Diets are simple - they focus on the outcome. Don't eat after 7, you'll gain weight. Don't eat over a certain amount of calories, you'll gain weight. Exercise or you'll gain weight. Drink X glasses of water per day. Eat X amount of fruits and veggies per day. Live by the rules, focus on the outcome which normally equates to the scale or other external factors that SHOW success.
Intuitive eating is different. It is about the process. Lack of rules. Eat when hungry, it may not be until 10 am or it may even be 10 pm. I am not thirsty right now, so I am not going to force water. Eating an apple doesn't sound really good to me right now, so I am going to have a piece of cheese, instead. I haven't strapped on my workout shoes today, but I have been really busy, walking all over doing errands, going up and down the stairs doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming..... There is no outcome to focus on. Weight loss gets put aside to focus on the process of eating to live.
I have been so afraid to let go in a way, I have been afraid to trust myself. Afraid what would happen when I unleashed the monster inside of me that has been forced to shun Oreos, McDonald's french fries and Starbucks. I am working very hard to find that trust, so I don't have to be afraid. I know I can walk away from a plate of cookies, even if there are some left simply because I am full.
I did it yesterday. Twice. As encouraged in the Intuitive Eating book, I have made my list of forbidden foods, two of which were Oreos and Starbucks. It was an interesting day. I had done my grocery shopping for Thanksgiving and added Oreos to the list. I decided I would start the process and see where it took me. Oreos were always one of those foods I just didn't stop at one, two, six..... I ate them. A lot of them. I have always been particularly fond of the mint ones, so I picked up a package of the mint oreos. I waited until I was hungry and wanted to eat them, but I promised myself I wasn't going to just cram them in. I was going to enjoy the whole sensory process with them. I opened up the package and smelled the minty delicousness that came from within. I looked the cookie over and marveled at the green mint creme in between the chocolate crunchy exterior. I took a nibble of the cookie, hearing the crunch as I chewed. I rolled the crumbs over my tongue. Feeling the combination of the crunch from the chocolate and the creaminess form the inside. I was disappointed. I took another bite to make sure I wasn't playing games with myself. Nope, still disappointed. I found that it didn't taste very good. I finished out the cookie and put them away and opted for whole grain crackers and cheese instead of the cookie. I was shocked! Oreos have always been one of those sinful delights for me. Something that I would shamefully eat after everyone went to bed, shoving a cookie in my mouth quickly to disguise the evidence that I dared to eat it. I never really allowed myself to taste it. To me, it tasted like a bunch of chemicals. Not a cookie.
Out of curiosity and not judgement, I decided to try my cookie experiment again today. I did the whole sensory thing again smelling/looking at/listening to the crunch/feeling the creamycumblycombo and I liked the initial taste but the after taste was revolting to me. The funny thing is, I don't know if I see myself wanting to eat them again. I know right now as I sit here typing this, I don't want to. My stomach is actually a little upset. But the thing is, I ate it with curiosity and not judgement. I ate it with a purely open mind, not one that was instantly guilty for wanting the damn cookie and feeling an even bigger onrush of guilt for eating it. I have made my decision to not eat the cookie based off of my curiosity, not off of the judgement, shame and guilt factor.
I had a similar experiment with Starbucks last night. Another equally painful thorn in my dieting side over the years. I LOVE coffee. I love Starbucks. I hate the caloric value of a Starbucks coffee. But I would still get them, drink them and hate myself afterwards for being weak. Last night I met my bestie for dinner and a drink which in and of itself was fun to focus on fantastic conversation, getting caught up on good times, laughing and eating. I ate because I was hungry and enjoyed the entire meal. I ate what sounded good and even had a beer. After dinner, we decided to go over to the book store for a coffee and walk around and look. I ordered my coffee. I got what sounded good to me. When I got my coffee in instantly inhaled the aroma from the cup, fully engulfing my nostrils with the smell of the drink. I slowly took a sip feeling the heat of the drink on my tongue. I sloshed the drink inside of my mouth and enjoyed it!!!! I enjoyed that silly cup of coffee so much. I enjoyed.... half of the cup... I found that I only needed half because for one, I filled up. I found that the sweetness was good, but I reached a point that I had had enough. Not something I think I have ever done before. Just walk away from a cup of Starbucks deliciousness! Again, I got the drink because I wanted it, it sounded good, I savored every part of it and allowed no guilt or shame into my experience with it. I also know that the next time I find I want to drink one, I can and will.
This whole experience illustrates the process over the outcome. In the not-so-distant past I would have had such tremendous feelings of guilt, shame, self hatred, disgust over not only allowing myself to eat/drink, but even worse and god forbid, enjoy them. I would have worried what the scale would have said (outcome) instead of seeing it as a chance to grow as a person and build my relationship of trust with myself again (process). I would have beat myself up internally and would have calculated how much extra exercise I would have to do to make up for it (outcome) instead of just chillaxing and seeing it for what it is - a chance to figure a few things out as I go (process).
I am hell-bound full steam ahead taking on intuitive eating. I am here and now, forever turning my back on diets. If it means I never lose another ounce, I am okay with that because quite honestly, I am so damn tired of tying my self worth to the scale, a jeans size, a picture, how hard I workout, how "good" I am for staying in my allotted calories for the day. I am tired. Tired of feeling worthless. Unhappy. Not good enough. Fat. Disgusting. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Guilty. Mentally drained. Exhausted.
Disordered eating sucks. Plain and simple. Life's too short. Enjoy the damn Starbucks. Oreo. Piece of chocolate. Whatever. Do it with mindfulness, enjoy the process. Focus less on the outcome. Savor the hell out of it. Move on and be happy. Exercise because I enjoy the sh%t out of it. But see other opportunities for movement, aside from just the times I strap on my workout shoes, pop in that dvd and sweat like hell. The opportunity of walking on a nice fall day. Running outside with my kids. Cleaning. Running up and down my stairs a hundred times because I forgot something. Parking my new car waaaaay out in the parking lot (not only because I don't want anyone else to ding it, but heck another chance to move more). Life's too short. Way to short.
(((I am doing a bit of side journaling and typed this up last Wednesday and thought I would share....)))