I put on about 15lbs during the last year and a half. Some of that was the infertility stress, but it was most easily blamed on my schedule. My days started at 6 and then I worked until 8pm or 9pm four nights a week, which made take out easy, and a home cooked meal an oasis I rarely reached. I feel a strong obligation to make dinner. Partly because that is one of my few easily discernible family values, although the dinner table of my youth was usually set with a healthy dose of either personal or political animosity between my parents. Also, cooking is one of my pleasures and one of my talents, and seeing the look on my husband's face when I serve him dinner is very gratifying. Keep in mind that this look also registers when I put a burrito in front of him--he likes my cooking, but he's not tied to me cooking, at least not the way I am. And exercise is problematic because I've got fibromyalgia, and exercise, while practically the cure for it, also exacerbates the musculoskeletal pain--so that is always in the mix. Ok, so enter 15lbs.
In my early 20's I went through a nearly anorexic stage. I was near 100lbs (I'm about 5-5), but I didn't lose my period, so I wasn't technically anorexic, but no one looking at pictures of me in shorts could miss the protruding knees and the saggy skin on my face. I was quite cuckoo as well. I got out of this state by being a in relationship with someone who turned out to be very abusive, but of course in the beginning it was lovely and I cooked for him and found I had a talent for it. I probably was up around 150 when that relationship ended--something that pissed him off; as if I'd sold him a 100lb woman and it turned out there was a much heavier one lurking in the background.
During my mid twenties I existed on a diet of Annie's shells and cheese, either with peas and tuna and extra cheese, or just extra cheese, a chocolate chip cookie or two, and falafel (not to mention Indian food!). My diet was probably restrictive, but not in the way that it had been 5 years before. I also commuted largely by walking, and then as a nanny I spent a good portion of every morning walking around with the baby in the jogging stroller. So in addition to being in my mid twenties, my lifestyle made it a lot easier to maintain my weight.
Near the end of my twenties I moved to an area where the public transportation is much hailed, but actually sucks, and I got a car. that netted me about a size increase. Then I fell in love with a man who was a vegetarian, but who largely subsisted on coffee, premium ice cream and pepperoni pizza (pepperoni is a fish, haven't you heard?). I knew a lot about vegetarian cooking, and this man loved his cheese, so I began cooking for us. It was lovely, I wowed him with my homemade mac & cheese, and all sorts of other lovely foods. All of the sudden I realized that I was much more rotund then I'd been a year before, and I decided to join Weight Watchers. This was about 8 years ago before they had the core plan, and you had to count points. I took me about 5 months but I lost 20lbs (it might have been longer, I can't remember exactly), and I felt good, but I also felt hungry. And I felt scared of feeling hungry--the fear that I'd fall back into that anorexic mind set scared, and scares, the crap out of me. So I went up about 4lbs and I was able to maintain that with a modicum of effort. But then in the last year it all went to hell in a hand basket.
So here I am on WW again, doing the core plan, which is so much more sane. However, I am so easily derailed. I was doing really well--eating good food, stopping when I was hungry, not getting overly hungry, etc. And then I got worried about a friend, and all I could think about was vodka and deep dish pizza. I felt unmoored. This turned into a runaway train. Next I wanted sweets. I wanted them badly. Even when I was so overwhelmed over the last year I hadn't turned to sweets, it was always beef or heavy feeling foods. I love sweets, and I'm a good baker, but I had broken myself of the habit. Even in this little foray into freaking out, I haven't actually had too many sweets, but the desire is unnerving. The worst part is that they haven't been satisfying--a sure sign that it's emotional eating rather than a real craving. Ugh.
Clearly worry is one emotional eating trigger, but the other is illness. When I get sick I think about how badly my body needs food to repair itself, and then by the time I'm better, I'm out of the mindset and back to square one. I have been noticing that I also feel as if I deserve xyz food or taste. That seems like a trap too. In my clearest moments I can say to myself that food is both a pleasure and a fuel and that I don't always have to complicate every meal with adding some sort of twist to it. Perhaps I feel as if I'm taking care of myself when I give myself these treats? That seems pretty obvious, but really taking care of myself would mean...uh, I don't know what it would mean. Sometimes I just want to keep up with everyone else, and it is hard to hold my own needs at the center. When I'm out to eat with family or friends, no one care what I eat--but I think that because it is hard for me to calmly hold onto my own plan, internally I affect an aire of smugness, which is really just a prop to keep me on track or just give in. Gah.
Of course it is easier to feed others, and worry about their diet, than it is mine. My mother used to go on candy jags, but was very on top of my nutrition. I don't know! I think I'm trying to put myself in some sort of absolutist box: I am a good eater/I am a bad eater. But the truth is I do really well sometimes, and not so great others, but for the most part my diet is basically healthy, but my portion sizes can get a little out of control, meat is my idea of ballast, and I feel disappointed by how little my body needs, because my mouth usually needs quite a lot more.