Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Nov 05

Anxiety vs. Food

If you’ve ever watched The Biggest Loser, seen a weight-loss commercial or an interview of someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight, you’ve probably heard them say, I’m never going to be heavy again!  Personally, I’m too afraid to utter those words.  Rather than test fate, I know that I still have to take things one day at a time.   2012 has taught me many things – mainly, that nothing in life stays the same.  Never before have I been more aware of that than the past few months.

I spent the majority of this weekend working at Patty’s house, removing the last of her belongings and saying goodbye to the one remaining thing that linked me together with her – her home.  I’d been dreading Saturday and Sunday, becoming increasingly agitated as last week drew to a close, but attributed my emotions to a host of other, unimportant things.  With my anxiety building, I found myself wanting to reach for copious amounts of comfort food before the weekend even arrived. 

This time I tried to think ahead and made a plan to busy myself with painting instead of eating.  By the time Thursday arrived I was furiously working in my studio, finishing three watercolors before the day was over (quite a feat for me.)  All three paintings had themes that were specifically chosen to give a calming, zen-like feel.   Here are two of the three that I finished:



Thursday came and went and I climbed into bed exhausted.  I wish I could report that I didn’t give in to numbing my grief with food, but I’d be lying. 

On Friday, I woke up determined to not only begin, but complete a very tedious art project.  Working solely with cut paper and glue, I pushed myself for over 12 hours until I finished this: 

I regularly post photos of work in progress on my Facebook art page (which you are invited to ‘Like’ if you’re a Facebooker) and I love receiving comments and ideas from people.  On this particular project I had several comments from some very wise people who saw things that I didn’t.  Well, not until it was pointed out to me:  one – she’s a young Patty (who used to wear a red hat every time she went out) and two – she is me.  Two people combined to make a self portrait. 

Well now, that ought to make a good topic for a therapy session, no?

Again, when I was finished I’d hoped that the anxiety I was feeling would be gone and that I could wake up on Saturday and put myself into full work-mode.  The weekend came and went, leaving me feeling completely drained, both emotionally and physically.  I didn’t binge (I didn’t have time), but I did make extremely poor choices and ate without regard to any consequence. 

Today, I’m feeling disappointed in myself; I really wish I’d been able to channel my emotions strictly into my work – to completely lose myself in distraction.  After seven+ years in maintenance, you would think that I’d have worked out this part by now. 

If anything, this experience has shown me that I will most likely always be a work in progress.  Now that the crisis has passed all I can do is pick myself up and try again next time.  Until then I’ll just keep reminding myself that at least I haven’t thrown in the towel.  I’m still fighting to figure things out and hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to say that food and I have a very healthy relationship with one another.

Have a good week, everyone. 




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  1. debby says:

    I’m sorry you had such a hard few days. But its good for me to hear that others have the same struggle. Makes me feel like I’m not such a failure…

    • Ellen says:

      Good grief no, Debby. Not a failure – ever. Sometimes I hesitate to post these slips because I SO want to have it all together like other bloggers but then I realize that everyone (whether they blog or talk about it or not) has problems that they don’t like sharing. I think it’s important that others know we all struggle in some form; we just need to move on and not let it own us. Thank you so much for your comment today. xo

  2. Norma says:

    We should all think of ourselves as works in progress, not only in regard to weight loss/maintenance but in life in general — we should always be growing, learning, improving, repairing, etc. The minute you think the work of being your best self is “done” is the minute you begin regressing. But the beauty of it is that every minute is a chance to start over and do better. Your art is beautiful. The third piece is particularly stunning, the background details. Thank you for sharing them!

    • Ellen says:

      Thank YOU for such a nice compliment, Norma. I hope I’m growing – that somehow, I’m figuring this out little by little. Maybe I’ll eventually get it; maybe not. But I’ll never stop trying. I owe myself that, I think.

  3. Sharon says:

    I notice immediately that the lady in the red hat was “you!” The resemblance is strong. It’s o.k. to be anxious when it is something worth being anxious about. If this was the last time you’d be in Patty’s house it was representing closure on a very special part of your life. A little anxiety is to be expected. But I hear you loud and clear about wishing that anxiety could be channeled in a direction other than food. Tough to do.

    • Ellen says:

      Really, Sharon? Seriously, I think I have a block on it. I can’t see it at all, despite what others tell me (even my husband). Very odd. But I totally believe all of you (obviously, I’m outnumbered!! lol)
      Yes, anxiety takes on many forms. Unfortunately for me, it always involves food. Always has. Such a hard habit to break and I’d love to be able to say that ‘was’ me instead of having to admit that it sometimes still ‘is’. But, as I am reminded, things could be worse. Thanks for checking in with me today :)

  4. LauraJayne says:

    I struggle with this every day – some are easier than others though, but I know this is a life journey. Sometimes I get mad, because I think it is unfair, but I need to gain perspective. There are much bigger problems in the world and I should be grateful that this is mine!

    • Ellen says:

      Do you really, Laura? Did I know this? You seem to have things so together over there. I know it’s been difficult switching to a GF life, but you have such a good attitude about it and have embraced this obvious change in your life – I use you as my role model!

  5. Cindy says:

    Hi, Ellen. Stopping in to say hello after a (crazy) long time. I’ve been catching up on your posts and today’s and last post so relevant. I came back at just the right time. Going through a rough time and today’s post was something I needed to read. I’ve gained 15 pounds the last two months dealing with the stress and now feel like I am back at square one, though I’m obviously not. I know what to do and today was a good start. I’m trying to stay positive. So happy to see you’re doing well.

    • Ellen says:

      Cindy! I am THRILLED to hear from you – have thought about you, wondering if life suddenly became busy (as it does at times). I’m sorry that you too, are dealing with stress-related issues. Today would have been a good post sharing secrets of how to combat stress, wouldn’t it? I’m afraid I dropped the ball on that one. Luckily you know what you need to do in order to get back in the game and I know you will!

  6. Life is a permanent construction zone, I think. There’s never a point when something or other isn’t changing (either falling apart or being upgraded), but I’ve come to see that as a good thing.

    I’m sorry you’ve been struggling, but the up side is that you’re AWARE of being away from your comfort zone (food-wise) and are getting yourself realigned!

    • Ellen says:

      yep, yep. Cammy, have you ever considered being a life coach, or a motivational speaker? Seriously – I see this in your future. You’re SO good at putting clear perspective on life’s stumbling blocks. Thank you for such comforting words. xo

  7. Goodnuff says:

    In my messed up opinion sometimes there is an itch that needs to be scratched that only mashed potatoes and warm choc chip cookies can reach. The evidence of improvement is when you don’t make everything a reason to soothe with comfort foods.

    • Ellen says:

      Well, if your opinion is messed up then so must be mine. You described it perfectly – it really is an itch that sometimes needs to be scratched and no matter how many miles you walk or how often you redirect your mind, nothing will calm it. That’s kind of when I think my body goes into a defense mechanism, maybe? Tough telling with my complicated brain.

  8. Chelsey says:

    Oh Ellen! I love these 3 pieces so much! The first two are so serene, personal, and calming. And the last one, aside from being an absolutely stunning piece of artwork, is a touching and heartwarming homage to what seems to be a truly incredible woman.

    • Ellen says:

      Chelsey, you are adorable – and have managed to make me feel like I’m on the right path with my artwork, so thank you for that :)
      She was pretty special. She’s been gone since May but is still very much around, obviously. And that’s a good thing.
      btw, thank you for liking my FB page! I hope you find it somewhat entertaining.

  9. Lynn Bonelli says:

    Ellen, I love this post…so personal and honest. It pulls at my heart strings. I understand the emotional aspects of reaching for food to fill the void of “something” and obviously it’s Patty in this case. But I love that the paintings expressed so beautifully a way to fill that same void and that compassion can (and should) be for ourselves as well as others.

    While I agree that we all should strive to be better people and continue to grow emotionally and spiritually, I also feel that we need to be ‘nicer’ to ourselves and not fall into the ‘always striving to improve’ trap…ie at some point we must love ourselves for who we are right now, in this very moment. That the constant need for improvement (at least according to the media and society) can often strip us of our true identity…always working hard to be someone else.

    Beautiful art work and beautiful words. thanks so much.

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