I have always been an emotional eater. If I was feeling bad I would commiserate with food. If I was feeling good I would use food as a treat for whatever achievement I had managed, or if it was the start of the weekend, or if I had just finished work or if I managed to roll out of bed without stubbing my toe or if the jug boiled fast or if I found both my shoes .... I was clearly a very upbeat person because I could celebrate so many facets of life with food!
For those of us addicted to food for comfort when we STOP using cake to push down our feelings or cease using chips to flood our depression or put an end to drinking litres of coke to drown our sadness I have to think - well ... where is that depression or sadness or melancholy going now that we are not jamming it down into ourselves.
It has to be bubbling back up to the surface right? There is nowhere else for it to disappear to - its not like we can simply poop out sadness. Hmmm...a little too graphic?
And I am not saying this because I am dealing with something like that at the moment but sometimes I wonder if those occasional black and grim days we have when food seems like it might be the only thing to save us...I wonder if that is simply the emotion making its way to the surface now we are not weighting it down with food.
And I am addressing this more to emotional eaters like myself because for people like me, food was like a crude antidepressant . The more I ate the less I felt, the less I felt the more I ate until I was in a food coma and nothing was touching me emotionally.
And when I see it this way it makes sense that the end of the work day, when my mind is not occupied by work and I am faced with dealing with things like my emotions, its not surprising that this was the time I would reach for chocolate or chips or cake to push them down.
So where is all that emotion?
Because right now I am feeling calmer and more "together" than I have in a long time.
I am exercising more and I am doing a greater variety of exercise and I feel like this has really helped me to process feelings and disburse a lot of the rubbish that has been hiding deep down.
That connection between my mind and body that is growing stronger seems to be helping me deal with things in a more even tempered rational way.
It almost feels as though my mind is starting to find emotions and instead of dwelling on the bad ones or ruminating on the poor decisions I have made or agonising over what could have been it is instead sending them to my body to be processed and disbursed as I exercise my way through them.
Or perhaps exercising hard puts me in a bit of a zen state where my subconscious can process emotion much more easily than it used to...
I know this probably all sounds a little out there but its the only logical way I can see that those emotions that we buried under food are now being dealt with.
I couldn't say that cycling is going to completely erase every bad feeling or power walking up massive hills will cancel out feeling bad but I think exercise truly does provide a kind of therapy for me by allowing me to not only mentally but also physically start to process my emotions.
What do you think? Has exercise become a sort of therapist for you?
P.S. And as a side note? Wow - I have SO much more respect for cyclists than I did a few days ago. I watched a guy cycling up a pretty decent damn hill his morning that I would not even consider at my level and all I could think was "Whoa - his thighs must be on fire - I can't believe how fit he must be. That is AMAZING!" instead of "Bloody cyclists - get out of the way would ya?!".
Interesting how things can change so quickly