thoughts and feelings

All posts tagged thoughts and feelings

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.


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?


The post holiday critic.

Published August 27, 2014 by Crystal

It is half a week since we returned from our holiday.  We’ve unpacked, unwound, and uploaded the photos.  I decided at some point the holiday mentality of wine every evening had to stop, and food has become more filling and rewarding the last couple of days.  But I was looking at my photos today and those nasty little voices started to creep in.  “Look at your tummy.  You didn’t get anywhere near that size 14 wetsuit!”

And then I compare the holiday of last year to the holiday of this year;


2013 Durdle Door


2014 Pembrey Sands










Last year I felt huge.  I covered my form with baggy clothes, I refused to get into the water.  My wetsuit wouldn’t get past my thighs.  I spent a lot of time sitting and drinking, and watching the others run around.  When we were in Bude a few weeks later last year it was that lovely time of month, and I used it as an excuse to avoid excessive movement.  I was tired, and that tiredness penetrated through the whole holiday.  It was the same delightful situation this time around, but fortunately I was less tired during the holiday.  I refused to let it stop me getting into the water, or enjoy the walking around, and while I was probably more grumpy and tired than I like to be on a holiday, I got a good hour of body boarding in and it was only the last couple of days that exhaustion limited me more than I liked.  Fortunately once home I could flake, and flake I did!  Flake and moan and grumble.

Anyway, I looked at that photo on the right, and others, where I was boarding with my son, and those little voices highlighted that tummy of mine that was totally relaxed and not sucked in at all, and those little voices didn’t comment on the exercise I was getting, or the invigoration of being in the sea.  Or the time spent with my youngest while he was brave enough to try body boarding for the first time.  Those little voices are vain.  Image and appearance is all that matters to them.  Not the fun, not the memories.

I look at those photos and I know I had a good time in Dorset.  Even with the limitations I felt I had, or that I set myself.  I can look back fondly.  Yes it was a larger me, but there was a pub with the most awesome onion rings I have ever tasted!  Yes it was a larger me, but the afternoon wandering around Weymouth was lovely!  And the time in Bude a few weeks later, sitting in the van near Crooklets Beach and reading Anne Rice while the menfolk hit the waves, I actually enjoyed that peace and quiet.  I felt it restorative. Which reminds me, I still need to get the next book! Lasher, I think…..

The walk down to St Nectan’s Glen, standing in the pool.  It was peaceful, it was calm, it was what I needed at that time.

So I didn’t hit that goal of the size 14 wetsuit this summer.  But it didn’t limit my holidays, or the memories my kids will have of the awesome family holiday.   We walked and explored, we sat and socialised, we braved the windy beach, we sat and watched kids play together in a playground.  There was enough activity and enough rest.

Two photos, two different holidays.  Both with happy memories.  And really, when I look into it, my weight has had the smallest impact in affecting what those happy memories could have been and what they are.  I don’t loathe last years photos, or look at myself in disgust.  And I refuse to do that this year either.






Channeling the frustration! Emotional Eating

Published May 20, 2014 by Crystal

The husband ordered some new tyres and inners for my bike last night.  After a very emotional week it’s a relief to know at the weekend I can get out and do some non weight bearing movement with my family.  Because contrary to the popular consensus of those that have no clue about disordered eating, I’m not constantly on my bum, doing absolutely nothing, but then I’ve mentioned that already this week, so I shall move on, slightly, or sideways, to the topic of overeating, and more so, responses to the idea of overeating.

“It’s an excuse to eat all the food people love”

“It’s what lazy people say because they can’t be bothered to look after themselves”

“Childhood, depression, anxiety, they’re all excuse for people to keep eating”

These are the sort of comments from the internet warriors, who refuse to accept Emotional Overeating is a real psychological situation that needs support. So let me explain, as so many have before me, what happens during a binge.

First come the feelings, unbearable, crushing emotions.  I don’t want to deal with these.  I don’t know how to deal with these.  I want it all to go away.  I want to shut up these voices, this constant chatter going round and round in my head “You’re worthless, useless, ugly, your life would be better if you were thinner, more in control, more fit”.  I make a journey to the shop, grab a basket, fill with crisps, chocolate, all those foods that have brought comfort in the past.  Silently going through the check out, rushing to the car, ripping open a bar to eat as I drive.  Getting home I grab the food, run inside, throw the food into the lounge and sit and eat.  Not thinking, not tasting.  Just eating.  Bite after bite. Crisp after crisp. Then the last packet is empty.  I sit there.  Realisation starting to dawn of what has just happened.  How many thousands of calories did I not taste?  If I don’t make it to the shop, I may start by looking in the freezer, cooking some oven chips, then it takes off I’m raiding the kitchen, piles of bread slathered with margarine, bowls of cereal.  Everything to numb the mind and silence the chatter.  But then it is all over and I sit there, disgusted, still anxious, still with the previous worries that led me here in the first place.  For me, this would end in the inevitable purging to get rid of it all.

During all this, I know what I’m doing isn’t helping.  I could probably even tell you the calorific value of it all.  I love food, but that’s not why I’ve binged.  I’ve binged because I know that however temporary, the worries and stresses vanish, and the taste of foods I love pass fleetingly through my mouth.  But what makes it even more tragic is that not only do I sit with the mental and emotional guilt of having eaten all that food, but I sit with the physical discomfort of overeating, the burst blood vessels around my eyes from bringing it back up again. I feel even more disgusted and self loathing than I did beforehand.  This is not because I love myself so much I want to treat myself.  It’s more because I loathe myself so much that punishment and temporary comfort go hand in hand.

So it saddens me when people who don’t understand say it’s because we love food.  I guess there are different levels of emotional overeating.  Not everyone goes to the extent that I have described.  Some people just eat a little more than they should.  But for those of us who find feelings and emotions virtually impossible to deal with, we do need support.  Maybe it is counselling, maybe it is just good friends to talk to.  But what we definitely need is to learn to love ourselves, to accept ourselves, and to be allowed to nurture ourselves. Calories in/calories out isn’t even an issue here. Exercising more is lovely advice once we find something we enjoy and learn how great the endorphins are that come from exercising.  But what we need is for the people who don’t “get” overeating to just Shut Up.  We won’t eat you.

This above all: to thine own self be true

Published December 31, 2013 by Crystal

I’m lying in bed, snuffling.  It’s December 31st 2013, and I am tolerating a cold that has been kindly shared among friends and family.  But I don’t mind!  In 4 days we celebrate 10 years of marriage, with a (fairly) small number of loved ones.  If we could, it would have been a bigger party, but finances and situation don’t allow at this moment in time, and like our wedding 10 years ago, the party will be a fairly shoe string affair, filled with love and laughter.

But it’s important to celebrate.  Ten years may just be a drop in the ocean, compared with the silvers and the golds, but to be as happy, happier even, than the day we married, is something I want to sing about!  In Ten Years our family has grown from three to five, not mentioning the pets, losing one, gaining 4 others.  We’ve watched and participated as our garden change from a leylandii surrounded blank canvas, to something surrounded with dogwoods and red robin trees, inflatable pools in the summer, mud in the winter.  And now one third filled with a big rabbit run for our latest family additions.  And a 30 foot eucalyptus my husband regrets us planting.

We’ve had our family crises.

There have been bouts of serious depression.

We’ve had some horrid illnesses, and threats of more serious illness.

But no more or less than other’s endure.  For the moments of sadness and hurt and loneliness, there have been moments of pure joy, excitement and contentment.


For several of these last ten years, I would arrive at December 31st, eager to see out the year, and hopeful the next one would be better.  Several years seemed full of endless bad luck, or sadness.  And depression held a shadow over many of those years.  But this year I am looking back and find myself not wishing 2013 away with the same passion.   We’ve had hardships, and the year has not gone without troubles, but this year I feel content.




This year I feel like maybe I have cracked things a little bit.  This year I have been more “myself” than any other year.   This year I have grasped far more strongly the idea of being true to myself.  Of realising that my needs and desires are as important as those of my family and friends.  It’s happened in the past, through necessity, when depression was the master and I was too weak to do anything in a rational and reasonable fashion.  In those times I did things out of self preservation, but sometimes crassly and in hurt and anger.

This year my motives and actions come from a gentle place.  They come from a place of love and worth, for family, for friends, but primarily for myself.   In 2013 I have learnt a little more the benefits and positive self worth, of learning to love and appreciate myself, and of what that entails.   Of being able to say “I am enough”, and “My feelings matter”.    I have learnt that changing habits can be hard but emotionally freeing.  I have learnt that we allow ourselves to be used, or we make a stand and allow our feelings to be heard.  I have learnt that some people won’t like the changes, and that others will congratulate you.  If you’ve been a “yes” person, and suddenly become unavailable, you will cause ripples.  But if you are being true to yourself, you will feel comfortable and happy with the choices you make, and the ripples won’t hurt.

2013 saw the start of my counselling training, and maybe that’s why I’ve noticed the positive influences so acutely.  It’s early days, the very beginning. But I feel calmer generally, and in control of what is mine to control.  The rest, the things I have no influence over, do not cause the same anxiety or concern that the used to.   And maybe that’s the biggest key to my changes this year.  Things and people will happen in my life.  They’re not my responsibility to change.  I can only change how I respond to people and things!  The more it happens, the more it becomes a positive habit.  The more I accept what I can do, and the less I stress about what other people do.

So maybe the key to happiness is finding the “True” you.  Shakespeare said it best.


Whatever your plans for NYE, and your dreams for 2014, I wish you self worth, self love, and truth.

A tiny excerpt from “Diary of a Heretic”

Published October 3, 2013 by Crystal

Having just received my new book, by Mark Townsend I am experiencing a mixture of emotions and feelings.  I spent many years feeling like I wanted to fit, but not quite managing, in the church.  Then, a few years ago I discovered a pagan belief I felt I could relate to.  The belief in a God and a Goddess.  To me I still saw them as two aspects of one God, but embracing the feminine was a big part of what I felt was lacking in the church and my experience.  Mark’s new book “Diary of a Heretic” is speaking to me and encouraging me, and awakening in me that actually maybe all is not lost, and that I reconcile my beliefs in the person of Jesus, and the Christian aspects of God, with my pagan understandings and my love of a more earth centred spirituality.

This little extract has spoken to me particularly, and I feel it is synchronicity, a theme that runs through this book, that I am reading this now at this particular time.

don’t try to understand, don’t try to work it all out, don’t try to harmonize.

This was always what caused you such stress.

Just let it be and use the things that are helpful to you.

Gauge things by your heart and gut, not your mind.

Your mind is often not your ally.

Deep down you know by natural discernment what is right, good, true, useful.  Contradictions don’t matter when the things that contradict each other are both helpful.

So, enjoy church services, go for communion, splash holy water as you enter, cross yourself, enjoy the sacred music, and also enjoy your Druid rituals and Wiccan words.

It all has a place within the Great Mosaic.

Mark Townsend, Diary of a Heretic


Warning: Using without instruction.

Published September 4, 2013 by Crystal

I mentioned a few posts back that I had been listening to an audio hypnotherapy type thing.  It is called a “Slimpod” and in particular I was listening to the “Drop 2 jean sizes” pod.  In 4 weeks I have lost inches from all over the place, and I appreciate and acknowledge that it was a helpful motivator in changing my eating habits.

But I have been reading about intuitive eating for several years now, and I’m afraid I don’t believe in “Magic pills” as someone put it.  Whichever way I am going to lose weight, it is going to take an effort on my part, and after a bit of an uncomfortable discussion last night in the group linked to the Slimpods I decided it was time to leave that group.

The creator of the pods wanted to talk about “Mindful Eating”, because it was something that she had noticed mentioned on the group wall recently and so wanted to discuss it.  What became clear is that any and all weight loss or differences noticed in the user’s lifestyle, the creator wanted to attribute wholly to the Slimpods, and their effectiveness in changing people subconsciously.  Now I believe our subconscious does an awful lot, and more even, than we can imagine, but I find the creators ideas now a little contradictory.

There is a big emphasis on placing goals, and listing daily positives, because it is these that she believes help focus the mind and encourage the subconscious.  But when you are writing goals and recalling positive things that have happened during the day, you are doing this in full consciousness.  You’re not relying on an audio recording to get you to do these things.  You choose the words, you think about what you have done.

On the website there are links to healthy recipes, and other suggestions about making healthy changes in life.  Again, you read these, not because an audio recording is encouraging your subconscious to do so, but because you might be interested in it.

So coming back to the “Mindful Eating” discussion, she asked us what we perceived it to be, and I said personally it was about being aware in the moment of eating.  I remove distractions, turn the tv off, leave the phone alone.  I eat every mouthful slowly, tasting and sensing textures, and noticing how it makes my body feel.  I also notice, when I am mindfully eating, that I feel fuller much sooner.  Other members of the group understood and some shared this experience, but to me it seemed the creator of Slimpod did not like this phrase being used.  She said we should be using the slimpods, and not need to be thinking about how or what we’re eating, just let the slimpods change us subconsciously and enjoy and accept the changes.   And she only seemed to be happy when she could say “So the mindful eating as you describe it, is coming from your use of slimpods!  Wonderful!” (I am paraphrasing, I do not remember word for word, and did not copy the discussion).

It saddens me, and yet I understand what is going on here.  She has created something that does work in helping weight loss.  And she wants to keep it clear that it is her brand that is changing lives.  When someone like me comes in, having read and made changes before, and seeing the slimpod as simply an item to support my food journey, it muddies the waters.  So I decided it was time to bow out from the group.  I am not a child that must be instructed and told not to question.  I am an adult, with a mind that I want to understand as much as possible!  I don’t want to do something and just accept it.  I want to know why it’s working, or at the very least, notice how it works for me.

I want to become a Normal Eater!  I don’t want to spend my life relying on an audio that I will have to listen to every day for the rest of my life, in case my subconscious should weaken against my conscious!  I want to eat something and know when to stop because I am fully aware of my body and what benefits it.



Now I may seem to worship at the shrine of Beyond Chocolate a little bit too much on this blog.  But one thing I trully love about the Boss sisters, is that on their forum, anything is open to discussion.  They have an idea of what they created, but they know that the path to normal eating is a very personal one, and they expect people to experiment and find what works for them.  On their forum we discuss websites, books, and other helpful things.  We discuss our ideas of what certain phrases mean, not because the Boss sisters want to correct us and point out their way is the only way that will work for them, but because they want to hear our opinions, and allow a space for these discussions.

I will continue using the recordings as and when I want to, but I am now using as a tool along side my other tools in the weight loss journey!

I’m also in the middle of a book recommended by another Beyond Chocolater, How to have your cake and your skinny jeans too.  I like the style and information packed into the book.  I’m nowhere near the end yet, but what I have read so far makes a lot of sense to me, personally, and it covers the topic of binge eating in a very helpful way.

So there we go.  I found what is a helpful tool, but am now using it in a way that the creator never intended.  But this is my path, and my life.  And part of my journey is not doing what I’m told without question.  Sorry about that 😉

Authentic Me?

Published July 2, 2013 by Crystal

My bath time read of choice today was “Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth.  I’ve read it before.  I remember gushing about it, reading it within hours, thinking I was taking it all in.  I guess I didn’t because as I read it again, I realise I remember very little.But her words hold up a mirror to me.  So much resonates with my thoughts and feelings.  Feeling that as a child I was responsible for so much misery because I was fat.

 “I turned to food for the same reasons people turned to God: it was my sigh of ecstasy, my transport to heaven, my concrete proof that relief from the pain of every day life was possible.”

In the moment of eating, my brain can be consumed, and distracted by food.  The texture, the heat, the taste, the memories of other times that a particular food brought relief and joy.  But then the packet is empty, the bowl licked clean, and the cloud of anxiety and sadness can descend again.  Reality returns.  A reality that I feel unable to deal with.

There has been one period in my life, albeit excruciatingly brief, where food was not a distraction, or necessary for very much other than fuel.  I had two children under the age of 3, and was so very busy running around after them that eating was something I often forgot, rarely had time for, and didn’t feel the need for.  My life was full with caring for these two young boys, and there wasn’t time to think about, mull over, or miss food.  My body dropped extra weight with no effort on my part.  I never visited a set of scales, went only by the feel of my clothes, and felt content.  Content and tired.  I fell pregnant with my third child, and the ease of not thinking about food continued.  It was effortless.

3 children under the age of 5 seemed to change things somewhat.  Somewhere in my brain I started to believe I was failing.  The baby weight wasn’t disappearing.  Postnatal depression, which I’d suffered both times previously, returned with a vengeance, and my psyche started to feel under attack.  How could I possibly look after my children if I couldn’t even drop a few pounds?  Every one else managed to have it all!  Why was I now failing?  Useless mother, useless fat mother!!

The irony is, looking back, I wasn’t even fat.  I was maybe a few pounds above the all powerful bmi recommendations.  But depression can make liars of us all, and I took myself off to a weight loss class to shift those pesky pounds!  And I succeeded.  I was great!  Amazing!  The weight started to come off.  I ate my points perfectly, and was the obedient student.  Rarely a gain showed, nor a maintain.  The pounds came off and I felt more and more elated.  The culture of the weight loss class celebrates our “successes”.  Of course it does.  And I was the model pupil, achieving what every dieter dreams of!  I remember the elation of getting into a pair of size 10 jeans.  My first ever.  I was over the moon.  Now I had it all.  I was slim, had 3 kids, a lovely husband, and I could wear so much more!  My life was again revolving around food, but in the form of controlling it.

I didn’t have it all.  Postnatal depression left me believing I was the worst possible parent.  I couldn’t cope with the constant demands of my children, and would feel guilt at wanting to get away from them occasionally!  Gradually I felt the need for foods not on the slimming club lists, but desperate not to gain weight, it was at this point I started to purge if I ate too much.  Obsessed with staying slim, obsessed with staying in control of something in my life.

It has been a long journey since then.  I’m now 5 stone heavier than I was, but I have managed to stop purging.  I have tried dieting again, but never successfully.  But I have found the anti diet brigade, and am grateful to each and every one of them in all their guises.  Slowly, but very surely, the tide is turning.  People are starting to lash out at the diet world, and the endless lies thrown at us.  The lies that tell us that our lives will be so much better if we shift the pounds, if we attain the slim physique that they tell us will make us more attractive, happier, more successful.  Women are starting to believe that they are beautiful, whatever their shape and size, and that there is so much more to life than what the scales tell you.

I’m still a long way from having a healthy attitude to food.  I am still in the stages of learning why I rely so much on it to comfort, soothe, distract.  But I am learning.  I am becoming more relaxed and accepting of myself each day, and am in touch with some wonderfully like minded souls.  I am focusing on finding ways to move my body in ways that I enjoy.  I walk more, run a little, try to be a little bit more active where I can.  I would go so far as to say I do more now, in terms of activity, than I ever did when I was a size 10.  Being slim did not mean I was healthy.

Hopefully, in time, not dieting will be viewed as normal.  People won’t jump to the assumption that not dieting = giving up on life and health!  Hopefully, as time goes on people will realise you can weigh a bit more, but still have a healthy heart, because you can still get out and move.

I’m writing this today, mostly to work out, in my head, where I am at.  A programme is being made on people who’ve stepped off the dieting merry go round, and so I’m thinking about chatting to them.  I’m wondering how qualified I am, if you know what I mean.  I haven’t got it all together.  My life isn’t perfect and sickly sweet.  But if I could be a voice for women, to help and give them a chance to feel empowered, is it worth it?