I have dropped all 'diet' aspirations. I will not 'diet' for the rest of my life. I have never, ever, lost weight with a 'diet' and kept it off – Have you? Kept it off forever, I mean. I have been wondering about my lack of self-trust. Why have I been unable to trust that I inherently know what is best for my body, and ultimately, myself? Why is it so much easier/better/more acceptable (choose one) to follow what someone else feels is ‘best’ for our bodies? Why read the next greatest diet book and follow their plan, without taking time each day to check in with our own voice inside telling us exactly what to do? I have mistrusted myself for such a long time that I have forgotten what that voice sounds like. All those diet fads send us the strong message of ‘We know what you need. You don’t. Trust our research. We’ve done the work so you don’t have to. Dieting is all about willpower. You don’t have enough, so you are fat. Stop eating X (insert any food of your choice) and you will be free of fat.’ Blah blah blah. No thanks.
You know what makes more sense? Tossing those books and programs aside and learning to trust our bodies. I have spent the past 2 weeks getting back in touch with my body, asking it what it needs, and carefully listening to the voice that says ‘I’ve had enough, thank you’. I am learning that I can eat what my body is telling me to eat without overeating. I am learning that there are so many other things to do than count calories, carbs, figure out my balanced meal, that make me feel fed. And I am beginning to shed the body fat that has kept me ’safe’ from so many emotional pains all these years.
Looking at why I tend to overeat is the key to my excess weight. I eat when bored, excited, anxious, tired, sad, angry. By reminding myself to stay focused and present, I have been somewhat successful at redirecting that binge behavior into more constructive activities (mostly, just becoming aware of the feelings). I say somewhat successful, as this is new for me, and I have moments when completely overwhelmed by stress and find myself eating before becoming aware that I am actually eating.
The other thing I have been trying that seems to work is eating slowly, counting my chews. By doing this, I am able to really concentrate on the nourishment I am sending down to my belly. It is important that I not be reading, watching TV or having an in depth conversation while eating, as I get caught up and eat much more than I need in one sitting. When I eat at work with my colleagues, I have a hard time eating and following the animated conversations at that same time! I have noticed a very subtle change in my focus when I get full. Learning when I have had enough of something has been tricky. I have eaten from head hunger for so long, I thought I wouldn’t be able to find my belly hunger. But, lo and behold, there it was. And I am able to feel just how fast I get full. Amazingly fast. In fact, I fill up before I finish a sandwich! How many times have I gulped down my lunch to then want more food – and of course, go get more food and shove that down. Then I would spend my afternoon exhausted as my body tried to deal with that brick of food crammed in my stomach.
I went out to eat with my husband last night. I ordered the curry chicken. It was fabulous. It was so creamy and yummy – exactly what I wanted. I was starving because I had not been very hungry at lunchtime and ate very little. By dinner, I could have eaten a large building. When the plate of chicken came, I jumped right in. Whoops. Stop and think, girl. Count your bites, do anything to refocus your eating. Ah… that’s better. I came to a stopping place midway through. Then, just because I am a compulsive eater, I ate a couple more bites. No. STOP. I asked the server to box it up for me. Now I have dinner for tonight in my little doggie bag. Awesome. I am amazed at the copious amounts of food I have eaten in the past. I marvel at our food bills from the past several years. Might I bring down some of our monthly food costs by eating more mindfully? I think so.
The best part of learning about trusting myself is that if I really listen to my body, it really does tell me what it needs. I have to get out of my own way to trust it – to really trust that it is full, or hungry, or that I will not have to eat now for hunger that will rise in 2 hours. I have to trust that I will never be without the ability to meet my needs. I have to trust that I know how to care for my body better than the diet books. I would never trust raising my child to a book, so why do I look to books to tell me how to take care of me? I have the answers, deep inside. And I can figure this out as long as I listen to my inner voice that only wants to be loved and cared for.