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If only stress were edible

I’m glad I took a picture of 170.8 because I ain’t nowhere near that number this week. There has been some stress at Casa de Pasta during the past two weeks. It involves things that “Thou Shalt Not Blog About,” so I can’t get into the details. As a result I haven’t read any blogs for two weeks, so hopefully no one has eloped or died or opened a salt water taffy shop without me knowing. However, I can assure you that everything is all right now. In retrospect it’s all worked out for the best too.

Except for the part with the three pints of ice cream.

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat them all in one night. I still have some restraint. But when I stare into the vortex of uncertainty, I like to imagine the swirling vortex is a chocolate marshmallow Pinwheel cookie and then I devour it whole. Twelve times.

I’ve read a lot of blogs over the years and I’ve always felt bad for the bloggers who gain weight when their life takes an unexpected turn – be it divorce or unemployment or moving. I’ve read along and sympathized, but secretly I was glad it wasn’t me and that stress-eating happened to other people. I told them to knock it off and that eating cookies would not solve their problems. For the most part I believe that, but honestly, the cookies did help a little. So did the ice cream. They made me feel good for several minutes when I wasn’t feeling all that good.

They did not solve my problems, though. Ultimately they could have caused more problems if my pants had stopped fitting. I was amazed that my jeans could go from being a little loose to being a little tight in just the course of a week. I’d never really dedicated myself to hardcore stress eating like that any time in the past few years. But I wanted to do the “wrong” thing because I’ve done the “right” thing for so long. As much as I like that I can run and skip and jump, I have to admit I really like eating too. It’s fun. It’s almost a hobby. When I was pigging out, I knew I was making bad choices, but I didn’t care. I always tell stressed out people not to overeat, but it’s much easier to tell someone to drop the chocolate bar when you are not personally worried and anxious. I always seem to forget how stressful stress is. The word “stress” is so overused that the actual impact of the feeling gets detached from the word.

My time of stress also coincided with my cold, so I felt like the weight I lost due to illness was a gift card from my body redeemable for ten pounds of bad eating. Only, I really need to stop now. Hear that, self? Stop with the overeating, already! The stress is gone and while your life is slightly different now, you don’t need to be buying candy bars at Walgreens in the middle of the night. I need to take up knitting or something to keep me busy in the evenings when I have an urge to eat everything in sight. I need to stop buying binge foods like cereal and breads. I need to get back into my humdrum, health and fitness routine. Everything was working fine before! Why can’t we go back to before? Life was so groovy then and I had my own happy theme song playing on an infinite loop.

But sometimes life changes. Or your theme song gets switched. It just does. Your average day today is not going to be your average day fifty years from now. You have to roll with it and make healthy living a part of your life no matter what. I have the advantage that I know what to do to lose weight, I just have to do it. I must adapt to survive. And having three pounds of pumpkin puree in your freezer is not an excuse to eat an entire pumpkin cheesecake. Well, it’s an excuse, just not a good one. I suppose this is just part of the never-ending battle, sometimes you lose, sometimes you win, but you just have to keep fighting even when your sword looks like a cake knife.

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36 Comments

Zandile • November 20, 2007 at 8:57 am

I’m sorry you had to pass through this stressful time, and its tough that the nature of it prevented you from relying on this support community. But good job coming through without doing anything permanently destructive. Your stress eating episode, your acknowledgment and ownership of it, and your recovery from it show the rest of us how integrated your healthy lifestyle truly is. And BTW, I may be looking to do a half in the Spring too, for now I’ve just got my sights set on besting your 5K time! :-)Maybe the half your running in May is something I should consider . . . my Dad would LOVE it, he’s such a race fan.

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Girl on a mission • November 20, 2007 at 9:02 am

Theme song of life- what a great idea!

What is your theme song?

I think my is “I fell in to a burning ring of fire”….because most days, I’m down in the ring of fire trying to get out…..hahaha.

Or better yet, “I will survive”….the never ending need to stuff my face over and over.

Then again, “Rehab”….I should probably make myself go?

Or maybe, “Crash”….cause my diet seems to do that all the time….

But…in the end…my theme song of life is always:

“You’ve got a friend”….because most times…I rely on your post, other bloggers posts, and my spouse for support…when I think no one else is having a rough day or going through the same things I do.

Thanks….for reassuring me that everyone has stressful times- and rebound!

Your weight loss story has inspired others in my workplace.

Keep going!

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Nina • November 20, 2007 at 9:08 am

Stress eating is such a hassle. I have the opposite problem; when I’m stressed I won’t eat anything, then I get so hungry I overeat.

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Chris • November 20, 2007 at 9:26 am

Perfectly normal, I’ve been there. Whenever stress levels get too high, we instinctively turn to things that are comforting, even if we know they’re not good for us. Stupid instincts!

Good for you for fighting through it. Hope things are better now.

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Kalyn • November 20, 2007 at 9:39 am

I’m glad that things have turned out to be ok. I’m sure that everyone who has lost weight and tried to keep it off has gone through this same type of experience. (I’m a huge stress eater myself, and anything stressful that lasted a few weeks would definitely put on some weight for me.) Your attitude sounds great. So you fell off the horse for a few weeks. Just get back on and start riding again!

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Debbi • November 20, 2007 at 9:56 am

Of course I zeroed right in on the phrase “I need to take up knitting.” Need some yarn? Just say the word. My husband will be your new BFF. I’m afraid to take an inventory of my stash (that’s what we knitters call our yarn collections) because it’s certainly more than I can knit up in a lifetime. You’ve no idea the amount of stress that causes. Heh.

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Amy • November 20, 2007 at 10:07 am

I’ve had to accept that sometimes the best I can do is maintain. I’ll be on almost a year of maintaining soon, which kind of sucks. I’d like to get more out of the next few months but it’s a horrible time to push yourself like that. Holidays, food, money, families all in the dark hole of winter…no wonder people wait ’til January to start over, this time of year bites.

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psychsarah • November 20, 2007 at 10:16 am

Hey PQ-Hang in there! (Whenever I say that I think of that cat poster from when I was a kid…but I digress…) It sounds like you’re getting a handle on things. I’m going to follow your example, as I have been having a stressful few months (big transitions, lots of uncertainty) and hence have been using it as a crappy excuse to eat all the stuff I know I shouldn’t. Ridiculous! I wish you the best in dealing with the stress in healthy ways. Take care!

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Meagan • November 20, 2007 at 10:21 am

Knitting is such a good idea. I got sucked into one of Bravo’s endless “Project Runway” marathons last night, and I realized at one point I was eating large quantities of Baked Cheetos out of boredom. (Bad Meagan!) I need something to keep my hands occupied during mindless TV – I’ll have to go pick up some yarn sometime soon.

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z. • November 20, 2007 at 10:22 am

Sometimes it’s like the stars align and no amount of measly human willpower will get you back on the healthy eating wagon, though it sounds like you’re coming through okay. I had a stress chocolate attack yesterday and it’s funny how *panicky* that feels. Like, it felt damn good, but also like I was about to fall off a cliff. Any time eating feels like falling off a cliff is perhaps a bad sign…

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Katharine • November 20, 2007 at 10:56 am

Ha! If stress were edible, there’d be very few overweight people.

You can do it, PQ. One fall off the wagon is not a permanent change. And you already know why you ate all that ice cream, so you’re ahead of the game.

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KateG • November 20, 2007 at 11:04 am

You’ll make it through this!! I think one thing that will help you is that you are very conscious that you are stress-eating. This time will pass and you will come out stronger in the end.

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Cathy • November 20, 2007 at 11:18 am

When we are stressed, or distressed as I prefer to say, we fall back into what is comfortable, hence comforting. And for us bulge battlers, it is food. To change that behavior, once we’ve identified it, which you have, I think one must then change the thinking, and it appears you’ve done that too…so finally I think we must, if eating is our thing, change what we eat when we’re stressed…heck, who eats celery?…so it doesn’t impact our weight and add to our woes.

I’ve been reading the book The Thin Commandments Diet and it says we can change the foods we crave…which I imagine would be what we’d crave when we’re distressed too…so I’m thinking I might give the technique a try so that when I become distressed I’ll reach for an apple instead of chocolate bars.

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Lora • November 20, 2007 at 11:20 am

You’re doing fine, PQ! You’ll get to your goal soon enough regardless of the Holidays! Wipe the slate clean and start over. Amy, don’t give up either. Fight temptation! :)

My theme song is “We’ve Got A Long Way To Go” by Jerry Reed. I’ve come a long way myself and I occasionally come across road blocks. I keep on truckin’.

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BJ • November 20, 2007 at 11:49 am

Been there, done that and just ‘did’ that (stress overeating for the past 2-3 weeks). Yesterday, I simply had to recommit myself to healthy eating and to persevere. In my case I had to get a bit angry with myself and pray–and pray some more.

Wishing you and all strength and success!!

I too have lost a lot of weight (about 180) and still have about 80 to go. Yeah…that last 80 is tough…But I so want to do it that I hope my desire will overshadow my desire for ice cream and peanut butter on just about everything!

Remember this week all we have to be grateful for and give thanks to the One who gives us life and all good gifts.

Peace

Barb in SF

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sheddingpounds • November 20, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Sounds like you are keeping your head up and no doubt you will pull it all back together :)

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Alex • November 20, 2007 at 1:36 pm

I’ve been reading your archives and haven’t caught up yet but I just had to comment on this post…

The thing about stress eating (or drinking, or smoking, or drug-using) is that it allows you to get out of the feelings you’re having for a minute. Yum, ice cream, what unhappiness? But then, it’s all waiting for you as soon as you swallow the last bite. I find that when I make myself sit with what I’m feeling, journal about it, talk to a friend, things like that,I get to move through it and things get better faster. Plus, you can start your day/week/month over whenever you want to and get back on track. Thanks for this blog, it’s a real treat…

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dietgirl • November 20, 2007 at 1:39 pm

hang in there dear PQ… hope this stressful interlude ends for you soon xx

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Smi • November 20, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Hang in there. Time will get you through this.

-Smi

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Elizabeth • November 20, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Glad to hear things are on the upswing. Thanksgiving vacation seems like a great time to try to stop stress eating :)

It’s crazy, but having a baby has made me realize just how true it is…eating does make you feel better. Eli is never happier than when he has just eaten and he’s only nine months old, so obviously he hasn’t been brainwashed by any food industries yet. It’s pure body chemistry. I feel like I’ll spend the rest of my life looking things that make me feel better instead of chocolate chip cookie dough, but sometimes you just get tired of the effort. I’ve been there sister.

Keep on fighting, that’s all you can do.

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MB • November 20, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Sorry to hear you have been stressed lately. Hopefully the worst of it is behind you. I think it is impossible to have a stress-free life in this day and age so we have to find ways to deal with it without chocolate and ice cream.

I’m sure you will get the 170 (and lower) to stick.

I think stress has a lot to do with my inability to get the weight off for good. I’m hoping you will figure out all the secrets and let us know so I can join you in the Loser’s Lounge.

I think my theme song these days is “Always on My Mind” because I am constantly thinking about my battle of the bulge but don’t have much to show for it.

Drop the cake knife and nobody will get hurt.

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Rah • November 20, 2007 at 3:18 pm

Aw, PQ, what a bummer that life hands us stress in bundles. But it sounds like you have been able to reach down inside yourself and find what you need. Know that we’re all out here for you, too. Hang in!

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kyle • November 20, 2007 at 4:38 pm

don’t feel bad about the stress eating PQ, it happens…

indulge a little, and then draw a line and say stop. that’s usually what I do if I’m stress eating, I tell myself it’s fine for one day and one day only and then (hopefully) stop.

Anyways, it’s about just winning enough battles to win the war.

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breckgirl • November 20, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Hi – Been reading for awhile – first time comment. I totally relate to your plight. I just had a small meltdown the other night and allowed my stress over money (and bathing my two year old hellraising son) to grab hold of me and before I knew it I had snarfed down a baggie of goldfish crackers. Then on to the halloween candy leftovers (the crap candy I don’t even LIKE) then some other junk I didn’t need. Did I feel better – yes, for a few minutes. But then, ultimately, it is no good. The scale goes up, motivation goes down, blah blah. I have recovered from this most recent incident and am back on the weightloss wagon but girl, I know that feeling.

And hey – stop with the hum drum. Get a new groove on in your workouts. I bought that ridiculous Hip Hop Abs from the late night informercials and I LOVE IT. No joke – who knew I would fall in love with dancing around doing the “Smack Dat” and the “Git Busy.” Really, it is a blast and it is a great workout. Mixing it up with the workouts is always a boost for me – Next up, Turbo Jam. DVD workouts are fabulous.

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Lauren • November 20, 2007 at 7:41 pm

that’s right, you do know what to do, and you have been here before, so I’m going to give you the advice you give others, get right back on that horse. you can do it. Say it, say is. I can do it. …LOUDER that’s what I make my students do when they don’t feel like they can do it.

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diana the scale junkie • November 20, 2007 at 7:45 pm

Hang in there PQ!! Sending good thoughts your way!

HUGS!!

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the former veggie p • November 20, 2007 at 7:58 pm

Ah, that stinks. Stress eating usually ends up making me feel worse, because when I’m done, I’m uncomfortably stuffed AND feel guilty about stuffing myself like that.

Not that I’m perfect at always avoiding the stress eating, but it does help me to ask what my body really wants: Sleep? A massage? Exercise? A hug? Then I try–try–to seek those out right away. No waiting, because if I wait, I’ll turn to food in lieu of what I really want/need.

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Cindy • November 20, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Stress eating comes in many forms— from sadness, frustration, anger (these are the hardest) to just too busy or overworked. I experience all kinds of stress eating. I always have… But now I usually “see it” for what it is, and can therefore begin to control it a bit before it gets too out of hand. This isn’t always the case, however, and lately I’ve been a tough place. I am working out some of that “never to be blogged” stuff myself and it has complicated my already compromised eating routines. I haven’t really gained, but i’ve lost some muscle tone and I feel far less fit. I feel HUGE, actually, which is hard, hard, hard. I need to shake this off and regroup, but the more I tell myself that, the more I panic. You are always so sensible and level headed about this whole business. It is one of the things I find refreshing about your blog. But it is also a mystery to me. I know I’m screwed up, so I know how I got in trouble in the first place. You seem so “put together.” I want to know how to get there. Perhaps you could draw a map… with arrows… and a big black X…

Also, I want to know how to stop being so sad, or angry, or frustrated, etc… so much— so that I can relax and not have to concentrate so hard to do the right thing all the time. To a point, I’ve been able to change my body. What I haven’t been able to do is change what’s inside. That’s my biggest issue with stress eating—I can’t control everything (and I desperately want to control everything!).

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BMary • November 21, 2007 at 1:23 am

I had a big gain a couple of weeks ago, but for a completely different reason. I’ve lost about 200 pounds, and went away for 8 days on business and vacation. For four days I ate very sensible breakfasts and lunches, and then ate lots of food and dessert at nice restaurants for dinner. For the next four days we were celebrating a friend’s birthday at a resort and I absolutely went hog wild with the food. I wasn’t stressed; I was happy, and I binged constantly. (And enjoyed it when I wasn’t too stuffed.)

You know how much I gained over those 8 days? 21 pounds. No kidding. It seems impossible, right? Of course, three days later I’d lost 10.5 of those pounds again. So a lot of it was bloat, obviously. But I was still truly amazed at the damage I did in such a short amount of time. Must be a record.

The thing is, I feel like I need, well, not EIGHT days like that – but a day like that here and there to stay sane and motivated. I plan to eat pretty much what I want on Thanksgiving and Christmas (and the thought of both makes me really happy) and continue to eat very sensibly in between. I find looking forward to those days really helps me with willpower in the intervening weeks.

You’re a constant inspiration for me, and I’m glad you were able to identify the source of your overeating – that’s so much of the battle right there. Best of luck in the coming weeks!

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Kery • November 21, 2007 at 7:43 am

I know your pain–and I also know you’re so right when you say that you have to make it stop now. I don’t know why, but it seems to be the same way in my case: if I give way to stress-eating, then once the stress is gone, I’ll still go on eating, as if those bouts had suddenly turned into ‘habits’ and not ‘something exceptional’. It seriously sucks, and the longer we let it go on, the harder it gets to stop! So good luck with that!

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Lisanti • November 21, 2007 at 7:52 am

PQ, I’m glad you took that photo on the scale too because it’s proof to you that you did reach that low number and that you can do it again.

What you did with the ice cream reminds me of the “cheat meal/day” concept. You did it, you feel remorse, and now you’re moving past it.

I felt compelled to type this first post because this is the first post of yours that I read where I sensed some exhaustion on your part. It must be exhausting to balance your public life, private life and your weight-loss life (the latter takes on an entire life of its own), at least that’s been my experience.

Take care PQ.

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v'ron • November 21, 2007 at 9:32 am

You are so right about all of this and now I have to blog again. I’ve been sick, and I put on 6 pounds. Because, as I’m about to write, cookies do not contain dextomorphan, but you’d think they did the way I pounded them between coughs for comfort.

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Vicki • November 21, 2007 at 10:49 am

I’m sorry to see that something has clearly stressed you out and reading between the lines, it sounded pretty significant. Falling off the wagon for any reason just bites. But what’s really great is getting back on. Getting back in the groove, making up for lost time and seeing progress re-start is like finding something you lost, something that was driving you crazy because you kept looking and looking and it just wasn’t there. Even if it takes awhile to back on track, it feels so good to be doing the right things for yourself and your health. Thanks for all of your honesty and I hope you find the healing you need.

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Patty • November 21, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Sorry to hear you are dealing with a stressful time, PastaQueen. I have been there this fall and did use food to help with my high stress levels. It did help a little but now the pants are tight and I’m not happy about that. But, it is done and we move on. Life happens. But, we get back on the healthy eating wagon until it feels automatic again. Have a nice Thanksgiving tomorrow!

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Lynne • November 21, 2007 at 6:19 pm

I fell off the wagon about 8 lbs ago and I am back on with a vengence. You will do the same… JUST DO IT SOON before 10 turns to 20… and so on, and so on… I am convinced that the key to life-long weight loss is to: know when you’ve fallen off, not linger too long, and get back on before too much damage is done. BUT look who I am telling this to… I am quite jealous of your tenacity PQ. As a longtime lurker I know that you know what it’s going to take to not let yourself regain all that you’ve worked so hard to take off. Happy Holidays! Happy RUNNING.

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carmen • November 22, 2007 at 7:43 am

I’m so sorry that you are struggling. I know what that’s like – all of us on the weight loss spectrum deal with the same stuff. Hang in there – if you need an ear, email me and I’ll send you my phone number. Sometimes a chat works better than ice cream.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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