Goodbye Dieting

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.


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