Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I haven’t written in what seems like forever, I guess I’ve been processing what I am going through, and haven’t been clear enough about my feelings to share them. I have missed my community (all of you) though, and I decided I wanted to share some of what’s been going on, even if I can’t be exactly eloquent at this point.
As some of you may remember, a few months ago I made a commitment to myself to be accountable for what I was putting in my mouth. I had been on a diet, but getting nowhere. I felt that I was being “good”, but week after week, the scale refused to reward my efforts. This was particularly frustrating, because my diet had me living in a state of self-denial, working so hard to be perfect, yet not being rewarded. It was at that point that I felt I needed to get really honest with myself, and start counting, measuring, documenting every single thing that I ate, in the hopes that it would shed some light on what it was, exactly, that wasn’t working.
Documenting was a useful tool for a while; it opened my eyes to some things that I had been in denial about: portion sizes, etc., and it also complemented my natural control-freak tendencies. But, though I wound up reducing my calorie intake by about 800 calories a day (!) my weight loss was still fairly slow and incremental.
Now I don’t have that much weight to lose (about 20 pounds) and I know that the closer you are to your ideal weight, the more difficult it is to make the body let go, but it was very frustrating to have stepped up my plan so vigorously and still have no success (or not the level of success I’d hoped for).
But what was also frustrating was I was beginning to feel like a prisoner in my own body. My record keeping began to feel obsessive; it seemed I was always thinking about what I could, or couldn’t, have to eat. And that started to be crazy making. I started to feel angry and resentful – especially at the scale- and I wanted to be free of the whole frustrating process.
It was about this time that I went away for five days. I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to sustain the record keeping, calorie and point counting, it just didn’t jive with the social situation I was in. I made up my mind that I was just going to trust my instincts, and trust that I would be okay. I enjoyed my visit, and when I got home, I was delighted to find that not only hadn’t I sabotaged myself, but indeed, I had lost more weight than I’d lost with all my usual controlling.
I went back to my usual approach and subsequently went back to losing a half a pound a week. But then two weeks later, I went away again, this time for three days, and when I got home, I again found that I had lost more than my at-home average. And for neither visit had I been particularly active, in fact, I’d been less active, so it truly seemed for some not-understood reason, eating in a freer manner worked better for me. After the second such experience, I felt ready to trust myself, to be intuitive in my approach to food: to go “natural”.
I felt the documenting, and learning so much about the nutritional/fat/caloric content of my food had been very helpful, because I really did learn a lot that I could carry away with me, forever changing my level of awareness, and therefore making it more difficult to be in denial about my compulsive eating. But I definitely felt that I had carried the strict approach to an excessive degree. My attitude toward my food became so rigid that I didn’t feel any flexibility, and that felt oppressive. I knew that I had to give it a break or lose my mind.
But unfortunately, “going natural” at home didn’t work for me quite as well as it did when I’d been away. I haven’t had the dreaded experience: gaining weight, though I haven’t lost weight, either. It has felt good to allow myself to eat some things that normally, I wouldn’t allow myself: a teaspoon of honey in my tea, a glass of juice; but also it feels good to not micro-manage.
Of course, the bad thing is the return of all my fears: that I can’t rust myself, that I will “go crazy” and blow up like a balloon, but so far, so good.
I want to learn how to trust myself. I proved to myself that I can do it; I went away and ate healthy, balanced and reasonably. However, I was away on a relaxing get away, away from all the pressures and stresses of my daily life. It is at home that I am most vulnerable to my compulsive tendency toward excess; because it is there that I am most challenged.
I guess all I can do is take it one day at a time, not only in my approach toward my food, but also in my approach to trusting myself. I guess no amount of writing stuff down, weighing, measuring, counting or planning can fix that feeling inside of me that is afraid of my relationship to food. Somehow, somewhere, along the way that delicate, highly personal balance between food and me was set a-kilter, and all I can do is to keep trying to find that balance, that center, deep inside of me, that interestingly enough, I suspect, may have nothing to do with food.