By Lee Anne Grace
Old habits die hard. During times of uncertainty or stress, people have a tendency to rely on familiar behavior patterns, even if these responses are not in our best interests. During the past month, I have found this to be true about myself.
I have recently lost focus on good nutrition. Within a span of several weeks my eating habits morphed from a few poor choices to totally out of control. Before I knew it, I felt like I had walked off a cliff and was in a free fall. My food intake looked suspiciously like that of my former 300-pound self. My commitment to daily exercise fell by the wayside as well.
I had plenty of excuses to justify my recent reversion to gluttony and lazy evenings on the couch. I was bored by constant healthy eating. External events beyond my control were stressful. Food seemed to dull things for a short time. I couldn’t run to relieve stress, I reasoned, because of a lingering leg injury.
Last week I emerged from my sugar- and processed carbohydrate-induced fog long enough to have a heart-to-heart talk with myself. Last year’s winter clothes felt tighter than a full body tourniquet. I was not going to invest in a new wardrobe two sizes bigger, so I knew what I had to do.
The bathroom scale loomed in the corner, a thin film of dust covering the digital readout. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and stepped on. The bright red numbers blinking back at me could have been much higher, but a gain of 12 to 15 pounds is not something to be taken lightly, especially with my past history with morbid obesity.
Everyone encounters events that rock their boat. It is part of being human. There are many things we can’t control, but I can control my response to the world around me.
After my much-too-close encounter with my winter wardrobe, I formulated an action plan.
• I purged the house of unhealthy foods that had gradually made their way back into the kitchen.
• I quit my resumed diet soda habit. Although there aren’t any calories in diet soft drinks, some studies have indicated they are an appetite stimulant.
• I started keeping a food log again. Honestly logging my food intake is one step I know will hold me accountable.
• Exercise is a priority, not only to burn calories, but to cash in on the release of endorphins, those feel-good hormones we all have.
• I am making an effort to get enough sleep. A recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic suggests the less sleep a person gets, the more they eat.
This month I have been reminded to let go of the things that can’t be changed and not to use life’s lemons to fuel unhealthy coping mechanisms. The great thing about life is every day is a new day. We are blessed to have the opportunity for do-overs, no matter how many times we’ve messed up before.
Lee Anne Grace is an elementary music teacher for Tupelo Public Schools. After reaching a weight of almost 300 pounds and failing at numerous diets for over 25 years, she has been successful at losing weight and maintaining her weight loss for three years. She is the mother of two teenage daughters and enjoys running in her spare time.