I've been thinking about the issues surrounding dieting for about a year and I finally feel like I've made some strides. Something I've learned from the author of this book is that you can't replace your unhealthy patterns with new healthy ones, until you deconstruct your unhealthy patterns. I have body image issues and they run deep.

I never thought of myself as a dieter, which is strange, since I'm always on some diet and have been most of my adult life. I guess I had a hard time admitting it and I just considered it healthy eating. A big change in my thinking has come recently, because I am no longer the awesome restrictor I used to be.  I could deny myself food so well in the past, that it was never a problem to loose weight. I just starved myself, slowly, until the weight was gone.

My first major immersion into dieting was after Willie and I spent a summer camping and road tripping before he started law school.  I always gained weight when I was out of my norm like going on study abroad or on my mission, but I lost it once my routine went back to normal.

This time was different. Dieting become a part of my regular life. My clothes were tight after our summer adventures so I thought I'd try out weight watchers to drop a few lbs.  It ended up being a thrilling experience.  I loved controlling my body and seeing the weight fall off. I've always related love with being skinny. I lost the few lbs then kept going.  I had lost so much weight that everyone was saying that I was starting to look too thin.  I was just going to roll with it. I weighed less than I did in high school and now my clothes were all too big.  Then I got pregnant and dieting fell by the wayside while I was pregnant for three months and miscarried the baby, recovered, then got pregnant again with Wyatt.

During Wyatt and Hank's pregnancy I indulged in any food I wanted to eat and gained a lot of weight. Then I went back to my restricting ways and was able to loose the weight but it got harder.  After my pregnancy with Lula, everything is different.  I can't restrict what I eat to the point that I used to. I want to rebel from restricting.  I want to eat what I want.  In this book, I learned that restricting and indulging are just two ends of the same problem, using food to fill a hole.  It comes from a place of shame and fear.  These feelings are so complicated because I don't want a life of obsessing about food and weight.  I don't want to be defined by the way I look. I know there is more to me than my body but being thin has become an obsession. This book uncovered so much for me.  Deciding to give up dieting and learn to trust my body has filled me with excitement and euphoria.  I feel free.

I read a similar book over a year ago and it freaked me out. In this book, Geneen Roth says to pay close attention to whatever makes you want to bolt.  It will tell you something important about yourself.  Last year, I tried to eat whatever I want for a month or so, after coming off a restrictive diet, and I ended up just eating sweets and gaining at least 5lbs and feeling horrible.  I hadn't quite grasped the ideas yet and I was terrified that I would never stop eating. I also couldn't bear the thought of accepting myself at my current weight.

A little time and more knowledge has brought me to a much better place. I have come to terms with the fact that my body may stay this way. This is what is real right now. I am healthy. I am fit.  My body can do amazing things, like running 13.1 miles and enjoying about 11 miles of it.  I can run these beautiful trails where I live and smell the desert and see the animals.  What is first and foremost for me now is that I treat my body kindly, that I give it fuel so I'm healthy and strong and can do all the wonderful things I want to do.

I also deconstruct the crazy thoughts in my head, over and over again.  For instance.  The other day I was getting ready to go to the gym. I looked in the mirror and thought, I'm fat.  What if someone at the gym notices that I wasn't able to loose my baby weight? They saw me when I was in such great shape before I got pregnant.  They'll think I'm the worst.

There probably are people at the gym that would think that, but really, who cares?  Why do I care?  I think about it for a while and realize that I feel like I've failed for not returning to my pre baby weight. I've lost the control I had. I feel like people might think I can't do hard things, I'm lazy or indulgent. So I think it through in my head and see the thoughts for what they are (just thoughts) and what they uncover about how I feel about myself. Almost every thought leads back to a place of fearing that I'm not lovable.

This book teaches eating as a practice. It's not a program or something to fall off of. It's a practice.  It's mindful eating. You get better at it with time and it comes from a place of love for yourself. What hit me the most was, eat when you are hungry and eat what your body wants.  She goes into more detail about each of these, but the idea of only eating when I'm hungry is so simple but hard to get in tune with.  This is about what your body wants/needs to be healthy, energetic, strong and happy. It's not about numbing, entertainment, habit, etc. This is really hard.

I'll update as I go, but I've only been internalizing these ideas for about a month so I'm kind of new to this all.  Below are the eating guidelines.

1. Eat when you are hungry.

2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.

3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.

4. Eat what your body wants.

5. Eat until you are satisfied. How do you feel?

6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.

7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.

I'm Writing

I feel like writing lately. I even have a notebook. I haven't written anything in it yet, but I have it. I've even had some poetry imagery come to me.  This is a big deal. I haven't considered myself a writer in years.  I feel the need to use my voice and put my words out there. I don't know where "there" is yet, but I have to start experimenting and this is a good place to start.

A while back, I thought I was at the cusp of a mid-life crisis or a depressive episode (if only medication could fix it).  It turns out it was a mid-life crisis, breakdown, awakening or something like that. That all sounds kind of dramatic. I'm not sure what to name it. I think naming it is kind of reductive. There are a lot of things that have been leading up to this.

Here is what Brene Brown said on the subject, "People may call what happens at midlife "a crisis," but it's not.  It's an unraveling -- a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live,
not the one you're "supposed" to live.  The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are."

It was painful and I was crying a lot, that's why I thought it was depression.  I'll maybe write more about it later, but what I want to write about now is how much better I'm feeling. Not only do I feel
better, but I feel hungry for knowledge and learning.  This last year has become a time of self discovery and inquiry. It's been hard and scary but very fulfilling. I guess you could say I was living on auto pilot and getting knocked off that has been a huge growing experience.

I wrote this a while back about being a feminist in the Mormon church.  This was the start of my unravelling.  It became impossible to stay on auto pilot and I could no longer resist my emotions.  I was afraid of being overpowered by sadness. The unraveling had been trying to happen for years.  I actually remember calling it a pre-mid life crisis after Hank's birth. This excommunication and backlash against Mormon Feminists broke my heart. I was hesitant when I wrote this post, and I never publicly shared it since it's such a charged subject but I'm much stronger now. I was afraid of what people would think of me or say to me or afraid they would stop loving me. I was so desperate for approval that I was afraid to use my voice.

I have come a long way in trusting myself.  It's okay if people don't feel the same way I do.  I also understand that some people didn't give a second thought to this subject. I know most Mormons are over it, but it affected me deeply.  I had absurd expectations about how my beloved religion (institutionally and socially) would treat it's members. I was so disappointed.

I increased my medication last year and it could not touch what I was feeling, which I think was grief.  I started a round of therapy, at the recommendation of my doctor. I have had several positive
experiences with therapy and I agreed it would be helpful.   I have something I call my "cry-o-meter".  To give you an example, my first session of therapy, I did not come up for air in my crying the whole time. Sobbing for an hour straight is exhausting. I had been holding a lot in. Every session I cried a little less until I eventually didn't cry at all and started feeling much better and in control of my own life.  Once my therapist and I started talking about things, like where I got my highlights or what book I was reading, we decided that it was time for me to stop coming.

The therapy book we used, Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life, was an answer to prayer. It showed me that I was creating mental pain for myself and living a life in my head, instead of living a full and meaningful life right now. I was suffering from negative thought patterns.  The voice in my head is judgmental, self righteous, belittling and mean. I was believing the voice in my head. I was
believing those damaging thoughts instead of seeing and accepting the real me.  I was resisting feeling and examining my pain. Pain from fear and shame. I was loosing myself in it. I had to be willing to take my emotions in the moment without defense.

To quote from the book, "Willingness and acceptance means adopting a gentle, loving posture toward yourself, your history, and you programming so that it becomes more likely for you simply to be aware of your own experience. The goal of willingness is not to feel better. The goal is to open up yourself to the vitality of the moment, and to move more effectively toward what you value."

This whole experience includes a lot of aspects of my life (spirituality, culture, family, my creativity, embracing aging, my values, religion, belief, doubts, wants, regrets, uncertainty, body image, motherhood, etc).  My capacity for empathy has opened up, my capacity for love has deepened, my connection to God is stronger.  I'm trying to embrace uncertainty.  I'm trusting my intuition. The best way I can explain it, is that my heart broke wide open and I'm so thankful.

We had a great road trip last weekend.  First we went to Stake temple day in Monticello, Utah.  The Stake provides childcare once a year and we haven't missed the blessed occasion in years.  We normally camp out but we decided that this would be a good time to go to Durango for me to take some pictures for my friend Chad's website.  Case is in the process of making him a new website for his construction business and working on his branding. I was able to see his new logo in action on one of his tractors.

From Monticello we went to Cortez and were hoping to have some time to spend in Mesa Verde but we were running too late and went straight to Durango.  Chad put us up in his posh condo.  I could not get over the beautiful scenery and how nice the condo was.  We went on walks, played cards, went swimming, stayed up late watching a Jackie Chan  movie with the boys, went out to eat and Willie and I stayed up late reading and talking.

I took pictures on Saturday and we had some crazy beautiful rain.  Sunday morning we went to Mesa Verde and it was everything I thought it would be. It was so cool. I can't wait to go back.  Then we drove home through the mountains and it was such a beautiful drive.  The kids were great in the car.  Lula fussed a little when we were at the ruins but in general she did great.  I can't believe what beautiful things we live close to.

Also, Durango, where have you been all my life? Sometimes Willie and I have the "where else could you see us living" conversation.  I could never really think of a place that's a good fit.  Durango is such a good fit, besides Willie not having a job there and how expenses houses are.  We looked through houses a little bit online and I was bummed about what was in our price range. It made me thankful for our current house. It may need a lot of work, but I love it. It suits us so well and was affordable.

We will be back to Durango, though, hopefully soon.  The landscape was a much improved version of my childhood landscape. It felt great.

Here is a picture recap of our journey.  Pictures don't do it justice, but I had to try.  Also, it's time to pay my dues by editing the pictures of Chad's houses I took. He builds beautiful, huge, artistic houses with great lighting, but they are still pictures of houses. Blah.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home