Saturday, January 9, 2010

Learned Behaviors

My mom is convinced that my weight comes from me being unhappy. Somehow, somewhere, I'm in emotional pain, and therefore I eat my emotions. I assumed this to be true for a long time, because that's what I've watched my mom do my whole life. If she ate her emotions, I must eat mine too, right?

When I went away to college, I lost a lot of weight. I was walking everywhere, food was expensive, and I was unhappy. I spent the majority of my four years chasing after guys who knew I was chasing after them, and decided to throw me the occasional "carrot." I thought they didn't want to be with me because of my weight (which I thought was high then, but I would LOVE to be there now) and the solution to all my problems was to lose weight.

I took up running. I fell in love with it, and realized that nothing can get me through a winter in the northwest except for exercise. Running made me feel good. All my high school friends noticed when I returned for summer break that I was considerably smaller. I swear my own mother treated me different (better). I was able to run 4 miles a day, yes. I was able to pick out any clothing item I saw and have it look great on me. I was comfortable in a bathing suit. But my head? My head was CRAZY. I did not in anyway have my shit together as it appeared from the outside to those who are prejudiced.

I graduated from college and my whole lifestyle changed. I was much less active since I drove a car in Seattle and did not walk everywhere. I had a job and was not able to go for runs whenever I wanted. I discovered Thai food. Anyway, I'm not going to go into all the factors that got me here today, but I will say one thing, my head is nowhere near as crazy as I used to be in my college days. I am so much happier and even-keeled.

So now when my mom starts picking on me for my weight and tells me I'm unhappy, I can't help but be annoyed. Its just not true. One day it dawned on me. Could it be that in my 18 years of living at home and watching my parents habits I was just a casualty? I don't suffer from the same emotional things they base their eating off of, but I just picked up their habits. I like to think of it as growing up watching my parents smoke cigarettes my whole life, and then when I'm 25 and on my own, my parents getting all upset at me for being addicted to cigarettes! Uh, "I learned it from watching you!!!"

I know, I'm an adult, capable of making my own decisions, but I think our base of learned behaviors is what we fall back on. In college, I didn't realize it, but I was doing pretty much the opposite of what I had seen my parents do. Hence the weight loss. As I became more happy, I got comfortable, and fell back on what I knew.

This opens up the door for days of discussions on learned behaviors, genetics, nature vs. nurture, etc. I could have a whole blog dedicated to just such information. I only wanted to touch on it here, because for my current journey forward it is important to have some background. To look at what has worked for me in the past, and to get an idea of what shaped me. Literally.

I'm not going to throw my life under the bus so I can be unhappy and lose weight. Just being thin is not all there is to being healthy. I need to figure out how to change my learned behaviors so that the happy me does not result in a fat me.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Very interesting. I love the last line--- figure out how to change thins so that the happy me doesn't result in the fat me. Instead of thinking the other way around about being thin making you happy. More like being happy making you thin. Goddamnit that is genius. -TJ