You Gotta Have Heart…and Hope

definition of hope


You’ve gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win
That’s when the grin should start
You’ve gotta have hope
Mustn’t sit around and mope
Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear
Wait’ll next year and hope…

As a sports fan, I can really, really relate to the “Wait till next year” mantra. My father has said it many times as our beloved New York Rangers get eliminated from the playoffs year after year and we hope that “next year will be our year.”

I’ve always loved this catchy tune from “Damn Yankees” and I found myself humming it as I sat down to write about hope and emotional eating. “You’ve gotta have heart” – that is about self-love. As emotional eaters, we need to recognize the goodness within us and practice self-love. We have to love ourselves first before we can share our true selves with anyone else. I know this is difficult. We’re so busy calling ourselves dumb, or stupid, or telling ourselves we’re not good enough. Who has time for self-love? YOU.

hope and despair_directoryWhat’s even harder than self-love is hope. Life as an emotional eater is more about compare and despair – always seeing the best in everyone else and wondering why we can’t be like that other person – skinny, smart, successful, funny and fabulous. For me, it was really hard to have hope that I could change as I carried home bags of M&Ms and cookies after a long day at the office. ​​​​​

For hours, my boss would compare me to others – my colleagues in the industry, my peers at the office…the list went on and on. There were days I just couldn’t do anything right! I needed comfort and found it in candy and cookies. I told myself that if I wanted to “make it here” (in New York City, in the dance industry), this is what I had to do – work long hours, work on weekends, give up time with friends and endure exhaustion and fatigue.

The catch-22 was that I had a good life. I lived in New York City and had an exciting career (albeit one that was killing me inside). I didn’t realize at the time that I was suppressing my emotions and anxiety with food. I just told myself I was stressed and tired and “deserved” it after the long day. I didn’t think anything was “wrong” or that I was engaging in unhealthy behavior…

…until the day I nearly passed out in Central Park. That was scary! I was playing tennis with a friend and started sweating profusely. My heart was racing. I felt like I was going to pass out. I was in trouble! Hope? I was gasping for air; hope was unimaginable!!

My friend and I got off the court. I drank water and put cold paper towels on my forehead and neck. I took deep breaths and then sat with my head between my knees. And I started making deals with G-d. “Please help me,” I begged, “and I’ll stop eating so much junk. I’ll really get my act together and go to bed earlier. I’ll exercise more. I’ll do what I need to do to be the person I want to be.”

The big problem here, in addition to making myself physically ill, is that I didn’t really know who it was I wanted to be. I thought I wanted to be the person I believed others wanted me to be – and that’s what was making me sick!

I don’t remember leaving the park that day, but I do remember getting off the bus on the Upper East Side not far from my apartment. I leaned against the building on the corner and called a therapist I had seen for anxiety a few years earlier. Crying my eyes out, I managed to leave a message: “Hi. It’s Jodi. I think I have an eating disorder and I need help.”

Asking for help gave me hope.

Emily Dickinson quote

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