A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Filling mental space

on October 2, 2014

You know how I can tell that I’m getting to end of my big work project? I finally took 5 minutes to clean off my desk:

This is the cleanest my desk has been in over a month!

This is the cleanest my desk has been in over a month!

I’ve slept better in the last two nights than I have in a month, which is great. One of the things that I’ve always struggled with in times of stress is shutting things down at the end of the day. My brain gets so filled with thoughts of whatever I’m worried about that I used to eat and eat and eat just to crowd those stressful thoughts out of my head. When I gained my weight, those thoughts were about “will I always be alone”, “will I have to declare bankruptcy/go to jail” (I used to be horrible with money), “will I ever manage to keep up in school” (I’m bright, but started graduate school before I finished college, so for a while I was behind just because I hadn’t had some of the same prep work my classmates had), etc. None of those things are made better by food, but shoving my face with food drowned them out for a while. Thus, I gained 100 pounds in a really short time by binging instead of dealing with things in a healthier way.

So much of my mental space was filled with negative thoughts about those stressors, about my health, about my weight, about my appearance, etc. A big part of losing that weight and of keeping it off is finding a new way to fill my mental space. I’m working on shifting that mental conversation, so that the negative thoughts don’t get so much real estate, and on finding healthier ways to crowd them out when they do get overwhelming.

The reality is, we’re always going to have stressors. I’m happily married and financially stable now, so I don’t worry about some of the same things I’ve had before. New things take their place – am I good enough mom (O is stuttering and having a hard time with separation anxiety – do I watch and wait or intervene)? Am I living up to my potential at work (because in my line of work, there is no real finish line – you get good at it and the bar just moves higher!)? Am I a good enough wife (God bless my husband for all he does to help out when I’m busy at work, but how do I make sure he still feels valued)?

Those thoughts will always be there. Some strategies I’m working on to keep things in balance:

– Finding new hobbies like running and blogging to give me a positive thing to fill that space with. A nice mental break for me during the last couple of weeks of work stress has been mentally working on my packing list for Des Moines half marathon weekend or planning my training for the Rebel Challenge weekendΒ  (I’ve even thought about where we’ll eat lunch / dinner Saturday before the race!). This is definitely part of the reason I write blog posts at night, generally, because this is the time I most need the distraction from these negative thoughts.

– A little while ago I wrote here about adjusting to a new self-image and learning to see my new body in a new way and Kristin offered the great advice of actively practicing positive self-talk when you catch yourself in those negative spirals. Even if it is something as simple as “Yay good hair day!” it helps. πŸ™‚

– I remind myself of the reasons I wanted to lose weight, and the reasons I maintain, and how far I’ve come in those regards. I also look at all of those non-scale victories that demonstrate how many positive changes I’ve made in my life since I made the decision to take control of my health.

Finding a way to fill mental space with positive and helpful things, rather than the negative thoughts that lead so many of us to gain weight in the first place, is an important part of weight loss and maintenance for many of us. How do you fill the space?

This is part of our Halloween decorations, as designed by Oliver, who wanted to spider to wear the witch's hat. :)

This is part of our Halloween decorations, as designed by Oliver, who wanted to spider to wear the witch’s hat. πŸ™‚

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10 responses to “Filling mental space

  1. This is a fantastic post Jess! I know I struggle sometimes by being my own worst critic…. I notice that the more stressed out I am, the harder I am on myself and how I look. I need to be more aware when that is happening! I also agree that finding new hobbies is a great way to fill that mental space to both distract and keep a smile on your face! :0)

  2. Great post! Glad the stress is finally letting up some!

  3. Great post! I agree that filling your time with hobbies is a wonderful way to fill the space. I mix running/spending time outside with time spent indoors creating art to release negativity and feel strong, creative, and empowered.

    • I wish I were more talented artistically, because it can be such a healthy outlet! That’s the beauty of art though – it can be helpful and healing even if you aren’t “good” at it. πŸ™‚

  4. Kristin says:

    Hey! Happy Friday! I totally have a hard time sleeping lots of nights because my brain will just NOT stop thinking about everything that’s going on in my life!! I’m already dreading Saturday night…the night before my half!! Haha!! That’s going to be a long sleepless night!! I really try to turn off my brain, but it’s hard!! I’m happy you’re happy and that you’re feeling fabulous!! That’s truly awesome!! XOXO! Have THE BEST weekend!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • They say it’s the night BEFORE the night before that’s most important, right, so I’ll send you good sleep vibes for tonight! I know it’ll be next to impossible to get things to shut off the night before the race. πŸ™‚ You’re going to rock it!

      Sent from my iPad

      >

      • Kristin says:

        Awww, thank you!! I’m really hoping to have a good night tonight!! I appreciate your loving vibes!! I appreciate your confidence, too- I hope I rock it!! I’ve decided to just go with it and try my very best!! XOXO!! You’re so sweet!!

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