Monday, August 22, 2011
Ah, me, I have reinforced the power of the scale again. I wasn't going to weigh myself in August. Then I got taken to the emergency room with sudden vertigo two weeks ago Friday and it's taken until just the last few days to feel mostly normal. My eating routine has been off and I wasn't trying much to regulate it. Some days were ordered as usual and some weren;t but not all the disorder was crazy. Some days were pretty heavy on the sweets. I went to a Pilates class today and wore a pair of capri sweatpants I hadn't had on in awhile. I thought they felt tight. I resisted the urge to weigh myself most of the day, but finally gave in. And I weigh a few pounds less than I thought I would. Since I've had sweets this weekend, I think I'm retaining water. So the upshot is that I think I have maintained my weight through this, which is good, in my opinion. I'm not at goal weight, but I'm glad to know my body isn't having a hard time staying at this weight. I think things can only get better with a return to my sane weekdays and the addition of some moderate exercise, as I was just getting into again when my world went topsy turvy. And I'll just have to wait until Sept. 1 to find out if I'm right.
Monday, June 06, 2011
If there is any good diet to go on, it's a diet of celeb and fitness images and the diet mindset. Do not mix that up with the resolve to eat and move moderately and consistently. That is the basis of sanity. For awhile it will be hard when you realize how much time and attention is devoted to getting the perfect body, even with your friends and family, most likely. Try not to get mad about it and get on a soapbox, but strive to keep gently changing the subject if it comes up, and keep your discussions of food and body stuff here, in a journal, or with a few trusted confidantes who will not push the diet mindset.
Also, give yourself time to look into yourself and find what else in life is meaningful beyond food. I remember years ago reading Geneen Roth and I think one chapter was called, Is There Life Beyond Chocolate? I laughed and thought I understood at the time, but I didn't. It is actually an essential question of our life. What will we do with our time? Some of life is just the mundane everyday routines. When we accept that they are worthy of our attention and care, they can become precious, too.
Beyond them, we live in a society in which we CAN do so much more. This can be freeing, but it can also be a burden. How will we spend our time? Our culture pushes many activities that in the end are not fulfilling. It does not encourage self-knowledge, including our own irrational thinking that causes us so much pain, and it does not encourage our looking within ourselves to see what our true interests and talents are to pursue and develop. It does not actually encourage real quality time with friends and family, but pushes passive entertainment and food and other items outside ourselves. It pushes buying, buying, buying, but not financial wisdom and the peace of doing with only what we really need for sustenance and true pleasure. It can even push the trappings of religion, guilt and shame, but not the means to be in touch with universal love.
This is what I mean when I often say we are so much more than our bodies. Try to imagine how people found meaning in life 200 years ago with no photography, no bombardment of advertising and products, and pretty much hard work all day long. Were they miserable? They were not. Some may have been, but most accepted to work hard, play sometimes, and love others. That's pretty much what it all boils down to. And if your work can be play for you, as it sometimes can be in our modern, diversified society, so much the better. But it's not necessary for peace.
I don't say what I'm going to say to make you feel guilty, but just to get perspective. Most of us in the Western World are living a life that literally millions of people in the world dream to live. DREAM! I know some here are struggling with real financial issues, but most of us cannot imagine truly living day to day scrabbling for food and shelter, resigned to the fact that no one is going to reach out and help us. It doesn't mean you don't deserve to pursue health and even beauty, or that you suddenly have to spend all your time trying to save the world, but it can mean that it is worth a few minutes a day to be grateful for what we do have. Being a bit of a curmudgeon myself, that is a practice of positive thinking that I can get behind! And it has been scientifically associated with happiness in a way that having a beautiful body never has.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Though it seems like something like sugar "addiction" shouldn't be a matter of democracy or just subject to our judgement, I do want to put forth the idea of whether it is USEFUL or not to think of it as an addiction. Does being addicted to something mean we are unable to oppose it? Obviously not, as 99% of people who have stopped any "addictive" behavior have done so in the face of the desire. I am very much into brain chemistry and I do believe that some things can be VERY hard to oppose because of brain chemistry, but very little is impossible to oppose when it comes to something as simple as walking or picking up or chewing, and much is worth opposing.
I stopped believing it is useful to say I am addicted to sugar. It gave me too much of an out and a reason to be sorry for myself. Poor me! I want to be thin so much but I can't be becauae I'm addicted to sugar! Even if it is true, it has nothing to do with the fact that I can, if I am honest with myself, eat it or not eat it. It was never that I couldn't stop myself, it was that I didn't. As Laurel Mellin used to say, I was not willing to bear the essential pain of going without. And it is a hell of a lot easier to say that AFTER a person has gotten to a point where she sees that in action.
(Now if this is too painful, just decide right now that I am a kook, and stop reading. Because you may not use this as a reason to get more down on yourself since you rarely say no to sugar.)
Now THAT knowledge- the knowledge that you really are doing something you hate yourself for to yourself and you could stop-- is not for the faint of heart, and basically, I was faint of heart for a long, long time. I could not accept myself for that particular choice--choosing to overeat even though it brought so many consequences I said I hated. Even though so much of waht I was exposed to told me I should accept myself no matter what. And sometimes I thought I did. Hoo, boy.
So now can I accept myself for not accepting myself? Yikes! Back to sugar.
So, yes, there are chemical reasons sugar is easy to WAY overeat, and there are at least two things that make it worse: continuting to overeat it, and greatly restriciting it and then overeating it. The problem is that there are for most people NO PAINLESS WAYS of learning to limit sugar. I know I went on being very upset with my bingeing for years, but underneath, part of the delay was that I kept thinking something was going to make it easy.
Nothing made it easy, but some things made it easier. First was that I was absolutely desperate and fearful that I was going to go to my grave a full-on binger. And I tell you the only way you know you are really desperate is if you change your behavior when it isn't easy. If the only time you can rant and declare that you are going to get control is right after you've lost control, then it is pretty much doomed. I know because I did it for years. It's too easy then. (Also not a reason to hate yourself, though!)
Second was that I told myself that I was absolutely willing to be uncomfortable in order to do this. I was also going to tell myself the truth about how uncomfortable I was. I was not going to tell myself that something was horrible or unbearable when it was actually much better than being burned, punched, or pinched, when it was really only rather irritating and might be something I could divert myself from. I have to say that surviving my career and learning to sit in meditation for hours helped that a lot. Now, mind you, I am not a person who had been on tons of diets like everybody else says they have. I coulnd't get through a day of most of them. But I manned up! And I'm glad I did. For someone who has tortured themselves starving many times, maybe wanting to get tough wouldn't help. I just realized that I had actually had it relatively easy in life and it was time to get tough. No one was giving me shock treatments, or drowning me, or whatever. I just had to go a few hours with some weird extremely annoying anxious feelings or with real hunger, but never more than a few hours. And I knew I could do that. Whether sugar was addictive or not.
So I say if it helps you to stop eating too much sugar or any food to say it is addictive, then call it addictive. If you really believe that it is this terrible, addictive substance that is so bad for you and will cause horrible results, then you should avoid it like the plague. Would you drink anti-freeze because it's sweet? No, because you know it will really make you sick. If you really believed sugar was really dangerous, worse than not having the pleasure of it, you wouldn't eat it. But you know it's not as bad as all that for most people. Now if you really do have a health problem that will be made worse with sugar, and you are still eating it, I'd say get some help in learning to overcome the beliefs that it's too hard to give it up, that you shouldn't have to, that you can't stop yourself, etc.
But if calling it addictive doesn't help you, and in fact makes it worse because you really believe you can't control your intake, consider that it might be time to let the word go. Find the way to think about overeating anything that will help you make the changes you know you really want to make. Sugar is an attractive substance, it has chemical reactions that can cause strong uges and powerful thoughts that tell you to eat it, but when you really really want to, you are bigger than those white crystals, those chocolate pieces. You are bigger than the salt, fat, and sugar of processed foods. They are inanimate! They can never choose to walk to you or away from you! But you can choose to walk either way.
Do I still eat too much sugar sometimes? Absolutely. Am I addicted? I don't think so. Now I recognize that when I do overeat it, it is because basically I want to more than I don't want to. Because at some point, I do stop. At that moment, I want to stop more than I want to keep eating. It may be because I feel sick, or I just see how much of the bar or bag is gone, or I just want to show myself that it really is that simple. Or it may be because I've had an amount that I deem moderate and reasonable. Sometimes my body agrees, sometimes it doesn't. I also admit that I don't eat sugar every day. I think for me at this point, that would be harder than limiting it to weekends. And I really like not hassling about it. It is off the table on those days, and not just so to speak.
But I know one thing for sure; I am not going to plan NOT to eat sugar forever, or even indefinitely, and I don't want to binge on it forever, so, in the face of those two, the ONLY thing to do is be willing to bear the pain of eating it in moderate amounts sometimes! And I have found that most of the time, even that is not very painful. I don't know what is right for everyone. I just know that though I can still feel disappointed sometimes with my eating, I am basically joyous about eating a lot of the time. And that has been worth every tolerated feeling and thought without eating.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
There are some groups out there that profess that overeating is a permanent problem. They are very good at promoting their ideas, but that is all they are: ideas. The facts show that many people who do actually lose weight and maintain it do so without adhering to that idea. They do accept that they will have to live a new lifestyle and can never go back to how they were living and have the results they want, but most who maintain the new life for 2-5 years, no matter how they got there, do have a good chance of maintaining for the long run. (See the National Weight Control Registry.) I think a lot more people would be more successful if they accepted that they are on a long learning curve, but that they can learn, as long as they quit expecting things to get easy and stay easy in a few weeks or even months.
I also say that truly many people have also been helped by thinking of their problem as continuous and commiting to living with it sanely one day at a time.
Isn't it great that there are many possibilities?
I agree that there is no one way and there are a lot of people selling their own ideas. That is what professionals are paid to do. It's unfortunate that many of them hawk their ideas as if they are the only truth or are sure fire, because that is just not true. But there are certainly some that the odds are stacked against, and there are some that have been brave enough to subject their programs to data collection and review. Most of the infomercial programs have not done this, nor have many in published books. It can be a burden trying to figure out what is best for our own situation. I just know that a strictly dictated diet hasn't worked for me, even though I now eat many meals that others might think are diet-ish because I have come to love having about half of most meals composed of vegetables and fruit. I discovered this over a long period of time. Also, completely free eating didn't work for me, either.
There are many voices in the anti-diet, anti-emotional eating field, some medical and some psychological professionals and some not, who are either living recovered from food issues or know others who have. There are others who are successful by believing they are always going to have to live defensively.
May we all become one of the victorious group who finds peace with food by ANY means that we feel supports us.
Friday, April 15, 2011
It's funny that someone asked on one of my teams for how to wait for dinner. This woman is actually going through some true stressful times taking care of her husband, not just my garden variety discouragement with lazy students and a thick waste in the mirror. But I am going to write of a possibly melodramatic example of courage and difficulty that sometimes occurs to me when I am struggling and that has bolstered me at times, though I don't dwell on it. It will just flit into my mind and often be enough to divert me from thoughts of eating when I know it's not necessary. In fact, it happened yesterday, so I'm taking that as a sign I should tell the tale. It is the story of the siege of Leningrad during WWII. For some it will be so dramatic that it will hardly count. Tune out now, if you like!
The Germans had blitzed frighteningly through a lot of Europe and started a siege of Leningrad in Sept. of 1941. (BTW, Hitler had made a deal with Stalin that Germany would leave Russia alone and that the two of them could split Poland. Hitler reneged on that very soon. ) Their blockade of the city was so tight that on Christmas Day of that year, 4000 citizens DIED from cold or starvation. All in all, historians believe at least 600,000 people in the city died from similar problems, as well as disease, etc over the 900 HUNDRED days of the siege. To be fair, quite a few Germans died, too, even though their military leaders questioned Hitler's insistence on remaining there, wanting to get their men out and use their resources better somewhere else. Leningrad citizens eventually were down to being rationed 1/4 of a loaf of bread TOTAL to eat per person day, day after day, and cats and dogs were being hunted for food. There is good evidence there was cannibalism on the freshly dead. People continued to go to work. Children were expected to study. The treasures of the Hermitage were hidden away in belief of a better day. Shostakovich wrote a symphony in honor of the city and it was learned, rehearsed, and performed. While people were burning their furniture and floorboards for heat, families watched other family members die; people dropped dead at work or walking on the street from starvation. One survivor admitted that he saw that his parents were nearing death, and he wished only they would die faster so that he could get their food-- and he could tell they knew it, but he was that numbed by hunger.
Amazingly to me now, apparently there was not very much resistance of the Russian citizens to the idea that they should not just surrender. The citizens agreed they could not have happen to them what happened to others and certainly not by Hitler. Let Hitler in and have open roads and a regular food supply again? No. Then Hitler would have access to the food, too, as well as oil fields beyond. They would rather die. And they did. And that resistance, though not the only example, was considered to have helped dramatically to keep other cities strong against Hitler. The Soviet Union lost 20,000,000 citizens and soldiers to the effects of WW II, but they did not surrender.
Okay, who knows, maybe if they had had the chance, the citizens would have overeaten to relieve their anxiety and fear. Dang it, we in our comfortable life have access to too much food! It's a curse! It's not fair! Enough of being snide.
I am not starving, nor is it necessary to for my purposes. I am eating moderate amounts of delicious food on a regular basis. I am asking myself to wait a only few hours for my meals. Hunger is not an emergency. Urges and cravings are not emergencies. Sadness, fear, anxiety, and anger are not emergences. Convinced I just HAVE TO eat? No, I don't think so. I think I can just have a cup of latte and wait the few hours for lunch or dinner.
I don't mean to be glib about this, because some of us here are facing quite serious difficulties. But it's okay to be a little tough on ourselves and try to buck up our courage BEFORE we give in. If it's already after a binge, it is forbidden to use this or any other example of courage and bravery to determine just what weak, lily-livered creatures we are. FORBIDDEN! But I hope at the right moment a ghost of this story will flit through your mind and give you strength.
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