Weighty Matters

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The Non-Diet Mentality

Life is still super stressful.  I’m feeling a little piled-on at the moment, experiencing more than the usual amount of stress both at work and in my personal life.  I’ve been getting headaches over it and on any given night could wake up around 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. and not be able to fall back asleep for a few hours.  It sucks.  Plain and simple.   You know the people and internet memes that tout how it’s up to us to choose our attitude?  Trust me.  I am all about being positive and upbeat.  So, a good attitude would definitely be my choice – if I could find one.  I’m going to keep looking.  Honest.  I can feel the stress affecting me not only emotionally and mentally, but also physically.

So, really, I am doing my best to counteract the negativity.  When my head starts to pound and I can practically feel my blood pressure rising, I focus on deep, calming, breathing.  I take walks and do Tai Chi.  When stress thoughts begin to repeat in my head like hyped-up hamsters on an endless wheel (what I believe psychiatrists refer to as inefficient worrying), and disturb my sleep, I pick up a book to read for a little while rather than toss, turn and keep thinking the thoughts.

I practice being grateful.  I also keep repeating the Serenity Prayer.  I have a full cache of techniques and tools and am doing my best to employ them effectively.  When all else fails, I simply remember that the stress won’t last forever and this is not the worst time of my life – not anywhere close.  In the grand scheme of things, these fall somewhere in the “small stuff” category — or at least the “medium stuff” — and I can handle them.

One of the positives that I acknowledge and celebrate is that I’m not eating over the stress.  Actually, I’m doing far better following the Always Hungry food plan of low refined and white carbs/low sugar but full fat and protein than I ever thought possible.  I don’t have physical cravings and am not dancing on a micro-thin ledge where a slight push could have me jumping into compulsion or binge eating on crap foods.

It really is a sensible, workable food plan in my life.  I never thought I’d say that about a low-carb plan.

I should point out that my weight loss has not been fast, significant nor steady.  When I first started phase one of Always Hungry?, I lost 11 pounds in two weeks.  Then I put on three of the pounds when I went to phase two.  I went back to phase one with occasional whole grains and didn’t lose anything for weeks.  A couple of weeks ago, I lost the three pounds I’d regained, then stalled again.  This week I dropped another two.  (At least as of today.)

The lack of consistent weight loss has been frustrating.  I crave instant gratification and rapid loss.  There’s a lesson in this for me and I am cautiously optimistic that I am finally learning to give up the diet mindset and embrace a non-diet mentality.  Doing that was an important part of when I first experienced recovery many, many years ago in OA.  It is important that I remember, and positively reinforce, myself for the daily effort of eating according to my plan; that I find joy in making good, healthy food choices.

Most of the time, I really am jazzed that I seek out fresh, good food instead of chowing down on processed stuff.  I take time to acknowledge when I make good choices.  Earlier today I had a Chamber of Commerce luncheon to go to.  The restaurant featured a salad bar and a series of buffet items.  There were plenty of things I could have loaded on my plate.  Instead I fixed a nice salad with fresh ingredients that weren’t carb or sugar-laden.  I bypassed the rice at the buffet and picked some sauteed vegetables and a little bit of the shredded meat.  The ciabatta rolls looked great but I walked right by them to my table.  Skipped the dessert offering too.  Everything I consumed was right in line with my food plan.  That was the NSV, the non-scale victory.  Even faced with the opportunity of non-plan foods, I chose to eat according to plan.  At no time did I feel deprived or like I was eating diet food.  I wasn’t dieting at lunch, per se.  I was just eating lunch period.

This is the mentality that I will continue to foster.   I know that I’m also on the mark with my portion sizes and striking the balance between healthy carbs, protein and fat.  As long as I continue to follow this approach, eventually I’ll lose more weight.  The journey might be slow, but I can hopefully condition myself to accept that too.

There have been a lot of stories in the news about this study done with contestants from a season of The Biggest Loser.  All or most of them have regained most of the weight that they lost while on that program.  There were also very discouraging claims that our body fights to get back to the number we weighed before we dieted.  Dr. Ludwig, who created the Always Hungry? plan offers hope that it doesn’t have to be that way.  That this plan does indeed help us conquer cravings, retrain our fat cells and lose weight permanently.  For today, I’m taking it on faith that he’s right.

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Believing in Efforts/Avoiding Diet Mentality

Day three of week two without processed grains and refined sugar and I’m still on track.  I’m not preparing every meal suggested in the book’s daily plan but still sticking to the percentages of protein/fat/carbs in every meal.  Physically I feel good.  Emotionally, the mood variations have settled down.  Mentally and emotionally, I’m happy.  It is a great boost to commit to a plan and honor that commitment every day.  Success breeds success.  I do this a day at a time, but each day that I stick to it becomes a building block in the foundation that supports more long term recovery.

I was never ever willing to abstain for a long time from breads, pastas, white potatoes, white flour products and sugar.   Even though there were many times that I followed extremely restrictive diets that removed all of those foods – or in one case ALL food period – I always hated doing so.  (Yes, I once went six months surviving on a godawful tasting liquid protein with weekly trips to NYC for medical monitoring.)  I felt freakish about my inability to sustain long term weight loss, and resentful that I could not eat like a “normal” person.  When I first discovered that I have an eating disorder and found the OA program, I thoroughly resented my past history of fad, harsh diets.  So, I rebelled from doing anything that reminded me of any old plans.

I don’t know why it feels different to me this time around and why I’m willing.  It could be as simple as the fact that while I gave up the “white” products, I’m still allowed colorful, tasty fruits and veggies of all kinds plus the higher fat content products.  Oh, and that wonderful treat of dark chocolate means a lot.  However, I think there is a more involved evolution at play.  Although I have not yet lost all of the weight that I would like to, the last four years have taught and shown me something about myself.  I am maintaining a significant weight loss and have for four years.  This is something that I have never been able to do for myself in the past.  I always yo-yoed up and down the scale.  I could diet like a fiend on specific plans and lose a great deal of weight, but I always always always put it back on, usually with extra pounds on top.  That’s how I gradually grew to close to 400 pounds.

Knowing, acknowledging how much I have changed, learned, and accomplished with regards to my weight and health creates a belief in myself that I’ve always lacked.  Sure, in the past I always hoped that each time would be the magic effort that worked.  However, at heart I don’t think I really believed that my efforts would result in long term success.  My relationship with myself and with food has changed so much and for the better.  I no longer have any interest in atrocious fast foods and willingly cook with more fresh produce in healthier ways.

I love the positive changes in my body and my physical fitness.  It feels great to move, to see the muscle definition, experience my strength.

Most importantly, I believe that I will continue to be successful.  That I will continue to improve my physical health.  I’m committed to maintaining the new, healthier me.

These changes make it not such a big deal to give up more specific foods.  I’m not saying that I’ll never eat pasta or bread again, but I know for sure that I don’t need them in my every day diet.  Giving them up doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing.  I’m not experiencing the resentful, “I can’t have it” feelings.  It feels like a positive, okay choice for today.

 

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Diet Mentality

Last week I had a phone consultation with a nutritionist. I feel like I’m sort of slogging along and not making any progress. I know this woman through other friends in town and know that she’s all about healthy, balanced eating, striving for “clean” foods, respecting our bodies and our metabolisms, etc. The friends who have worked with her on their nutritional programs and weight loss efforts have achieved good results and like what they’re learning from her. After thinking a lot about it, I decided that a consultation was a good idea and a potentially positive step forward.

I’m always leery of tipping over into a diet mentality. For me, I equate “diets” with huge restrictions and that thinking leads to negative feelings of deprivation. The chattering monkeys then hook up with the mind squirrels and I begin to think that I need to hoard food and protect at all costs my need and right to eat whatever I want. Sometimes just thinking about denying myself a certain food triggers my eating disorder.

Devising a healthy food plan with a broader approach calms my mind and buffers me from that diet mentality. Even though I ultimately restrict my food choices, the key is that the action remains a choice and not a demand. I do much better thinking, “Choose to eat more clean, unprocessed foods and emphasize fruit and vegetables over breads, potatoes and other starches” than I do when someone says, “No carbs. Only a little fruit. No more than XX grams of XXXXX or XX grams of XXXXX a day.”

It’s a mental and emotional balancing act, but when I approach it calmly, I reap physical benefits.

I like having a nutritional professional working along with me. You’d think after all this time, I could serve as my own expert, but I’m not. Left to my own devices, I can easily veer off in the wrong direction. I’ve made a lot of progress, true, and I’m much better informed than I was in the past, but there’s more improvement that I can make as I continue to move forward.

The nutritionist and I will speak again this week. She’s working on a plan outline for me. I know that I’m steering clear of the dreaded diet mentality because I’m looking forward to discussing the plan with positive anticipation instead of diet dread.

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