Friday, May 22, 2009

Fear of Weight Gain: How I'm working to Overcome it with Intuitive Eating

My biggest fear as I start this new process is that giving myself permission to eat what and how much I want will result in weight GAIN. This is horrifying to my diet-saturated mind. How can I risk it? Wouldn’t it be safer just to go back to counting calories? These are the questions and the mentality that I have to contend with within my own head. At this point, I need to just let go and move through the process without focus on the outcome.

So for all that fear, it turns out that it probably WILL happen. And it won’t necessarily be a bad thing. I came across an amazing post at Through Thick and Thin, an Intuitive Eating Forum, where one of the administrators, Shannon, explains what to expect when first letting go of fearing food and honoring hunger:
“…The key is to relax in this phase; to understand that your body has suffered a lot of abuse and needs to become acclimated to regular feeding. If you give your body this reprieve, you will find that any weight gain experienced is minimal and will rapidly level off. With consistent feeding, your body will feel secure that there is no impending food shortage and will begin to release its fat stores. If you can find some time to do some strength exercise; whether lifting weights, or using calisthenics and the natural weight of your body for resistance; you can begin to rebuild the muscle tissue that was lost through dieting. Replenishing muscle tissue will restore the efficiency of your metabolism; facilitating more timely healing…

…What is pertinent to recognize is that after years of disregarding your body and its needs, there is a physiological balancing that needs to take place. It may take some time for your body to readjust and you owe your body the space to make this shift. You owe your body at least this respect. It has been through a lot. What has been the pursuit of a physical ideal for you, has been a taxing crisis for your body. If you stick with intuitive eating and focus on your healing process; relinquishing the physical goal; you will find that naturally and effortlessly, your body will reach a size and shape that is healthy for you. Don't burden your body with a time constraint for this healing to manifest. Surrender to the wisdom of your body.”

Over the past few days of reading about intuitive eating in the book and on the forum, I’m starting to calm down a bit with this fear. I have come to the conclusion that I am doing the right thing, no matter what. Even if I never shed an ounce. Even if it means living in an even bigger body. If I focus on taking care of myself and being as healthy as possible, I will be a much happier person. The issue is not about my size or shape but about my health and happiness. If I concentrate on that, the rest will take care of itself.

I no longer have the conviction that if I stopprd my intermittent attempts at weight loss, my weight would go up indefinitely. I now understand that is untrue – if I finally start listening to my own body, my own intuition about what to eat and how to move, I’ll settle at a healthy place for my particular body. Where ever that set-point winds up to be will be OK. How wonderful to learn that it is possible to trust myself. It is possible to heal. Knowing that I will never go on another diet again is so freeing.


Lynn said...

Hey Amelia! I wandered on over from the through thick-n-thin blog and I just had to comment that I relate to every single word of this post. When I very first started on IE I was POSITIVE that my weight would spiral upward until I gained 400 pounds and I'd have to be air-lifted out of my apartment by firemen. After about 11 days on IE I posted this:

I am really not feeling good about IE right now. "Reject the diet mentality" has come to mean "resign myself to being a fat slob for the rest of my life." I don't want to "accept" myself the way I am, because the way I am is disgusting. Yeah yeah, diets don't work, that's what drew me here in the first place right? Well living off pizza and ice cream doesn't work either, and right at this moment it's impossible to believe that I will ever want anything else, if I'm going to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. I know others have found their way to it, but it just doesn't feel like an option right now.

Well, it's a month later and I am not living off pizza and ice cream, and any weight I may have gained has not been enough to notice. And there has been a LOT of pizza, ice cream, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and other goodies in my life over the last 6 weeks! My clothes still fit, and the scary out of control feeling is gone. You really can let go of dieting! In fact, at one point I cheated and weighed myself, and I was actually a little bit less than when I started! Dunno if it's still that way and I don't care. Many people experience a small gain at first but it really does level off very quickly. My fears of dramatic weight gain are gone, and they were VERY strong in the beginning.

I know I have a very long way to go in this process but I do have to say the fear that I will gain massive amounts of weight is gone. I know that IE is about making piece with food and our bodies, not weight loss, but I still really, really want to lose weight! And it does happen. Dunno if you've seen this, but if you look around the forum some Jamie, Shannon and others have posted progress pictures and you can see they have released dramatic amounts of weight. It's a slow process, but I think it will be so, so worth it. Imagine the body you want AND eating whatever you want, whenever you want, in whatever quantity feels right! Freedom!!

:) Lynndra


Hey, Lynn! I can’t tell you how calming it is to see that you’ve been where I am and come out the other side. I know in my head that the urge to eat all these play foods will subside, but in the meantime, it just seems like it will never end. I am prepared to work through this anxiety and hearing from you is the best reassurance I could get. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Lynn said...

Glad I could help a bit :D I peeked at some of your older posts and it seems we were in a very similar place when starting IE. I had also just logged into a new calorie tracker (spark people) and re-committed myself to weight loss...surrounded myself with all the tools & trappings thereof and then found IE and blew all of that out of the water. It felt weird, because I had JUST found a calorie tracker that seemed like it was right for me and I had all this energy and momentum...and then I did a complete and total 180 and that turnabout made me a little dizzy! But I am already SO much happier about food and myself, even if I struggle and complain along the way.


I know exactly what you mean, Lynn. I almost felt silly posting about my discovery of IE because I knew it would come up right after my post about calorie counting "working for me". But, whatever. I am so glad to have come to IE. I am so ready to stop obsessing about food.