Friday, October 30, 2009

The Tao of Stress Eating

“Stress eating.”

The dieter’s crutch, excuse and curse.

These are really just carefully crafted words that, when used together, somehow magically communicate that whatever binge you are on is justified.

So, if , for example, the last few weeks I have overindulged on an assortment of gateway snacks like roasted, salted peanuts by the bag full – well, calling my behavior “stress eating” should not make the behavior seem so marvelously understandable.

It’s not ok.

Deep down inside, I knew last week when I stepped on the scale, my day of reckoning was upon me. I gained my first pound in a year and it bummed me out.

Sensing this genuine disappointment, a few close friends chalked up the uncharacteristic gain to a host of recent events: my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah party; hiring a trainer and converting fat to muscle; not drinking enough water; Lucas’ hospitalization; my birthday, too much anxiety at the office.

Now while all of these factors may have come into play in some way or another, the plain truth is that weeks ago, I opened a door that I have yet to shut.

Even as I type this sentence, I am nourished by the sweet, chewy tang of my favorite pineapple flavored Haribo Gold-Bears: “The Original Gummi Candy.” And isn’t that the surest sign that the heart and head are no longer in full alignment. Here I sit typing away knowing I shouldn’t be gobbling a gummi and yet, what the fuck? You will be happy to know the rest of the ½ ounce bag just went in the trash.

For two weeks, my forward momentum has stalled and I have taken two-baby steps back.

I feel like Winnie the Pooh after gorging on honey and condensed milk at Rabbit’s house. After binging on all the snacks his host could muster, a fat and sated Pooh headed out of the house only to get stuck in the hole.

Watching Pooh struggle to get out, Christopher Robin said:

“There's only one thing to be done. We shall have to wait for you to get thin again.”

'How long does getting thin take?' asked Pooh anxiously.

'About a week I should think,' said Christopher.

'But I can't stay here for a week!' Pooh exclaimed.

You can stay here all right, silly old Bear. It's getting you out which is so difficult.'


True dat, Christopher! You are a wise character of literature.

Getting out of a rut is always the difficult part of recovering back to the core of the diet.

But really, it’s not about how much time you put into your diet, because it can never be over.

When Pooh asks “How long?” the answer is forever.

Like Pooh, I know that I can make great progress in a week if I set my mind to it. I also know that the two pounds I gained in the last few weeks can and will disappear if I really focus on what got me here. And what got me here was a strict dedication to my diet, writing down everything I was eating, exercising, and drinking lots of water. All of that has changed of late. I have become lax. Back to basics.

Last night I was invited to a Hockey game with some business colleagues. At the event, I met a stranger who was no stranger at all. She knew me and my family from this blog. Someone who knew me shared it with a friend who shared it with her and suddenly it was as if I was conversing with an old friend. It was surreal to meet a person who I had never met yet knew so much about me and this part of my life.

We spoke for awhile about the diet and were deep into the discussion when our host interrupted with news that a dessert cart was outside the door of the suite. We both passed, yet we both wanted that damn carrot cake!

As much as she said I had inspired her, she inspired me to really try and look forward again.

And today, when I stepped on the scale knowing that the news was not going to be good, I greeted my second consecutive one pound gain as a lesson to retrench myself.

The holidays are just around the corner and when I hit New Year’s eve this year, I want to look at myself in the mirror knowing that the resolution for a better, healthier me was a promise kept throughout the entire year.

I have been stressed and strained and full of worry about so many things – all of which are either behind me now or truly beyond my control.
Time to say oh, bother to those two pounds.

I can feel the little dark rain clouds lifting already.

© Copyright, Steve Elzer, 2009
All Rights Reserved


  1. Steve; You are doing great and look great......don't let the slightest backslide bum you out. Your progress has been remarkable and I am sure it will continue in 2010.

  2. In your state of Lax, you still maintained control, yet not with the grip you have become accustomed. Look at you, taking a moment like this and applying it as a lesson rather than running out of control with it, as you would/could of in your past.
    A changed man, congratulations on the transformation, not only do you look great but it radiates from the inside out.
    You have so very many things to be proud of, with so many celebrations recently, that is always a challenge to anyone struggling with this food/weight issue. Stand proud my friend, and acknowledge your triumphs, as this is just another one!
    You are better than any old gummy, in any flavor.

  3. So many people who have struggled as you have, and so successfully, suddenly have a "mis-step", and immediately say, well the hell with it then, and simply give-up. But you have shown the intestinal fortitude to keep going, and get back on the horse (my favourite metaphor - I used to ride horses!) So well done, you! That can be the biggest battle in the war - hang in there; we know you can do it - look how much you've done already.

  4. Steve you and your beauuuuutiful family have touched more lives than you could ever know. The gem in it is to read and know and remember that all great feats are burdened with humanity  A "step back" or a stall is simply the reminder of our own fragility and vulnerability and an opportunity to nurture yourself with a hug  Its also that chance to move forward with a new and fresh momentum, one that couldn't exist without this moment of reflection.
    You rock my friend!!!!! Love to the whole family and belated Happy Birthday!

  5. I've read this too, that when we fall off any wagon, it happens. A day here, or there, doesn't matter in the large scheme of things as long as we see it as a transgression only. Get back up on your white horse Steve, and charge! It's in you.

  6. Steve,

    Stress is probably the toughest obstacle. Not because it just allows the excuse of comfort eating but because of the hormonal imbalance that causes you to keep weight on. It’s easier to avoid cake than it is to avoid stresses in the world we live in today.

    I’m sure your personal trainer holds you accountable. However, like your blog, there is a tool at Team Beachbody called WOWY that can help a little more. The free profile also provides a place for “before” and “after” photos as well as your transformation story. To see if this might work for you, please take a look at mine at:

    To Health and Happiness,


  7. Loved meeting you -- you continue to inspire. We should have stomped on the carrot cake and burned a few calories in the process :-)

  8. Remember that post you wrote about pre-cheating? How about looking back at those weeks where you lost 7 or 9 or even 14 pounds as pre-dieting. Credit in the bank. Now you've taken 2 pounds out of the bank--that's not so much, right?