For Better or Worse

April 1, 2008 at 2:29 am (mckenna) (, )

I’ve been following Paul McKenna’s Four Golden Rules for a week now, and for the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful. Not so much hopeful that I’ll lose weight (although I have that hope, too), but hopeful that for the first time in my life, I’ll develop a normal relationship with food. After a week of eating consciously and eating what I want — but only when I’m hungry! — I’m not obsessed with food the way I was two weeks ago. I’m not thinking all the time about what I’m going to eat next. Instead, I’m thinking about what I’m actually eating right now, or I’m thinking about making art, or posting on one of my blogs, or exchanging email with a friend, or something like that. I mentioned to Jane a couple of days ago that as I’ve gotten bigger over the last ten years, my world has gotten smaller. Well, it feels as though my world is enlarging itself. Not a lot yet, but it does feel as though there is some movement there.

It will probably surprise you to hear that I started following McKenna’s guidelines with a friend, but without having seen his show. We don’t have cable television (gasp!), so I had to get my in-laws to tape it for me. Well, last night I finally saw the first three episodes, back-to-back. What a treat that was! Jane had been telling me, each week, about the episodes and I’d been reading the message board and I’d explored the website, but it was so encouraging to get the full on I Can Make You Thin experience. I am so motivated to continue following the Four Golden Rules, and to introduce the new techniques into my life. I tapped along with Episode Two, and my anxiety about today’s upcoming therapy session just drifted away. I tried the Craving Busting Technique as I watched Episode Three. I was able to do the revulsion aspect with no problem. But when it came to the positive association aspect, I had trouble. I wasn’t able to really “get into” a moment when I was happy. I could think of one, and very cognitively go through the moment. I could think about the colors and sensations of the moment and I could remember specifics about it. But I couldn’t actually feel the feelings that went along with my memory of a happy time. It’s as though I have no emotional memory, just a cognitive one. Maybe this is something to talk about in therapy today.

I made that last remark half joking, but maybe it is something to bring up in therapy. This is a serious issue for me. Because memories are often tied to our emotions, and I have little emotional memory, I have few memories of my own past. It’s not as though I’m an amnesiac; I remember my name and current circumstances well enough. But when it comes to things in my past, I just don’t have a lot of memory about them. I don’t really remember my feelings around losing my virginity, for example — a fairly major event in a girl’s life! I had a younger sister make her transition when I was in high school, but I remember very little of that event, either, because I don’t have much emotional memory. I’ve been aware of this phenomena for a long time, but had managed to put it out of my mind. The Craving Busting Technique of Episode Three brought it to the forefront of my mind again. Maybe it really is something I should bring up in therapy again. I have a different therapist than I had the last time I tried to deal with this.


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Why This Time Is Different

March 25, 2008 at 10:52 pm (inutitive eating, Uncategorized) (, , )

So today wasn’t my best day! I followed McKenna’s conscious eating guidelines as much as I could — it was really hard today for some reason — but I wanted to just say “Fuck it!” and eat some Easter goodies. I wasn’t aware of anything triggering my emotions, as I woke up with this attitude. I could have had them for breakfast, but I didn’t wake up particularly hungry for them. I was hungry for Cheerios. I just wanted the candy. It was a strange dynamic going on in my psyche this morning.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not on a diet. The guidelines say I can eat whatever I want am hungry for. This is the same basic approach championed by Geneen Roth, and the authors of Intuitive Eating. In fact, I am reading the Intuitive Eating book right now, and working through Why Weight? by Geneen Roth, a workbook aimed at helping you overcome compulsive eating. I’m enjoying the working book, even though I’m stuck on one of the exercises that says to set aside an hour to complete. When am I going to find an hour to do one exercise? I guess I’m going to have to make an hour.

A friend and I were talking today about why this time feels different. I haven’t dieted in quite some time, but the usual pattern was this: Get motivated to “be healthier” (i.e., lose weight) because I felt poorly after a recent weight gain, do something about it (go on a diet, make healthier choices, etc.,), lose enough weight to feel better, lose motivation, gain weight. Sound familiar to anyone?

This time feels different though. This time, it feels like a keeper. For one thing, I’m working on my head for the first time. I’m really working on why I eat, what I’m getting out of the food I eat, out of being fat (Yes, Virginia, there’s an upside to being fat for me. It was just so hard to admit). I have a therapist who really “gets it”. I told him I wanted to talk about my weight and we spent the next half hour talking about being invisible and how that works, being my size (I’ll talk about that sometime). For another thing, I’m working on my relationship with food, not my weight. I’m working on how I deal with food and my emotions. I’m working on recognizing my emotions and dealing with them outright, rather than eating to stuff them down or to distract myself from my emotions. I feel as though by taking this approach, I can get my head straight, and my weight will stabilize naturally.

The question was, do I think I’ll lose the impetus to work on this once I lose enough weight to feel better? My answer: I don’t think so. Not this time. That’s not to say that I won’t experience little — or even big — blips along the way. I may even temporarily lose sight of my goal. But I really think that I’ll get back on track because, as I gain control over my eating and my head, I’ll be happier and more whole. And once I experience that peace, I’ll want it back. Hopefully, I’ll fight to get it back.

Another thing that makes it different is my public declaration to experience this healing: this blog. I haven’t told many of my friends or family what I’m doing. I’ve talked a little bit to my husband and a great deal to my best friend. But by creating this blog, I’ve made a public statement, even if it’s an anonymous one. This blog will be my inspiration on days when I can’t find it in myself. I’ll have an outlet for my thoughts and feelings, but I also have a responsibility to whomever may be reading this. I have to assume that at least one person is reading this, and gaining something from it. That will help keep me honest and inspired.

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Conscious Eating

March 24, 2008 at 11:58 pm (conscious eating) (, )

Today, I tried Paul McKenna’s guidelines to conscious eating as much as I could while eating my meals. It was both enlightening and frustrating! It was frustrating because I had to wait forever to get hungry today. I got out of bed at 10:09 this morning, but didn’t eat until after 3PM and I wasn’t so hungry that I overate, either. I most of a Panera half-sandwich (Bacon Turkey Bravo), about half a bag of Doritos, and a cookie. I also drank some Diet Pepsi.

I started off with a serving sized bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, closing my eyes and taking a bite of the first one. I was struck by the utter lack of “cool ranch” flavor, even though it still tasted pleasant enough. Every time I caught myself chewing quickly, I slowed back down. After four or five chips, I moved to the sandwich.

My first bite of the sandwich was mostly crust, but there was definitely something sweet there, that I’ve never tasted before. Dressing? As I continued to eat my sandwich consciously, I never ran across that taste again. I put the sandwich down in between bites, as McKenna recommends, and tried to really savor the flavors. Again, when I caught myself eating too quickly, I slowed myself down. After a few bites (chewing about 20 times each bite), I began alternating chips and sandwich. I didn’t have any real taste experience with the sandwich, other than the POP of the sweet dressing (I’m assuming) and to discover that the crust is really difficult for me to bite through, so I don’t think I’ll be eating it in the future. The sandwich itself tasted really good to me and the texture was pleasing.

I finished with a frosted sugar cookie. I ate most of it with my eyes closed, rolling each bite around on my tongue, really tasting it. It borders on being too sweet for me! I have one left; I’ll have to pay extra close attention to it.


Dinner was a zoo! There were cats to contend with; I was a little too hungry; DH is home from work and was chattering to me. But still, I ate my dinner as consciously as possible. I had Moo-Shu Chicken, Gourmet Vegetables, and a slice of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Double Chocolate Chip Cake for dessert. As much as I could, I closed my eyes with each bite, chewed slowly, and savored the food. I really enjoyed what I was eating. It was good. The Moo-Shu was sweet & salty and really had flavor. There were a variety of textures in each bite. The veggies were tender, crisp, and tasted fresh. The veggies weren’t salty enough, so I added a little table salt and it really brought out their flavor. The cake was not too sweet. It has the occasional chocolate chip for texture. The top of the cake, where the glaze has soaked through, is a little sweeter and a bit moister. I’d not noticed that before. I thought, as I started dinner, that I’d have an Easter goody, too, but simply had no room — or desire — for it.


There is no doubt in my mind that eating consciously will allow a person to eat less. By slowing down the eating process, by chewing more slowly and more often, a person will eat less when her stomach sends the “I’m full” signal to the brain. By savoring her food and really being present with it, she becomes more satisfied emotionally, too, with less food. Will a person lose weight following these guidelines? I don’t know. But these guidelines will help make eating a conscious, directed, mindful activity, rather than one that a person does without thought to purpose. And that’s going to help with my relationship to food, and hence, my relationship with myself.

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