Strength, Not Stress

Even though I have some solid motivation now, and I’m determined not to gain back even more weight, I still have the occasional bad/stressful day and I’m still often tempted to push myself through those days with food. Which is bad, because it’s exactly what got me into this predicament in the first place.

I already know that running can be great stress relief, so when possible I do often try to go for a run when I’m really angry or upset about something. Unfortunately, though, runs are pretty time consuming (change into clothes, get into gear, go out and run, stretch when I get back, shower, etc.) and sometimes it just isn’t an option to get one in; like yesterday, for example, when I got home at 4:15 and had to be online for class at 5:00. So lately I’ve been looking for a faster, but still effective, way to combat stress eating – and I think I’ve figured it out.

Now, anytime I have the urge to start eating my feelings, I grab my strength training book and try to pump out one of those workouts instead. I’m happy to report that so far, this seems to be a pretty effective alternative!

Here’s why it works:

1) A lot of times when I’m tempted to stress eat it’s because I’m frustrated with something or someone. Although eating in itself isn’t a great release, eating something I know I shouldn’t definitely is. Other great ways to release frustration? Exercise! This is especially effective when the exercise is strenuous because you have to focus your energy into pushing yourself to keep going. It’s doubly especially effective when you’re building strength because you know you’re gaining the ability to kick some serious butt of whatever’s frustrating you – yes, even if that thing is inanimate or intangible. Ideally in those cases, actually; I don’t condone beating people up. Really the better way to put it is that you’re channeling your frustration into becoming a generally more badass person. So go you.

2) Strength training, like any form of exercise, releases endorphins. And endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t stress eat.

3) The desire to stress eat is rarely correlated with actual hunger. Taking 10-15 minutes to do a workout takes your mind off of whatever’s frustrating/upsetting/stressing you so by the time you’ve finished you’ll likely have distracted yourself out of wanting to eat.

4) Similarly to #3, the desire to emotional eat often gets stronger as you continue to dwell on whatever’s stressing you out in the first place. Taking your mind off of it by focusing on building strength instead forces you to stop dwelling and may ultimately help you to realize that whatever the problem was isn’t actually that serious. Or at least not as serious as you were making it out to be.

5) And finally, in the words of Barney Stinson, “When I’m sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead.” The workout just facilitates that process. 🙂

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