Welcome to Friday’s Featured Female!
This weekly series features inspirational stories from admirable women. IMHO, it’s always good to be reminded of how strength, determination, hard work, heart and ingenuity can impact the quality of one’s life and I’m proud that these women will allow me to share their stories here.
Today, I’m featuring the super cool Alyssa@DoubleChinDiary. I met Alyssa briefly at FitBloggin’ 2013 but have gotten to know her better via social media. Alyssa was going to be my plane buddy home from FitBloggin’ 2014 but we realized we were on different planes (flying at the same time) but do you know that this fabulous woman texted me up until take-off to help quell my anxiety about my flight home? This sweetheart of a person is someone you need to know, if you don’t already so….
Have you met Alyssa?
Hello! I’m Alyssa from the Double Chin Diary, and I’m so excited to be here today! I blog about losing weight without losing my sense of humor. My sister April occasionally blogs for the Double Chin Diary, too. Like many people who struggle with their weight, I’ve always loved food. I grew up in a Midwestern family that considered canned corn a vegetable, and our meat and potatoes diet fluffed me up into a roly-poly teen. Add to that a lack of activity and, later, a habit of stress eating, and I was on my way to obesity.
While I’m still considered obese and fluctuate between 20 to 30 pounds down depending on what kind of moods my thyroid and polycystic ovaries are in, I’ve made some major changes in the way I view fitness, food, and health. I now exercise regularly (and am even walking 60 miles in November to fight breast cancer), and I know that food can either be my poison or my medication.
Several years ago, I would console myself through rough days with Ben and Jerry’s, movie theatre popcorn, or at my worst, potato chips. Eating was a quick way to make emotional pain go away, and what better way to squash anxiety than to dig a spoon into some Rocky Road? Food was a reliable source of comfort, and I self-medicated with salt, sugar, and fat with alarming frequency. I never had the realization that the pain didn’t go away, it just dissolved briefly in a haze of food coma.
One day, the realization came when I found myself sitting in a parking lot at 6:00 p.m., with tears streaming down my face and potato chip crumbs on my blazer. It was my first year living away from home, and in addition to being a full-time student; I had started my first full-time job. I had been called into the boss’s office earlier in the day and told that my position was being eliminated. I left work and drove immediately to the nearest grocery store, where I bought a huge bag of chips. I sat in my car, ripped the bag open, and proceeded to ugly cry while chomping on salty, greasy Ruffles. It was at that moment I realized no matter how many chips I ate, I’d still be losing my job, and I’d still feel like crap. Then, some strange Ruffles-induced mental clarity rolled in, and I realized the chips would actually make the whole situation worse, because then I’d have a stomach ache, get bloated, and feel guilty for cheating on the non-existent diet I was always supposed to be starting.
I don’t know why it took that moment for me to decide to make a change, but I started seeing a registered dietitian at my school (which is why what Melissa does is so important!), and with her help, began making changes to help conquer my binge eating. While I still struggle with emotional eating, I haven’t binged in over seven years, and when I do emotionally eat, I’ve developed the ability to recognize it and attempt to stop. There are tons of reasons why we use food for emotional release; food is the ultimate communicator, in times of happiness (birthday cake!) and in times of sadness (grief casseroles). In addition, we have advertising constantly selling us the idea of food as a reward or a sexy temptation. I struggle on a daily basis with the idea of deserving junky food as a reward for successfully completing a grown-up day, but then I also think, I deserve to nourish my body with clean, wholesome food.
This relationship with food can be complicated when you also genuinely enjoy food, includes the tastes, textures, smells and preparation of it; especially cooking. I recently scored grand prize in a recipe contest hosted by the California Avocado Commission and Fitbloggin’, and I was so pleased to discover that the creation of the recipe gave me more satisfaction than the eating of it (thought it was delicious, if I do say so myself).
No matter how small my conquering of binge eating may seem to someone else, knowing that food and emotions don’t have to go hand in hand is a victory I’ll always celebrate. Do you struggle with emotional eating?
To support or further connect with Alyssa, you can find her via the following social media channels:
or donate to her fundraising effort for the 2014 San Diego Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk.