Monday, May 18, 2009

A 180 on Weight

As happy as I was with the Daily Plate, I realized that there was something just not “right” about my approach. I’ve felt it deep down for a long time, but I’ve been way too scared to really confront it. I got a taste of it when I started with the Beck Diet. The suggestion that I needed to sit and just eat my meals was somehow just too much for me. I tend to read or watch TV while eating… I know this isn’t conducive to healthy eating, but I felt like it was habit I just couldn’t break. That resistance spelled the death knell for the Beck approach.

So I went back to what works – calorie restriction. On a very basic level, this does indeed work. When I eat less than I burn, the scale goes down. It’s just very difficult to maintain, even when the goal is reasonable and not extreme. I found myself cycling through periods of sticking with it and then falling off a cliff into binges where I’d just tune out, eating what I wanted. However, there was no relief in those periods, either. I wasn’t free of worrying about my weight and eating, it just went underground making me feel guilty and bad about the fact that I wasn’t counting what ate. That definitely took a lot of the pleasure out of whatever it was I was binging on, leading me to eat even more, to make myself feel better. This, of course, didn’t really work so I’d work myself back up to counting again and being “good”. Around and around we go…

I did all of this because I was searching for the numbers (calories eaten vs. burned, the scale) to tell me what to do. I was looking outside of myself for guidance on how to fix myself. Since I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember, there must be something fundamentally broken about the way I interact with food. The thought of trusting myself with how much I should eat and when never occurred to me. When I heard about Intuitive Eating, I thought, “that’s such a great idea – for someone else”. There was just no way I’d be able to figure out what to eat without some serious math involved!

I know that sounds silly, but it is indeed a deeply held belief that I have. I am untrustworthy around food. If there is a lot food around, I will inevitably eat it. If there are snacks in the house, I will eat them all. So, the best thing is to avoid these situations – eat before I go to a party so I can just eat something small and be OK – refrain for bringing anything “bad” into the house.

I just took a look at myself and asked, is this really working, though? In my heart, I heard a loud NO. I am not happy, I am not thin, and most importantly – I’m not as healthy as I want to be. Something isn’t clicking. This led me to buy the Health at Every Size book. It was really eye opening and I read it through in a single day. I loved the philosophy but I was gripped with fear. What if I stop “trying” and I just balloon up? I loved the HAES idea but felt it was a little short on what exactly I should do. To help myself get a grip on how to get started, I am reading more about Intuitive Eating. I am ready to find a way back to trusting myself. It’s something I’ll have to re-learn but I’m willing to start.

The first thing I’m concentrating on is letting go of my fear of food. I am embracing the idea of eating what I want. When I allow myself to do that, the “bad” food loses its allure. (This is the theory and I’m just starting to experiment with this). If I know I can have oreos anytime I want, there is no need to eat 15 of them at a sitting. I’ll let you know how this goes. It is the most frightening thing I’ve done in my weight loss quest. Eat what I WANT? How bazaar! It started well, though, with the homemade brownies and ice cream I allowed myself to make and eat last night. (Scary, I know!) But you know what? I really didn’t go crazy with it. I had a single serving and felt great about it. Imagine!

Today, I focused on Honoring my Hunger and stopping when I was just satisfied. I ate without distractions and really enjoyed the stew I brought for lunch. I ate it mindfully and stopped about ¾ through because I’d had enough. It was an amazing accomplishment. Without fail, I always eat my entire Tupperware container-full – mostly just because it’s there and it’s the amount I had pre-counted calorie-wise. Instead, I am working on listening to my inner voice as to when I’m hungry or full. I am building a bit more confidence in my ability to do this.

Lastly, I found an Intuitive Eating group on Facebook and an online Forum for it as well. I think that interacting with “real” people who are doing this will help tremendously. I know that two of the wonderful bloggers I follow mostly eat in this way – Sally from Aprovechar and FT from Notes from the Frugal Trenches. I have always admired this ability and hope to join them in the endeavor. Has anyone else tried this approach? If so, how do you feel about it?


MrsSmith said...

I don't know if it's really the same thing, but what I do is not limit myself in any way except that what I'm eating has to be FOOD. So, if I want ice cream, it can't be some diet stuff with only 5 calories but a dozen unpronounceable ingredients. I eat the Ben & Jerry's. If I want a treat to drink, it can't be soda, but it can be lemonade that I make myself even if it has sugar.

Ever since I stopped eating highly processed fake food, I've had no problem loosing and keeping off weight. It's ironic that quitting eating Fiber One bars and other "diet" foods is what had the most effect, isn't it?

Unknown said...

I agree about not eating processed food. I've lost 1 pound a month (very gradual) over the last year and a half after switching to all unprocessed whole foods. But I also didn't weigh myself for a year and just tried to eat healthy and what felt right. At the end of a year, I was happily suprised by the weight loss. Lately I've been counting calories to keep it up but still eating unprocessed foods.