CBD for Anxiety Relief

When I was in college, a ton of people started to pop up around me talking about the magic qualities of natural oils. I sent out a signal once on our school Facebook group that I needed some DayQuil/NyQuil for a sinus infection I had. One girl reached out and had me go to her room, where she told me she didn’t actually have medicine, but she had oregano oil and had me rub it on my chest.

I went back to my room still stuffy, pretty annoyed, and smelling like a pizza.

When I first heard about CBD oil, I had all but made up my mind that it was a bunch of hoopla mixed with placebo effect. When I heard that it had “proven” effects for helping things like anxiety, weight management, joint pain and poor sleep, my ears perked up. I looked into the science behind CBD and spoke with a wellness doctor.

I found that CBD is harvested from hemp. Hemp is cannabis that contains 0.3% or less THC (the part that makes you high). CBD & THC both affect the release of neurotransmitters in your brain, which are the agents by which we receive messages of pain, stress, sleep and your immune system. The key difference is that chemically, CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 receptors in your brain and hence doesn’t produce the same psychoactive effects that THC does.healthline.com

So for someone with chronic pain or stress, CBD dulls those parts of the brain that communicate that pain or stress. CBD also works to relax the body by dulling those senses, making it easier to fall asleep. All other effects that CBD is often related to all tie back to that dulling: weight management is easier when your stress and cortisol levels are lower. It can be used to treat seizures because of that same relaxing effect, and so on.

The quality of oil you get matters, however. Knowing where the oil is sourced, how well its effects are researched from a particular brand, and the quality of the plant they pull from all matter. I can’t speak to any other brands, but on my research I found Equilibria, a brand that says it is specifically made for women and offers dosage specialists to help you find the amount and time that works best for you. (This is not a paid promotion, this is just what I found!)

I started with their daily dropper. After a week, the dosage specialist recommended I split my 10mg dose, one 5mg in the afternoon and the other 5mg around dinner.

I made an Instagram post when I first started, so a lot of my friends knew I was trying it out and they asked me how it was going. I showed them my chart I use to track the general calorie range I eat from day to day.

My system quickly shows me my ebb and flow during a week – a green day is under 1800 calories, a yellow day is under 2300 calories and a red day is over those.

My chart in October showed 2-3 red days a week with 1 or 2 green days. Those first three weeks in November I saw an instant change: I had 1 red day and I was stuffed. I still had only 2 or 3 green days, but I was sticking around yellow days mostly and felt really satisfied. If you remember my Emotional Eating post, you’ll know that I can tie most of my over-eating and binge episodes to emotional/stress related things.

That lowered stress (during election week of all things) was having an insane impact on my eating habits. I also stopped taking melatonin to sleep and found it was easier to wake up. I felt over-all calmer – I didn’t feel like I was hovering near an edge, about to fall off.

It’s now been over two months, and I find that missing my evening dose makes me hungrier at night, and missing both doses makes me feel frazzled. I don’t feel that this is a side-effect so much as I believe this is how my normal once was, and returning to it is really jarring.

Overall, I recommend CBD! Which is not what I thought I would be saying. I thought trying it would put the idea out of my head and I’d have to go back to my pell-mell way of coping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not 100% better or have 0 bad days anymore, but I’ve found it easier to get back up and easier to avoid than before.

How did your experience with CBD go? What other brands do you recommend? Let me know here, in my contact form, or on Instagram!

https://www.instagram.com/allroadsleadtoyum

New Year’s Resolutions 2021

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last 20 or so years of your life making “New Year’s Resolutions” that are supposed to make you into a “NEW YOU.” The thought of a new number on the calendar and Januaries bring in this chaotic idea that this is the Monday-est of Monday’s – this is the perfect time to create a whole bunch of new habits! I’m going to:

  • Go to the gym four times a week! (When I’ve been going once or maybe twice)
  • Eat nothing but whole foods! (When I know I have no time to really prepare meals)
  • Learn to speak a new language! (Duolingo will remind me to do it)
  • Stop playing video games so much! (Disregard that it’s the way you bond with your husband)
  • Read 2 new books a month! (When I haven’t read a book since 2018)

And somehow starting all of this AT THE SAME TIME is definitely not going to make me into the Grinchiest, meanest, and most-lacking of any self-love, care or space person ever….. right?

You might see where I’m going with this. However, I don’t think the process needs to be thrown out entirely.

How to “Keep” Your New Year’s Resolutions
  1. Before writing your New Year’s Resolutions, take some time to deeply reflect on the things you want. What did you want to do last year that you didn’t do and why didn’t it happen? Why do you want what you say you want? Do the same resolutions reappear every year? What goes wrong?
    • Taking the time to reflect will hopefully open up room for you to find some more unique resolutions better suited to you. Do you really want to lose X amount of pounds or do you want to feel comfortable in your body? Maybe your reading goal last year didn’t work because you thought an audio book wouldn’t count.
  2. While you write your New Year’s Resolutions, come up with achievable mini-goals to help you get there. Ask yourself questions like, “What actionable steps will lead me to this goal? What is a milestone I would like to cross? What sort of thing would I like to see happen before I’ve even finished? What ways can I reward myself along the way?”
    • Questions like this will help you create a tier-system to your goals. If you want to feel healthier, you could add walking the dog a little farther as a step to reaching it. If you’re looking to stop biting your nails, maybe schedule a nail appointment for a month out that will require your nails to be long enough.
  3. During January and February understand that you are likely to slip up. Give yourself the grace to do so. Remind yourself of things like, “You’ve come this far. This doesn’t ruin your progress, it’s just an encouragement to pick up where I left off.” Remind yourself of the achievements you’ve made!
    • “I’ve seen a change in the way my pants fit.” “I already finished a book!” “If I went two weeks without biting my nails once, let’s make it three!”
No Matter What

Whatever happens, understand that January is not some magical cure for your motivation (just as it’s not the magical cure for 2020!). It gives that motivation and inspiration because we all chose to look at it that way. There is no special sauce, no secret ingredient.

So set goals every day, week, month, year, 5 years, decade, and so on, because motivation is where you find it.

2020 brought me:

  • My blog and brand
  • My D&D group
  • A passion for crocheting
  • New friends
  • Time with my brother
  • A new job
  • Uninterrupted time with my husband

Below are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2021

My New Year’s Resolutions
  1. Stop biting my nails
    • Plan a nail appointment for February 1
    • Paint my nails often
    • I’d love to get a compliment on my nail polish, so I’m going to buy something special.
  2. Read 12 Books This Year
    • Last year I read 6 books, all audio and in the car while traveling. That seemed to work well.
    • I’ll get an audible subscription and leave a sign out in the living room to remind me of something else I can do.
  3. Make More Food At Home
    • When I’m not wanting to eat food at home, it’s usually because I don’t have the food I want in the house, or I don’t have the time/energy that day.
      • Purchase more “quick” meals for home
      • Buy food to make at home that is similar to what I would eat out.
        • This means I’ll have to try my hand at pretzels, flatbread, breadsticks, burrito bowls, cocktails, and more!
  4. Save Money for a House
    • In order to do this, we’ll have to knuckle down on a budget.
    • Sit down with husband for monthly strategy sessions.
    • Have 75% saved by the end of the year, so having 40% saved by July should be reasonable.

All Foods Fit

Have you heard of “Diet Culture?” The professional definition is “a belief system that focuses on and values weight, shape, and size over well-being.”1 My own personal definition is “the reason why this whole thing is so freaking hard.”

Diet Culture: Yeah, you need to lose weight.
Me: Well, first of all, why?
Diet Culture: Because you look terrible so that must mean you are unhealthy. In other words, you need to try these diets to fix yourself.
Me: But when I’ve used those I feel sad, angry, and then the weight comes back right after.
Diet Culture: Well, that’s because you’re a fat sack of s*** that has no motivation. Look at this skinny girl, she’s intermittent fasting.
Me: I call that “skipping breakfast,” which has been proven to slow your metabolism.
Diet Culture: Okay, but these keto girls really look like they know what they’re doing.
Me: Shouldn’t you have carbs if you lift weights? I’ve been getting into lifting lately.
Diet Culture: Well that just sounds like quitter-talk. You’re supposed to run on a treadmill for hours to lose weight. Look at that skinny girl on the Stair-Master!
Me: She looks legitimately bony. That doesn’t look healthy.
Diet Culture: But skinny = healthy. What are you missing here? Do you think being fat is healthy?
Me: Of course not, I –
Diet Culture: Then we agree! Now next time your husband says he’d like to go out tell him that you can’t because you need to lose weight…

You get the picture.

Diet culture assumes that a skinny person is a healthy person and then encourages different eating/living patterns to support that. It is assumed that if a larger person is doing “healthy” things, they are doing it to lose weight. With diet culture, you can encourage any kind of disordered behavior in order to encourage weight loss.

“I started wrapping myself in sea weed and plastic wrap!” “I count every morsel of food that passes my lips.” “I only eat between 10-2 now.” “I have pills that make me not hungry at all, I practically have to force food down my throat.”

Seriously, can anyone see how crazy this is?

I don’t think I have to reiterate the health benefits that come with being a smaller size, but I think we should be encouraging healthy behaviors to get there. If we crash diet all the way to the smallest size, what’s going to happen when we try to “go back to normal?” Well, I can tell you. We do what 98% of dieters do: gain all the weight back and then some.2

Just like the beauty industry gains by making you feel ugly, diet culture gains by making you feel fat.

The whole philosophy of my brand is “ALL ROADS.” Freedom is the key. Living in freedom keeps you from these stupid habits that Diet Culture has taught us. But Freedom for me is not just “do whatever I want,” but it is “freedom from and in all things.”

If I go to binge and give myself the “freedom” to eat what I want, I’m not free at all. I’ve been captured by my binge and feel out of control. We have to be free to make the right choice in order for it to be real freedom.

All Foods? Are you sure?

Why not? It’s proven that restricting a thing brings it to the forefront of your mind more than if you were to indulge. How many times have you denied yourself a cookie at the office only to eat an extra helping of dessert at home? You would have saved yourself the guilt and pain of an over-full stomach and sugar crash if you had just had the darn cookie.

Maybe avoid food you’re allergic to, or food that hurts you. I have learned that soda makes my face break out, but sparkling water doesn’t… and I like sparkling water.

Whatever you decide, make the decision for yourself!

So in an effort to increase my knowledge of “ALL FOODS,” I’ll be expanding and adding updates more often about recipes I’m trying! Don’t forget to check out my recipe page to see all the goodies or try them out yourself.

1From “Eating Disorder Registered Dietitians & Professionals” website.
2Just as I have! I wrote about this in Weight Loss History.

I Tried the Green Week

I have been attempting to come up with a system of “dieting” that allows me to feel freedom and avoid binge-ing and anxiety. I came up with and tested the idea of a “Green Week” – a week where I spend 7 days eating between 1400-1750 calories a day.

I posted along the way on my Instagram story, but here below is a journal record of each day:

Saturday, September 12 – Day One

First day completed – not too shabby. The only draw back I experienced was going out to eat that night. We had some friends over and went to eat at my favorite local Mexican BBQ place. Normally, I would order a beautiful large Kansas BBQ Nachos, but today I ordered the small and a margarita. Surprisingly, I felt very satisfied when I finished.

When we stopped by a frozen yogurt shop, I ordered a latte instead and capped my calories at 1750. I would have felt a little left out if not for the latte – but I rank lattes and ice cream at the same pleasure level, so I was very happy.

Sancho’s Kansas BBQ Nachos are heaven – if you haven’t tried them, you haven’t lived.

Sunday, September 13 – Day Two

My husband and I walked around a local park and played Pokemon Go and bought ourselves some coffees. We ate at home, and I had mostly starches and proteins that kept me pleasantly full: even after our long walk that morning. 1600 calories

Monday, September 14 – Day Three

First day back to work for the week, and I’m always motivated on Mondays. I was already hungry when I got to work, so I had a granola bar. I made a protein shake at work (y’all should be jealous – we get a free smoothie every day for either breakfast or lunch). The husband had thawed some salmon for us to have for dinner. We polished off a filet each and some rice and I had a baked potato.

We finished the day feeling like we needed something sweet, but we luckily had some Ghost Chips Ahoy protein laying around. We each had a Chips Ahoy shake and I finished the day at 1550.

Tuesday, September 15 – Day Four

This was an EASY day. I was sore from a workout, which was reminding me to make good choices for the rest of the day. I had a coffee, a granola bar, a shake, and made some homemade fried rice ready at home.

I also walked 11,000 steps and finished the day at 1500 cal.

Homemade Fried Rice – click for recipe
Wednesday, September 16 – Day Five

This day was a hard day – I had only a coffee for breakfast, and some left over fried rice for lunch. I ordered some DoorDash for a friend and I to get some Sonic (frozen lemonades for the win) and the husband made some Beef Stroganoff that I horked down really quickly. By the end of the day I was still hungry and only had about 200 calories left.

I finished it off with a baked potato (I have been LOVING baked potatoes lately) and finished the day at barely 1750.

Thursday, September 17 – Day Six

Hard by design – I woke up hungry and took no lunch to work. I had a coffee, couldn’t stomach another shake and ordered a breakfast wrap from ProteinHouse. This would normally be okay, as I’d be at 900 calories for the day and could have something filling for dinner – but we had plans.

Our friends came over so we could finish the big finale for my husband’s D&D campaign. We had homemade pizzas (by my estimation, about 700 calories), and I couldn’t resist dipping in the candy bowl several times. Between the drinks I had and the candy I ate, I easily went over a yellow day, and probably into a red day.

Friday, September 18 – Day Seven

I’ve been trying to figure out why yesterday went so poorly, but as I look back on these entries I can see why – when I went to bed on Day Four, I was easily very far below my calories burned for the day. I woke up hungry on Day Five and had nutrient-poor things to eat. Day Six I ordered something that had sounded healthy – a protein-dense lunch, but when I looked up the calories afterward, the avocado and other items inside had racked up the calorie count to close to 900.

So when dinner came, I ate the pizza and wanted sweets. I didn’t restrain myself to just the carrots and by the time I’d had my second drink in hand I knew I was at yellow. I gave myself in to “Oh well, I’ve blown it,” and dove in headfirst. I have to find a way that lets me feel like even if one meal throws me off balance, it’s not too hard to correct.

Today I woke up not very hungry, but could feel it setting in by the time I got to work. I had a granola bar, my coffee, and a friend bought me my first Acai bowl (which was freaking delicious, wow!). By the end of lunch, I had about 700 calories in my system.

Banana Berry Acai Bowl from Nektar

Hubby and I did a Datebox with Happily.co on Friday – we made some scones together (that turned out terrible!) I finished the day barely green!

Aftermath

It is now Monday as I write this, and I’ve already noticed a couple of things:

  • With eating protein and starches still, I’ve found it difficult to even reach high numbers without being morbidly full.
  • I accidentally had a Green Day on Saturday (we spent so much of our evening at IKEA and then building a table, I had forgotten to eat! By the time it was 7:00 I was starting to feel hungry, so I had a baked potato and was pretty quickly satiated.
  • Yellow – 2000 calories seems doable to me now. I think that small period of slight restriction might have been enough for me to… recalibrate? I’m satisfied at 2000, I’m eating foods that don’t take up 1700 calories in one meal, my hunger isn’t as strong as it was…

Overall, it definitely produced some interesting results and I’m excited to try it again next month, and do some research in the interim.

Do you have any questions about how it went? Comment, message, save – I’d love to answer and talk about it.

Green Week

Here we are, about four months after the conception of this blog, and I think it’s time to examine the data! (That sentence sounds a lot more exciting if you imagine Howie Mandel reading it)

As some of you might have seen on my blog, I’ve made my very own version of goal setting and keeping in my Erin Condren LifePlanner – A small box to add to my monthly dashboard that keeps a record of my calories. For the last two and a half months, I have labeled every day I’ve had as either a GREEN day, a YELLOW day, or a RED day.

The idea is that if I got my calories around 1500, then I had a GREEN day. 1500 is the number I’m using because I am mainly sedentary at my job, and I only work out two or three times a week. I still count a 1700 calorie day as a GREEN day.

A YELLOW day, then, is a day where I ate about the same amount of calories that I likely expended, meaning I had no change. I estimate this around 2000, though a lot of calculators might suggest that would be closer to 2400 if my metabolism were to increase.

A RED day is a day where I definitely ate more than I expended. This is a day when I had a second piece of cheesecake, or a day where I was around family and we mindlessly grazed together. (You might see a couple of those around my Labor Day Weekend)

For now, I’m using MyFitnessPal to track the amount of calories in the foods I am eating, but it really is becoming intuitive now. I can usually estimate by the end of the day whether I have had a green, yellow, or red day. That is the hope by the end of this experiment – that I will intuitively know what kind of day I had by thinking back on it, rather than spending my time obsessively adding every ounce of olive oil I put on my toast.

So DATA ANALYSIS TIME > > >

Both July & August I had a near even amount of Green and Red days while being somewhat conscious of my eating. If I were to have eaten recklessly, those green days would not exist at all. So with a slight change, I’ve managed to stop my weight gain (Since I was still working out in the meantime and have been going on walks, some of those yellow days may have counted as green days, but also some of those yellow days may have really been red days in disguise).

In both July and August, I lost 0.4 lb, but as of September 1, have lost:

  • 1.5 inches at my bust
  • 0.5 inches at my waist
  • 0.5 inches at my hips
  • 0.5 inches on each arm

Slow progress is still progress!

#ALLROADSGREENWEEK

So an idea: since my every day has been by-and-large successful, let’s jump start my progress for just one week. For one week a month, I will log every meal on my Instagram story and get Green Days every day.

Then follow that Green Week (patent pending) with a Yellow Week. This is to give my metabolism a chance to catch its breath. Then back to normal for two weeks.

There are tons of pros to the system that I can think of and I’ve outlined them below.

What are your thoughts? Is this a terrible idea? A great idea? Do you want to join me?

#AllRoadsGreenWeek if you do, I’d love to see it!

Here’s how mine went!

Not Every Day is the Same

Sometimes… I am KILLING it. Two weeks ago, I had my Thursday 5k, I ate about 1350 calories – some of it in the delicious pasta recipe I had seen. I didn’t go back for seconds, and I crocheted and watched This is Us instead of late-night snacking.

Delicious Pasta Recipe I got from @conditionedbykaty on Instagram.

Some days, I do great – even on the weekend. I do everything I am supposed to – I work out! I go to bed at a good time! I even clean! …And there have been a lot of days where this doesn’t happen. I wake up late, I grab a sugary granola bar for a snack, I dump some creamer in my coffee, I make a peanut butter cheesecake and have a second piece.

I made an Insta post this week with the caption: “Anxiety, you don’t go away overnight – but I am trying to pack your bags.” I don’t know how to go about making everything better all at once, and it drives me crazy. I’m still trying to climb that mountain in one, single, Superman-esque bound.

My therapist says I do not forgive myself easily, and I see it. I tend to always find a way to put the blame on myself, no matter what the circumstance was. I should have tried harder, I should have gritted my teeth – it is within me to make the change or to fix the relationship… even when I know that not everything can be controlled or fixed with such determination.

In fact, just today, I realized (in a session with the glorious Michelle of course) that a lot of my fear stems from this idea that when I fail or mess up, it causes people to leave. I fear that those who love me or care about me are pretending or that I tricked them somehow – so the idea of messing up? That’s terrifying. Messing up breaks the spell I put on them, or is the straw that makes someone not care enough to pretend to like me. I think somewhere along the line I decided that I was only beneficial/loveable to people if I did my very best.

One of my professors in college used to sit me down and say “Jessica is enough,” and the words never sunk in. I thought “Well, I am not enough if I don’t do what is right, if I don’t do the right things to keep people around.” These thoughts are hard to get rid of, because in some ways, they are true. We have to be good people, we should be helpful, but worth doesn’t come from our actions.

I struggled this past week with getting the nerve to write another post because I was afraid I would come off like a hypocrite who was trying to teach the world to be better when I had nothing together. I also didn’t want an emotional post that gave no one any benefit. Here’s my concession for both: I don’t have anything together. I am fighting all of the time against my anxiety and my fears. I am constantly reminding myself of reality. Here is what I am doing to get through the valleys and the days I don’t do what I am supposed to do… and maybe it helps someone else.

Grounding

I am learning to ground myself – not to my room, but to the environment and reality around me. It reminds me of a book (that I am afraid to spoil the ending of) where the main character, after trauma unfolds in her life over and over again, learns to be okay by reciting every good thing she had ever seen someone do.

I am married to a husband who loves me and chose me. I am working at a company that chose me to work for them. I have friends who choose to hang out with me and talk to me about their lives. I remind myself of these things over and over again. This keeps me from sinking into my mind with uncontrollable thoughts of not deserving the things I have, or this weird impostor syndrome I seem to have developed.

Concessions

I cannot fix all of me at once. This I must remember. I have so many anxiety-ridden habits and poor health habits.

I love to eat, as referenced in my Emotional Eating post. I bite my nails and the inside of my mouth. I pick at scabs. A lot of my favorite hobbies involve sitting still. I love carbs, and I love late night eating… and every time I feel like I am cracking the whip on one bad habit, the others swing to the forefront again.

I have to focus on one thing at a time and let the others lay where they lay for the moment. If I have to get a manicure to cover my nails, that’s okay. If I have some pasta dishes more often than not, but I am not binging at 11pm anymore, that’s okay. If the only workout I do for the day is a short walk, that is okay.

It may be possible as well that we can re-frame those days where we’re not as productive, and even do them on purpose. A friend of mine, Jess, describes these days as “Expand Days.” These days are for when you need to refresh or reset. The point is to allow your mind to expand to new ideas, avenues of thought or ways of doing things. You achieve it by just chilling out and “being,” not actively doing anything but enjoying the present moment. Having “Expand Days” or even just good-old rest days on purpose may help me feel like I am not slipping up, but being intentional.

Personal Progress

In 7th grade, I dreaded gym class. I was your average gym student – not the slowest or the fastest – but mannnn I hated it. I heard we were going to have the 20-minute run in the Spring and I would have sworn to you that my stomach turned to lead. The day of came and the gym teacher said a phrase that sounded like heaven: “Even if you granny-shuffle the whole thing, I will be happy and you’ll still pass.”

You best believe I did just above a granny-shuffle. And I even found a way to pass the time as we ran around the football track: I pretended I was on the field and dodging other players. I found out what the minimum was, and because I am that kind of person, made sure I did better than at least that. I knew I couldn’t be the best, but as soon as I found out I didn’t have to, I felt so much better.

I am not your skinny Instagram fitgirl and blogger. I am focusing on small successes and personal progress. I am becoming more full with smaller meals. I am making better choices on dinners. I am feeling better in my clothes, even if the scale hasn’t changed much yet. Personal Bests are all I can get right now, and it still feels pretty good.

Personal Progress

Thanks for reading y’all. Let me know what solutions you use for ignoring that voice in your head. What do you do when your progress doesn’t feel like it’s enough?

Follow me on Instagram! @allroadsleadtoyum

Emotional Eating

I have only recently received the official diagnosis from a medical professional, but I have always known that I have persisting anxiety (GAD being the proper name). A lot of this is related to the circumstances I grew up in. I had divorced parents, drug use in the family, I moved all of the time, lived under shaky financial situations, was homeless for a year, had a parent die in my formative years, had a mixed family, and so on. I learned early on, for better or for worse, truth or otherwise, that I cannot trust the people or world around me to take care of me, so I obsessively plan and blame myself when things go wrong (even when they are not my fault) because “I should have known better.”

All of this to say that when I try to pinpoint a time that “stress eating” in my life was not in effect… I can’t. A very early memory is stealing extra Flintstones gummies. Another is our constant influx of Taco Bell and Blue Bell (darn those bells). My cereal binges where I would fill a large salad bowl with cereal and milk, then taking the cereal box with me so I could refill until the box was gone. I took tens upon tens of granola bars from the pantry and hid them in my desk, or took gallon baggies of cereal to my room (Sorry, mom). The second I had autonomy I bought full jars – jars with an S! – of Nutella to eat with a spoon.

Not only that, but food was reward and love and community. I remember getting ice cream after a performance, or going out to eat with family being a huge treat. Getting to pick the place or our own pints (or half-gallons) of ice cream when we got A’s. Sneaking candy into the theater, making cookies, eating gallons of pasta, getting thirds – all of this was all mixed together with family and with love and with quality time.

October 2009, Probably at CiCi’s, with Abram (brother)

On and on I could list moments where I turned to food over the last seven years being out of my parents’ house. Food does this special thing to me: it makes me stop thinking.

See, normally my mind spins and spins with all of the what-if’s. My life and I have trained my brain to feel constantly on-alert and to anticipate the worst case scenarios, which would be helpful if I was on safari or hiding from the law which my brain assumes I must be doing. I feel at least somewhat anxious or worried at all times. I wish I could say that this is an exaggeration, but truly, when my world is 95% good and 5% something going on, I will worry and worry at that 5% until it bleeds – it’s a habit that runs over into my other bad habits like nail-biting.

But, oh, when I eat…. it’s quiet. Blissfully quiet. My worries seem less important, my chores can sit on the back burner, this food is the thing captivating my attention. The world quite nearly blurs around me while the food is in sharp definition. However, the second I am out of food, or so full that I am in pain… everything returns, and with it – guilt and shame from eating in a red haze.

April 2015, iHop pancakes

I know, from some of the research I’ve done preparing for this post, that stress is a huge factor. Short-term stress can shut down appetite in order to allow you to focus on the task at hand. However, long-term stress pumps in the hormone cortisol.

“Cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat.”

Harvard Health Publishing, source

Emotional eating can quickly turn to binge eating. MEDA (Multi-Source Eating Disorders Association) says that this slippery slope is more of a continuum (source). Emotional eating can start as a snack or some comfort food that settles your nerves or fills your actual hunger, but it can quickly devolve into your only coping strategy, or something you do until it hurts you, either with physical pain and the need to purge or with shame and guilt.

While I’ve never purged, I do binge-eat when I eat my emotions, and just these realizations have begun to push me in a better direction. I am now more aware when I am slipping into my haze-eating, and I try to push the food away when it brings me to that state. However, in order for me to truly master this thing there are a few crucial things I need to address:

  • My anxiety and stress need to go down.
  • I need to find a new outlet that lets my mind quiet.
  • I need to associate food as fuel not food as love.

These are some tall orders. I have found a few hypotheses, if not quite solutions.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Something I have never had a lot of success with is meditation. In all honesty, I’ve never really tried. I get bored quickly, or my mind runs away before I muster the patience to corral it back. The idea of sitting in the quiet and meditating has always seemed so foreign to me. I grew up in a house with noise and with music constantly. There was no respite unless to sleep, and even then – we slept with radios in our rooms.

Mindfulness is another practice that has seemed strange. How do I pay attention to the food I am eating more? Is it the simple act of knowing what I am eating? Am I supposed to focus on the sensation? Upon reflection, I can see how the mindless stuffing of food into one’s mouth can be a stumbling block, but again, I’ve never tried mindful eating.

This upcoming week, I am going to try meditating at least three times for at least 20 minutes each time. I will also try eating mindfully on a meal or two, and maybe I’ll report back some results on Instagram.

New Hobbies

We are all taking up new hobbies while locked in our homes for our quarantine 2020. At Walmart the other day I noticed that all of the sewing kits were gone and it gave me a bit of a chuckle. Heck, I am currently blogging for the first time so I might be a hypocrite for laughing. I have been thinking about returning to some of my old hobbies, and seeing how they fare, since I’m ditching food as my best friend.

I have been crocheting on and off since 2018, and I have owned a guitar since 2011 or so. I also love playing video games with my husband, so I am going to prioritize doing some hobbies of mine through the week and seeing what sticks again.

Associations

Here is the hardest one. How does one break an association? Is this a Pavlov situation that I need to reprogram? Is this a gradual process that will happen as I avoid using food as my comfort? I’m going to pose this question to any followers here or on Instagram, and hopefully we can start some dialogue. I’d love to have a post about this in the future.

This post has been a little heavy. I realized the truth of it as I was writing. I actually spoke up while writing and mentioned it to my husband – how far back this goes for me. I’ve been an emotional eater for a long time. There is some hope that as I address my anxiety and continue seeing my therapist (bless you Michelle), that I’ll continue to make strides.

What sorts of habits have you broken? How have you changed a negative association to a good one?

Thanks for reading, y’all.

Some cookies I made today… so sue me.

Roadblocks to Weight Loss

“I have been thinking about the idea of excuses for some time now. They are like menacing demons that creep into our lives without us knowing. They are roadblocks, white lies to ourselves, a reason to set the bar lower, and self-justification for achieving less than our full potential.”

Lorii Myers, No Excuses, The Fit Mind-Fit Body Strategy Book

It’s time! The time has come! It’s time to get real. Gettin’ Real with Jessica. No, that’s awful – I’m not calling it that. Let’s just call it honesty and move on.

I talked in my last post about my weight loss history and about how my pattern is to all-or-nothing, lose a bunch of weight fast for one event, then gain it all back (and sometimes then-some) only to repeat the process over and over again. This may not be the case for you, or for anyone else, but this is mine.

The obvious solution? Make real, lasting changes to my entire lifestyle. Make better choices in food and activity, make healthier dinners, go on walks, exercise. So why don’t I do it? Because it’s freaking terrifying! I love when “fit girls” go “It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet,” because that sounds scary af. Who wants to change the entire way they are living life cold turkey? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Another thing I’m scared of? Hiking. (Please stop laughing.) I get up to the foot of whatever darned thing I’m hiking up and stare up at that stinking summit and just groan. “How am I supposed to get up there? This is a huge task!” I think. The few times I have gone hiking, I’ve had these thoughts and it is only when I stop looking up at the summit that I can just think about one step at a time and only about halfway through do I start to think that I can actually reach the top.

Dog Mountain – Montana 2013

Perhaps this is one and the same fear. I stare at the summit – the summit here being “a Jessica who is free of her anxiety habits (biting nails, chewing cheeks, excessive worrying, OCD habits, spiraling), a Jessica who is at a healthy weight, who exercises regularly, makes amazing healthy dishes, never emotionally eats, gets to enjoy back dimples and maybe a little abs. “That is an insane amount of ground to cover, how on earth am I supposed to do that?”

And my health blueprint says “All or nothing! Jump in with both feet or it’s not worth doing! Do it for three weeks until that big thing coming up so you’ll be able to wear that dress you like!” If we’re going with the hiking analogy, I tell myself I can jump from the bottom to the top in one go and that’s the only way that it’ll be worth it. This analogy is starting to fall apart though, so I am going to let it go.

So instead of doing what I normally do, let’s start by identifying the roadblocks that always get in the way, and maybe by the end of identifying them, I’ll have a few simple steps I can start with. Now, which things stop me from having better health and mental habits?

  • Time
  • Money
  • Emotional Eating (Eating for Comfort)
  • “Eating Events”
  • Motivation

Time

This is the excuse I believe we are all familiar with. Our busy schedules, trips, events, and daily lives can all take away that precious time we need. This is not a topic I feel I should or need to preach on, because my daily schedule is not busy enough to have a good excuse here. I don’t have children to cart about, and my husband and I have regular office jobs. We do little else but work and go home, and the occasional weekend get-together or D&D sesh.

However, I can identify a special time when “Time” itself gets in the way, and it’s holidays. Whenever I am out of town or have family or friends by, I find it hard to stick to things I want to. Who wants to work out when they could hang out with their best friend? Or wants to have a salad when you need to show your family the place with the amazing nachos you’ve been talking about?

Here is a crossroads for me, and for all of us. We have three options.

  • Abandon all healthy habits with family/friends. Eat dessert first, eat as much as you like because events are the only time you can let go.
  • Ease off the gas on holidays and with family/friends. Enjoy the time you have, but in moderation. You can have a piece of cake, but don’t have the second.
  • Stay strict at all times. Be the guy who brings pretend dressing to Thanksgiving or better yet, the guy who sips a protein smoothie at Christmas dinner. (You can see I’m not fond of this option)

I think pure abandon is probably not the best route, but it is the route I am most familiar with (and is the reason I’ve gotten sick at Christmas, twice!). I need to make practical steps towards ordering the smaller ice cream, getting water, and moderation at holidays and with family, but not using it as an excuse. I can also feel free to avoid hour-long workouts when I am on vacation, but it’s not a bad idea to go on an afternoon walk with some family.

There, Jessica, not so hard to take one step up that huge mountain!

Money

*shudder* I have so much money anxiety. I’ll probably get to talking more about it at a later date, but I think just the one anecdote may get the idea across:

Leaving college, my wonderful grandparents sent me some graduation money that I used to deposit on a rental and furnish said-house. After doing all of that, I had some money left over and decided to get an Xbox so I would be able to play with my then-boyfriend. As I left Wal-Mart with the box under my arm, I had a panic attack in the car. I hyperventilated and would have returned it immediately had my boyfriend not started driving me away.

And so, you see, money and I are not usually friends. Particularly ~ spending money ~ and I are not friends.

Last year, I followed a diet plan with FitGirls and budgeting extra money for the expensive healthy meals they wanted had helped a bit, but only for the month that I did it and not for a long-term solution.

A couple of things have already begun to help me: following healthy blogs and other ladies on Instagram for one! They have great recipes that look not only easy to make, but like they are delicious. I also found ALDI, a grocery store which sells overstock goods, as well as off-brand foods (which are just as good), and cheap produce! *ahem* Let me repeat myself. “CHEAP PRODUCE.” The same grocery products I bought at a Wal-Mart when I lived in small town Kansas are 40-80% cheaper at ALDI now that I live in the Kansas City area.

I feel like money is one of those easy arguments, but at-home workouts have always been an option, and especially now, during and after the Stay-At-Home order, I think that is becoming more and more apparent. I do wonder how our gyms around the nation will be affected by this realization.

Emotional Eating

This is so big a topic (especially for me), I believe I will be writing a post about this over the weekend. Stay tuned!

“Eating Events”

By this, I mean dates! Hanging out! Galas, banquets, and events literally built around the food we will eat! I can’t say no to you, crab puff. Nor you, buffet. Nor you, ice cream date.

My husband and I bond over food. We love to eat together and to go to restaurants. Local places, chains, sit-downs, drive-thrus, you name it.

One solution I’m implementing? Our date is now a walk and cooking together. Chop these veggies, I’ll make the pasta. I’d love to Pokemon Go again and do that for a whole Saturday afternoon. Let’s find festivals of food, where we’ll have to walk around in the sun to enjoy the tastes. Let’s try new things and not just new foods!

March 2018, Gun Range in Wichita

Motivation

“I’ll give you something to cry about!” Anyone else hear that one growing up?

You want motivation? I’ll give you motivation.

Working out increases your metabolism, improves your mood, helps to prevent all kinds of health problems like diabetes, poor circulation, poor immune systems, etc.

Having better nutrition helps your skin, your energy levels, your longevity, etc.

Taking better care of your mental health… is self-explanatory.

But all of this is head knowledge that I am sure you and I already have. Motivation comes from within – from wanting to be better.

And I want to be better. I’m done being worse, or being okay. I’m ready to be better. This, my motivation, will drive the rest of those roadblocks out of the way with time. Even if I stumble or fall back, there’s always tomorrow.

Here, by the way, is the summit of the first mountain I really hiked:

February 2013, Dog Mountain Summit, Montana

And here is that same summit again, in the Fall:

October 2013, Dog Mountain Summit, Montana

Thanks for reading!