Beating emotional eating to lose weight can be done and at any age! I always say weight loss isn't really about the food. Everyone know what healthy foods to eat, but they don't do it.
Weight loss is really about how you deal with emotions and your mindset. Our behaviors and habits around food are directly driven from our emotions and mindset.
If we could turn off our emotions, eating would be so easy! We would eat nutritious foods, we would never over eat, we wouldn't get triggered by foods, people or situations. Losing weight would be simple if we didn't have to deal with the rollercoaster of emotions life throws at us.
When Elaine started working with me in 2020, she didn't realize that beating emotional eating meant dealing with her emotions.
But she quickly learned that her eating behavior (which she didn't like and was beating herself up for) was actually a reflection of how she responded to her emotions, and that in order to get the lasting weight loss success she desired she had to learn how to respond to her emotions without food.
In addition to struggling with emotional eating, Elaine had intense sugar cravings, an unhealthy relationship with the scale and would beat herself up for the choices she made. She was an expert in being mean to herself!
At 69, Elaine has now lost weight and inches! But beyond the physical transformation, Elaine has transformed leaps and bounds on the inside too. Today she is no longer binging on sugar, she is learning to deal with her emotions without food and is no longer relying on the scale.
Elaine is a testament that any women can change at ANY AGE! Listen to the podcast episode to hear her inspiring transformation story.
In this Beating Emotional Eating Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast you will hear:
- Why Elaine says she kept gaining weight back from past diets
- The trick Elaine used to get started with walking
- How Elaine tamed her sweet tooth and low energy
- What Elaine realized was the missing ingredient in stopping her emotional eating
- The awesome advice Elaine has for other women over 35
Beating Emotional Eating Transcript
Hi Elaine - Welcome to the podcast!
Hi Megan, how are you today?
I'm great! It's so great to have you here. I know that so many women are going to benefit from hearing about your story because you have such a phenomenal story and I really want you to share that with everybody today. So thank you very much for being vulnerable, putting yourself out there and coming on today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, I am 69 years old, I live in Indiana, my husband and I have three grown children and we have six grandchildren who range in age. I am retired, so at this present time I really try to reach a balance in my life and spend a good bit of my time at home, just contributing my part to making a peaceful home.
But I also try to be intentional about volunteering and contributing in ways outside the home also. So that's kind of the stage of life I'm in right now.
Good, so you're busy, you've got lots of kids and you've got a husband and you do try to achieve that balance, but you still have a lot going on.
Yeah, I do.
So tell us a little bit about your journey losing weight. How long have you been trying to lose weight, and what are some of the things you've tried in the past?
Well, I think I've probably was overweight just about as long as I can remember. You know, when you reach late elementary school and junior high you start looking around and comparing and noticing things.
So I think probably for most of my life I've lived with the idea that I wish I were a different size. I needed to watch my weight. I needed to lose weight, probably in my twenties.
Then, after I was married and had my children, I started trying different programs. Every few years. I tried the program where you just attend meeting and track the points. More than once.
I've tried programs where I just bought their food in boxes and things like that and I ate that until the I lost the pounds I wanted to lose and the scales said what I wanted it to say. And then so many times, I would tell myself I'm going to do better tomorrow and I would for a few days, and then it would go by the wayside.
So those things did work temporarily to help me keep my weight from just ballooning. I could you know I'd get to a certain point and then I'd lose some pounds, but then, with the discouragement of gaining it back, I'd add a few more pounds every time I gained some back, and so my highest weight just kept creeping up and I think my biggest problem was the scale, because I just watched that number on the scale and I'd want it to say a certain thing. And when I lost weight I was happy.
But when even one or two or three pounds would start creeping up again, then I would just panic and I'd say, oh, no, here we go, I'm going to lose it all. I'm going to lose focus here and it's all going to come back and I don't know how to stop it.
Am I dieting now? Am I not dieting now? What do I do now? And the only solution then would seem to be to go back to eating the food in those little boxes. But that's not very realistic. It's very restrictive. So I was at a point where I wasn't really sure what the right next step was.
Was that the main problem you had with those diets because you said they were mostly temporary, that you get temporary results? Was it the problem that they were restrictive or something else?
You know, while I was doing, those diets I felt successful because I was watching the scale go down. You know there was always a weekly weigh in involved and you were watching the scale go down and all that.
So it wasn't until after that would end and I'd think okay now I've got it, but I wouldn't have the skill to go on-going back to eating just regular food, even though a lot of times they would try to teach us how to transition.
The last time I did this, some pretty significant issues with several members of my family, healthwise, and things popped up and it just, you know, that got in my head and I just lost my focus about my weight and and I didn't have enough to fall back on to get through that time, and so I gained it all back.
So what led you to start working with me?
Well, I was at a point-like I said, where I regained everything I had lost on my last attempt to lose weight. I did not feel good at my age. I knew I was just flirting with my health. I didn't have any problems at the time, but I just kept telling myself if I don't watch it at my age, this is going to catch-up with me sooner or later. And then the cravings were just unbelievable. Of course, being home more during the day at different times it was easier to give into those cravings.
So one day, when I was wanting to prepare a meal, I was doing a Google search for specific recipe that I wanted and one of your recipes for that particular item popped up as a choice and I saw the title of your website and I took a look at it. I looked at the recipes and they looked like a lot of the normal foods that I keep on hand and ingredients that I work with. They looked doable.
I could see that they were very much adapted to keeping the calories low and the macros balanced, but they looked really interesting. I purchased a digital version of your cookbook and I read all the information that you have in the intro about weight loss and I especially liked, as I was looking at all of that, that you weren't leaving out a huge food group or you weren't restricting a huge thing in people's lives.
I know that your food is adapted to your health needs, but it still was very doable for somebody. Just you know, a normal person like me that doesn't have to really restrict because of health reasons. I watched your online weight-loss course and at the end of that it offered the free half-hour consultation with you. So I signed up for that.
And then I remember how discouraged I was that half an hour when I talked to you because I just knew I wasn't living the way I wanted to live. I didn't want to be the kind of person that always just turned to food for comfort or the quit when it got hard. I knew that my emotions had a lot to do with it.
So when I was discouraged or angry or sad or disappointed, it's like, well, let's solve this temporarily with food, and I would have been able to tell anybody else that that wasn't a good idea. But I could not tell myself that.
So after when I was talking to you, I just asked myself: well: where am I going to be in a few months if I don't start this? And I didn't like the answer to that question. So I thought: you know what? I'm going to give this a try.
I never realized that you had those feelings during our concept. Oh my goodness! But you took a leap of faith and you know something that was really interesting.
That you said is that you thought about like: where am I going to be if I don't do this and you that answer, and I think a lot of people think about that when they are confronted with a potential solution to losing weight or some other health issue that they're trying to fix, they don't always think down the road, like if I say no now. What is that going to mean later on?
And I had, you know, this pattern had repeated itself so many times. I would have just been fooling myself if I said no, I shouldn't sign up for this, because I can eventually do it on my own. Well, I had proved over and over I can't, so I had to. I had to face reality.
Yeah, yeah, so we started working together in June of 2021, as I recall, and so we have been working together for quite some time now and obviously you know, you've had some some time working with me, working in this program, working on all the things that have kind of got in your way in the past.
So talk a little bit about how this approach has maybe been different than the things that you have done in the past or helped you compared to what those things you've done in the past.
There have been several significant ways that I think this has been different, and the first one is that you advised me to stay away from the scale. You had me weigh once when we started and I wrote that down and I have not been back on the scale since, because that's what I didn't know how to handle before, when I didn't know when the scale was fluctuating, I did not know how to handle that.
So you have me take measurements rather than get on the scale. I know I've lost weight because I feel better. I have clothes fitting now that I haven't been able to fit into for a year or two, at least probably longer. I just overall, I can tell that I am in a much better place right now, just the way I feel physically.
Another thing: you gave me a breakfast template to follow just as soon as the first time that we talked officially after I had joined your program, and I was totally amazed at how quickly that breakfast template made the cravings either go away on a lot of days or subside to the point where I could just say yeah, I don't need that right now. I was just amazed, and when I saw how quickly that one little change made, I was ready to try more.
So when you added the lunch and then the dinner and then the snack templates, it was. It was like, well, yeah, this is, this is working, so I'm anxious to do this! I did like the recipes. I kept using a lot of recipes from your website. I am married and so the evening meal, especially my husband and I, eat together and he likes the food just as much as I do.
In fact, I've used several of your recipes that have colorful peppers, red pepper, yellow peppers, and and he said my, our meals are colorful these days! So we're we're both enjoying that. It's not where I have to fix a meal for myself and one for him, which is the way it usually was.
Another thing you had me do was you have me keep a food journal and I honestly did not think I would like that food journal because I saw I would be writing down all the junk I was eating and looking at it and trying to make myself feel bad so that I would stop eating all that junk, and that's not the way you use it at all.
You have us record what we eat and then you say: well, how did you feel before you ate, that? Did you eat because you were truly hungry? Did you eat because you were stressed about something? Were you having cravings?
And then, how did you feel after you ate that food? Did it make you feel good? Did it make you feel satisfied? Did you get hungry again really quick? You had me track stress and sleep and water and things like that, because those all contribute, and so I was getting the big picture.
I'm not just beating myself up for well, I wish I hadn't eaten that, the last bag chips or those last dozen cookies, and then every time that I would have an issue on that food journal, you would remind me we're just practicing.
So if that didn't turn out well for you, what could you do differently next time? So the food journal ended up being probably one of the really big things that really helped me a couple more things. I said to you: well, I like to cook, but I don't want to cook every meal and I don't know how to go out to eat and not blow it, and so you worked with me a lot on strategies to use when going out to eat and how to find ways to fit the template.
If possible when going out to eat, eat the template first and then go beyond that if I choose to. But get your template food in first, and I've been able to do that almost everywhere we go to eat.
But by far the biggest way that this has helped is just to separate my emotions from my food, and I knew that food wasn't really helping, it was just adding to the problems, but I needed help just processing that out loud and unhooking my emotions from my food.
And that wasn't always easy, because when I couldn't cover up with food. Sometimes I had to feel the emotions and deal with them that I didn't want to, but it's been a really good experience, and I wouldn't have been successful with this and it would not be able to maintain if I hadn't begun to realize that.
So putting myself in a position where I talked about it out loud with to you was much better than just letting all that stuff keep rolling around inside my head, and so I do think this is sustainable. For all those, all those things that I've talked about, I can keep going. I do think it's sustainable.
Yes, I remember when we first started working together. I remember exactly what you're talking about with the breakfast, and you were like having the hunger and the cravings, and as soon as we did that breakfast it was almost like a light switch went off and you were like, oh my gosh, I feel so much better and you wanted to jump in and do more. You were excited because you really loved how that made you feel so different!
Because I could tell it worked.
Yeah, and I think that one of the things you know, like you, said at the end about your emotions, that has been a big thing for you. I think in your journey, looking at it from your coaches perspective, that your emotions have been really something that have gotten in the way of you being consistent.
And consistent doesn't mean necessarily being perfect, but it means that you know it's something we want to be able to do long term, and if our emotions always get in the way, I mean emotions come up all the time right, so if they're always getting in the way it's hard to make progress.
I would get past one hurdle and say: okay, that's done with. You know now I can get on track again and I'm not going to eat. Well then another hurdle would come up and it's like I'm quit and I've got to go back. I don't know how to handle this.
So in one of your podcasts I think you said something about, rather than describing ourselves as an emotional eater, saying something like I am a person who doesn't always understand how to deal with life and stress, and so, as a result, I eat because I can't figure out how to deal with it and that really is a good sentence for me. So it's like the food is not the big issue. You know, let's look at the life and the stress that is the issue and figure out how to deal with that.
Yeah, yeah, and you've done a phenomenal job of doing that. You've done that with a food journal.
You've really leveraged the food journal because a food journal is more than just writing down what you ate, it's also about writing down your emotions and all the things that you're feeling throughout the day, and I think, because you have really leveraged that tool, it has enabled you to be successful in separating out those emotions from the food and dealing and processing them.
Yes, and putting it in black and white in that food journal just made me pick apart the things that were really impacting my eating, and not just, you know, instead of just in my mind telling myself, oh, I'm so bad, and why did I do that? It's like, okay.
Let's look at this, and the other thing the food journal did for me was, you know, let's say, I did have a day when I over ate on something and I remember one time telling you I was fixing a recipe that had cashews in it, and so before I knew it, I'd eaten probably half the bag of cashews and and I went back. And we all know how we feel after we do something like that.
But when I had to write it down in the food journal, I went back and I had been fine for breakfast, I had been fine for lunch, my snack had been fine, everything else was fine. It was just that one thing and it really forced me to say: okay, you've got to stop telling yourself everything is awful because you ate those cashews, because it's not. It's right here in black and white.
The cashews are the only thing you messed up on today and so deal with that. Don't tell yourself everything is awful and you might as well quit. So that that was big, and I didn't expect the food journal to help me be able to do that. But it did!
Yeah, it's hard to argue with it when it's in black and white and most of us just believe whatever nonsense our brain throws up at us. That must be true.
Do you know what else I remember about you in the beginning? We talked about walking and you told me that you were embarrassed to go outside in your neighborhood and go for a walk. Remember?
I did, I live in the nicest neighbourhood and there are the nicest people here and it has a culdasac. So it's not a through street at all. It's a really nice area to be able to walk-in and there are people that walk all the time on our street and I thought well, I can't go out there because they all know I lost weight a few years ago and now they're going to see that I gained it all back again and they're going to think what's wrong with me.
But you suggested that I go out and walk and you asked me how many times could I. I said: well, I'll do it four times this week. So I got myself out there and I started walking and it feels so good!
That part was amazing too, and and I went out and walked today before we recorded this podcast, and I stopped in the street with another couple that was walking and we had the nicest conversation before we both went on walking our ways. So it's been a very pleasant wakeup call for me to just say: okay, don't be so uncomfortable doing things like that, just get out there and do it.
Yeah. Do you remember what I told you about walking and how to think differently about that walk?
Well, I remember you saying: just go out and start it and if you know if it just becomes overwhelming and just tell yourself okay, I'm going to try it for this long. And if I can make it this long, that's okay.
I don't have to. I don't have to walk for half an hour. I can just start. I don't know if that's what you're referring to, but that helped me. It's like I wasn't trying to achieve perfection. I was just starting.
Exactly. I told you, I don't care how long you go. Just ten minutes, five minutes, ten minutes, that's it. Yeah, it doesn't have to be a 30 minute an hour thing, it can be just ten minutes and you are like okay.
Yeah, I could do that, probably thinking well surely for five minutes I can walk.
The awesome thing too about you going out walking is you're 69 years old, you're going out there and walking. Guess how many people are going to look at you and you are going to be admired by other people? Look at that awesome woman out there walking?
Yeah, I hope so. I hope so. Yeah, because if I can, if I can go from not wanting to even leave my house and get out and walk, I walk almost every day now and I have worked up to a half an hour a day and it feels good then I think there are a lot of people that hopefully would say: well, maybe I could try that.
I think there's a lot of power in seeing other people that you look up to or just seeing people that you're like. Wow. That woman is older and she's out there. You know walking. If she can do it, I can do right. I'm sure you're motivating all kinds of people with that one thing that you're doing and all the other things you're doing too. But I digress.
So you know obviously this approach has been very different from some of the approaches you've taken in the past to try to lose weight. What would you say were the most important things that you either learned or achieved during the last six months of us working together?
I think as far as my emotions, I've learned that I can't avoid things because when I was trying to avoid things I would usually eat. So why not just stopping? Stop the avoidance and then I won't eat and then I'll get the things done that I need to do, and you know it's a win-win. You encouraged me to be to get comfortable, being uncomfortable.
So for an example, going out and taking those first walks, I was uncomfortable because I didn't want people looking at me and saying: well, boy, she's gained a lot of weight since I saw her out walking last, but just get comfortable with that.
And so, because I tried that, then there are other times when say okay, I'm going to do this and I may not be very comfortable doing it, but I'm going to try to be comfortable being uncomfortable doing it and and it's you know, it's just like a snowball effect. It builds.
So those two things, probably emotionally, are the the biggest things that I've done and then just with, I know you would say a lot of times it is not all about the food and it's not. But adding the kind of meals into my diet that I have added - they taste good, they keep me satisfied.
Since I usually prepare a full recipe and then there's only two of us to eat it, I almost always have leftovers in the refrigerator, so the next meal I don't have to worry about or I pack it in the freezer, and then when I hit a really busy stretch, I can just go to the freezer and defrost something and not step way outside my template just simply because I'm not very prepared for anything.
So it's a combination of working on the emotions and learning how to to just choose the food wisely and manage the food in ways that are sustainable that I think it's been most important for me.
Yes! I've seen such a huge transformation from day one to now. You are so different!
I feel different in a very good way and not just lighter. It's like the mental way too.
You're very different in that aspect, I agree. One of the reasons I asked you to come on the podcast today was because the age range that you're in.
I talk to a lot of women who are in their sixties and seventies and they say I'm too old. I don't want to invest time and money in myself working with a coach because I'm too old. I don't think I can do it. I'm just too old and they just turn themselves away from that opportunity.
Given what you know now versus what you knew way back before we started. What would your advice to other women who are out there in a similar situation as well?
First of all, I can understand everything they're thinking, because I was thinking exactly the same things. It's like it's too late. I've let myself go too far. I should have started this way earlier in my life. I'm too old.
What's the use right now? It'd be easier just to give up and stay home and not worry about whether or not I could get any clothes that I need to get in and go out and do something. So I was telling myself all of that.
So I would just say to women: you know what? If you haven't tried this yet, then try this! Because I was telling myself well: nothing's going to work and I've tried everything. Well, I haven't tried everything because I haven't tried this yet. So I would encourage those women to give this a try, to realize that small incremental steps can really make a difference.
A five or ten minute walk can really make a difference! Changing what you eat for breakfast, even if you haven't changed lunch or dinner snacks, can really make a difference. I had always struggled with that all or nothing mindset of. Well, if I can't do it perfectly, then what's the use? It's not going to work.
Well, this has proven me wrong. As we look back, I haven't done this perfectly the whole six months. It hasn't been perfection, but I am practicing enough and making enough changes that it is really paid off. It has gotten results and it didn't take perfection to get those results. I think some women might be intimidated just simply by the idea of using Zoom.
I'm in Indiana, you're in Arizona and one day during our session, it was snowing here and you were in Arizona and we laughed about that. But the technology has not been intimidating. I have a younger friend here who uses it all the time, so I would just quickly ask her a question or two if I was doubting myself, and she would say: this is what you do.
It'll be okay, and technology has never interfered with our sessions, and so I would encourage the women not to be afraid to ask somebody how to use the technology if they're not really sure that they can do it.
I've found it to be very easy to talk to you, even though you're more of the age of my daughter, but it's been very easy to talk to you and so just be encouraged that this is a lifestyle that you can sustain, and that's that's what's the biggest difference.
It's real food, like you say in your intros all the time, it is a lifestyle that you could sustain, and I would just encourage everybody my age to give it a try, because it's certainly given rich dividends to me. I would say you've gotten quite the return.
Yes, I agree, but it wasn't easy. We're going to say that outloud. It was not easy to get here right?
No, and I can't it's not just something that's going to be just a piece of cake going forward either. But I have the tools, I know what choices to make. I still have to make them. There are going to be other issues in my life that come up that raise these emotions and I'm going to have to remember what I've learned.
But you even have strategies and tricks for telling me how to remember what I've learned so that I don't automatically go back, because I hit a rough spot a few weeks ago and you had had me records some things on my phone, and so I just went out and took a walk-in my neighborhood, and I kept playing those things over and over in my head.
They were in my voice, I had written them and at that moment I didn't believe them, but I had written them and it was in my voice.
So I chose to listen to it and believe it. So I will take that going forward and I know that, but it feels so different this time. The tools feel so much more doable this time that's what I think will be sustainable going forward.
You are different. You hit a rough patch and here you are going off for a walk and and watching a video you recorded to yourself. In the past, you never would have done that. You would have been eating the cashews at home. So that in and of itself is progress, that you went on the walk and you watched the video. That's progress!
Well, I have no doubt that you are going to reach your goals and you're going to keep this weight off for good, and we are going to continue working together so that you still have the accountability, because there's some work that we still have to do. But you've just done a phenominal job and I really just want to congratulate you on all of the things you've done for yourself.
You've spent a lot of time and energy and money working through some really tough stuff, lots of years of baggage and some mindset blocks that were getting in your way and facing some tough emotions, but you were willing to try it, you were willing to do it and now you're getting all of those benefits.
Well, it's been my pleasure coaching you and we will be talking soon. Thanks again for coming on the podcast. I know all the women who are listening to this. They really appreciate hearing somebody with another real life story other than me talking about my own weight-loss. It's always nice to hear from other people and know that we're not alone.
Yes, and I have very much appreciated the time together, and that's why I am going to continue with you, because I have it. It has been a wonderful experience for me and I really appreciate it, so I thank you also!