I can’t believe I ate the entire bag.
I think it was a 2-pound bag. I can’t really remember. It was such a blur.
I was in a feeding frenzy. I had walked through my apartment door feeling like a zombie – a combination of no sleep, an insane travel schedule and some impossible deadlines at work left me feeling inhuman. My emotions sent me straight to the kitchen. I unconsciously opened the fridge door. I needed something to feed my stress and anxiety, something to boost my mood. And I needed a lot of it.
So I grabbed what I saw, plopped down on the couch and ate. And ate. And ate.
By the time my brain kicked in and asked, “Uh, are you aware of what you’re doing?” it was too late. I was at the bottom of the bag. I felt really full, but I also felt satiated and less stressed.
This doesn’t happen all the time, but I’m comfortable admitting that I’m an emotional eater (e.g. a normal female). And because I know I’m prone to going off the deep end and storming into the kitchen when I’m stressed, I know I need to be prepared.
This is where the 2-pound bag of baby carrots comes in.
I keep one in the fridge for emotional emergencies like the other day. And if I need to, I let myself eat the entire bag. Yes, I still feel overly stuffed after eating a huge bag of baby carrots. But it prevents me from doing something much worse, like eating an entire bag of cookies, or chips or an entire loaf of bread (not proud of that moment).
The Release Valve: Binging in a Controlled Environment
I’m not perfect. And I will go off the deep end from time to time. But I want to choose how deep that deep end actually is. Am I leaping into shark-infested waters or in a crystal clear ocean with a flotation device?
So I allow myself to binge and splurge but in a controlled environment.
Baby carrots are my release valve. They allow me to let go once and awhile but still stay in control. The same thing happens when I shop “emotionally.” There are some days where I just “feel” like I deserve an entirely new shoe collection, or I feel like a new spring dress would life my mood.
In the past, I would indulge in that impulse, especially online. Boxes from Zappos and ModCloth would arrive at my door 3-4 days after an emotional internet shopping spree, leaving me somewhat emotionally satisfied but about $200 poorer.
Now I try to control where and when my emotional shopping happens with my new release valve: Goodwill.
It’s hard to spend $200 at Goodwill – hell, I’ve never spent more than $35 there in one visit and I still walk away with bags of clothes, shoes and housewares. Since everything’s so cheap, I always feel like I went on a marathon shopping spree without spending a ton of money.
That’s exactly what I did the other day. My “Ah, I need an entirely new wardrobe!” feeling was bubbling up, so I knew it was time to take a trip to Goodwill. I ended up walking away with four awesome pieces of clothing, including a The Limited blazer and a Banana Republic skirt. All for $23.95.
Yes, I did just go into a thrift store with about $20 in my pocket [queue Macklemore Thrift Store song].
$23.95 for the same feeling I would get order $200 of clothes online.
How Do You Let Yourself Go without Letting Go?
Giving myself a healthy release valve for food and shopping has helped me stay on track with my health goals and my budget.
I just need to know my triggers and, more importantly, how I can allow myself a moment of weakness without throwing a wrench into my goals.
I’m thinking I should use the money I saved going to Goodwill to buy $180 worth of baby carrots… just to be safe.
I’m curious: What are your moments of weakness? How do you let yourself go without letting go?
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