Weighty Matters

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The Serenity of Not Obsessing

on November 23, 2012

It’s around 9 p.m. and I’ve effectively completed my second day of the three day detox-cleanse.  (www.doctoroz.com)  I’m finishing off with a last cup of hot green tea and soon will go in for the nightly epsom salt bath that is recommended as part of the program.   The process continues to be a whole lot easier than I expected.  I got up, blended the ingredients for the breakfast drink, and drank it slowly.  Then I went off to another Zumba class.  It’s the first time that I’ve done Zumba two days in a row.  This morning’s class was a “Gold” variety so it was a little less intense but still beneficial.

After my manicure appointment, I lingered over the remainder of yesterday’s lunch drink.  I think it’s deliberate that the mid-day drink has the most solid ingredients.  It really was a lot.  A few hours after lunch, for the “snack” drink, I mixed up a less-packed version of the mid-day recipe, mostly to use up the rest of the green apple before it turned brown.  I got some work done around the house, caught up on some class discussions, and then treated myself to a nap.

Naps can never be overrated.  Since I didn’t sleep later than usual, I consider being able to take a little “lie down” in the afternoon a wonderful treat on a day off from work.  When I woke up, I played with the dogs, then settled in to chat on the phone with a friend and savor the dinner drink.

This all sounds like my day revolved around my food intake, but honestly, it didn’t.  There’s a difference between devising and then executing the plan and constantly obsessing about food.  Trust me, I am a champion obsesser when it comes to food.  I know whereof I speak.  When I am at my best with abstinence, I don’t constantly think about food.  (By abstinence, I mean abstaining from compulsively eating or binge eating.  It doesn’t mean that I’m abstaining from food itself.)

Because I committed to doing this detox, the entire decision process was completed before my first day even began.  I’d read the plan, purchased everything I needed, and only had to execute when I woke up yesterday.  For each liquid meal, I simply had to pull out the right ingredients and follow the recipes, then consume the blended drink.   I didn’t need to figure out before each meal what I was going to have.  I already knew.   The only decision was whether to stick with the plan or not, and I’ve been strong in my commitment.

Those of us who have an eating disorder face a challenge that addicts with other drugs of choice do not.  I think I’ve said this before.  An alcoholic does not need liquor to survive.  Neither does someone hooked on drugs.  When they first get clean, they need to cope with breaking the physical addiction and, God knows, that’s a battle, but once it’s over their choice at any given time is: drink or don’t drink; dope, don’t dope.

Compulsive overeaters do not have that choice.  We have to eat food every day.  Several times a day, for most of us.  In OA, we used to call it letting the beast out of the cage.   Please understand that I’m not minimizing the struggles faced by any other addict.  One addiction isn’t worse or easier than the other.  It’s just different.  My choice with every meal isn’t eat or don’t eat.  It’s “I’m about to eat, but what and how?”

Over the course of a lifetime, some of the diets that I did the best on were the ones that greatly restricted my choices.  Take Optifast, for example, when I didn’t eat solid food.  I just drank the drink.  I did great for a period of time and lost a good chunk of weight — until I stopped and went back to eating actual food.  In college I was on liquid protein for several months.  Noxious, horrible tasting stuff that I knocked back like a shot of liquor.  When that is the only choice, it’s an easy choice to make — until the need to chew something becomes overpowering.

Back in the early 1980s when I lost 100 pounds, I ate real food, but only protein and a half cup of vegetables a day.  I ate so much broiled chicken and turkey that year, it’s amazing that I didn’t cluck or gobble like human poultry.

Okay, I’m digressing.  Sorry.  Back to today and my point.  Doing this detox reintroduced me to the serenity that comes when I don’t have to obsess about my food choices.   My brain has not been under attack by a gagillion thoughts of food.  I’m not beset by cravings for things that I can’t have for these three days.  I can be around foods that aren’t on my plan and ignore them.  I’m not warding off a barrage of “want want want”.

This is so much easier on my mind and emotions.  I’m relaxed and at ease, and I know this is how it must feel most days to people who don’t have eating disorders.  The contrast is staggering.  I realize that for the last couple of months, I’ve been back into obsession mode.  No wonder I’ve had trouble.  When I think so much and so often about food, it wears down my resolve and makes me susceptible to the cravings.  Then, nearly unconsciously, I’m working in a few carbs here, a little extra serving there.

Since I can’t always live on a liquid diet of blended fruits and veggies and, honestly, don’t want to, I really thought about this.  I’ve been good over the last 9 or 10 months about having the foods I can eat readily available.  I make lists for the grocery store.  I take my lunch to work.  These are all good, effective tools.

I started thinking about the years when I first went to OA.  I didn’t “diet” per se, but I followed a food plan.   Every morning, I wrote down what I would eat that day.  I physically created the plan and committed to it that morning.  As long as I followed the plan, I could count myself as having been “abstinent” that day.  I believe that made the difference.  By writing down the plan in the morning, I determined my choices.  From that point on, I didn’t have to think about different foods.  I only had to execute the plan.  Without consciously dieting or eliminating specific foods, by following that practice one day at a time, I lost 50 pounds.

I haven’t been doing that step.  I’ve logged foods into My Fitness Plan after eating so that I could track calories, protein, carbs, etc.  However, that’s not the same thing and doesn’t have the same effectiveness.

Allow me a moment for a eureka, “a ha” moment.   I’m going back to thinking about my progress in terms of abstinence.  I get to count yesterday and today because I have the printed plan from Dr. Oz in front of me and have been following it.  That represents having it written down.  So, I have now been abstinent for two days.  I will follow the plan again tomorrow.  Starting Sunday, before I eat or drink anything, I will write down my food plan for the day.  Although I will have a wider variety of foods from which to choose, I will plan each food choice and not deviate.

This works for me.  Even with more variety, the choice becomes “be abstinent or not”.  Believe me, that’s easier than, “what food when”.   That guards against my own compulsion and relieves me of obsession.  This paves the way for serenity.  With serenity comes greater success.

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3 responses to “The Serenity of Not Obsessing

  1. Skye says:

    Good for you! Important realizations like that are like gifts. It’s good to see you having a plan to put into place, and seeing how not having something like this was starting to become a problem for you. Problem addressed! That’s great. Looking forward to seeing how it works out. And your telling us how you feel after the detox is over. I’ve never done anything like that, and don’t even have a blender or space to put one, so it’s kind of not on my horizon. But I’d like to hear how it was for you!

  2. What works for you is what works. I totally get where you are coming from re the food plan, and I know that it helps me. That, along with a lot of running, is the way I’ve lost 26.5 pounds since August. Another 20 to go and I can work on maintaining my weight rather than losing it. I like your way of framing it: make the plan, then execute it.

    All the best for the ongoing journey, and I’m looking forward to hearing your evaluation of the detox as a whole.

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