This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Laura J. Downey
I was on the phone with my sister the other day and she told me that she hadn’t been doing so well with her eating regimen. So she decided to sign up for a weight loss app that helps you make behavioral changes related to diet and weight loss. After taking one of their courses focused on believing in yourself, something clicked for her. She called me and said, “I can do this, Laura. I just have to believe.”
Then I remembered a Bible verse I had read that morning in the book of Mark. It said, “But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” I told my sister this is a clear sign: We can’t give up on ourselves. Although our wellness journeys are different, one underlying truth remains: We must believe we can do it.
Believing is the key to unlocking doors. For me, it’s knowing that I can continue this wellness journey by making the best choices for me. And it’s knowing that if I eat a brownie or indulge in a bag of sweet and salty kettle corn, that it’s not the end of the world. I can still balance these snacks by going for a walk or run and by making sure whatever else I eat that day includes lots of vegetables and portion-controlled meals.
As I mentioned in my first blog post about starting my new health journey: “This doesn’t mean I’m not going to eat sweets anymore. I’m not doing a complete overhaul here, people.” I will still treat myself, but I won’t get down on myself about it -- even if I eat a little more than I should. And when this happens, I will ask myself some important questions, like “Do you really need this second brownie?” “Why do you want to have it?” “Are you not satisfied after having the first brownie?” “Are you eating out of boredom?” “Could you just have half of the second brownie instead of the whole one?” “How are you feeling right now? Happy, sad, anxious, stressed, or tired?”
Answers to these questions help engage my mind and allow me to get to the nuts and bolts of why I’m craving an additional brownie. So to keep track of my eating habits and the reasons behind why I might want to overeat, I started writing in a journal. Recently, someone in my WW meeting (I’ve been a member of Weight Watchers for 3 years now) said when she craves something unhealthy, she grabs her notebook, which is strategically placed in the kitchen, and jots down what she’s feeling. After doing that, she no longer has an interest in the unhealthy food choice anymore. She’ll then reach for something healthy.
Her story encouraged me to start a similar journal -- and it speaks volumes. There are times when I am eating more than I should just because I’m sitting in front of the television or because missing my morning exercise made me feel like it’s a free-for-all for the rest of the day. They say when you know better, you do better. Well, I definitely know better, and I truly believe I can do better and be the best version of Laura J. So as I enter the third month of my wellness journey, I’m believing in myself, I’m believing in you, and together, we can do this!
Laura J. Downey is the executive editor of WebMD Magazine. She hopes this blog will help others see that every small step can lead to a more well-balanced, healthful, and fulfilling life. For more on her journey, follow her on Instagram @laurakadowney.