Also at what point do I say ok, you were hurt in college. You developed binge eating to cope. You still binge eat to deal with everyday stresses and feelings. Accepted. Now do something about it!!! Like I know I. Red to be kind to myself but I also don’t want to turn this into an excuse not to act on it. Self awareness is great if you do set hong to fix it. Need to think about this.
So I notice that I’m feeling anxious and putting walls up. I’m so psyched to not think about calories and to really think about what my body really needs that whenever anything about calories or good and bad foods is mentioned I get anxious. Annoyed. Want to leave the conversation or avoid the situation. I need to be able to love this way while not judging others who aren’t on this path and try not to let it come in. Just wanted to make a note of this as I noticed this tonight while in a workout accountability group people are talking about good and bad foods and dictating how their days go based on the food they eat and I rolled my eyes. But I’m there too just in different ways so I’m trying not to judge.
Great tip via the women food and God Facebook group. Ask am I still hungry instead of am I full. Your brain will tune in to what you really need physically versus whether you have room for another bite or not.
I like this. It seems to focus on the positive - what/do I still need vs. what am I lacking? And then you can see if you have other forms of hunger - thirst, tired, needing comfort. It forces you to slow down and really think about what you need.
"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do." - Brené Brown
(Image via Oprah.com)
So I’ve started seeing a new therapist, who I clicked with pretty quickly. I called her because I’d been making good changes in my life overall (like with organizing, and treating myself better, etc). And I decided that I really wanted to make my health a priority. However, every diet I’ve tried has not worked. Not that I’ve tried every fad out there, but I’ve done the Weight Watchers thing and various calorie counting things here and there. And every time it just doesn’t work. I’ve been starting to think that maybe it’s not me that’s the problem but maybe the diets. One the one hand, counting points hasn’t worked because I get too in my head and all I think about is food - how many points, how many extra points for the week, what am I going to eat this weekend out at dinner with friends? And the other option where you eat off a certain list and you don’t have to track - that doesn’t work for me either because it feels to restrictive. Then, with calories, I feel too restricted. I mean, I know I can’t eat 5 gallons of ice cream a day and feel good. But to have to plan and be so precise - it just leads to more anxiety for me. So I researched this therapist and saw that she did work with disordered eating, and she’s close to work, so I went for it.
She told me about this book called Intuitive Eating by some registered dieticians. Basically it’s about honoring your body, learning to actually listen for physical hunger (instead of the how “how many points do I have left/what can I eat?) thing and not worrying about your weight.
That is where I’m a little scared. I mean, obviously worrying about my weight hasn’t made it better because I keep on gaining. But to not worry at all? To not weigh? I’ve been reading and thinking and I think the idea is that all that energy and thinking you expend on calorie counting and weighing and beating yourself up over those things, you could be drowning out the voices you’re trying to hear telling you what you are hungry for, or that you may be craving something other than food (comfort, love, friends, etc). So I am intrigued by that.
I think the first step is just to start slowing down and listening to your hunger signals and honoring your hunger. I’m not even sure I know what that means because I’ve been eating on autopilot and for reasons other than physical hunger for almost half my life. It scares me though because to have to sit down, slow down and really think through how I’m feeling before, during and after eating - I’m afraid I will be obsessive and anxious. But I do know this - dieting hasn’t worked, counting calories and points hasn’t worked, beating myself up for not being a certain size hasn’t worked. What do I have to lose? Hopefully some anxiety, self-doubt and discomfort with my body.
And that’s the thing, I really like myself. I mean, lately I feel like my self esteem is pretty low in general. I think that is mainly due to the lack of a law-related job. But, I’m pretty happy with my current job, I’m taking opportunities to grow and learn there even after 9 years, and I like the people I work with a lot. I am frustrated that I worked for 4 years to be in the same place I am professionally, but I’m not in the same place as a person - I achieved something great and no one can take my degree or my license from me, so I have those accomplishments! But otherwise, I feel pretty good. I have been so over the whole “American Ideal” woman idea, and all that crap and double standards and media we get shoved down our throats. I have never had a problem showing my body in a bathing suit - my motto is if someone doesn’t like it they don’t have to look. But otherwise, I feel ok with me. Do I LOVE having to buy plus size clothes all the time? No. But I find cute stuff that I love that makes me happy and looks good on me. Working on my outside but still feeling crummy inside isn’t working so well. So I am hopeful that intuitive eating, which I’m sure will be scary and painful, will help me do the work to feel good about me, no matter my size or circumstance.
The first step is getting out of the diet mindset. Which I have made great strides on my own before learning of intuitive eating. As I said, I think diets are the problem. They just don’t work. Even if you call it a “lifestyle change” it’s still a diet if you’re making food choices based on your ideas of what you “should eat” versus what your body needs. Not that I know what my body needs, again, too many voices that are drowning that part of me out. Anyway, the one piece I keep getting hung up on is the weight goal. Like, I truly want to eat this way to be happier and healthier, not get to a certain weight. But knowing that I will likely lose weight excites me. Excites isn’t the right word but something like that. Motivates me to try it? Anyway, that’s the quickest way to not do well with intuitive eating though, if you look at like a diet, because dieting has kept me from listening to my body in the first place. So I am hung up on that too.
One piece I like of what I’ve read so far is about exercising for the sake of exercising because it makes your body feel good and makes you happy and is a part of living a full life. Not because you hate your body and have to work out and need to burn a certain number of calories. I have felt this way about exercise forever anyway, so I’m already there. Getting into a consistent habit is another thing, but mentally I am already there at least.
So I think my next step is to talk more with my therapist and see what my exact next steps should be - to start journaling my food I think, but again, how do I do that without being obsessive? I would love to get this process started but I’m not sure how. I guess we will see!
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~Rumi. From this meditation on hospitality from Parker Palmer.
After struggling with anxiety, illustrator Toby Allen decided to draw what the illness looked like—as a monster. This has since developed into the Real Monsters project, which includes his depictions of Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Social Anxiety, and more. They are drawn “to give these intangible mental illnesses some substance and make them appear more manageable as physical entities.” Here’s to creatively expressing mental health struggles—and overcoming our monsters.