Tuesday, February 03, 2009

+24.4 (∆ +0.6)

Something strange has been happening to me—I've noticed that I'm extremely stressed out. As in, off the charts stressed. I've been easily irritable, curt, and even unreasonable at times. In essence, I haven't really been myself, or not the self I've always known.

Once I became aware of this stress, I had to think hard about its cause. What's changed? My life isn't qualitatively different than it was before I started counting calories, so what's going on? The only answer I came up with became immediately pertinent—the thing that's changed is that I'm not eating as much as I used to. Could that really have been the cause of all my stress? Well, partly.

Eating food has a comforting effect and so it's common to eat food when we're stressed out. The good feelings you get from a good meal are from the release of endorphins, so when you stop eating as you usually do, those endorphins aren't released anymore. Quite suddenly, you've robbed your body of its usual way of coping with stress. In addition to no longer coping with a particular stress, you might even have the additional angst of wondering how you're going to cope with that stress when food is no longer an option.

The next question practically asks itself: what are you so stressed out about that you have to eat food to deal with it? And you must answer that question because if you don't deal with that root anxiety, then 1) you'll fail at dieting, 2) you'll have to accept living with that stress, or 3) you'll have to find ways to neutralize that stress.

In my own case, I'm pretty sure I pinpointed the source of my anxiety and there's nothing I realistically can do to eliminate it, so my next step is fortify myself by finding ways to calm my mind. To that end, music has been extremely useful—calming music has allowed me to "ground" and thus shore up my emotional reserves. (Zero 7's When It Falls is my current weapon of choice.)

Apparently, this is a typical reaction for people cutting back on their food. A stress spike happens about two weeks in and it's often called "feeling the feelings". As I look back over all the times I've tried to lose weight, it is indeed around this time when my resolve usually weakens.

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