There is one thing we all have in common, and that's stress. I don't handle it well, and something as simple as a gas bill or a politician's dumb remark trending on Facebook can send me into a hurricane of meltdowns and what-ifs and rants and even physical symptoms like cold hands and trembling and urges to offer a sacrifice to the porcelain throne. Thus, when a REAL stress comes along, it's something like a tsunami for me. I find stress paralyzing...except for the muscles required to run me to the snack cupboard, because something about stressing out has me wanting to pig out.
Of course I consulted Dr. Google about this. Having come from an herb and supplements family, I was already aware that stress results in overproduction of cortisol, this nasty hormone that generally ends up as a spare tire around your middle. I was also aware of something called the adrenals, which produce adrenaline (thanks, Captain Obvious) to cope with whatever stress you entail. What I wasn't aware of is that these stress messes cause us to crave very specific things. Stress is a hungry little bugger, and as if worrying you and stealing your sleep isn't enough, it will also niggle you for treats and triggers that you just don't need if you're trying to lose weight. Some of the most guilty and most sought pleasures of the stressed, depressed, and just plain messed are:
Yesterday morning, I scrambled around to get ready for church and managed to slurp down 20 ounces of my boyfriend before we went. I began to fill my purse with the necessities. Keys? Check. Butter Rum Life Savers? Check. (I know, I know, but I use snack calories for those sermon snacks, folks!) Ink pen and notebook? Check. Peachy Passion Lip Gloss? Check. Cell Phone? Check. Wallet? Wallet! WALLET!?!?!? Nope.
The last place I saw my favorite little card carry-all was at a grocery store on Friday night, when I stopped in to pick up some butter spray and a dozen eggs. Of course my kiddo and I scoured our property. Couches were uncushioned and overturned. The car was cleaned out, the floormats even removed. Every nook, cranny, crevice, and crack of our house, vehicle, driveway, and porch were searched. Every pocket, pillowcase, cupboard, and shelf were thoroughly perused. Nevertheless, there was no sign of that little plaid wallet I loved so much, the one that had my whole life in it. Of course I called the store where I'd last used my debit card, but no Good Samaritans had turned it in. I began to freak out in true Autie chicken-littling fashion, imagining all the evils of the world raining down on me, determined that life, as I knew it was over. What surprised me, though, was that while I wanted nuts and chocolate and carbs and sugar and salt to help me calm down from that overflow of adrenaline and cortisol, I somehow found the strength to avoid them. I drank some Sleepytime tea instead, and I had a few raisins. I didn't go over my 1,200 calories, even at bedtime, when I tend to freak out the most about the day's bitter happenings. Somewhere along my weight-loss journey, I've found strength I never knew I had, because there was a day not so long ago when any hurdle in life would have had me devouring half my kitchen.
I woke up this morning in a funk, still overcome with the stress of the missing wallet. I am one of those people who crumbles in fear. I managed to make myself pretty fat over the years, but I'm also guilty of fattening up tragedies in my head, making mountains out of molehills. I used to run from things for that reason, because I was terrified of them at the size I blew them up to be. That resulted in postponement and procrastination in dealing with them, which, ironically, only added more irrational blubber to those what-ifs. This morning, I wanted to eat more than usual. I wanted to eat granola bars and pancakes with my typical eggs and yogurt and diet bread and boyfriend. I wanted to finish off the pineapple Frutares in the fridge, then sneak into my daughter's grad party candy. I wanted those Hershey's kisses to smooch my worry away! The thing is, I didn't give in. Instead, I ate my normal breakfast while I sat down to make a rational list of what I need to do to correct the missing wallet problem, and I began taking care of those things, one by one. Then, I spent my morning hacking away at that list.
By noon, the missing wallet was really no big deal. Sure, I'm still upset about the $75 I will likely never see again, and I really did need it, but I'd like to think maybe someone else needed it more than I do, so I hope it served them well. Sure, I'm not happy that the Coffee shop gift card my sister got me is gone, but I am confident I will still have plenty of rendezvous with my boyfriend. I'm not comfortable with some stranger having my old driver's license, but it was due to expire in September anyway, and they couldn't use it for an ID unless they look like Shrek having a really bad hair day. In fact, I'm HAPPY that LIE-cense is gone, because now I have a new one, with a better picture...and I proudly proclaimed "155 lbs.!" to the BMV lady...and it was TRUE! My previous one always said 175 lbs., which, for most of the years I carried that license, was really the weight of one of my legs. Library cards have been replaced, bank cards have been deactivated and reordered (not that anyone would have gotten far with my 34-cent life savings), and the police department has been notified, just in case someone is foolish enough to desire my identity (there are days when I don't even want to be me!) I did lose my hard-earned Subway and Ollie's and Bob Evans reward cards points, but that's not huge in the grand scheme of things...and it just means I have to shop and eat more to build new ones back up.
What's the point of this rambling blog about my lost wallet? You don't have to let stress get the best of you in your weight-loss or maintenance efforts! You really, really don't! Here are some other things you can and should try:
Get some sunshine.
Take a walk.
Write in a journal.
Take proactive steps to remedy the root of the stress.
Find the positives or something to laugh about in the situation.
Call a friend.
If you must eat something, choose something green and leafy.
Look at your fat pictures to remind you what not to do.
Try on the things in your get-into crate.
Dance around the house.
Play with your kids and/or your pets.
I used to stand around like some big, worried oaf, stuffing food down my pie hole with every little stress that came my way, till I looked like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man in that white camisole thing I used to wear all the time. (Yup, that's me on the right, at 320+ lbs., worrying to my sister about something!) That wasn't good for me, mind or body. Now, I know it's better to face things and to find other things to do besides eat my stresses away. Richard Simmons may have had his Deal-a-Meal, but the best way to deal is NEVER with a meal! You don't have to let distress keep you from fitting into dis dress!