I believe I live a healthy lifestyle. I am determined to prove it to myself once and for all by not letting the numbers on the scale dictate my happiness.
I am a reformed morbidly obese individual. On my journey to a healthier me, I had gastric bypass surgery in May of 2004.
I made a vow to myself as I sat in the hospital miserable that I would not be one of those stories of people that lose via surgery, learn nothing, and gain it all back.
Now, I log my food faithfully, make sure
I get plenty of exercise, and live!
I also write a weekly column at Nutrimirror. Stop by sometime!
August 12, 2009 I sat at my desk at work. I had just finished paying bills, and found myself, once again, with very little money left in my checking account. I thought what can I cut back on? I needed to pay my mortgage, my car payment, my electricity, phone, cable (which is the bare minimum cable), and internet, I need to eat and then there are the clothes. The clothes…the shoes…the accessories.
Right at that moment, I sent an email to Ben, Erika and Gretchen and proclaimed that I was not going to buy any new clothes, shoes, or accessories for a year! I emailed them to ask for help; I needed others to help keep me accountable if I was ever going to do this and stick to it.
I unsubscribed from all of the advertisement emails I was receiving on almost a daily basis. My inbox was never empty of new buying opportunities. It was rather cathartic for me to turn them off. It reminded me of cleaning processed foods out of the pantry.
Later that month, having recently seen the movie Julie and Julia, I decided that I, too, had a blog in me. I could write about the adventures of no shopping, with the additional rule of no repeat ensembles. I threw in a few more rules, realizing I had made very rigid constraints; I had a wedding I was to be in, for which I needed a few items, as well as a new pair of running shoes during the year. I created an internet world full of accountability partners.
I set off on this personal challenge, thinking it was an attempt to get my finances in order. Little did I realize the adventure of personal discovery I was about to embark upon.
My taste in clothing varies; I love bright colors, I love black, I love trendy, I love classic. I was not swayed to dislike a product based on the high price of it; at the same time, a low cost item just meant it wasmeant to be mine. There needn’t be any emotional somersaults aboutwant versus need when the item was inexpensive. It is only $9.99! It must be a sign! I spent $10 and $20 bills as liberally as I would add spinach leaves to a sandwich today. Over time, they add up fast, and do their damage. Quite honestly, I ended up with a lot of $10 and $20 items that got worn once. They then got cast aside as new arrivals took their place.
In time, it became obvious to me that it was not the $10 tshirt or the $20 skirt find that I loved, it was the purchase. It soothed me just as a cookie soothes a crying child.
Let me describe a typical day for me over a year ago. I work in a downtown area, and my company is housed in different buildings. Meetings could be in any number of locations. In between the buildings is the Mother Ship; a bright, shiny, well merchandised mecca of a department store, loaded with many items available for leaves of spinach, er, $10. Depending on how a meeting may have gone, or how a day was progressing, I might have been lured into the store, the racks of well placed merchandise calling out to calm my perhaps ruffled feathers.
I will just take a look at what is on clearance I would tell myself. Rather similar to the days when I would say I will only have one cookie. Perhaps you already know how this story ends? Several items later, I would stand in line, make my purchase, and head back to my desk, the frustrating meeting I left long gone from my short term memory.
As I started to make these realizations, words I had read at another time came back to me. The article was a study that patients that had undergone weight loss surgery transfer their dependence from food to other vices. I had given up alcohol for 2 years after reading that article. I had transferred my reliance on food for emotional challenges to dependence to shopping! When would I learn!?
The parallels between the year of no shopping and a life of healthy, balanced eating are numerous. I have learned that when I feel the itch to shop, it is the same feeling I get when I want to eat emotionally. I need to retrace the hour, the day, the week, and see where those feelings might be coming from and address them. If I am upset with someone, I need to talk it out. If I am reacting to something, I can choose to continue to react or deal with it.
We already know that as wonderful as a huge piece of chocolate velvet cake tastes, it is a lot of work to exercise it off, or to forego other choices because of it. It is like buying that fabulous, one of a kind dress, and then realizing I now don’t have the cash for another event in life…the kind of events that always occur!
Balance is how I will now approach my shopping life. I went shopping Wednesday; notice I did not say buying, just shopping. I was creating my plan, knowing that Ben and I are going shopping and buying tonight for a Friday night date. I need a new pair of jeans. I decided to try on several, narrow down my choices, and then have Ben help me with the final selection.
I tried on several fun party dresses and impractical shoes while I was there. As I stared back at my reflection in these colorful dresses, I thought why do I need this? Have I not learned anything? But I havelearned. I have learned that a wonderful colorful dress has its place in my life, just like a piece of chocolate velvet cake. But everyday? Give me the basics, let me meet my clothing, er, nutritional needs, and then maybe spice it up with a piece of dark chocolate. Because a piece of dark chocolate is just as tasty whether I am wearing a bright colored dress, or a classic black number.