With all this writing about what I do and don’t eat, why I eat, when I eat and how I feel about eating I have found it easy to forget that the way I appear in the world is much more about the way I feel about myself. In the past a tiny gain in weight was enough to ruin my mood, imagining that I had somehow become a different shape overnight and everyone could see the extra bit of weight on my hips! It sounds ridiculous when I write it down but I know that’s what was going through my head. I’d like to say that giving up the bathroom scales had cured me of this but I think I just put another measure in its place, ie panicking about eating too much like the whole bag of chocolate as I wrote about yesterday.
When I look back on my adult life I can see my weight fluctuating by several stones, me feeling great in tight jeans and a failure in stretchy trousers but when I talk to friends they didn’t notice this; what they did comment on is the way I looked to the world, whether I was happy or sad. I’ve always made an effort with the way I look regardless of my weight: my hair is done, make-up applied and I like to think I coordinate my clothes well but a tiny increase was enough to make me doubt myself, worry about what others were thinking. I’d be very angry if my daughters only judged their worths by the size of their thighs but I can see now that perhaps I passed on a lot of my weight hangups onto them and that’s probably how they do feel. Yes I dressed it up as healthy eating, with the odd random alleged allergy, but the message was probably the same and I can remember telling them occasionally when I felt “fat”. That makes me feel sad. I am worth more than that and they are worth more than that.
I am learning to like myself more. Of course the negative body chatter still goes on when my clothes feel tighter or I’ve eaten more than I eat but I find it easier to shout it down. I might never lose weight, I might end up bigger than I am now but I feel determined that I have better things to do with my life than obsess about what I eat and the size of my stomach!
I haven’t been writing for the past few weeks as I am trying not to think about this all the time and unfortunately writing about it brings it back to the front of my mind (well, to be honest, it’s there most of the time but I am trying to ignore it). So what have I achieved so far?
1 I have given up dieting. I am never going to diet again. I have wasted too much of my life trying to lose weight on conventional diets, the latest wisdom, without getting anywhere, well ending up bigger than I started. No more!
2 I am eating better, more natural foods, but not denying myself treats. I am working towards finding a way of being relaxed around food, eating, my body, my weight, myself basically.
So far, so positive but one thing I am really struggling with is understanding when I am moderately hungry. I think for so many years I haven’t been at this stage (either stuffed or starving) that I can’t seem to identify when to eat something to stop myself getting really hungry and then having a binge. The steps seem very simple: eat when you’re moderately hungry, eat until you’re fairly satisfied and stop but what happens when you can’t identify this point? I know when I’m famished (normally when I’ve been busy or engrossed in something and my stomach is rumbling loud enough to hear) but normal, everyday hunger? I’m not sure I know what that is. Something like I could eat a bit but not a whole meal. And the calculation is further complicated by mouth hunger (mainly because I am trying to work out if I am hungry or is it just because I am thinking about food) and my past (dieting, eating at set times etc).
Now that’s a bit difficult: I don’t live alone so I can’t always say I’m not eating now as I’m not that hungry as we have dinner, say, at the same time every night. Does my body now get hungry at that time because it knows it’s dinner time? Once I eat dinner I don’t really want anything else though those chattering voices can suggest I might like a bit of chocolate but if I resist then those feelings go away. It’s something I am working on but when I have spent so many years with my eating being governed by external rules it’s not easy to go back to working it out for myself.
I’ve been having a bad time: not with this stuff but with life in general. I’ve had a few knock-backs and am feeling vulnerable, sorry for myself. So what is the best thing I can do? Eat, of course. Now we are not talking about 12 packets of biscuits, 10 loaves of bread etc but it was mindless eating And I’m doing this even though I know it doesn’t work.
I came back from a disappointing meeting and before I knew it I was sitting on the sofa eating crisps. How did that happen? It was all very autopilot: I didn’t make a decision to do it, I just found it had happened. Disappointing, especially on top of the other things in life but when I came back to consciousness about what I was doing I felt pleased that I had put the crisps into a bowl rather than downing a family-sized packet on my own and I was pleased I became aware. I knew what I was doing and I carried on doing it but I think that momentarily pausing, at least in my head if not the journey from bowl to my mouth, is important. It makes me feel things can get better, they can change. My problem is that when I’m feeling down I have an attitude of what does any of this matter? My diet, the size of my body, seem irrelevant and by eating more than I want or need I seem intent on making an another stick to beat myself up with. I suppose I still yearn for slimness, feel my life would be better if my thighs didn’t rub together, and yet I do things to sabotage myself. I might never be any smaller than I am now and maybe I just have to get my head around that. My ongoing fear is that I will end up much bigger than I am now because I am not watching everything I eat, allowing myself to eat what I want, I’m not weighing myself. That side of my life feels out of control and yet I know the control I used to have didn’t make me happier, healthier or slimmer. I have to persevere but I feel like I have jumped out of a plane and I’m not sure my parachute is going to open. It’s all very scary.