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All posts for the month May, 2015

Do people lose compassion when they lose weight?

Published May 31, 2015 by Crystal

I’ve spent a year in a state of flux.  Wanting to lose more weight, losing nothing.  And now it feels like the scales are falling from my eyes once more as I see, that for me, dieting does not provide the answers I hoped for.

But more than that.  I am tired of the hate filled criticism and body shaming that comes from “reformed fatties”.  You know the ones, the people who found a method that worked for them, and for whom strict regimes of diet and exercise have proved that all you need to do is “Eat Less and Move More!”  Or the experts who will tell you “I used to eat junk and now I don’t and all you need is a positive mind to get a positive body!”

The messages filter in.  They are easy to believe.  This time I will do it.  This time I will stick to a plan because here are examples of other people who have done it.  Clearly I just need will power and dedication.

But what these people miss is that weight is a symptom of something else.  It is not the cause of everything that is dark and evil.  So when someone like Steve Miller is telling folks to tell their fat friends and family they are fat, he is wanting to address a symptom without looking at the real issues behind it.  And if those issues aren’t addressed, then what chance is there of permanent change?

It’s why I lean towards people such as Geneen Roth and Beyond Chocolate once more.  And Geneen is great at describing me without knowing me.  She talks about how we keep going back to the past, and act as if we are still the people we were.  If we learnt to use food as a way of protecting us from the fear of feelings, chances are, that is what we are continuing to do.  To actually bring ourselves into the moment, and to be aware of where we are now, how we feel physically, can break the habit of reaching for food to numb the fear or pain. It is hard.  It is exposing.  And it is something that we can only come to when we are ready. But it can bring about real positive long lasting change.  Because we are addressing those root causes.

If someone is genuinely concerned about a fat friend or family member, surely the important thing to do is just be there?  “How are you?”  “How are things?” “What is going on in your life?” “What can I do to support you?”  surely these are questions that will bring about a more positive situation than “You’re fat”.

The success stories of former fatties can bring about a belief that we can change if only we do x, y and z, and that can be great and helpful.  But the stories where former fatties forget their past, and forget their humanity are tragic.  Fat shaming does not bring about positive, long lasting change.  It might bring about quick change.  It might motivate for a few weeks, but until one is motivated to address the limiting habits of their past, nothing is going to last.

Steve Miller continues to bang on about the cost of obesity on the NHS.  So what is his real motivation for fat shaming?  Sure sounds like it’s financial rather than personal care.  He makes money from writing about fat shaming.  He makes money from fat shaming folk into becoming clients, and he complains about fat people costing him via his taxes.

He also calls people who disagree with him “rodents”.

Is this someone who really has your interest at heart?

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The great weight debate, and my inner critic and @womenfoodgod

Published May 26, 2015 by Crystal

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I was content to keep weighing myself.  Despite the fact that the scales have not moved much in a year.  I was content to believe that I needed that external monitoring, because I can’t be trusted to rely on myself.  I mean, look at me, overweight, unsuccessful dieter.  Letting go of that external monitor to tell me that at least I’m not gaining weight, it would be a mad idea for this untrustworthy woman.

But then Geneen Roth, in her kindness and her wisdom, called me into my body, and pointed out who I was listening to when I believed that I can’t be trusted.  She calls it The Voice.  That authoritarian voice that points out all the flaws it perceives, that reminds me of all the things that are wrong with me, that reminds me moment after moment how I am incapable of change and progress and success.

And she showed me how The Voice is not me.  It is a lying critic, born out of childhood memories of chastisement and hurt.

Calling me into my body, with the belly meditation was a first step to calling me home.  I think, in general, we are used to going through our day on auto pilot.  To become aware of internal sensations in silence and for a dedicated time is a powerful thing.  Or it was for me.  To feel my breath, my lungs expand, my tummy rise and fall.  To notice my fingers tingle as I breathed deeply.  To inhabited my body with awareness, after being separated for what feels like the longest time, is an altering thing.  And I admit, I was sceptical.  While I love it, I still scoff with embarrassment at naval gazing activities.  And a belly meditation was no different.  But already, in two days, it feels a valuable tool in coming back and finding myself and finding my calm.

Back to The Voice.  It’s an interesting thing to become aware of.  Because it does sound like me.  And I thought it was me.  And maybe it is easier to distinguish as something else, now that my depression seems to be blurring away.  I can hear that inner critic and know, that like depression, it is a liar.  Today, on going to weigh myself, and discovering that, oh, I’ve gained after a weekend of food and drink, that Voice said loudly to me “You need to keep weighing, because look, you gain so quickly.  You can’t honestly trust yourself to lose weight without it.  And you’ve attempted to lose weight without diets so many times before, why should this time be any different?  Keep weighing.  You know, just in case.”

And I could believe ever word.  Because it all sounds so reasonable.  But then I realised.  It is criticising me, and robbing me of my own strength.  Stealing any self belief.  “You can’t honestly trust yourself…”

I have decided to call bullshit.  And I have decided I am going to trust myself!  I am going to keep coming back to my body.  I am going to keep practising mindfulness, and I am going to keep going to those feelings, and sit with them, and let them happen.

It might not work.  I might be unsuccessful yet again.  But while I continue to listen to The Voice, I’ve lost before I’ve started.  And a year of weighing has made virtually no difference to my weight.  So The Voice is already wrong!

hot fudge sundae

“It’s not about the weight but it’s not not about the weight” @womenfoodgod

Published May 25, 2015 by Crystal

A few years ago, I received a letter from someone who’d included a Weight Watchers ribbon on which was embossed I LOST TEN POUNDS. Underneath the gold writing, the letter writer added, “And I Still Feel Like Crap.”

We think we’re miserable because of what we weigh.  And to the extent that our joints hurt and our knees ache and we can’t walk three blocks without losing our breath, we probably are physically miserable because of extra weight.  But if we’ve spent the last five, twenty, fifty years obsessing about the same ten or twenty pounds, something else is going on.  Something that has nothing to do with weight.

Geneen Roth, Women Food and God

I am in my mid thirties now.  I have been dieting or thinking about dieting, or looking for another way to lose weight for 30 years.  It’s a long time for something still not to have solved my problems.  So when I read this passage in Geneen Roth’s book, it felt like the sky had lit around me.  It’s NOT about the weight, But it’s NOT NOT about the weight.  For me, it is an issue, but it is an issue resulting out of another issue.

It’s easy to blame weight.  It’s physically there, visible for all to see.  It is perceived as a marker as to how successful/in control/owning of willpower you are.  And folk like Katie Hopkins are adamant and vocal in the belief that weight loss is a simple problem to be solved, by eating less and moving more, and perpetuate that belief freely and with little resistance.

But if the weight isn’t falling away simply, in spite of years of attempting to lose pounds and stones,  it is surely logical that something else is going on?  Some resistance to the idea of less food, to a smaller size?

8 years on from my first discovery of intuitive eating, I’m lighter, but not all the way there.  I figure I am an onion, with layers and layers to peel away.  At the moment, reading Geneen Roth is bringing hope and confidence that I am not a problem that needs to be fixed, but rather a human in need of self care and understanding.  Food does not provide the care that I have believed, and mindfulness and awareness are more important than the first grab of a handful of crisps when things are uncomfortable.

Going to keep reading.  It’s a good book.

But for someone like me, it isn’t that simple.  It is a challenge I have been facing for 30 years

#selfconfidence and #anxiety affect weight? Haven’t we, the cardigan wearing, hairy feminists #sizeacceptance trolls been saying that ALL along, @steve___miller?

Published May 25, 2015 by Crystal

Block out the negative messages.  Lift yourself with the positive ones.  Never stop believing your body is a wonderful thing

I sincerely hope Steve Miller is turning a corner, and realising all his fat shaming is ineffectual when it serves to knock a person’s confidence.

I sincerely hope this is the start of a step back from fat shaming and size shaming, and a move toward working to build esteem and confidence and see where that takes people.

As someone coming out of the other side of a rather long period of depression, thanks in part to running, and starting duloxetine, and good support from friends and family, I can say that my self confidence is below what it used to be.  And it is something that I am addressing at the moment.  When confidence is low, and anxiety is high, the old comfort mechanisms pull strongly to help me make it through the day.  And it’s not a bad thing.  But it’s not a great thing either.  Drinking or eating too much are temporary plasters that don’t leave me feeling great in the long run.

As self confidence increases, and anxiety lessens, and overall mood improves, the need to use food and drink to calm and soothe diminishes.

I know I am turning a corner because self care is getting better, and my drive to look after myself in better ways are getting stronger.  And Geneen Roth and her book Women Food and God, is giving wise words and ideas in the search for self care. You can read an excerpt here.

It is a shame Steve Miller has spent so long shaming already, when hypnotherapy can be used to bring about very positive changes.  It is a shame he prefers to use hate motivation rather than kindness and care motivation.  I sincerely hope he is actually turning a corner here.

I understand he is out to make a living, but he could do it without bullying and hate speech.

I’ve been running away from myself and I didn’t even know, thank you @geneenroth

Published May 18, 2015 by Crystal

There are many ways to bolt.  Walking out the door.  Renting a helicopter.  Distracting yourself from your pain by doing a thousand things: thinking about something else, blaming your mother, blaming someone else, getting into a fight, comparing yourself to other people, dreaming about life in the future, recalling life in the past, never getting deeply involved.

Eating.

Spending your life trying to lose weight or figure it all out.

Resigning yourself to the endless struggle with food so you never have to take the dive into the meaning of it all.  Or discover who you are, what your relationships can be without the drama of food.

Geneen Roth; Women Food and God

I’m tired.  And I feel like I have been struggling with my weight for the last year.  I didn’t realise I felt like this.  But I weigh now, what I weighed 10 months ago.  Something isn’t working.  Something isn’t right.  The diets aren’t working.  And I realise I am obsessed with food once more.

I didn’t realise all this until I opened up Geneen Roth’s Women Food and God, a book I read several years ago, but the message of which I have forgotten as time has gone on.

I didn’t realise how much I have been running away from myself over the last year.  I distract myself with a hundred things at a time.  Books go half read, films go half watched.  Life goes half lived while I obsess over what to eat next, or how to deal with having eaten outside of the diet plan for several days.  Weigh day has become a panic inducing, anxiety enhancing main event, a test which I fail again and again with my minuscule losses, or impressive gains.  The thoughts of slimfast, or herbalife, or lighter life rush through my head as I wonder what I can do to fix this never ending plateau.

In my head I know that the real trick is to accept myself.  I can talk the talk.  “Appreciate yourself, be thankful for all your body can do, accept yourself as you are.”  I know all the lingo.

But somewhere down the line I have stopped believing it.  I don’t think I like myself very much at the moment.  And I think I am running away from looking into why.  It’s easier to distract myself with the laptop and twitter and facebook and candy crush, and trips out with friends, and endless background noise.  It’s easier to avoid thinking too much, or question that feeling of dissatisfaction.

Diets aren’t working.  And the self loathing is increasing as that belief that I am a failure seeps into those little vulnerable spaces.

And Geneen suggests this obsession with food and diets is serving a purpose of avoidance, that it drowns out the madness of life. 

So I’ve decided to give Geneen’s way a chance.  To bring myself into the present, and to allow myself to feel what I am currently stopping myself feeling.  To address fears that are hidden away.

I think I want to end the drama, and to start living a whole life again.  To really enjoy the days, not to simply exist in them.  Depression has played its part, but I have colluded, and it’s time to find another way.

It’s scary.  But change is scary, isn’t it?

When a loved one has #depression. #MHAW

Published May 15, 2015 by Crystal

There are many blogs and articles on what to say and do when a loved one has depression.  It’s a minefield.  As individual as grains of sand on a beach, how a person with depression will respond to loved ones trying to help cannot be known.  To the family members watching a loved one suffer, and feeling completely incapable of supporting and reaching in to the void, it often feels hopeless.  Maybe you want to shake them out of it?  Maybe you want to pep them up and tell them to get out into the sunshine?

I’ve been thinking about this all this morning.  I don’t have advice.  Not really.  I’ve fallen out with family during very bad bouts of depression. I’ve become someone I don’t recognise more than once.  But years on, I think my family and I have more of an understanding of this illness.  And there are things we do and don’t do that help.

I don’t really talk all that much about how I’m feeling, other than a brief, “not so great” or “having a bad day”.  Not because I don’t want to talk to my family, but because I don’t want to weigh them down, and sometimes my thoughts and feelings might worry them more than necessary.  So I tend to talk to other sufferers.  People who might understand a little, but who are also separate enough from my family to know that random thoughts and feelings are part and parcel of the illness, and that they aren’t necessarily as bad as they sound.  Because depression, you know, makes the worst of things, even in the best of times.  To an outsider this may seem a bit “misery loves company”, and it might seem like a bad idea to surround yourself with other sufferers, but only the person with depression can really know whether it is helping or not.

I try to remember that while depression is a mental illness, it is also a physical illness.  We wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to “snap out of it”.  We wouldn’t suggest someone with cancer “stop dwelling on it”.  As much as we want a period of depression to go, it isn’t going to go simply by wishing it away or thinking happy thoughts.

Some things do help, and have helped me.  Good home cooked meals.  Maybe a hand with the housework. The odd trip out can be great, if there are not going to be stress adding factors (like for me, facing crowds at times can be horrendous.)  No pressure, no expectations as to what the depression sufferer will or will not be able to put up with.  You might get somewhere, and they feel like they can’t go any further.  They aren’t doing it to test or piss you off.    In a way, they are showing you more trust than anyone else, in being able to be real in front of you, and to not wear a mask to hide their true feelings (again, maybe that’s just me!)  If you are going to be impatient, or intolerant, it will come across to the super sensitive depressed loved one.  And then they will feel worse for having failed to live up to your expectations (or maybe that’s just me).

Physical activity can be great, and for me, running has helped a great deal, but it didn’t defeat depression altogether.   As soon as the marathon was finished I had an appointment with the dr, and am now on duloxetine.  I have also now been put on the waiting list for CBT one to one therapy, and have been given an emotional wellness manual to work through.

I have a positive relationship with my doctor, and I know I can go when I need to,  but not everyone has that positive relationship with their doctor, and in the vulnerability of depression it can feel like wasting the doctors time going back more than once or twice.    But depression is a complicated bugger, and sometimes it needs several visits to the doctor to find a way that will help get out.  Anti depressants are a delicate thing, and what helps one person will do sod all for another.  If your loved one is able to talk to you about depression, and you are worried they are not getting the medical support, then maybe ask what might help?  Would a second opinion help?  What they like some company to the doctors so they have some support to say what they feel?

But above all, just let them know you are there.  Because knowing that, without pressure, or judgement, can sometimes be enough to keep on going.

Has demonising diets helped you?

Published May 11, 2015 by Crystal

diet-starts-monday-300x210

It’s Monday.

For many it means feeling guilty about food choices over the previous week, and a commitment to better eating and doing it right and using all that willpower.

For others it is a delightful day to celebrate not dieting, after years of suffering under some evil dictatorial regime of never being good enough, and always failing.

For many, the word diet is perceived negatively.  The word diet is connected with deprivation and failure and judgement.

For some, the thought of a diet instantly raises the pulse rate and anxiety levels.

But sitting here, on a Monday morning, I am on a diet.  I’m not lying.  I have decided I need to decriminalise that word in my head. I need to disassociate the thoughts of deprivation and failure.  I need to accept and understand that judgement does not come from a plan, written in black and white.  It comes from my listening to media hype over the years that tell women everywhere they need to look a certain way, behave a certain way, eat certain foods in a certain way!

But I still desire weight loss, for me, myself and I.  And so I am choosing to diet.  I am choosing to use a plan that helps me make better food choices.  I’m not overly strict and condemning when I deviate from the recommended foods.  I go out for meals, I party. I enjoy living.

But for a long time, after discovering Beyond Chocolate, I felt guilty about going on a diet.  Because there is a big stigma attached.  “Diets Don’t Work!” is shouted so loudly and proudly, citing report after report of how people try and fail to lose and maintain a loss.  But my own experience is starting to show that I can be one who can maintain a loss, with just a few changes.  So I’m curious now to what has changed in me, that now weight, while still hard to lose, is at least easier to maintain when a few stone have been lost.  I’m nearly 3 stone down from two years ago (again, I did gain half when depression hit again).  I’ve kept it most of it off.  And I think a big part of that is taking the power away from diets, knowing they are inanimate.  Food can not judge me, and the judgement of others is irrelevant.  If I have a bad day it is just a day.  There’s no last supper eating or binges (or at least incredibly rarely).  And there is a real feeling that I follow a plan because I feel better with the structure.  Yes I know what foods are better for me, a diet plan just makes it a bit easier.

The problem with discovering Beyond Chocolate was the rebellious person inside me that suddenly got a voice.  It loved that I wasn’t following a plan.  It loved that I could eat what I wanted when I wanted, and it enjoyed ignoring the principles it didn’t want to follow, because here was a new way of life free of diet, free of control, free of judgement.  And I didn’t have to listen to diet experts who I believed had ruined my relationship with food.

But unfortunately I gained weight, because that rebellious side enjoyed the freedom and the “fuck you!” mentality.

Now I look back, and I know rebellion is a natural thing, but it is something we try to contain, isn’t it?  If our children are rebelling, we accept it as a part of growth, but we don’t let them get away with every rebellious act! And somehow, dwelling on that has made it easier to limit the effect that rebellious part of me has an effect on my eating.  Weight loss matters to me at the moment, and when I give in to that rebel, it takes longer.

I don’t think I’m alone.  Has hearing how “diets don’t work!” helped you?  Have you lost weight not dieting?  Or have you found a way to lose weight without the judgement you felt before while following a diet plan?