Think about it

So I feel like I’ve gone back to the beginning (again): all these weeks of writing and I am starting again. I know what I am going to do so I am going to document my steps and see how I get on.

The first thing I must do is eat mindfully. You keep hearing that word, don’t you? But basically I need to eat what I like but be aware of what I am eating. I am not going to go back to the old diet/binge cycle because there is no dieting in the future, I just need to learn to relax around food, not restrict what I eat but be aware of what I want to eat, how much of it I want, really taste the food and if I want more, have more.

A big part of eating mindfully to me is eating slowly. I think I have always eaten my meals at 100 miles an hour, usually finishing before most people are half way through. Why? Well one reason I can think of is that I came from a big family and food always seemed to be the way I felt loved so having seconds meant I was loved more! I think it’s quite common the food = love thing: I’m sure I’ve done it with my own children. I haven’t got time to spend with you but have this cake/bar of chocolate/home-cooked meal instead. Food has been so tied up with my emotions for so long that it’s hard to separate them.

The sad thing is that eating quickly meant I didn’t really taste the food and, of course, when I was finished with this super-quick eating I had more time to shout at myself for being so weak in the first place. But no more. I’ve never been a huge chocolate eater but I did want to eat it when I first felt determined enough to give up dieting. For the first few weeks it was a huge draw: I knew it was in the cupboard and I had to eat it, I had some every day. Then I realised that one of the reasons I was eating it was because my husband does have a sweet tooth and even though I bought bars I liked it didn’t stop him eating them so I felt like I had to eat them first. So then I decided to move my stash to another cupboard so I know they are there, I know they are mine, so I don’t have to eat them all and eat them quickly. Result? I haven’t had any for the best part of a week, in fact I can’t remember when I last did eat some, but when I did I really enjoyed it, it felt good. Sounds almost normal, doesn’t it?

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Step back and recap

I’m feeling a bit more sane about things today! Yesterday was a bad day, a day when I was going to end up as a woman mountain, where I was out of control, well, at least my thinking was out of control. Today I feel better, a bit more normal and a bit more reasonable.

I realised that I was panicking about the whole body/diet thing, that without my daily weighing in (and my mood adjusting accordingly) I felt rudderless. Today I realise that I am doing ok, I am on a road and I will keep going until I get to where I need to be. I need to take a step back from my feelings of being out of control, look at what I was actually doing, remember why I started all this and give myself a good slap (figuratively, of course). So I have summarised my thoughts on all this:

1 I am never going on a diet again, I am not going to starve myself, eat in a strange way, in an attempt to be a size I am not meant to be. All that has stopped;

2 Where I am now I need to be aware of what I am eating and drinking. This creates a bit of a problem because thinking about food is the last thing I want to do because it makes me think I might be hungry and then eat something but at this stage I need to be aware. I am not ready to eat like a “normal” person but I am working towards it;

3 I am fine the way I am: I am perfectly imperfect. I have my own hang-ups and I need to be aware of how much these affect my thinking;

4 I don’t eat huge amounts. When I see diet stories (yes, I still read them, maybe that should stop?) people talk about eating enormous meals, lots of snacks etc but I don’t do that. I normally eat two meals a day, plus a snack or two, one of which is normally fruit. Secret eaters wouldn’t find me very interesting but I do eat when I am bored, become aware of food and I do eat more than I need;

5 I am going to eat less: not in a “on a diet” way but rather just being aware and leaving a mouthful on every plate, re-training my brain that I don’t need to finish it all. I am also going to take a step back when I think I am hungry and tell myself to wait 20 minutes to see if I really need any food. I have done this a few times and end up not eating but I need to persevere. I have put a large question mark on the fridge just to remind myself to stop and think.

I don’t want this to go back into a disordered way of eating but I do need to think about what I am doing and why I am doing it. Time to take stock.

Make it stop!

Today I am bad tempered. Why am I bad tempered? Because I feel fat. I look at myself in the mirror and don’t like what I see: I don’t see the “good” bits, I just see the fat, the letting-go, the things that make me lesser than. Usually these feelings would make me start on another diet, another restricted eating plan, another trying-on of the jeans with a promise to make them a bit looser, look better, to make myself feel better. So much of my self worth is tied up with how I think I look. I imagine people judging me: people who haven’t seen me for a while thinking about the weight I have gained, feeling sad and ignored, and yet I know so much of this is inside my head.

Through the years I have lost (and gained) a lot of weight: the times I was slim seem to have passed in a flash and I was soon back in those comfortable clothes, long tops, trying to disguise what I see as my failure, hiding the evidence from all those people that I knew were judging me. But did I know it.

Now I am certain I can’t spend the rest of my life punishing myself, restricting what I eat, focussing on how many calories or carbs I have eaten that day, rewarding myself for being “good” and beating myself up for every lapse. A self-imposed life sentence of misery and yet the journey to learning to eat normally, to using food simply as fuel, is tortuous, every turn provides a new challenge, a new uncertainty. I keep going but I doubt myself every step of the way and wonder what those behind me are saying about my body.

Panic, panic, panic

Oh dear! I really thought I was beginning to get this sussed, that I was beginning to feel normal around my eating BUT I sabotaged myself! Why did I do that? Why couldn’t I have kept the faith a little bit longer, become more relaxed, be more accepting of myself? Why did all the old ways of thinking start creeping back into my head? I feel disappointed in myself.

So what was my big mistake? Yesterday was not a great day so what should I wear? Too cold for a skirt and my trousers were in the wash so why not wear jeans? But, of course, the jeans were a bit too tight to wear. Yes I could get the button done up but the flesh trying to escape from above the waistline was not what I wanted to see, not what I wanted to be. So the negative voices started screaming inside my head, telling me that I had let myself go, that I needed to get back onto the diet treadmill. These voices woke me up this morning and start suggesting that I get back onto the bathroom scales, confront my fat, get myself back under control, start again with the ridiculous diet spiral of self-hate, depression and misery. The only good part of this story is that I resisted. I am trying to accept this is just a blip, just a small step back on the road to self acceptance, of being able to eat normally and be ok around food. I am doing well so I can’t let myself sabotage myself again.