It's a well known fact that people eat more junk food when they are tired. For me, over 12 years straight of being pregnant and/or breastfeeding combined with getting up during the night with babies + getting up early with toddlers + kids who need me to stay up at night until they fall asleep + staying up late to get stuff done while kids sleep = a whole lot of chronic and BIG tiredness!! I have gotten used to being tired all the time; it's now the "norm" for me and I don't usually let it get in my way. I do attribute, however, a lot of my weight gain to eating out of exhaustion and stress.
I am having to work really hard to combat the years and years that I used food as my coping mechanism; it gave me a temporary energy boost and helped me "escape" my stress momentarily. Also, a lot of the foods that are easy to grab and eat when you only have one hand free (because the other hand is cradling a fussy baby or toting around a clingy toddler) are junk foods...chips, cookies, crackers, bits of brownie, handfuls of dry cereal, bagels, etc...all things that don't require any preparation (washing, slicing, cooking, etc) and are finger foods. Those foods have been a mainstay for me over the years. This is how I got to be where I am...and even heavier!
My heaviest weight was around 220!! 7 years ago I decided, for the first time since becoming overweight with my first pregnancy, that it was silly to go on being so fat! I lost about 45 pounds in 4 months. Then, I took a hiatus on my health journey for 3 years and managed to keep 20 of those pounds off during 2 more pregnancies and births. I again got serious about my weight and lost the other 20-25 pounds once more. After an ankle injury and another pregnancy, I gained those 20 pounds back again; the lovely diet yo-yo that we all know and hate! I am happy that I changed enough to keep the remaining 20 pounds off permanently, though! But, I still had the habit of grabbing those junk foods and grazing in between meals to try and combat the vicious cycle of stress and exhaustion. Changing this now has, so far, been the hardest part of my health journey. Habits are hard things to break; especially habits you are so emotionally tied to!
I have done a lot of self-talk to change my thinking. When I really want to grab a handful of crackers or bake a batch of cookies, I tell myself, "that is not really what you want! You want to be healthy and fit!" It's HARD! Some days, like today, I feel like throwing a big ol' fit complete with flailing on the floor, kicking my legs, pounding my fists and yelling "it's not fair!!!" I have to remind myself food is not going to help me to feel better. Food is not going to rescue me from my stress or exhaustion. Food is not going to do the laundry, load the dishwasher, make kids more compliant or rock the fussy baby to sleep! Food is not a crutch of mine anymore! I am too strong and too healthy to need crutches!! I am the one who decides whether my day is happy or crappy! Food is there to nourish my body; to make me stronger and more capable of living my life to the fullest...not a selfish friend who could care less and brings me down in the end....not anymore!
Boy, I sure came close to succumbing to my old habit today! It was a busy day, the baby was fussy and wouldn't nap and my toddler was not feeling well....and I am hungry!! I came scarily close to skipping my workout (which I did at home instead of the gym because of the late hour) and making a batch of cake batter to eat while watching a movie instead. Really...I was so close! But I stuck it out. I refused to give in. I knew I couldn't give up! I was angry that I couldn't give up! I was angry I couldn't do what I wanted to do; what was easier and more familiar.
If I had given in to that temptation, I would not feel very good about myself right now. Sure, it would've been just one night, one time, blah, blah, blah....but it would've been me using a crutch I knew I didn't need. It would've been me giving in to weakness and it would've been me being whimpy. I don't want to be weak and whimpy. I want to be strong! I want to be determined! I want to succeed!!!! I WILL SUCCEED!
Needless to say, even though the cake batter would've tasted yummy, being strong tastes even better!