Friday Report

March 29, 2008 at 12:01 am (conscious eating, personal growth) (, , )

Today has been a good day. I’ve eaten consciously most of the day and enjoyed my food. I ate one time when I wasn’t altogether hungry, but it was because I had the opportunity to eat lunch with my husband. I haven’t actually taken a meal with him in several days, because I’ve been eating according to my own needs. Because I wasn’t altogether hungry, I only ate half my portion (lasagna and bread) — enough to satisfy me physically and emotionally. My meager hunger was satisfied, but so was my need for the dining experience.  He’s going away for several days on work-related travel next week, so I’ll have plenty time to each alone, whenever my need dictates.

I’m still working with the Geneen Roth book Why Weight?. Currently I’m supposed to be writing down my food intake for one week; I began on March 26, so I’ll be doing it through April 02. Because I’m doing the conscious eating exercises along with the workbook, I think I’m missing the point of the exercise. The stated point is to look for patterns in my eating. In the column labeled “feelings before eating”, I almost always put “hunger” and in the column labeled “feelings after eating”, I almost always put “satisfied” or “full”. 75% of the time where I eat is the dining room table. In the workbook, eating guidelines have been introduced, but not worked with, so I think I’ve kind of “jumped the gun” by working with Paul McKenna’s guidelines. But, I was moved to do something about my eating before I started the workbook.

The Geneen workbook is starting to get issue oriented and hard. I breezed through the first several exercises as they mimicked discussions that a friend and I were having or things that I’d already journaled about. Don’t get me wrong — they were still valuable. It was reinforcing to hear myself say it again. But the exercises now are asking me to dig deeper and to make commitments to specific actions that I’ll take in the upcoming days, and that’s scary. Even making the commitment to dance around the house or call about yoga classes is kind of scary, but these commitments go further than that. 

I told my friend (should we give her a name? Jane, perhaps?) a few days ago there comes a point when we have to take the step from thinking about things to doing about things. In fact, what I said to Jane was, “I think writing about and talking about why we overeat is a good first step. And maybe second step and third step, too. But ultimately, one day, we have to make a different choice. And that’s the scary part. One day, we have to say, “Instead of eating my feelings [for example], I’m going to reach out to someone.” or “I’m going to put myself out there and be visible.” I know from all my time in therapy that insight and understanding isn’t enough. Ultimately, it takes action. And, like I said, that’s the scary part. That’s where change happens, and that’s where the hurt is possible. There’s a certain amount of vulnerability in just talking about stuff, true. But the real vulnerability comes from doing things differently. And that’s where I always trip up.”

That’s why these current exercises in the Geneen Roth workbook are so hard and anxiety producing. Because the ask me to commit to action, to change. And that’s where I always trip up.

Permalink Leave a Comment

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.

Permalink Leave a Comment

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.

Permalink Leave a Comment