Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weekly Meeting Topic: Why We Eat

Tonight the leader said something that I totally agree with and blogged about over a year ago:
We do not have a weight problem. We have an EATING problem.
Think about that - it's true: The weight is just a result of the eating. (This same logic applies to my strong stance that you need to focus on your behaviors, not the number on the scale. The behaviors will effect that number, but you have no control over the number. You have control over the behaviors.). Since the eating is the problem, that's what we need to address: Why we eat.
Obviously, if we all ate only when we are hungry we would probably not be in the situation we are in. It's all the extra eating we do that leads to the problems: the weight gain, the health issues, the quality of life issues.

So that leads to the obvious question: Why DO we eat?

I think this is such an important topic because every single one of us eats for reasons other than hunger. And it's so important to be aware of those reasons so we can address them and ultimately change those behaviors.
You can probably think of a few circumstances off the top of your head that trigger you to eat - certain emotions (happiness? anger? sadness? stress? boredom?) or situations (certain people/places/events) that cause you to self medicate with comfort foods. But as you think about all those times you've turned to food to comfort you, I want you to ask yourself: Did the food help? If you're honest with yourself, you'll acknowledge that no, the food did not help.

The food did NOT cheer you up.
The food did NOT solve a problem at work.
The food did NOT bring back a lost love.
The food did NOT make your kids behave any better.

If anything, the food introduced a whole new problem. And it surely did nothing to solve the original problem.

Turning to food in situations and for reasons other than hunger are merely habits we've picked up over the course of our lives. They are only habits. We have control over habits. We have the power to change them. We just need to be aware of them and be willing to make an effort to do so.
My biggest non-hunger related food triggers were:
  • Stress at work
  • Night time eating
  • Certain places/situations (usually things like treating myself to something when I go shopping - like a 12 point dark chocolate bar)
I addressed the stress eating at work a few ways: 1) I stopped buying snacky stuff like cereal bars (this was back when I still ate a lot of packaged food, mind you) and 2) I addressed it by removing myself from the situation so I could think - this was when I started going out for walks outside or on the stairs. I honestly cannot remember the last time I ate out of stress.

As for the nighttime eating, again I stopped bringing certain food items into the apartment - things I would be likely to have trouble stopping if I started eating them. I also have a 'brush my teeth after dinner' rule. This helps me mentally feel like my mouth is 'off' for the night. And I don't want to ruin my clean mouth feeling.

And as for the treating myself when shopping, that usually involves me avoiding the trouble zones: the chocolate section and the baked good section. At most stores, I can reason with myself that the items aren't vegan, and therefore are off limits. But at places like Whole Foods, where they have vegan chocolate and vegan baked goods, I either avoid them or tell myself that I do not NEED those things and they are not going to help me. I look at them and tell them they have no power over me.
As for addressing and changing your own behaviors, I am not suggesting this is quick or easy - but it can be done. Personally, I think it *must* be done for long-term success. It's the behaviors that led us to eat the food. It's the behaviors that put the extra weight on us. It's the behaviors that brought us to the point where we are today. And we are totally capable of changing those behaviors so that we aren't hindering our efforts and our health.

Now for my weekly questions:

What did I accomplish this week?
(Holy Moly - so much, I'm like superwoman!!)
  • I tracked everything for 7 days! Everything! I am *so* proud of this! Not only that, but I stayed within my points. I used all my daily points and 33/35 weekly points. I didn't touch my activity points! Here's a snapshot of my journal:
Weekly Journal
  • I TWIETed again today (Tweet What I Eat Tuesday) I really enjoy doing this. I just hope my non-WW Twitter followers don't stop following me... This keeps me so accountable and I get a lot of feedback from my Twitter followers, so I am going to continue doing this on Tuesdays.
  • I made it to Pilates on Sunday like I said I would. And as a bonus, I found out my Pilates teacher reads this blog! And he had so many nice things to say about it! Thank you, Max :)
  • My experiment to leave a bite or so at the end of each meal is still going well and becoming a little more automatic.
  • My sweet co-worker William is out for a week and a half. Normally he drives us to the gym on Monday, Thursday and Friday. Last Thursday, I considered not going to the gym since I'd have to walk there and back (just over half a mile away), it was cold out, and it would take over an hour to walk there, change, workout, and walk back. But then I reminded myself that the gym is just a block from Target. And I walk to Target once a week, so why shouldn't I walk to the gym? To save some time, I changed into my workout clothes at work (instead of bringing them and changing at the gym) and walked there, did my workout and walked back. I did this on Thursday, Friday, and again today. And because of the walk there and back, I burned even more calories!
  • As planned, I used the Wii Fit on Sunday.
Working out @ home with the Wii
  • When I did the body test portion, I thought they were just weighing me. But when I saw that they had also been testing my balance, and it was nearly perfect, I almost fell off my Wii Balance Board! Look at this!!
This totally blew me away!!!
  • New record on the stairs: Distance! I normally do the stairs on Tuesday, but yesterday it was raining and super windy and I didn't want to walk to the gym, so instead of doing NOTHING, I changed my schedule and swapped gym day with stair day. But even better was that I decided to challenge myself to do 12 sets, for a total of 96 flights of stairs. Yes, I said NINETY. SIX. And I did it!! In just over 33 minutes! Here I am before I began (I seriously look super tiny here):
Before walking 96! flights of stairs!!

and after:

33 minutes later...
  • I made my own snack bags and didn't *eat* any of the snacks as I did it! I made baggies with 1/4 cup of raisins (2 points) and .6 oz mixed nuts (2 points). This may not sound like a big deal to some of you, but it was for me - not only did I portion these items so that I wouldn't eat more at at time than I should, but I managed to not indulge in them as I did it.
I made my own snack bags
  • I worked out every day this week, earning 31 Activity Points! Here is my activity spreadsheet from this week:
Weekly Activity

What do I want to work towards?
  • Continue to work on leaving a bite at each meal.
  • I want to have another stellar week of tracking: 7 days!
  • Pilates and Wii again on Sunday (I need to make this a weekly thing)
  • TWIET again on Tuesday
  • I have a new WW recipe I want to try, and will photograph it for a blog.

On a final note, here are thanks to more bloggers for mentioning me or linking to me recently:
Thank you all so much for reading. I am about a week behind on my email replies right now. Be patient. I will get to you!

xo Sheryl


  1. I also use the brush your teeth after you eat rule! It majorly helps me because I don't wanna brush my teeth all over again! Love your blog, it inspires me and I love to read your recipes!

  2. You look marvelous! Wow! To the stairs. I've decided to try WW in February, (ie. next pay cheque!) :)
    You are an inspiration...

  3. you are doing so well, excellant. x

  4. Great job!

    Question, when you do the stairs, do you run up them or step delibrately pushing through your heels? I normally sort of run up stairs on the balls of my feet but I've started to try to use my glutes more and go slower pushing up through the heels. It takes me longer though.

  5. Mel- good question- it took me a while to NOT walk on the balls of my feet because I tend to do that since I walk in heels most of the time. This time in particular, I was very conscious of pushing through my heel. But even when I did it onthe balls of my feet, I never ran. I walked very slowly and deliberately, trying to make each step as strong as possible. But now I am more aware of, and focus on using my whole foot and pushing down on my heel.

  6. Mariah, thank you! I am posting a new WW recipe later this week.

    CrowNology, that's awesome! I'm glad to hear it!

  7. You had a fantastic week! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in your meetings. I am a WW Online member and don't attend meetings, so it's helpful to read what you learned! I like the idea of the "brush your teeth after dinner" I think I might have to try that one. You are such an inspiration! :)

  8. I'm right there with Tonye, I do WW online so I loved being able to see what is happening in a real meeting! Its silly, but having an internal dialogue really helps. Asking myself "Am I really hungry? Why do I want to eat?" usually results in me not eating and figuring out a solution to my problem. By the way, I went back a while on your blog and you are looking fantastic I hope you realize what a huge inspiration you are!

  9. TY! It's nice to hear the confirmation.

  10. I love your blog, your style and your dedication.... You inspire me both health and fashion-wise!

  11. Congrats on such an awesome week! You have a lot to be proud of there.

    I love what you said about telling food that it has no power over you. I'm going to do that. Maybe outloud. I really don't care if people think I'm nuts - I think that will really help me cement the habit of not eating simply because the food/desire is there. Thanks.

  12. I will be repeating "food has no power over me" in my head over and over this week. Thanks

  13. I had blogged about this same topic last night on my blog and trying to have awareness of why am I eating. Because when I'm not aware is when my eating is usually for the wrong reason. so we are spot on with this!

    I do the measured snack bags too, especially if I'm going out to the movies or to the bookstore and want a coffee..I do 1/4 cup raisins, 1 oz of nuts, 1 tablespoon choc. chips...It fills me up and satisfies that sweet/salty combo craving and I can more easily KEEP AWAY FROM THE BAKED GOODS--my downfall

  14. This is EXACTLY what I am working on, changing WHY I eat...the extra weight is usually just the unwanted outcome.

    Emotional eating is really tough to change. I HATE sitting through uncomfortable feelings when I could just numb myself with food. But each time I make it through without eating and just feeling the bad stuff, I am weakening that emotional eating habit.

    You are awesome! And look at those tiny legs - no more hiding!

  15. I have my snack size zip lock bags just sitting in my pantry.. Im going to get them out and make my snacks as well. Thanks..:) Thanks for the topic tonight, I love reading your blog.. It really get's through to my brain...

  16. Interesting post. I'd been thinking about the non-physiological triggers to eating since I heard a very interesting interview with the author of this book: http://www.amazon.com/End-Overeating-Insatiable-American-Appetite/dp/1605297852 Congrats on your fantastic progress.

  17. I read that book too Summer. I think Bitch Cakes did too. She might have done a review of it. It's very interesting and I've been definately following some of the suggestions. It truly is a mind over matter thing.

  18. you do look tiny!! amazing that you tracked for a full 7 days! I definitely aspire to that!

    thanks for the blog mention! *kiss*

  19. Wow... what an inspiration! As a WW lifetime member, I only attend one meeting a month. Today I showed a .6 loss, which leaves me about 6.4 shy of my personal goal. I'm feeling (and looking) better than ever. Keep up the great commentary, Sheryl. I appreciate your leadership!

  20. You are doing an amazing job. It is so hard to make a small difference, much less what you've done. You look fantastic! I admit, I eat when I'm bored and depressed both. It's my hardest habit to break, especially now that I quit smoking. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I have an award for you on my blog here http://www.thegeekygourmet.net/2010/01/my-first-award-honest-scrap.html

  21. You *did* get a lot done! Good job! Seriously, how many stairs you do always amazes me. I can do hardcore spin classes and what not, but after six or seven flights of stairs I get winded. They are not my friend.

    I used to eat when I was bored a lot. Or just when I wanted the taste of something in my mouth. Luckily that was when I was younger and had an uber-metabolism. Now I have learned to ignore those urges 90% of the time.

  22. I'm so happy to find your blog - it's full of so much realistic and useful information! THANK YOU!

  23. Congrats on staying balanced on the Wii balance board. That is so hard. I still feel wierd when I am in balance because I am so used to incorrect posture.

  24. I LOVE your blog. There is a girl that buys her coffee near where I work, she has the same look as you. I love the fact you have an individual look

  25. When I used to work at a weight loss company, I remember having a conversation with a coworker about overeating & food addiction. Unlike other addictions, food isn't something you can just STOP using & get healthier. Not that it's that simple with other addictions, because it's definitely not! But you still HAVE to eat food & manage your eating behaviors at the same time. I'm always in awe of people who can go re-train themselves, because I absolutely believe it's one of the hardest things many people experience in life.

  26. Sheryl - You know I am all about the emotions behind eating. I, too, do NOT do well with sugar in the house and never buy it. But occasionally someone else does and it's difficult for me. I compare it to me being a crackhead and someone bringing crack in the house. You also have to walk the line of staying in your power and not allowing the substance to control you, even if it's there. Tricky.
    BODA weight loss

  27. That is great that you are on balance on the Wii board. I have always had problems with balancing and it has gotten worse since I broke my ankle almost 2 years ago. I guess that is one of the side effects of breaking an ankle.

  28. You look amazing! What an awesome week! You are such an inspiration. My WW leader said something about Emotional Eating that really stuck with me...she said to be sure that you are 'eating with dignity'. Standing at the fridge, leaning over the sink, sneaking a spoonful of ice cream is definitely not dignified!

  29. hahaha your blog is too funny, ive just find it, im from spain!:)
    i have the wii fit too, its perfect for make exercise at home
    visit my blog!: agreatmasterpiece.blogspot.com

  30. Mel- you have a great memory! I did read it but did not post a review. I have been meaning to. I LOVE that book and think everyone needs to read it. Thanks for reminding me.

  31. I'm begining to feel a bit stalkerish now. LOL! It is a great book. I have taken to saying, "I choose not to eat that." to myself and really using my brain more than my automatic responses to eating. Today I weighed in at 73lbs lost! Yippee!

  32. WOW: (working out wellness) I have made that same connection before and I think that's why food addiction is so prevalent and hard for people to manage, because you CAN'T cut it out completely. It is certainly not easy, but it can be done and it's so worth it!

  33. Mel - I assume you are the same Mel that tweeted last night about weighing in today, so let me say I am so proud of you for going and weighing in. I always say that if you are thinking about NOT weighing in, that's the time you need to weigh in the most. You need to be accountable, see the number (or not) and put everything in perspective. One not-so-great meal will not put the 73 pounds on you. But if you do not go to your meeting, you are setting yourself up for more excuses to not go the next week. And eventually 5, 10 or 73 pounds may come back. Congrats on another success :)

  34. Thanks Sheryl! That's not me though. I'm _melty on Twitter. I don't use it much. But I fully agree with you and I try to always go no matter what. I've missed very few meetings and even fewer weigh ins. It's really the only way I can continue to be successful.

  35. I just updated my name to say Melty instead of the more generic Mel.

  36. You look tiny because you are tiny! It takes a while for the brain to catch up, huh?

    You rock! Thanks for the continued inspiration!

  37. Awesome post, I had thoughts about why I eat last night and posted about it today. It took me looking in the mirror and asking myself a few questions to prevent a binge!

  38. I weighed in today after almost quitting last week (didn't weigh in last week). And our leader challenged us to do something you're already doing - leaving a bite at the end of every meal to prove WE are in control of the food, not vice versa! I thought of you instantly! I lost 4.6 lbs today doing mostly filling foods and feel so empowered! Your blog sooooo helps! Thanks!

  39. Silencer: that is SO fantastic!!! I am so proud of you for not quitting, for focusing on your filling foods and for realizing how worth it it is to hang in there! Please don't ever even consider quitting. You'll be where you started, or likely worse off. Why would you do that to yourself? Remember this victory and how great you feel right now if you ever even consider that and put it out of your head immediately. Tell yourself you will *never* give up! Now enjoy your weekend, superstar!

  40. I like your mouth 'off' for the night plan...

  41. Stephanie- I agree completely and have used the same analogy.

  42. Not sure if you are still using the Wii, but just incase you are interested, yesterday I bought Wii Biggest Loser and I found it much better than WiiFit. It is not all stop-start like WiiFit and even doing the beginners program I found it hard (admittedly I'm no where near as fit as you). After doing the first workout yesterday, my hammies and quaddies are still complaining. I also look forward to working out with Bob and Jillian, but then I am a fan of the show.