Monday, October 29, 2012
I recently had the opportunity to go to a Women of Faith conference and one of the speakers said something that struck a chord with me. She said that she recently had surgery and her doctor had prepared her that “the pain of recovery is worse than the pain of the injury.” It occurred to me that while compulsive overeating is not (on the surface) an injury it does result in very real injuries – injuries to both our body and our spirit. The injury was, in many ways, mindless and somewhat fun. The weight gain and other “injuries” that came from my compulsive overeating happened so gradually that for a long time it didn’t cause me too much pain…until I could no longer deny what I’d done to my body.
But the recovery from these injuries? That’s going to be painful. When we are recovering from an injury there are several key things the doctor will tell us to do in order to have the best possibly recovery:
1. “Listen to your body” - I don’t know about you but once I start eating I tend to turn off any senses other than taste which 9 times out of 10 equals pleasure. Its going to take practice and determination to learn to listen to my body as it tries to tell me “Umm… that’s enough thank you” or “Hey! I’m not really hungry. I’m just thirsty!” or the dreaded “If you eat any more you’re reallllly going to regret it.” So how do I turn on my inner ears?
• Eat planned meals at planned times. If I start feeling “hungry” in between those meals I need to first go get something to drink to see if that satisfies me. If I still feel hungry after SLOWLY having something to drink (for me it has to be sugar free – preferably water) then I need to make a food choice that won’t derail me and – again – eat it slowly.
• At normal meal times the single biggest key is sometimes the hardest one: e.a.t. s.l.o.w.l.y… From the time I was in elementary school I learned to eat quickly and so often now I’m eating on the run. I have to learn to eat slowly enough for my brain to realize there’s food in my stomach. Rushing doesn’t just ramp up my stress level it also “eats” up any time for listening to my body which leads to both overeating and the predictable tummy aches.
• Put portions on my plate that I know are adequate to meet the needs of my body for that meal. Portions tell my brain BEFORE I TAKE A SINGLE BITE “You know this is enough for you.” For me this means measuring – not eyeballing it. Eventually I’ll eyeball it again but for now I need the assurance of an accurate portion. If I don’t “feel full” after eating my portion I allow myself more veggies and drink, drink, drink.
2. “Don’t overdo it” – Doing too much too fast leads to set backs. When I had my hysterectomy I pushed to get up and going and wound up extending my recovery rather than speeding it up. In the past when I’ve decided to loose weight I’ve started an eating plan, started exercising, started some strength training, started a journal – all on day 1. Gee, wonder why THAT didn’t work? This time I’m phasing things in. I started with a workable eating plan with the commitment to journal my food. I also started going back to the gym but not with the mentality of “I have to go 5 days a week for an hour!” I’m getting into a schedule… gradually.
3. “Take your medicine as prescribed” – hmmmm… medicine? For recovery from compulsive overeating? Medicine is what the doctor prescribes to help the healing process. Here’s my “medicine regimen” :
• Medicine Name = Sparkpeople- Track all food, water and exercise daily; Track weight loss weekly; Read encouraging posts as often as possible; Maintain a weekly blog.
• Medicine Name = Overeaters Anonymous: One meeting per week with daily doses of sponsor contact as needed
• Medicine Name = Exercise: 35 minutes of cardio at least 3 times a week increasing in time and frequency as needed
4. “Come back for your follow up appointment” – We follow up with the doctor so that they can check on our progress and adjust our recovery plan and medicines as need be. As I work on getting healthy I’m going to have to periodically “check in” and see what I need to tweak to keep making progress. Sparkpeople gives a great alert when you’ve lost a set number of pounds that reminds you to update your weight and weight goal because your nutrition needs will change as you lose weight. I might find that I need to add more cardio or add or increase some strength training. Bottom line: My weight loss plan is not a one time, set it up and keep rolling deal. It’s a living, changing, ever evolving process. If I want to recover AND NOT RELAPSE I have to stay in touch with myself and take my medicine as prescribed – refills as needed. :)