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    TINAJANE76   56,144
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My Moment of Clarity

Friday, February 14, 2014

A moment of clarity is often described as that "Aha!" moment when we're finally able to get honest with ourselves and see things clearly after a long period of denial, shame, fear, self-loathing or any other number of negative adjectives we could use to describe ourselves when we're being self-destructive. It's often an important first step for people recovering from addiction, but I think also applies to any number of life's many challenging situations when we have to expend considerable effort to overcome whatever it is that's holding us back and preventing us from pursuing and enjoying the things we love. In that moment of clarity, it's as if our cloud of negativity and self-doubt is finally lifted and we suddenly have a very clear idea of what the problem is, where we want to go and how we can go about getting there without constantly feeling as though we're spinning our wheels.

Often when we embark on a weight-loss effort and start to enjoy a bit of success, people ask us what our "moment" was, but I was always at a loss to describe it. Sure, there were many things about living as an obese person that upset me--the limited mobility, health problems and vanity issues, to name a few--but I had never really had one particular event that shocked me into action.

Interestingly, I believe my moment of clarity came a little over a year ago, after I had been maintaining my weight loss for nearly a year, when I was hosting a dinner party for some friends. I did these often and considered these meals to be treats, so I ate with reckless abandon and often to the point where I would start to feel ill. One particular night, I realized that my naturally healthy weight friends were also eating more than they normally did, but that I was eating FAR more than everyone else. At that moment, as I was beginning to suffer from the physical and psychological effects of knowing I had grossly overdone it, I knew that I needed to change up my idea of what it meant to indulge--that just because I was choosing to have a meal that was more decadent than normal, that didn't mean I needed to eat like it was going to be my last meal ever.

I had already put in considerable work dealing with my emotional eating tendencies, but that alone didn't put an end to my overall tendency to overeat (we humans are lovely complex beings, aren't we?). It was then that I made a pledge to myself that I'd really strive for greater moderation in general so that when I did decide to indulge, I wouldn't feel so compelled to totally go off the rails and the physical and emotional damage wouldn't be so huge. This seemingly simple concept was actually a huge leap for someone who had spent most of her then 36 years living at one extreme or the other. The aftereffects of big food events often seemed to trigger a compulsion to restrict to levels that just weren't necessary, and were sometimes downright unhealthy, which would, in turn, lead me back to wild overeating episodes and perpetuate this nasty vicious cycle. But something seized hold of me in that moment and I realized that I couldn't continue to live like that--not unless I wanted to continue bouncing up and down 100 pounds or more for the rest of my life. (My experience with this cycle also explains my horror and indignation when I see allegedly reputable diet companies encouraging healthy, active young women to eat 1,200 calories a day, but that's a topic for another day.)

It's taken a while to adjust and avoiding the temptation to overcompensate for my indulgences has been tough. I admit, that when I see the scale go up after a big meal, my immediate reaction is still to want to take action as quickly as possible. But over time, by being gentler and more patient with myself, my compulsion to overdo it has lessened and I understand that I really don't have to take Draconian measures like drastically slashing my calories or spending two hours in the gym every day to make up for a few goodies. And I've found that I actually can be satisfied with less. I CAN have one piece of cake instead of four and a sprinkling of other things that aren't part of my normal diet and can end up with a day that's a few hundred calories more than I usually eat instead of a few thousand. There IS a sensible middle ground and I think I finally have the clarity to see that and how I can live there for good.
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 2/19/2014 8:39PM

    Very nice Aha!

It's great for me when I have those moments if genuinely feeling satisfied - and not wanting "more" just because it tastes good. Because of the diminishing marginal returns: my awareness that overeating feels uncomfortable. Happening more and more for me too.

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TEMPENATIVE 2/19/2014 11:55AM

    This is very insightful and I think, instructive actually for sharing your 'moment of clarity' with us. I believe we have many of these in our lives over various issues and life phases. I recently had one a few weeks ago, maybe even a 'spiritual awakening' It was not a pleasant as it might sound, in fact waking up from years of denial can be unbelievably painful. But the good part is that I AM awake now, and working on dealing with my issues.

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BILLIEK17 2/16/2014 12:33PM

    Itís so nice to know Iím not alone with these issues. I feel those moments of clarity too, at times, but I donít always listen to themÖ..

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NDKARIKARI 2/15/2014 3:03PM

    great aha moment, and well said.

we are incredibly complex beings as you said, and getting to know all the nuances that comes with being us, makes this journey meaningful. It personally helps me not to kick myself too hard when I make mistakes. The compulsion to overindulge, even when I know I shouldn't (or worse, when I don't even want to) is strong for me. A big part of my journey right now, is emotional health and digging deeper into why I make certain decisions.

Your blogs are incredibly helpful and I look forward to more insights from you!

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KUJAYHAWKGIRL 2/15/2014 1:33PM

    emoticon so true!!!!

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BOOKAPHILE 2/15/2014 11:54AM

    This reminds me of the weighted average of a program like WeightGrapher vs. actual daily weight. The weighted average smooths out the extremes and shows trends that I can deal with gently rather than anxiously. Your ah-ha moment was a good one.

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KANOE10 2/15/2014 9:48AM

    That was an impressive insight. Moderation..even if you are celebrating with friends is a good tool. Also being moderate the next day if the scale goes up, instead of using draconian measures, is also a very healthy tool. I used to obsess about the scale and up pounds..but in the past two years have calmed down and use the range concept. I do work on up pounds, but am not hysterical.

Thanks for sharing a valuable insight.

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AMARILYNH 2/15/2014 8:56AM

    Great blog!! I couldn't agree more - small servings of 'goodies' can be even MORE enjoyable than large ones because of the feeling of being in control we get from reasonable eating!! emoticon emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 2/14/2014 9:17PM


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POSITIVEHOPE 2/14/2014 7:27PM

    Loved reading about your moment of clarity. Moderation and indulging like a "normal" person is something we all need to learn to remain thin within.
You know it's a real moment of clarity that is answering a lifelong question when it just "fits." A recent one for me was Fighting the Urge about compulsive and mindless eating. I read her booklet and my head just light up like YES, this is it! Our moments of clarity might not be THE one for everyone but you want to pass them along just in case there is still someone out there still desperately searching.
It's good to know that the inner journey continues even after we reach our goal weight. Awesome post!

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    Your blog really described my current problem on maintenance. Went out to dinner last night and ate everything on my plate. Too much food but it was items I love that I rarely eat. I am going out to a party tonight and I usually have a problem eating only one of the things I love. People serve the most high calorie high fat food. Even if I take something healthy I eat the fattening food. Just another piece to work on. Thanks for writing this blog

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GINA180847 2/14/2014 7:04PM

    As always food for thought. Thank you!

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/14/2014 4:14PM

    Sometimes the "ah-hah" doesn't come for YEARS, because we follow a program and it works... but we haven't figured it out yet. And the pressure from those around us to be "experts" just because we lost the pounds ONCE... before it's been proven to be a lifetime change? Just sets us up to feel like failures.

Nope, the understanding takes a long time to develop. "What's different this time?" Not always easy to answer... but with each attempt, we get stronger. We've learned A LOT over those years.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BAMAJAM 2/14/2014 2:52PM

  Yes-- for sure, we humans are lovely complex beings! I have been on the "yo-yo" eating cycle for years. I used to feel deprived when I would drive my grocery cart past the bakery department, however, now I can do this and actually feel a sense of empowerment. My change of attitude is my "achievement"-- my "Aha!" moment!
Thank you for your helpful blogs!

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BKNOCK 2/14/2014 2:49PM

    Great blog!

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JANTHEBLONDE 2/14/2014 1:17PM

    Thanks for sharing! For me personally my "Aha" moment was it's not worth taking the first bite! For me if I take that first bite I can't stop eating. I look at it like an alcoholic saying they can have just one drink.... Well they end up drinking a whole bottle! That's how I am with food! So I just don't take that first bite!
emoticon Happy Valentine's Day! emoticon

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MANDELOVICH 2/14/2014 12:22PM

    I love this Tina! I have loved seeing you make this change! And your way is a great model for us all! Xxoo

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LORILEEPAGE 2/14/2014 12:20PM

    My path is similar to yours except I had 55 years of these cycles being the norm for me. And you are doing great and I know as of just recently how it feels to notice that I'm satisfied with a treat that doesn't turn into a couple thousand extra calories. Or an extended series of days like that. I'm very happy for you. Keep smiling, and inspiring us!

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STRUMERCAT 2/14/2014 11:49AM

    Thanks for sharing. I'm still looking for my moment of clarity!

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MISSUSRIVERRAT 2/14/2014 10:50AM

    Agree...the rollercoaster plan is not the way to go.
Also agree with you pet peeve....1200 calories? and all that fitness activity?
That is ridiculous, impossible. If people try to follow it, it leads to disordered eating.

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JODROX 2/14/2014 10:43AM

    Thank you for writing this. I can relate, and I think it applies to non-weight issues as well. Very insightful.

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LOOKY-LOU 2/14/2014 10:31AM

    I enjoyed reading this. At 48 you would think I would have long since figured out moderation, but I haven't...

I am going to try and be aware of this blog when I am at my next event!

Wish me luck!


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POOKASLUAGH 2/14/2014 10:28AM

    I remember when you had this moment of clarity! It's one I need to remember during certain family events that tend to happen a few times a year. Especially now that I can't have gluten, because that makes me feel sulky at certain family gatherings and then I overcompensate for what I can't eat by eating too much of what I can...That's one of my goals for the upcoming year, is to learn how to really balance and eat normally during those few "indulge" holidays that my family is so good at really pushing out there. (My family is the sort that will bring 15 desserts to an Easter lunch, because what makes a holiday already filled with a suitcase's worth of chocolate candy for the kids to find better than a dozen cakes and pies, right?)

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