I worked intensively in July, taking on a couple of new clients plus doing an online business course. I vacationed abroad for two weeks in August, self-catering 3 meals a day for 15 people (OK, that was week 1; week 2 was only 9 people). Got my kids outfitted for back-to-school, which in Israel includes standing in long lines to buy massive stacks of books, and I shopped for, cooked for and entertained family and friends during the Chagim (Jewish holidays).
For the icing on the cake, I washed and ironed 33 white, button-down shirts on Tuesday. I am blessed and honored to be a wife and the mother of 5 boys (and 3 girls). I iron the shirts with pride and I love the neat creases down the arms. I am truly blessed!
Nevertheless, by the end of the day on Tuesday, which closed the door on 3 exhausting and exhilarating months – and did we discuss the heat? – I was tired.
And the adrenaline had gone away.
So as Israel rejoiced yesterday in her first rain of the season, and my littles went back to school, I took a break. I let down my guard and did what I always do when I am emotionally and physically drained:
I stalked the kitchen for leftover cakes and cookies. And I was richly rewarded!
And the more yummy, gooey cake I ate (my daughter also baked fresh Peanut Butter Congo Bars yesterday. Thank you, sweetheart!), the worse I felt. But I just. couldn’t. shake myself. long enough to stop.
I admit it – I am an emotional eater. I eat when I’m bored. I eat when I’m stressed and I eat to unwind and when I’m drained. The American Psychology Association and the health website Sparkpeople.com suggest I’m in good company. (See here and here.)
And as a financial coach, I know that there are also lots of people out there who are emotional spenders.
Reflecting on the well-known verses from Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) that we read in synagogue this past Shabbat
“Everything has its season, and there is a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to give birth and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot the planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal…….” (Chapter 3)
I feel like my time has come to heal from my self-destructive eating habits.
So what do I do now?
Spilling my guts (not literally) to Health Coach Rena Reiser, I received these 5 tips to help me break the cycle of emotional eating (with some of my cheeky comments in parentheses):
- Ask yourself: what is it that I really want right now? is it food? a meal? snack? (Chocolate?!?!)
- Is there some sort of self-care that you should be doing, like going to sleep early, taking a nap, going out with friends, chatting on the phone, listening to a shiur or some good music? (Sleep would have been good. Exercise, even better)
- Pay attention: has it been a while since you ate and now you’re over-hungry? (Nope. I’m very good at not letting myself get over-hungry).
- Stop. Close your eyes and just breathe. Get in touch with yourself and with what’s going on under the surface.
- If you did mess up, take the time afterwards to learn from what happened. Every time we eat for the wrong reasons it can give us tremendous insights into ourselves so that we can course-correct next time.
I love these tips. They all share a common thread of taking time out to engage in Greater Self-Awareness.
I do something similar with my clients, often recommending that they carry a small notebook to record their mood when they are (considering) making a purchase, plus other important details: date, time of day, type of store, and price. For mood, I want them to notice if they are happy, sad, frustrated, tired, angry, or something else. After doing this for a little while, patterns often start to emerge, giving people insight, and ammunition, to combat self-defeating money behavior.
And, one more tip: accountability. Change is hard and emotional change is even harder. If you’re working with a coach, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group, the likelihood of your success increases exponentially.
I see this with my clients and I’ve seen this first-hand in the last six months, since my husband started working out with a personal trainer. He shows up for his exercise and has made significant strides in both strength and stamina. Much more than his lovely wife, who shows up at the gym once or twice a week :-).
So if, like me, now is the time for you to take control of your eating, I recommend you check out Rena’s website: Towards a Healthy Balance. She’s also runs a teleconference workshop called Make Peace with Food. The next workshop starts this Monday, October 12th and there are a couple of spots still open. Check it out now.
And last but not least, if I can help you implement some of these strategies to stop the cycle of emotional spending, please reach out and schedule a free 20-minute laser coaching session.
Wishing you a Healthy Winter.
P.S. Reaching out for help really works. I have been a very healthy eater today!