Emotional Eating and Struggle with Motivation

KiwiKamikaze Posts: 31 Member
edited May 2015 in Health and Weight Loss
So, please don't judge me: this is my first time ever really asking anyone about this, let alone in a public forum...If you want to just skip to my question without having to read my personal history, just ignore the sectioned off paragraphs.

Skip the below if you want. It's my background
I'm not severely overweight, but I still need to lose some weight to be in a healthy range (or meet my own body goals). I don't really care what my end weight is so much as wanting my body to look strong, lean and healthy. Which I'm assuming is a common goal.

I'm sure no one needs to know this, but here's a little background on my body. My metabolism slowed down when I was in high school, probably because my diet wasn't the best. Maybe not the worst, but a lot of cheaper food. I also grew up in a household where nearly all my family members drink soda. I didn't really understand how bad soda was for me until early in high school, but I just didn't know how to stop (I will get into that a little later). I ended up gaining some weight at the end of high school. But when I got to college, I became a very active person for about 2.5 years. I took fitness classes all through college, I went to the gym almost every day to run, walked to my classes, and just in general led an active lifestyle. Now, again, my body never looked completely how I wanted. And I didn't discover weight lifting until the end of that 2.5 years.
I also ended up getting pretty sick at the end of that and shortly after diagnosed with hypothyroidism. While I was sick, I gained a probably 20lbs (I am a very petite girl, so 20lbs on me is quite a bit). My fitness dropped off first when I got sick, and I am assuming that is why I gained weight. Because my eating didn't change, but my fitness did. Therefore, my body wasn't using all the calories I had been using before.

For the present moment, my hypothyroidism is under control. It took me 2 years to get on a dose of medication that made me feel fairly normal energy every day. Before that, I felt like I barely had the energy to get out of bed, forget about focusing on anything. The whole situation and the extreme difference in lifestyle ended up making me feel really depressed. And being overweight made me feel even more depressed. I'm not even sure I knew how small I was before I gained all that weight because my perception of my body is pretty distorted. I have struggled to get started and stay motivated with eating less and exercising more for the past several years. And to be honest, I'm tired.

The issue I want to ask about is how do others deal with eating less, emotional eating, and just getting motivated in the first place? I feel like I don't eat terribly, but not as healthy as I could. And I am pretty badly addicted to soda. I developed a habit in my teens of associating soda with comfort and relaxation. I feel like sometimes when I try to go without I just feel on edge and unhappy. Which is silly to my logical brain, I feel stupid that it's even a problem for me. I am similar with food sometimes. I count my calories, but I get in this awful mindset of hating every minute of it. Just wanting to be carefree when I eat and not think about it. And according to MyFitnessPal, I am maintaining my current overweight by eating only 1600 calories. Meaning if I want to lose anything significant through eating (if I don't exercise - which I still need to get back into, too), I would only be able to eat 1200 calories a day.Frankly, I know very well that I don't know how to eat right. Which sometimes is hard when you're used to eating a certain amount. Then, as far as working out goes, I just feel like I start, go for a month, and end up stopping for two or three months.

Okay, enough ranting...anyone have any advice? Why is this such a struggle? Or am I just seriously bad at all of this to the point no one can relate...


  • purple817
    purple817 Posts: 25 Member
    I am an emotional eater - I consciously do this and yet I still find myself doing this. The other night I ate a big packet of crisps (my main vice) and because i'm trying to log properly I couldn't have any tea, I know there have been days that I have logged as much as I can but that I have missed things due to the shear amount of binge eating I have done........
  • PrimroseFlower
    PrimroseFlower Posts: 110 Member
    It may help to know that the struggle is real for everyone. Look around...if it were easy for everyone, most people will be fit. I struggle with food everyday. Your vice is soda. Try each day to cut down or eliminate that. In fact, if you just have to have a soda, try to have just one within your calorie budget. You may need the caffeine, so how about coffee (black coffee has no calories). I also have hypothyroidism so I can relate to that too. You need to make sure your blood work is accurate and that you are on the right dosage of medicine.

    You can add me as a friend. My diary is open. I am definitely not the perfect eater, but it's an honest diary. :wink:
  • LolaKarwowski
    LolaKarwowski Posts: 217 Member
    Definitely not! I'm sure we can all relate to this. Let's be real, nobody wants to eat healthy. No one wants to work out. At least never in the beginning of your lifestyle change. That's just it. You have to realize that this will be a lifestyle change. That from this day forward you will have to put in effort into being a healthier person. If that sounds exhausting then maybe you haven't hit your breaking point yet. Maybe you just don't want it bad enough. I had a soda addiction in the first and second trimester of my pregnancy. Finally I saw what I was doing (drinking one litter of soda a day!!!) and said enough is enough. I stopped cold turkey and haven't had a soda in YEARS. I've had small sips just to taste the difference and girl, trust me, it actually HURTS drinking soda. It hurts my throat and then a get a weird feeling in my tummy. I feel like you can definitely do this!! You just have to want it and come to terms that as much as you wish you could have that carefree life, it's simply not an option.
  • rzaglanis53
    rzaglanis53 Posts: 1 Member
    You could be a writer. Your descriptions of your struggles matches my own story i dont know how to help you but pray another person reading this will reach out to bring back hope of getting motivated again. I feel like I've fallen as a person and can't get back up. I am a swimmer and biker and even in my younger years did 13 triathlons. Why can't I get back on that road to being active....I don't understand.
  • jhard728
    jhard728 Posts: 52 Member
    Sounds to me like you are on the right track... you want to make a change and that is an important first step. My advice would be to keep eating the 1600 calories so you feel like you are still getting enough food throughout the day. But, in order to do that and lose weight you will need to work out. Find something you love and do that once or twice a week (for me it is playing soccer twice a week for 80 minutes). I also go for a walk most days or a light jog for a couple miles to burn a few extra calories and increase my stamina/ cardiovascular health/ get my steps in. I know a lot of people, myself included have benefitted from having a FitBit or some other fitness tracker. I would recommend lifting some weights a couple times per week as well to build muscle and fire up your metabolism. I have a long ways to go still too and I know it feels daunting, and quite frankly some days it is but you can lose weight. I am not overly familiar with Hypothyroidism but you have the drive and determination to want to make changes and therefore I do believe you can be successful.

    I know a few women locally who have joined fitness / accountability groups where they all post their workouts each day on social media for each other. It isn't really for me but they love it and not only do you get the accountability but they have built some really strong relationships as a result. If you have others on your side and encouraging you it is harder to give up and let them down than just giving up on yourself. It makes it more public what you are doing and if you are comfortable doing that I believe it can me motivating to not have others see you fail.

    Best of Luck!
  • Laura732
    Laura732 Posts: 244 Member
    I deal with it one day at a time. One moment at a time. The big picture always looks like its as big as a mountain. But if you look at mountain climbing as a one foot in front of the other process, one day you will get to the top of the mountain.

    So what does a step look like? Its one healthy thing that you can do for yourself today. For example, its raining today so going out for a run is probably not in the cards. But, today I can be conscious of what I eat and avoid the candy dishes. Today I can walk up and down the stairs instead of going for a run for 20 minutes. Identify little things that make a difference and then just do them.

    Just chip away at it, one soda at a time.
  • Zombieinkpot
    Zombieinkpot Posts: 745 Member
    It sounds like you feel overwhelmed. I understand that. I also have hypothyroidism and depression and eat my emotions, and a lot of the time I am too tired to exercise or prepare meals. You can still lose weight and improve your eating, however, you don't have to change everything in one go.

    1. Start by logging everything you eat and drink. Don't worry about keeping a deficit, just log your normal diet for 2 - 4 weeks. This will help you determine the things you need to change in your diet. What are the really high calorie meals? What are the things you can't live without?

    2. After you've logged consistently for 2-4 weeks, look at the foods or meals you love and see how you can fit them into your calorie goal and start planning your meals for the day or week ahead and putting them into MFP. This has really helped me. If I have a plan in advance and know what I can eat, it helps me stay at goal. I adjust the days as I make my meals.

    Once you've identified your 'must have' meals or foods, start filling in the rest of your days so that you keep at goal. Soup is tasty, but usually not that high calorie. Frozen vegetables are easy to keep and prepare. Porridge with some peanut butter or some fruit is a yummy breakfast.

    3. If your maintenance level at the moment is 1600, why not start your goal at 1500? You will lose weight. Yes, it will be slow, but it will be progress and will help you ease into the changes as you make them.

    4. For getting back into exercise, why not go for a five minute walk every second day? It may seem insignificant, but it is something and you can start building on it. Maybe a push up/squat or plank when you wake up in the morning. Increase the length of time walking every week, or the intensity. You have a history of fitness, so this will make it easier for you to get back into it.

    5. As far as the soda goes - are you drinking soda with sugar or sugar free? It is more than just mental cutting down on soda. The caffeine and sugar are stimulants, and when you have low energy, they are often the things that helps us get through the day. If it is sugar soda, perhaps change over to a sugar free version until you cut down to the daily amount you want. If it is sugar free, I wouldn't be worried about the scare mongering you hear on the internet. You might want to reduce the quantities though. I love diet coke and I drink a glass or two a day as a treat. The rest of the time I drink water and I only have water with my meals. If you are determined to give up soda altogether, do so slowly and perhaps try black coffee or tea to help you reduce the side effects of caffeine addiction as you phase it out.

    5. Make changes slowly. Only introduce one new thing at a time and remember it is more important to be 80% consistent 100% of the time rather than 100% consistent 80% of the time!

    Good luck!
  • try2again
    try2again Posts: 3,562 Member
    I can relate to how difficult it can be to make good choices when you are tired/depressed, and it sounds like you have medical issues working against you too. My experience has been that I was able to build motivation and fend off the depression by making one good choice at a time and allowing myself to feel good and be proud about it, no matter how small it was. Then of course, when you're feeling good, you're more willing to take on the next thing. Don't look at it as having to overhaul your whole life overnight. This is such a long project!
    I'm wondering if you drink regular or diet soda? If it's regular, than I would bet those jittery feelings are not just in your head. Instead of eliminating it altogether, I wonder if you couldn't just cut back a little at a time? And as you gradually cut back, try to find new ways to relax? As for working out, did you like it when you were active? I tend to forget the rush I get from cranking up some music I like and losing myself in some physical activity. I lost 40 lbs a few years ago and worked out regularly and even got into lifting, like you had some health and mental issues and got away from it. When I resumed this year, I could have kicked myself- it felt so good! And I'd been depriving myself all along! The combo of a decent diet and exercise has me feeling better emotionally/mentally than I have in a long time. If you can tap into something like that, I would think you would be good to go. :)
    I wonder about your calories, if maybe you need to adjust your weight loss goal to .5 lb a week (or even less if possible.) You won't succeed if you feel hopelessly deprived, and if you're going to become more active, you're going to need more. Hang in there, don't be too hard on yourself, and remind yourself this is a long-term project. :)
  • DrWhoIsYerDad
    DrWhoIsYerDad Posts: 263 Member
    I've lost a substantial amount of weight at least half a dozen times in my life, I usually got so down on myself/my appearance that I finally got motivated to get my butt in gear. I can't explain how it happened, it was like, one day, something just "clicked".

    I think of weight loss like a business, the bottom line in the end, if you don't run the numbers correctly (calorie counts, which include how exercise factors in) you will fail. I'm not always eating correctly , it is a mental battle for me everyday. This post is directed at myself also, I hope it helps !
  • scottacular
    scottacular Posts: 597 Member
    Everyone registered on this site has had some sort of struggle, hence why they're on here. So if it helps, you've took a step in the right direction. Just to add, your metabolism wouldn't have slowed down, there'd be a whole wider range of issues at play if that were the case. It's just that as you said, your diet wasn't what it needed to be to burn calories. Nothing you've said is too drastic or alarming, getting over emotional responses in regards to eating has no magic formula - it just takes time and will power. Take it a step at a time, each time you struggle, at least just try to have a little bit less than you had the last time, and repeat until hopefully eventually you just don't respond that way at all. Keeping yourself busy and avoiding trigger object food is good too. Avoid buying multi-packs of snack food for example. Speaking generally here, if you want a cookie, buy one of those large single ones rather than a pack of smaller ones. Just as a example.
  • Ronnivee
    Ronnivee Posts: 1 Member
    Everyone who responded has really great advice. As far as soda goes, I was completely ADDICTED to soda. I would prefer to drink soda than to eat and could easily drink an entire two-liter of soda alone. I had to give up soda for health reasons - diagnosed as pre-diabetic and hated the diet soda. I weaned myself off of the soda by creating my own sodas using fruit juice and seltzer water. Little by little I decreased the amount of juice I would use until I developed a taste for just seltzer water. I lost almost 30 lbs by just giving up soda. It has been 3 years and I haven't had a craving or an interest in soda. Good luck!
  • healthygreek
    healthygreek Posts: 2,139 Member
    You don't have to give up soda-just drink less and try to fit it into your calorie goals.
    I loved soda many years ago. I gave it up by switching to diet, then switching to club soda with half juice, then reducing the amount of juice till I only drink club soda with lemon lime flavor when I have the desire for fizziness.
  • KiwiKamikaze
    KiwiKamikaze Posts: 31 Member
    You guys! I seriously wanted to cry just reading how supportive everyone is and all the advice. I guess I tend to feel alone a lot in this because I'm pretty shy in person. My close friends and my boyfriend aren't trying to lose weight, so it tends to feel like a lonely road. They are all fairly supportive in the way they can be: mild encouraging. But sometimes it's difficult not to have others in my life who have faced similar struggles or are facing them. So, this, you all, is pretty amazing for me!

    To answer a few questions I saw so far: I drink caffeine free pepsi. I managed to stop drinking caffeine almost completely (minus very occasionally) just a couple months ago. So, it's probably only been 2 or 2.5 months since I stopped caffeine. I thought that would help me quit soda or reduce, but I'm finding I'm just as bad as before. And I think that's because of the sugar. I hate the taste of diet, so calories and the implications of too much sugar weigh on me with my drinking habits. I tried weaning off when I stopped caffeine, but fell into old habits/amounts. So, maybe cold turkey would be best? Or try to switch to some kind of seltzer water. There's a lot of good advice about it regardless.

    One other question I saw was about my calorie deficit in my goals on here. According to MFP, because my maintenance is around 1600, the 1200 calorie drop wouldn't even have me at a 0.5lb/week loss. SO, maybe, as some of you said, I should either start very slowly, 100 calories, or eat the same and work out more.

    I think what strikes me most is how I still haven't gotten it into my head that I shouldn't be trying for a lot of change at once. I feel like such a perfectionist sometimes and over critical. So, when I think about changing my lifestyle, I get it in my head that it all has to happen at once or it won't happen at all. That's a terrible way to think! Regardless, all this advice is so helpful and makes me excited to hear from others. Kind of an indirect support group <3
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,199 Member
    Glad you got some good advice and support :)

    I look at my calories like a budget - how do I want to spend them? Pre-menstrually, some sure do get spent on chocolate, but for the most part I spend them on foods that will satisfy me. In order to do this, I stop spending them on the foods that don't serve me well.

    Cardio and yoga help me not have the triggers that can lead to emotional eating.

    I'm motivated to exercise for several reasons - I sleep and feel better, and in order to eat the way I want, I have to burn more. If I don't have a big chunk of time, I do little things - I walked for 24 minutes at lunch, 23 minutes after work, and snuck in 15 minutes of gardening during work. It all adds up!

  • Backtomejamieb
    Backtomejamieb Posts: 1 Member
    I'm just getting started on this process and was looking for a community post about the struggles of temptation in food. Your post spoke directly to me! I don't feel as though I'm depressed or have "some big thing wrong with me" but I do feel that I have a bad relationship with food. I'm in the same boat of having friends and family supporting how they can but I think of this area in my life as "embarrassing" that I somehow don't have total control of what I put in my body and so I dont openly share or asj advice from those surrounding my daily life. It is very refreshing to hear others struggle with this as well!

    Since I'm new to this, I am hoping by posting that we can help to inspire each other and get some positive motivation from others! Hoping also that by posting I will get notifications when new posts are made to this group!

    Thank you Nickie for posting and being honest and to all the others for words of encouragement! :-)
  • mshenderson2111
    mshenderson2111 Posts: 1 Member
    So, this like my 100th time at this...losing weight thing, as I refer to it. I find myself eating just because I get enjoyment, then because I am stressed..my list goes on and on. I am going to take some of the advice given an apply it. Hopefully, this time I can be sucessful.