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The Comeback: Let's Get It Started!!!

August 14, 2010

I’m ba-ack!!!  And I couldn’t think of a better anthem to return to ReconstructingThirty.com than the Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started!”  I mean, any hip-hop group that has fans spanning from the pre-school set, to we thirty-somethings, to the baby boomers, is pretty frackin’ awesome in my book.  So here goes…

As I mentioned in June, I needed to take a summer break from blogging.  I sat for the bar exam in late July, and I had to really dedicate a couple of months to studying, without the marvelous obsession distraction that is blogging.  Now begins the long three month wait for the results [sigh].  So, you may ask, how does the guy who used to weigh 308 pounds, and used food as his drug of choice, get through the stress of a bar exam?  Did I gain twenty pounds?  Did I get too stressed to eat and drop thirty?  Did I break out like a 16-year old before a big date?  (Answer to that last one: almost – pimples here and there – but no full-on break out).

So what’s the verdict on my weight loss?  Well, I’m pleased.  I didn’t drop 2 pounds a week as I would have liked, but I didn’t gain either.  When I last checked in here on May 23, I was at 243.6 pounds.  This morning, I weighed 237.7 – a modest loss of about 6 pounds in a little over two months, but bringing me down to just over 70 pounds lost total!  If this had been a normal two months, I’d be pissed.  Six pounds in two months just isn’t the pace I need to shed the remaining 40+ pounds I want to lose.

But this was far from a normal two months.  When I began “Reconstructing Thirty” on my thirtieth birthday (October 30, 2009), I was focused on my health and my weight.  As it turns out, this year has become one of total transformation and reconstruction, in all areas of my life.  The bar exam was one of the things that made the last two months rather extraordinary, but there are other things, as well.  Overall, 30 is shaping up to be a truly amazing and transformative year for me!  It’s all very exciting.  In the coming weeks and months, I will likely explore and share some of those other transformations here.  But for today, I want to focus on emotional eating and how that played out for me over the past couple of months.

I’ve written before about food being my drug of choice.  (Just click on “Nutrition” to the right to see some of those posts).  Pasta is my pot.  Lay’s are my liquor.  Krispy Kremes are my crack.  There’s no denying it.  But in the past ten months, I’ve drastically changed my relationship with food.  I view it not as a drug, but as fuel for my body.  This shift in mindset doesn’t come over night, but with discipline and practice – kind of like learning any new behavior or habit – be it exercise, yoga, playing the violin, etc.  I had to work hard to break my addiction to food.

But as any good addict knows, the addiction is always there.  I kind of think food is a particularly difficult addiction to have, because you can’t just quit eating cold turkey (well…you could “quit eating cold turkey,” but it’s actually pretty good for you – to “quit eating, cold turkey,” on the other hand, is not – there is power in a well-placed comma, friends).  A smoker can in theory just stop smoking, but a compulsive overeater can’t just stop eating altogether.  Thus, periods of intense stress often awaken bad eating habits that we thought we’d defeated.

Overall, during this two month period, I did pretty well with my eating.  My coffee shop of choice for studying had amazing pastries, but I budgeted them into my daily intake fairly well.  I wasn’t losing weight like I wished, but I wasn’t gaining either, so it was okay.

Cut to the week of the bar exam.  I checked into a hotel near the convention center where the exam was being given so I wouldn’t have to deal with the nightmare that is Atlanta traffic.  On my way to check-in, I rationalized that I wouldn’t want to pay for snacks from the mini-bar, so I stopped by the drugstore and picked up a box of Cheez-It’s, a couple of sodas (diet, mind you, even food addicts have standards), a box of chocolate covered granola bars, and a couple of bottles of water.

As I began my final review of the material the day before the two day exam began, I opened the box of Cheez-It’s and sat them on the desk next to me.  Get through a page of material, munch a handful of cheez-its, have a sip of diet coke, repeat.  I don’t know why I was shocked when at the end of that first day the box of Cheez-It’s was gone!  And you’d think that would have held me over, but room service provided a tempting, easy, and delicious option for dinner each night (it didn’t help that my hotel had an amazing chef – the bastard).  The next morning, walking into the bar exam, I looked at all the smokers outside the building, thinking, “Wow – look at all the smart people who smoke!”  Then I realized, I was really no different than them.

What is different, now, though, is that my behavior like that is rare now.  It used to be the way I dealt with normal, everyday stress.  I don’t do that anymore.  Do I hope one day I don’t even resort to it under intense stress?  Sure – but I’m not losing sleep over a few bad days of nutrition either.  And that last sentence is another key.  The old me would have said “Screw it!” and thrown in the towel – figuring my weight loss had been derailed for good.  Now I just jump right back on the wagon the next day.

So, all in all, I’m happy with the fact I posted a net loss over the period of the exam.  It could have been better had I stayed totally clean with my nutrition, had I not gone to Las Vegas to celebrate being finished, and had I kept up with exercise better during the last two months (the subject of my next post), but I’m not complaining.  I made it through the exam, with all the other stress in my life at the time, and I lost weight!

I’m really glad to be back at blogging, too!  And to read your amazing blogs.  Please forgive the fact that I will be hitting the “Mark All as Read” button in Google Reader tonight on I don’t know how many thousands of your blog posts – but I am excited to pick up with your stories from here on out.  So tell me, how do you combat emotional eating?

  1. August 14, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    I am really glad your back! I think a lot of people after taking a break like that from blogging would have just quit it altogether, and I think even more people would have come back with a huge weight gain (I think I’d be one of those people).

    To answer the question, emotional eating isn’t something I’ve really been able to “deal with” at all. I still it is very easy to eat when I’m stressed, if only to have the temporary (and bad) distraction. :/

  2. Erin
    August 14, 2010 at 8:11 PM

    I have issues with emotional eating to some extent, but the majority of my problem is with mindless eating. Either way, my summer blogging break has left me in a position I’m rather ashamed to be in. I’m glad you were able to post a loss during a crazy summer like you’ve had.

    Welcome back, Chad!

  3. August 14, 2010 at 11:17 PM

    Chad, welcome back. I love your reflection here. And the Black Eyed Peas. Funny, part of why I’m doing my plan and my blog is because of all the weight I gained doing my dissertation. So losing anything while prepping for the bar tells me you’re in a great place. Now, I try to drink water and keep trigger foods away when I know I’m dealing with stress.

  4. August 16, 2010 at 12:08 AM

    Welcome back!! I think losing weight while doing all that studying and stress is something to be proud of. So glad to be able to read your posts again!

  5. Julia
    August 16, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Congratulations Chad!

    I will always be an emotional eater. I too am gradually losing weight while being thrown off my regular routine.

    Keep lots of good, fresh, wholesome foods around and learn how to cook from scratch, now that you are awaiting your bar exam results.

    You sound as though you still have your mind in the right place! GOOD FOR YOUR!

  6. August 16, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    Glad you’re back man and that everything went well for you!

  7. August 16, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    Hey Chad – welcome back to blog land and congrats on getting through the craziness with bar and still maintaining all of your hard work!

    My tips for conquering emotional eating are to make sure you have none of the tempting (not-good-for-you) foods in your home, and being well stocked with the healthy good for you delicious foods you need. Add that to staying prepared and you’ve got a recipe for success. Good luck with it!

  8. August 17, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    Welcome back, Chad. A loss during that stressful (more sedentary) time is amazing. I’m really excited that you combated that habit really well.

    Looking forward to hearing about the results of your test. And more than that, how you progress!

  9. August 17, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    Welcome back! Congrats on posting a loss amid such stress as a bar exam! WOW. It’ll be good to follow your journey again. As far as your question…I am still learning how to cope with difficult situations without turning to food. Having a supportive husband helps because he can kinda of remind me what I’m doing as I’m doing it, but yes, it’s a learning process…one that I will probably always be a part of.

  10. August 18, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Hey Chad, happy to see you back, and congrats on getting through taking the bar exam, and even managing a 6 pound loss through it all!

    Emotional eating is definitely a tough on. I guess I try to do my best to recognize it coming on so I can stop myself before I’ve gone totally overboard. Usually that means doing something else to distract myself, whether that’s reading a book, going for a walk, whatever.

  11. August 18, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    I am really, really glad you are back. Way too many people just drop off the face of the earth in weight loss blogging. I’m glad you arent one of them!

    Emotional eating is tough. Usually I try to ask myself why I’m eating if I’m eating when I normally wouldn’t be or eating something I normally wouldn’t. Then if I know WHY I can fix it. Or do something else. Or just eat and let that be the fix but not go overboard. I find emotional eating can actually be an okay thing if you know it’s happening and don’t let it get out of control. But that’s hard to do so I suggest finding something to do when it’s happening – like getting out of your house or talking/calling someone.

  12. August 18, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    Congratulations on maintaing a huge weight loss during such a stressful time! That’s really impressive!

    Good luck waiting for the results of the exam, this is probably going to be just as stressful as taking the test – but it seems like you’ve got it handled.

  13. Lawyer Losing Weight
    October 6, 2010 at 7:43 PM

    I’m new to your blog but have really enjoyed your posts, as I can relate to most of them! I gained 52 pounds over a period of 12 years, largely due to law school and being a lawyer (not to mention having two kids). Stress eating and no exercise is not helpful to a person’s figure!

    During the summer of 2009 and the recession, my stress was out of control and I had many physical complications from it. That was my wake up call for a new and healthy lifestyle. Since then, I’ve lost 39 pounds, with 13 pounds to go.

    During the course of my journey, I discovered that exercise curbs my stress eating. It’s amazing that exercising just one hour per day releases all of my daily stresses of balancing my obligations as a lawyer and a mom.

    At one point, when a particularly grueling project had a short deadline, I reached for a snack purely out of stress and immediately stopped myself. I noticed what I was doing – something I never did while obese.

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