Reflection Post: JenX Journey’s Top 5 Health Tips for Emotional and Compulsive Overeaters

I hate exercising.  I have two running speeds.  Running and not running.  All I really want in life is to eat a lot of pizza, burgers and ice cream, hang with my dogs and binge-watch The Crown.  I’m a simple girl.

98 pounds gone for me, 80 for Mike!  Now we fall asleep watching Netflix and eat healthy homemade pizza and salad.

While this might be what I want to do, today I CrossFit 4-5 times and week and don’t regularly eat like that any more.  I’m usually too tired to watch TV when I get home.  Its freaking weird.  Who am I??

How exactly does a 20-year couch potato, Netflix binging, drive thru and pizza delivery loving, walking-up-stairs-makes-me-sweat-lady get on a path to losing 98-pounds in 3 1/2 years and keep it off?

This is a hard one, cuz even now I’m thinking the pizza and Netflix deal sounds better…

But I digress.  For most of my adult life, I calmed myself with food.  It was and probably always will be a “best friend” to me.  I’m always thinking about it even today.   In my 260 pound days, there was always tomorrow to get back on track.  I had a compulsive need to feel better now, so how boutta DQ Peanut Buster Parfait (and while we’re here), maybe some chicken fingers and fries – gravy on the side please!  You DQ’rs know what I’m talkin’ about.

The mere thought of it still calms me.

But oh so temporarily.  I’d snarf it down.  A few minutes later – heart racing…so sleepy.  I’ll do better tomorrow.  I’ll just order pizza tonight. Keep it simple. I’m tired.  Better finish off that last pint of ice cream and buy more for the boys tomorrow.  I’ll be eating healthy tomorrow anyway.

I never did.

It was a vicious cycle that only ended a few times a year when I “dieted.”  Would take off 25-40 pounds fairly regularly, only to have it come back (and then some) every time.

I had horrid habits. I rarely ate lunch with people.  I had a desperate need to hit the drive thru, supersizing everything and eating it alone in my car so I could snarf it down like nothing happened.  Would I like an ice cream cone with that?   Well sure.  I am the reason they ask that question, you  know.

So how does a 20-year compulsive eater turn things around?   Here are five tips that were key for me:

1)  Fight the power.  The dopamine centers in my brain were controlling my every thought and move.  I had to shock myself from the hold fatty, sugary, fried foods had on me.  I had to halt the auto-pilot that kicked in every time I drove past Dunkin for my Bavarian and Boston Cream donuts (swoon)!  My nutrition plan needed to surround taking the refined carbs out of my life and identifying and eliminating my trigger foods.  I made a rule to not order through a drive through for six months.  I could still eat McDonald’s, I just had to go inside and order something that fit my plan.  I had to break the drive thru habit.  Yes.  It was that bad.  After a few weeks of getting the highly inflaming food out of my diet, I immediately started feeling better and my compulsion to eat calmed to a more manageable state.

2)  Develop one skill and habit at a time.  I focused on nutrition only for six months. Fitness would come later. I got on the treadmill and started training for a 5K only after my eating habits were under control and I felt I could handle another step in the process.

3)  Learn to trust yourself again.  By far my hardest hurdle and most accomplished feat.  While you need accountability and people on your side to help with your goals, none of that matters if you can’t begin to deal with things yourself.  I ate alone in my car so frequently, its almost like I gave myself a pass if no one saw me!  It wasn’t going to be enough for others to hold me accountable, to make this a lasting change, I had to figure out how to do it myself and that meant learning to give a damn about myself.  This is hard when you’ve been self-loathing for so many years.

4)  Have goals that are more important than food.  I think food was such a “friend” to me (or so I thought) that I never stopped to think how much my food habits were keeping me from things I loved.  Whether it was wearing certain clothes or hiking in the Rockies, I had to find a power that was more important than food.  I was thinking for weeks about all the things I had to give up and was feeling deprived.  What I didn’t realize was all the things I was going to gain!  Learning to ski, feeling awesome in my own skin.  To this day when I’m tempted, I say my goals out loud to myself to refocus my priorities.  It doesn’t always work, but it works more and more, the more I do it.

5)  Progress, not perfection.  Just do better than yesterday.  No more, no less.  If we start with expecting perfection and 100% we surely fail.  Just do better than yesterday.

And I am.  I’m ridiculously proud of myself, as silly as it feels to say it.  (Refer to Tip #3)

PS:  I love lifting heavy $#!t.  Who knew this was even a thing??  Try new things that scare you.
I found that strong feels amazing.



2 thoughts on “Reflection Post: JenX Journey’s Top 5 Health Tips for Emotional and Compulsive Overeaters

  1. Saw your post on the SU Facebook page and am now reading your blog posts here. What an amazing journey! Congratulations on your success, and thanks for inspiring me.


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