Thursday, July 16, 2009

un-learning what I've learned

Last month, I decided to organize a "Biggest Loser" contest at my office. I've since dropped out, but not because I am giving up. I'm taking a new path.

Over the past... 20 or so years, I have spent a lot of time thinking about food. What to eat, what not to eat, how many calories (or WW points) everything is, how much I have to exercise to burn off whatever I ate for dinner, writing down what I've eaten -- and deciding whether to write something down at all (like those miniature york peppermint patties that I keep in my freezer)... and somehow, it never seems to end. I have been brainwashed by WW, so it's not a "diet" it's a "lifestyle change" -- I haven't used the word "diet" in forever.

In the last year, I've been working with a nutritionist and a personal trainer (three years with the trainer), and although I know I'm in much better shape than I was when I started -- I definitely have more stamina, and I can lift about 2x the weight-- I haven't gotten any smaller.

Why isn't it working? What's wrong with me? The nutritionist suggested that I go see a "food therapist," who could help me figure it all out.

My first session with the therapist was excellent. I didn't cry (much). She's going to help me figure out my food issues -- and along the way, probably a host of other issues! -- and she's started me on a program of "Intuitive Eating." When I looked the book up online after the session, I was really excited to read the ten principles of Intuitive Eating.... but also a little scared.
  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Respect Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise--Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health
I've listened to the audiobook of part 1, and I have to say, principle #1 absolutely floored me.
Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
It's going to literally mean un-brainwashing myself, never thinking about calorie counts or "good fooods" and "stupid foods" (that's what I called them)... ever again! No more weighing myself! No more scale! (The audiobook says "The scale is evil." I wrote that one down.) :)

Needless to say, as soon as I got the first CD, and read the website, I stopped doing Weight Watchers, cold turkey. No more recording every bite that went into my mouth. No more worrying about portion size, or whether I could eat french fries or not. And, even though I'm still going to the gym 3x or 4x a week, I've started gaining weight.

And therein lies the rub. One of the main points of the first principle is that you have to put the idea of weight loss on the back burner. And accept the fact that, while you're first getting started with Intuitive Eating, you will probably gain weight. AAAH! I don't know how to be ok with gaining weight. I can feel it slowly attaching itself to my midsection. Eventually, according to the book, your body will recover from the constant yo-yo-ing of diets, and shift toward your ideal weight - whatever your body wants it to be. Here's another challenge for me - on the one hand, I'm not supposed to worry about what I weight, right? but on the other hand, in the back of my mind, I need to believe that my "ideal weight" is smaller than where I am now. and I know from experience that if I don't think about calories and I don't get to the gym all the time, I gain tons of weight. AAAAH! It's making my head explode.

This week, I told the therapist about this concern (aka major freak-out) about what would happen if my body wants to be bigger. She said, "Well, you can always go back on a diet." But somehow, I can't see myself doing that either. I just have to be patient. She said that the more she listened to me talk, the more she could tell that it really was going to be a radical change for me to do Intuitive Eating, and she was glad I was sticking with it.

So who wants to go have a burger on Friday? ;)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009