Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Food and emotions

It's been a hard week. Okay, that may be an understatement. It has been a completely emotionally draining week, and it's just Wednesday. I'm even having a hard time generating words to explain everything that has been going on. The bombings at the Boston Marathon really shook me. As a (kinda) runner, I imagined the runners who had trained for such a difficult race that usually ends in celebration simply for finishing, which was suddenly turned into a tragic event. I also thought of the athletic trainers and athletic training students that I knew were helping in the medical tents. I thought about how they went from helping athletes with dehydration to dealing with injuries that would shake even the most experienced in emergency medicine. And how they will never be the same.

That same day our community was praying for a husband, father, teacher, and coach that had been in a tragic car accident on Saturday. He passed away the next day. Those of you who live in a small community understand how such a loss affects everyone. I ache for his family, his friends, his students, his fellow coaches, and players.

Add to that several friends and family members that are walking through their own trials. In all of these things I feel helpless to do anything. I can't fix any of it. There may be things I can do do help with the burdens, but I cannot heal any of it. It is a completely unnerving feeling.

When life gets stressful like this I want to run away. Or eat. Or run away and eat. When life is out of control food is the one thing I can control. I can shovel food in my mouth to help soothe that sadness that feels like hunger. Others will do the opposite and not eat anything in an effort to control something in life. Both actions are an effort to help control the one thing in life we can control, food. But then it quickly spirals into the food controlling us.

I've been working through the book "Intuitive Eating." The 7th principle is to cope with emotions without using food. Sounds easy, until the emotions are so intense that food seems like the only thing that will help. Monday I found myself with knife in hand and loaf of banana bread ahead of me. Back to what I knew. After a few years of dieting it is pretty easy for me to fall back into emotional eating. And the food does temporarily feel good. But in the end the emotions are still there, waiting to be dealt with. I literally said "step away from the banana bread." Not because banana bread is evil, but because I was ready to binge to try and deal with life. And I knew it wouldn't stop with that one loaf.

It's been a few days of reminding myself it's okay to eat for hunger, but mindlessly eating to try and stuff down emotions doesn't heal the emotions. I need to find other ways of dealing with the emotions. For me finding several different ways to deal...sometimes talking with friends, sometimes being alone. Sometimes finding a chance to laugh, sometimes finding a moment to cry. Sometimes going for a run or walk to use the "fight or flight" hormones that are increased, sometimes simply sitting in the quiet. In all things remembering that even when I can't understand God's plan, He's still there.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

FABULOUS...& flawed

It all started with the innocent unwrapping of a Dove Mint & Dark Chocolate square. Inside each little candy is an uplifting thought, many encouraging you to more chocolate. This particular wrapper bore the thought "It's OK to be fabulous AND flawed." That thought has had my little mind racing ever since.

On the outside we are always trying to project our fabulous...our flawless fabulous. We strive for fabulous homes and are often left saddened with the constant realization that our homes will never be like those in Better Homes and Gardens. We want fabulous children that never misbehave and excel at everything. We want a flawless marriage, a fabulous body, and flawless skin. We are constantly bombarded by products and services that promise to take us from flawed to fabulous. We never let on that we are anything but fabulous (if we can help it). Often the pictures we post on facebook are the ones where our kids are looking oh so cute or perfect...or even if they are messy it is a cute mess. We share the cute stories and accomplishments. We spend so much energy trying to be flawless...only having it become more painfully clear that we are anything but flawless.

What we feel down deep is completely flawed. Each of us has our own areas where we feel like a flawed failure. We each know the crud we deal with...body image, issues in our marriage, painful memories, children that are struggling in school or life, a face that reveals both wrinkles and acne (maybe that one is just me). Often we don't want to share our flaws with others, yet we are constantly reminded of them to the point of obsession. We forget that our flaws also mean something fabulous. I know it is sometimes very difficult to see any blessing in our flaws, but if nothing else they help us connect with others when we are honest.

I've become more thankful about some things in my past, particularly my weight. Through most of elementary and all of high school I was overweight, and generally not by just a little. And it was at a time when most other kids did not carry a little extra fluff. I was teased. I took that to mean I was undesirable, that I wasn't going to succeed. I didn't run for student council because I did think anyone would vote for an overweight girl. I didn't think any guy would want to date me because of my size so I often dressed in oversized, frumpy clothes. In fact I spent most of my senior year wearing one of my dad's old flannel shirts that was 3 or 4 sizes too big. But lately I've become oh so thankful for that past.

Why? Because I never defined myself with beauty I spent time trying to better myself in other areas: academics, friendships, and service. Because I felt no guy would want to date me and often dressed the part, I have very few heartaches in the ex-boyfriend department. I became a stronger woman because of my flaws. I can look back at my high school self and appreciate that fabulously flawed girl.

Yes, we are flawed and fabulous. Perfectly imperfect. And I'm realizing more we don't necessarily need to fix all of our flaws. Sometimes it's by embracing our flaws that we can realize how they have made us fabulous.

How about you? How are you fabulously flawed?