and make running a habit, no matter how long it took. I read 12 weeks makes a habit but it took me eight months. During that time, you know what I had forgotten? Food. I forgot because, at some point along the way, food became fuel. How I ate affected my training and recovery. Over the eight months of habit-formation, I lost 15 lbs. Its been about five months and I have lost another 15 lbs. Most of all, I love the way I look now. I love buying new workout clothes - I love that my focus is off the food. There is a long road  ahead of me as 2014 gets under-way. I realize I am not the first emotional eater out there. There are a few who have even shared their stories in this same space. I am also not unique  in my recovery or in my consistent struggle to keep myself in check. There are more of us out there; some of you I know but am not in a position to speak to you directly. By sharing my experience with you, I hope to reach you. By sharing my experience, maybe you too can take that first step towards control.

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