My go-to response to stress and depression is eating. I love sugar and I love carbs. It turns out that for people with depression in their families or who regularly experience depression, sugar is a source of craving. Too much sugar can jack your hormones and create more craving which plays right into addictive patterns of behavior. It’s the great proxy for people getting sober as well. When you stop drinking, your body consumes less sugar so you naturally it will seek out sugary foods. Talk to any recovering addict about ice cream and they will let out a knowing laugh.
Most of my calories have been from processed carbohydrates which turns into sugar at some point in the power plant of the human body. Since I was not exercising, that sugar turned into pounds and sent my already unstable emotional balance downhill. Moving helps this problem since by using up the energy found in the glucose stores in muscles, your body is processing all of the crap it would normally store. If you are a runner, you need this stuff because after about an hour or so, you use it all up. But if you were a slothful slug like me, all of that ice cream, potato chips, and pasta would just put on the pounds.
I used the idea of calorie cutting first to help with the weight loss process. But what it also does is helps me to build an awareness of what I am putting in my body. Carbs feel great for a little while, but they don’t satiate hunger for a very long time. Something like a can of Pringles (screw not eating just one, I eat the whole damn can every time) is 900 calories but will only help you feel full for like an hour. Ice cream is even worse. Protein rich and fiber rich foods on the other hand are filling, take a lot of work for the body to digest, and far more satiating. So if I am going to cut my gross calorie intake a day, it had better be with those kinds of foods. That means more things like veggies and legumes.
I used to be tired and sluggish after lunch. At the start of 2015 and all of the years I can remember before that, I would avoid meetings after lunch and would feel exhausted for the hours afterwards. I ate too much and was doing nothing to burn it off. That sluggishness is gone. Now, I snack more periodically throughout the day and my main meals I try to keep around 500 calories. If I go over the limit of around 1500-1800 net calories, it’s not a big deal, but I try not to slip all that much. I dropped the excess pounds and now sit at a very comfortable weight that gives me enough fuel for a long run without the need for gels and other crap – even though they help sometimes. For that I will intentionally jack my system with complex carbs but only with the intention of burning it off.
I use MyFitnessPal to track what I eat. It is a great tool to build awareness and to see what I am actually putting in my body. I can’t trust my eyes or stomach to tell me the truth. Only data can do that for me. This is not a diet. It is part of a lifestyle change. And it works.
Part three of a series of Life Rules. See the explanation here.