My name is Shelley and I’m a recovering emotional eater – there, I said it! I’m sure there’s got to be some kind of 12 step program out there for people just like me and I know that I’m not alone on this one.

Do you find that you tend to snack on sweet or salty foods when life is doing it’s best to get to you? Do you turn to food for comfort when you’re not feeling well, or you let food be your crutch when you’re stressed? Hey, it’s a safe space here – that’s exactly how I react when life gives me lemons!

Let’s face it, life can be downright stressful sometimes – perhaps it your job, your relationship, running around after the kids – everyone has something that pushes their buttons.

Since starting the Maxines challenge back in August, there have been quite a few times where I’ve had to face my emotional eating demons and find alternative ways to make myself feel good when times are tough. There has definitely been some work fun going on over the past couple of weeks and I have to admit that some of the stress has gotten to me in ways that I don’t like and I’ve had to find ways to cope – I’d give anything to see the CCTV footage of the candy aisle of my local supermarket a few weeks back – OMG!

Taking on the challenge has been one of the best things that I’ve ever done.

it’s really given me back a slice of the self confidence that had gone walkabout since moving back home last year. We’re now at the start of week 5 and my clothes are starting to feel quite loose, I’ve noticed that my skin is really clearing up and I’m standing taller again. 

So, back to my confessions – at the start of the challenge, my biggest hurdle was the food – getting used to eating the right quantities at the right time and no longer using food as a crutch. I won’t lie – the first two weeks I was a little cray cray…as I mentioned above, on more than one occasion I found myself floating up and down the candy aisle of my local supermarket, most likely with my eyes glazed over, whilst inside my mind I battled with the thoughts of ‘could I buy something’, ‘just something small’, ‘it won’t make any difference’, ‘no-one will know’. Oh yes, it was that bad! I can proudly report that I didn’t give in, but I did really have to come up with other ways of coping.

Here’s a collection of my top 5 tips to overcome emotional eating:

1. Go for a walk – I live 100 metres from the beach – just heading over and letting the cool breeze hit my face is often enough to counter any of those cravings. It doesn’t matter the location, just so long as you get out for a few minutes to reconnect with nature.

2. Remember why you’re doing the challenge – I used visualisation techniques to visualise what I wanted to both look and feel like at the end of the 12 weeks, which prompted me to remember that giving into the craving was only going to de-rail my efforts, not help them.

3. Put some funky music on and have a little dance around the house – I find nothing cures a bad mood faster than a little sing-a-long.

4. Call a friend – just by hearing someone else’s voice can be enough to trigger you back from the abyss and make you forget what it was that you were stressed about – laughter really is the best medicine.

5.  Check out the other people in the candy aisle….ok, so this one is a little mean, but honestly – next time you’re trapped in that centre aisle, check out the other people there – 9 times out of 10 they won’t be a picture of health and vitality.

 What I do know is that being an emotional eater is something that will likely stay with me my entire life. It’s something I’ve done since I was a child and I have no doubt that it will raise it’s ugly head again. What I do know is that by following healthy principles, taking care of my body and mind and finding new ways to deal with the stresses of life will ensure that I’ll be able to ignore that pesky voice most days.

For me, doing the Maxine’s challenge has been a huge reminder of what I have a strong passion for – health and fitness, living a life by design and loving the life that you’ve chosen for yourself. I truly believe that anyone can make the choice to get healthy and quiet that nagging voice when it comes to emotional eating – it takes time and commitment, but gradually it does get easier.