Struggling with a Different Kind of Debt

A digital scale can be both your best friend and worst enemy.

Yesterday, I felt the familiar sting of betrayal after completing one of my most dreaded chores: the post-vacation weigh in.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I peered down at the numbers.

For those of you keeping tabs, you may remember the last time I complained about my pesky weight problems, and I'm ashamed to admit my progress has moved in the wrong direction.

But I've been trying, really!

Here's a list of things I've attempted over the past several months:


Pact has been the most motivating of all the health apps I've experimented with. Their slogan is “earn cash for living healthy, paid by members who don't.”

Last fall, I bet myself $5 per week I could complete 5 workouts and track calories on MyFitnessPal every day. That $5 penalty was incredibly motivating and I managed to avoid forking over cash for at least three months at the end of 2014.

Weight Watchers

I've successfully lost weight on this program twice in the past. I lost 20 pounds my senior year of high school and 10 pounds a few years ago. Needless to say, I'm always tempted to try again.

I rejoined in March and quickly became irritated by their buggy mobile app. Between the lack of products in their database and sync issues, I cancelled my subscription only a few weeks in.


My new co-workers are a competitive bunch. We've even got a Slack channel dedicated to tracking our company's leaderboard of weekly Fitbit steps. Public humiliation does seem to be working.


I've successfully lost weight over the past two years through a local boot camp including a diet that avoided sugar, alcohol, and white flour. I've failed at re-trying this unforgiving diet several times.

A Different Kind of Debt

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, my height (5'2″) and weight (171.5) puts my body mass index at 31.4. This catapults my weight status into the obese category. The healthy weight range for my height is 101-136 pounds.

What does this mean?

I am at risk for developing a number of conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, a variety of cancers, and more.

I'm candid with this information not for sympathy, but to highlight the seriousness of obesity. Being overweight is a different kind of debt that has the potential to cause irreversible effects.

The Cycle of Overeating

When I traveled a lot for work, I developed some very unhealthy coping mechanisms. My co-workers thought I was loyal to Hilton Garden Inn for the reward points, but it was totally for their 24-hour Pavillion Pantry.

When I felt stressed, tired, and emotionally exhausted after a show, I stopped by Pavillion Pantry for late-night snacks to binge on while watching Storm Chasers.

Sometimes I was embarrassed to approach the front desk with an armload of food and it was even more shameful being trapped in an elevator with other guests. Fortunately, my floor usually arrived quickly and I was able to avoid eye contact while making a beeline for my room. 

A New Approach

Instead of continuing my lifelong pattern of cycling through extreme diet and exercise programs, I've decided to finally address my underlying struggle with emotional eating.

I've found a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and hope to develop some healthier skills for coping with stress.

For the first time, I plan on making my weight loss journey a priority alongside work, instead of something I'll focus on if I have time.

I'm hopeful I'll end up healthier and happier.

Readers: Have you struggled with emotional eating? Do you have suggestions for overcoming this unhealthy lifestyle?

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Discussions — 14 Responses

  • Jenna May 27, 2015 on 9:30 am

    Oh, I feel ya. It sounds like you are taking the right steps. At least you are continuing the fight.

    I went to a health psychologist last year to get my mind straight about how to deal with food. Best thing I’ve ever done. I’m now restarting Weight Watchers to have some accountability around tracking now that I know how to think about food in a helpful way.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach May 27, 2015 on 9:51 am

    I’m really glad you brought this up because sometimes we may be focusing on one area of our life to heavily (work, money) but have a tendency to ignore other equally important parts of our lives. My health is a huge priority, otherwise what does it mater if I make a million dollars as a freelancer if I’ve ignored that aspect of my life. Somehow, we have to try and find balances in all areas. Hope talking to someone helps you out!

  • John Dore May 27, 2015 on 8:35 pm

    Compared to all of the people I know who have always had to battle with weight control issues, I generally am not taken seriously if I comment on this problem. Nevertheless your latest approach involving a therapist to help with a possible eating disorder and wanting to learn new coping skills for stress management sounds like a very smart approach. Try to remember that you have never really lost a battle until you give up!!!

  • Redeemed Finance May 28, 2015 on 7:23 am

    So says im at 27.3 Overweight.. “Fat an happy” 🙂 – no but seriously I think being healthy and able to enjoy all the investing and saving we do should be at the forefront of our minds. The BMI calculator doesn’t apply much to my situation (weight lifting) but still shows is a good baseline. Honestly, the feeling of being able to go go to the pool or beach in the summer is what keeps me motivated during the winter. If you’re a heavy emotional eater (I think I am) I try to chew sugar free gum as soon as I get hungry. Half a bottle of cold water and some sugar free gum tricks my body pretty good. I wish you the best of luck, keep plugging away at it.
    -Rich (27)

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life May 28, 2015 on 9:11 am

    This is awesome Kate and I appreciate your candor. Eating is a very emotional and ritual like thing, completely overturning your approach requires a holistic approach. Best of luck!

  • Emily Brown May 28, 2015 on 10:56 am

    Kate! That is so great, I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you and would love to talk about it sometime. I have tried just about everything you mentioned above, but it definitely comes down to a coping mechanism!

  • Abigail @ipickuppennies May 28, 2015 on 1:57 pm

    Ah yes, eating one’s feelings. That’s a common one for me. Also, I’m fidgety, so I eat to keep my hands busy.

    In the cooler months, I’ve found that I can just crochet a scarf or whatever. It keeps my hands busy, and I have warm (if somewhat amateurish) scarves to donate to shelters.

    But summer is coming, and I run the risk of a heat rash if I let the material sit on me for too long. So I’ll have to figure something else out.

    Do remember that BMI is a very iffy standard. I have a stocky frame and a sizable chest. So even when I was in great shape, I was 153 lbs. By standardized measurements, though, I would have been told to lose weight.

  • Melanie @ Dear Debt May 28, 2015 on 7:52 pm

    Such an important topic! I stress eat and drink and it’s not good! It’s hard to overcome those behaviors, but it’s possible.

  • DivHut May 29, 2015 on 4:57 pm

    I always thought that whatever you eat on vacation doesn’t count especially if you are outside your home country. Seriously, I think your new approach of involving a therapist might be really beneficial instead of simply going to extreme dieting and exercise which never seems to have good long term results. Thanks for sharing this personal issue you are dealing with.

  • Kate @ Money Propeller May 31, 2015 on 11:52 pm

    Now that summer just ended in our country, I noticed that I really gained weight! I need to trim down again and starts a healthy lifestyle again. For a month, I stopped working out because I was a bit busy with my work and some activities.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty June 1, 2015 on 7:11 am

    I always gain weight on vacation. Always. It never fails. I think it’s just because I get out of my routine.
    Sorry that happened to you, but at least you’re not alone!

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