Still NOT dieting

I eat what I want, when I want.  I admit for over a year, I didn’t make the healthiest food choices.  And I gained 27 pounds.  Some people may find that unbearable.  But for me, facing another failed diet was unbearable to me.  Just could not do it anymore.  The calorie counting, point counting, tracking, weighing, measuring, fretting over a one pound gain, and crying because those new pants I bought last month are now too tight!!

Now I have freedom from all that nonsense.  My doctor wasn’t impressed by my weight gain, but when I explained to her that I have spent most of my life with disordered eating patterns she let go of the diet advice.  I asked her once directly how could I successfully lose weight and keep it off for good.  She mentioned something about the Mediterranean diet but was not able to offer any evidence that it works in the long term.

My weight has been very stable the last couple years and only fluctuates a pound or two. I’m currently forced into inactivity due to my accident and I’m not panicked like I used to about potential weight gain.

My eating habits are improved now, but I focus on nutrition AND taste.  I am NEVER eating kale, and please don’t tell me how great it is in smoothie, I can taste it in there… BLECH!

I am proof there is life after dieting. For me it took a long time to transition from a dieter to a non-dieter.  But I am also in my 40s and went on my first diet as a child.  If someone wants to diet, I would never discourage them because it’s none of my business.  But likewise, I wish people would cease with dispensing the diet advice.  The no-sugar thing seems to be the trend of the month.  I like sugar, I’m gonna keep eating it.  If dieting taught me one thing, the moment I restrict myself from eating something then that’s all I want.

Now excuse me while I go eat a pop tart.

New Attitude

Finding my way back to enjoying exercise again. I WAS not loving the running anymore, now that I have shortened the distances I’m running it is definitely better.
I found a women’s only gym in my city that has bootcamp style classes, as well as MMA style classes. Definitely enjoying that.
I have found I need to balance those tough workouts, so I am doing yoga with more regularity.
I weighed myself this week, first time in weeks. I don’t want to focus on my weight EVER AGAIN, but I wondered if my weight was still going up. I was hopeful that I stopped gaining, and I certainly felt like it had. And according to the scale, it has stabilized now. I started intuitive eating earlier this year, and I knew after coming off a restrictive long-term diet I would gain weight. But I accepted it and bought bigger pants.
I have to look up in my journal how long I have been ‘diet-free’ now.
Feels pretty damn good.

Feeling Fat

Recently I was reading a blog and the writer posed the question, “when did fat become a feeling?”  I can’t recall the blog unfortunately because I read it and thought it was a good question but kept going on my way reading through other blogs. (I have a short attention span)  Later that day I was reading Linda Bacon’s book, Health at Every Size and she stated in her book that fat is NOT a feeling.

I had not really given this much thought before now, but I certainly know that I have said aloud, “I feel fat today!”  And I have heard other women say the same thing.  But as Linda suggests, there are feelings behind that statement that should be explored.  And this really got me thinking about ‘fat feelings’ and where they come from.

I went out for dinner to a restaurant with a group of women.  I was the oldest in the group and at the end of the night I felt like the most fat and unattractive in the group.  None of the other women did ANYTHING directly to make me feel uncomfortable; everyone was very nice and friendly. However, the conversations that occurred really stood out for me.  First, one of the women just finished a low-carb diet to lose some weight for an upcoming event.  Several women commented on how amazing she looked.  Personally, I didn’t see the reason for the weight loss, because I thought she was already stunning.  This conversation of weight loss went on for a while, with a few making comments about wanting to lose weight or how to lose a few pounds, and it made me uncomfortable because I was visibly larger than each of these women.  I could not help thinking that if these women thought they needed to lose weight, what do they think of me? At one point, the manager of the restaurant that knew two of the women came over to our table and he chatted with them.  Then he looked at and addressed each of the other women at the table but deliberately ignored me.  WTF?  And it was not my imagination, I watched his gaze scan past me from the woman to the left of me to the one on my right.  He didn’t speak to me at all.

At that end of that evening I thought I felt ‘fat’.  But looking back on that event I know now what I felt was invisible and unimportant.   Really, I couldn’t care less what that manager thought of me because he was just rude.  And the other women were really wonderful and fun to hang out with.  It was my own damaging thoughts that ruined the evening for me.  It was the same thoughts I had as a kid.  Although it has taken me years to get here, my attitude is changing and I know what to do when I start having those ‘fat’ thoughts. I change that dialog in my head, and recognize those thoughts as unproductive.  It really is bullshit the stories we tell ourselves. Also, if I’m with a group of women and they start talking about dieting, I will try to change the topic. The diet talk is exhausting to me, and pointless.  For me, a big part of learning to eat intuitively has been more about emotions and how I feel than the actual food itself. Also, it is about how I treat myself on a day to day basis.  Wow, who knew?? It really isn’t about counting points, calories, and numbers on the scale!

Weighing In

Eating intuitively has been going well for me. It was scary at first and I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I thought for sure I was going to binge non-stop until I made myself sick. I’m not saying I didn’t do that at all. But the binges are less frequent the longer I focus on eating intuitively. Bingeing is a hard habit for me to break, because it started at such a young age. I would get home from school feeling just miserable, usually from being bullied all day about being FAT, and proceeded to eat my way through the kitchen. I was usually alone after school, except for my awesome dog, Swimmer (I was not responsible for his name).

A binge would look like this: a piece of balony for me, one for puppy, a couple Oreo cookies for me, one for puppy, a piece of cheese for me, one for puppy…. etc. I would eat until I felt uncomfortable (pretty sure Swimmer could have kept going, he was a real trooper). When the rest of my family came home, we all sat down for dinner. I always ate my dinner and usually a snack before bed. Years later I told my Mom about the binges, only thing she said was, “that explains why that dog was fat!” Guess she wasn’t overly concerned about the fact that I had binged frequently after school. This happened from grades 3 to 8. Going into high school I had added dieting.

I know the adjustment from how I ate and regarded food most of my life to eating intuitively is not going to happen overnight. And that’s okay. I don’t regard this as another diet. For me, this is the opposite of dieting. This is learning to just EAT without rules, weighing food, counting calories or points. Just EATING for the rest of my life!

However, my biggest challenge so far has been to not step on that damn scale! Every Saturday morning I used to be so anxious about weighing in. Going to weigh in at ‘Its-a-lifestyle’ Watchers was hell. All week I would follow my diet plan to the letter, exercise like a maniac, and drink plenty of water. One week no loss was okay, no big deal. Two weeks of no loss was stressful but I would be stricter, cut back on the carbs, do an extra run, and refocus my efforts for the next week. After a month of no loss I would become depressed and if my weight went up I was almost in tears after the meeting. And looking around that room I could tell I wasn’t the only one. The crazy thing was that I KNEW how I would do that morning. I weighed myself every morning! So I went there with a pretty good idea of how I would do. But Saturday morning I would convince myself that maybe by some miracle I had actually lost the 1-2 pounds promised (yes, I think they say it enough that I believed it was a promise).

Then I started to read about Intuitive Eating and HAES and read the suggestion to not weigh myself. Uh, what? How would I keep track so that I don’t end up gaining 100 pounds? Don’t weigh in? Really? Wow!! It was tough getting to this point, and it’s only the last few weeks that I have started to feel better about not weighing myself. I didn’t quit cold turkey, that didn’t work for me. First, I started only weighing in once a week at home. Good bye ‘Because-it-works’ Watchers, hello money back in my pocket! And before I stepped on that scale I prepared myself for whatever the scale said. I told myself that I was only weighing myself to gauge how my body was responding to eating intuitively. I would allow myself to feel whatever, but I would really think about how I was feeling and why. Ok, I gained a pound, does this matter? A pound? To whom does it matter? Anyone else care if I gain one pound, even 20?? Nope, probably only me. Did that one pound change anything about who I was? Nope.

Eventually it was a little longer than a week when I weighed myself, then two weeks. It has been three weeks now. I thought briefly about weighing myself this morning. I decided I would if I could think of a really good reason to, but I could not think of a single reason why I would benefit from weighing myself. Next step, scale is going to the basement! I feel SO much better about myself NOT weighing in. I realize now how damaging it was to step on that scale every day or even once a week. It was seriously detrimental in how I felt about myself. Maybe some people can be objective when they weigh themselves, and not go into panic mode. That’s not me. My weight will be whatever it’s going to be without me knowing the actual number every day!

Diet Anxiety

I bought a new book online.  I was telling myself that it’s just a cook book type thing, not a diet book.  The title is the Undiet, so clearly it’s not a diet.

I sat down with my new book today because I’m home sick with a cold-mother nature combo and thought it was a good time to take a look at it.

I actually started feeling very anxious while reading it.  Another book telling me what to eat and what NOT to eat.  First of all, it has really good information about healthy eating and I think for a lot of people it would be a very good book to read.  However, for me right now it was exactly what I did not need.  I found myself in the kitchen looking for chocolate, licorice, whatever I could find.  Its too soon for me to be looking at something like this, and I need to sit with the intuitive eating on its own for a while.  The moment I start thinking about what I should be eating, it brings back all the internal dieter’s thoughts.  I was reading along thinking, when I would start eating this way, and when I would start eliminating the non-negotiable foods that she mentioned. (NO!  Not my veggie hot dogs!!)  Even though there is no calorie counting involved, it felt like reading a diet book complete with meal plan ideas, etc.  And planning the meals for the week.  I think the planning could work for some people, but how do I know on Wednesday night what I’m going to feel like eating on Sunday night?  Not very intuitive.

For now, the book goes on the shelf or perhaps loaned out to a friend that needs to follow gluten-free.  And next time I’ll take a moment to think about why I’m buying a book, before I hit purchase.