Learning from hunger

For the past week I’ve really focused on my hunger levels, and when I feel the need to eat something, I deliberately check in with my stomach and assess the situation.  I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon – in the morning, I wake up with no hunger at all.  Not full, not hungry, just…nothing.  Just a light, energetic feeling in my body (I love this feeling!).  After an hour or so, my stomach starts to growl and then I know it’s time to eat.  No urgency, just an observation.  Later in the day, however, hunger takes on a whole new dimension.  First thing in the morning I feel like “Oh look at that, I’m hungry.  I should think about making breakfast.”  But several hours later?  My thought process is “OMG I’M HUNGRY MUST EAT IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!”

These two completely different thought processes are usually triggered by the exact same hunger signal – there’s a light rumbling in my tummy, but I’m not light-headed or feeling like I’m on the verge of starvation.  In fact, sometimes the hunger levels that cause me to feel an urgent need to feed myself are less intense than my pre-breakfast sensations.  In the early morning, hunger is a part of my standard list of tasks, like taking a shower or styling my hair.  It’s just part of the day, unremarkable, routine.  Later in the day, however, it feels like an emergency, catastrophic and urgent.  Sometimes I eat my lunch at 10am, because I feel like I can’t possibly go another minute without food.

I explored this a bit with the help of one of the WS coaches, and some interesting thoughts came out of it.  I observed that each morning I wake up with the promise of a new day, a new start, a new chance to do everything I envision for myself.  My expectations are often very high.  I think “Today is the day I’m going to clear my to do list of all those not-so-fun things I’ve been putting off”.  But then I get distracted (hello, Facebook) after a few hours I realize I haven’t done anything I needed to do.  A million urgent things pop up that are more appealing than whatever project I need to finish, and most of them were not even on my to-do list.  Suddenly I need a pair of leopard print flats.  Urgently, as if my life depended on it.  Then I’m on to reserving a book at the library, and of course browsing the online catalog.  Oops – forgot to check the weather for tonight!  Does LA Fitness have a morning spin class tomorrow?  Better check FB again, something interesting might be going on…

You get the idea.

And then I decide I’m hungry for lunch…at 10am.   I’m annoyed and disappointed that I can’t focus on doing the work tasks I need to do.  And instead of JUST DOING THEM, I eat, or shop, or email, and even more time goes by.  Eventually my mind is so cluttered with thoughts of all the things I haven’t done, and the associated negative feelings, that I don’t stand a chance of focusing on ANYTHING long enough to cross something off my list.  And the list just grows longer and longer.  And I become more and more fearful that the whole house of cards will just collapse.

Sigh.

Complete disconnection soon follows, and there I am at the first opportunity – in front of the TV, with my iPad on my lap, eating dinner without tasting a single bite.   Feeling guilt, shame, frustration, anger, but mostly a feeling that I’m capable of so much more but I’m just squandering my life away watching reruns and stuffing food into myself.

Double sigh.

This isn’t the case every day (although a few years ago, it would have been an accurate description of 75% of my life).  There are many days where I’m incredibly productive and optimistic, and for that I’m grateful.  But those old habits, thought patterns, and destructive behaviors feel like they are still lurking below the surface and waiting to reassert themselves.  Sometimes they do, and that makes me sad, like I’ll never be fixed.

I think that’s why I’m so excited about this Weight School program – I feel like there is a level of accountability to the whole group to stay focused on making incremental positive changes until the habit is firmly established.

So.  This week I commit to:

  • Setting myself up for success, AND not beating myself up for things undone.  The mental list of failures will be wiped clean and I’ll pick one task each day that will be my number one priority.  Everything else is just icing on the cake (pun intended!).
  • Using my hunger as a cue to evaluate what’s going on in my head, before I consider whether I actually need to eat something.

Anyone else out there have similar experiences to share?  How does procrastination & the resulting emotions impact your eating habits & self image?  I’d love to hear from you – let’s get the discussion going!!

 

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One Response to Learning from hunger

  1. Michelle says:

    I just came across your post, and I have been feeling just like this….I have noticed that I suddenly become ravenous when I feel overwhelmed but do not recognize it. Yesterday, I was blessed to realize that I was having all kinds of negative “tapes” playing over and over again in my head when I got to that overwhelmed state.

    I look forward to reading more of your stuff. Thanks!

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