“Argh, I’m so tired and frustrated today!!! Maybe that MacDonald’s meal will help me feel better….”
“Yay! We did great today! Let’s celebrate with a crab feast!”
“Shucks, I ate badly again! Ah well, since I already failed…might as well continue cheating…”
Does any of the above sound familiar?
For me, it’s all too familiar.
Perhaps it’s just about being Asian, or maybe I just grew up in a household that is not exceptionally good at expressing our emotions. You don’t see hugs, or hear “I love you” very often. But that doesn’t mean there is no love in the family. In fact, the love language in the house is FOOD (our family knows how our Grandma loves to feed us…but that’s for another bog post) On the other side, you also won’t see us pouring our hearts when we are sad, or screaming at each other when we are frustrated.
Perhaps that was why, since young, I turned to food as my feel-good-antidote or as a reward. I thought I could use food to control my emotions. Well, it turned out to be the other way around. Whether I was feeling sad, or happy, my first thought is always, “let’s have something yummy”. Growing up, I was never aware that food controlled me so much, so I ate my way to being unhealthily overweight since 7 years old, and stayed that way most of my life even though I was very active. Today, I am keenly aware of my issue. I am very much aware that when I am upset, I would have thoughts of using food as a remedy again. But the difference this time, is that I know what I am doing, and because of that, I can make a different choice.
My relationship with food has come a long, long way. I am kind of an all-or-nothing person. When I decided to “fix” my relationship with food, it was an incredibly frustrating time. Sometimes, I would be really focused and “good” and be in total control. But some days, I would be “bad” and lose control, and end up binging, only to beat myself even harder later and resulting on either more binging or purging. Yes, I was mildly Bulimic for quite a while. It was an emotional roller coaster. I did not enjoy the process at all, and obviously it didn’t go very well. I would lose the weight, only to regain it and more.
The turning point came when I went through a self-development training program and realize that one of the underlying issues I had was that I actually don’t love myself very much. I beat myself up a tad too often (perhaps an understatement…) and I expect perfection all the time. Through rigorous coaching and facilitated processes, I finally stepped out of the shadow to start loving myself, and acknowledging my beauty, and that has proven to be a game changer.
Fast forward to today : has my relationship with food changed? Yes, it has transformed! I no longer allow food to control me. Do I still have the “urge” to eat sometimes when I’m upset? Absolutely. But the difference is that now I can make CHOICES. If I do end up satisfying a craving or an urge to eat, I no longer beat myself up for it. I am aware, and then I make a conscious choice to really enjoy my meal, and start from a clean slate after that. Do I still celebrate with a good meal? Absolutely. But the difference now is knowing when to stop (when I’m full, of course) instead of binging and focusing on the celebration and not the food itself.
I’ve now also learnt to eat according to my goals and my goals have evolved significantly over the years. I started with weight loss in mind, so I ate according to a plan that would help me achieve that goal. As I grew into a national representative, I made sure I had sufficient nutritional intake to meet my training needs. Then I had a fat loss goal, in preparation for a photo shoot and so I had a plan for that. Now, I am focused on performance for my strength sports and the strategy would be different. Regardless of the goal though, having mostly natural and fresh foods while keeping sugar and processed food minimal has been the constant.
Where I am today, is NOT the result of the trendiest diet plan or replacement shake, but the consistent accumulation of habits and effort to take care of myself holistically. Eating well is just one part of the equation. Taking care of my emotional and mental health through exercising, meditation, hanging out with my loved ones and doing the things I love has been far more important. Having a coach and support system has played a vital role in my journey.
If you are looking to embark on a journey of health in all sense of the word, I understand what it can be like and am most certainly happy to support you!
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