Intuitive Eating

All posts in the Intuitive Eating category

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?

I am running the London Marathon this week! How did I get here?

Published April 21, 2015 by Crystal

(I always feel I need to mention that I am running and walking, so let’s get that out of the way!)

As the #droptheplus campaign rages on, the polarised views of the opposition get louder and more aggressive.  Actually, they are always loud and aggressive, but I am just noticing more.

But one thing that really stands out is the self righteousness of the “Reformed” or “Former” Fatty who speaks out against #fatacceptance.

The sneering comments such related to what the #fatacceptance army might eat.  The judgements on their clothing choices.  The outright anger that they appear to be totally disregarding their health in favour of food and watching movies.

And I pray constantly I will never forget where I came from.  That I will never forget the journey that brought me here.  I have blogged about fat acceptance several times, this is probably the most relevant.  Maybe it helps that I am not the super fast magazine transformation story.  My journey is taking years, and continues to teach me things about myself.  I have learnt, for example, that intuitive eating has taught me many things, but I personally still like the accountability of a food plan and a weight loss group.  I have learnt that I know what foods benefit me, but it still takes time for the message to be picked up.  I have learnt that that ALL or NOTHING need in me is strong, and if I am not perfect, then I will quickly go to the NOTHING bit because “what’s the point?”, and it is a work in progress to drop that need for perfection, and to not drop to NOTHING when I don’t hit perfection.

This last week is a prime example of not hitting ALL, and ending up with NOTHING.  I had the meeting with the psychologist on Tuesday, talking through all my experiences of my latest depressive episode, and to discuss treatment.  Of course, talking through things can be a trigger, and it was exhausting, and left me physically and emotionally drained.  There was mention of a new drug for me, mirtazapine, which sent me into a panic too.  I was also struggling with my training sessions, as if my body had finally given up after 6 months, and I was panicking about staying fuelled for the marathon.  So I made some bad food and drink choices over the week, and as a result have gained a couple of the pounds that I lost the week before.  My instant thoughts, in that ALL or NOTHING mentality are “This is pointless, I will never lose any more weight.  I may as well give up.”  After all, haven’t I dieted before, only to gain again?  Haven’t I tried before and before and before?

But this time I have maintained a big loss over all.  I am currently 6 pounds higher than I was in November, but I am still 2 stone lighter than I was 2 years ago.  And I feel good for it.  I feel good when I eat foods that support my fitness goals.  Physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I feel good when I make a choice that will bring more than instant gratification.  This time I am running.  More than I have ever run before.  More than I could run before October 2014.

It is #fatacceptance, or #sizeacceptance that has brought me to this place.  It is #fatacceptance that gave me the confidence to sign up for my first Moonwalk, and saw me finally cross that finish line, exhausted and tearful;

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(I was THE TARDIS by the way, hence the blue).

I kind of worry about those campaigners against #fatacceptance, and #HAES.  I worry that they throw the baby out with the bath water, out of some sort of detestation of their former fat selves.  A fear that if they accept fat people, it somehow undoes all their hard work in the gym and the kitchen.  But the truth is they should be proud of themselves, for the changes they have put in place to make their lives the best it can be for them.  They have discovered a love and passion for exercise (which I get, I totally absolutely get).  And they really understand how foods can hinder or help them reach those personal goals.  Self discipline is a great thing.  Challenging ourselves is an empowering thing.  Putting the effort in and achieving something I never ever thought possible is a euphoric feeling I cannot top (so I’m onto challenge 3 in 3 years).

But let’s not assume that because we diet and exercise we are morally superior to those who don’t.  And let’s not forget human decency in all this, and by that, I mean how we treat other human beings.  We all have our struggles in life.  One of mine is depression.  And it is heavily, heavily integrated with my self acceptance and self esteem, but body positive language helped me, and continues to help me.  I truly believe it can help others.

I want to continue to lose weight and improve my fitness.  And I will be unashamed in that choice.  But I won’t place shame or judgement on someone who’s goals are different to mine.

So on Sunday I run (run walk) 26.2 miles. And it is without shame.  In spite of my bigger body, in spite of my louder breathing, in spite of the length of time it will take.  I do it without shame, and for a wonderful cause.

Weight loss. Who is helping you? What are they promising and What are their credentials?

Published March 23, 2015 by Crystal

Weight loss is a multi million pound industry.  You don’t need me to tell you that.  That multi million pound industry is full of all sorts.  And it’s full of all sorts of opinions and experiences.

Because weight loss works in different ways for different people.  Forget the whole “calories in calories out” arguments, and the “quality of a calorie”, and “eat less move more” arguments.  The problem is, that for every person affected by their weight, there are a multitude of reasons.

For me, weight loss and gain is powerfully linked to my mental health, to how I am feeling.  And so helping to change my mental well being, to improve my feeling of self worth, and to approve of myself in the here and now is hugely important.

Love them or hate them, the big weight loss groups like Weight Watchers and Slimming World have been around for years.  And they were started by women who were uncomfortable with themselves, and made changes to their lifestyle to change the things they didn’t like.  In the initial stages they were two women, running groups and basing their plan on the experiences and, in the case of Weight Watchers, advice given by her local hospital dietician.  They were honest with their promises.  They showed what worked for them.  Over the years, Weight Watchers and Slimming World have become huge companies.  Their plans adapt and change with the current trends outside of their companies, but in fairness to them, whether you have “succeeded” or not on their plans, their companies employ a whole host of experts to adapt and change and put forward a healthy plan for people to follow.  They undertake studies and support to show how best they work, and to find out what will keep people coming back. See Weight Watchers Scientific Catalogue for a bit of light reading (if somewhat biased)!  What I am saying is there is more than one person, more than one experience.  Don’t get me wrong.  They are out to sell.  They are out to make money.  But consultants come from a place of personal experience and those personal experiences are vast.  If you don’t like one class, close enough will be another class with a consultant you may resonate with more.

Because you need to feel supported.

And this is the thing. If you come to weight loss from a place of ridicule and loathing, by yourself and other people, you are on a back foot before you have started! Very few people can effectively hate themselves slim and maintain that loss. When you come from a place of using food for comfort when feeling low, and if you take away that coping mechanism and don’t replace it worth something else, how long are you going to last with your weight loss that started from a place of feeling horrid?

When I hit my limit with diets that didn’t help me long term, and I stayed to look for the alternative, I was lucky to discover a plethora of books written by doctors and psychologists who have spent chunks of their work life devoted to studying diets and the pros and cons. These experts have discussed ways of weight loss that don’t involve self loathing. (See Intuitive Eating, and Beyond Chocolate mentioned in previous blogs) And they provide step by step ways of changing a relationship with food. Because the mind is a powerful thing. And it responds to positive encouragement, positive motivation, positive rewards.

Me, I’m a couple of inches down the last week or so. And not through criticism by myself or anyone else.

Anyway, I got a run to go on. Better get to it!

All these cakes have left the building!

Published March 19, 2015 by Crystal

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They weren’t all for me!  They were for my SANE Tea and Cake Day to raise funds towards my marathon total.  Lovely friends joined me and raised just under £65.
It was a lovely day, and has been a lovely couple of days following!  The funny thing is in total I have had 6 small slices in total over these four days.  Taster slices.  Enough to enjoy the taste.  Had I been on a diet I deeply suspect I would have eaten far more.  The tomorrow mentality.
Tomorrow I Shall be good.  Tomorrow I will start again.  Tomorrow there won’t be any cake to tempt me. 
My mentality now is more; do I want it now?  Will I enjoy it now?  What does it matter if there is still cake in the house tomorrow? 
There is no perfection.  And no striving for it.  I did overeat one of the slices and didn’t pay enough attention.  But I accepted it and moved on.

There was a last slice of Victoria sponge tonight.  Husband had left it on the side instead of putting it back in the fridge.  And I saw it as I went to feed the animals.  One slice.  Then the cake would be gone. I could eat that.  No biggy.
But it dawned.  I didn’t want it.  I was caked out.  So I hollered to the kids and asked if they all wanted to share.  Only a couple of mouthfuls each for them, but they were happy, I was happy and the world hadn’t ended over the decision not to eat the cake!   Husband wants high tea every Wednesday and I think it’s a lovely idea! I enjoy baking.  And home baked means I know what goes into the food.  Life’s too sorry not to enjoy cake.  But too really enjoy the cake.  Not just eat it because it’s there!

I know I may be droning on but it really comes down to years of learning to not diet with folk such as Beyond Chocolate!  And to slimpod! People who have researched weight loss.  People who realise and appreciate weight loss is deeply linked with the mind and wellbeing.    Things are clicking right now and it does feel good.  Stressing less and living more.  And liking myself as I am.  I don’t need to bully my fat. Or put signs up to remind myself I am fat!  I find my being responds better to positive thinking and encouragement.   😉