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.

Thank you

I’ve written before about how the opinion of other people about how I look matters so much to me: I think they are contemplating any changes in my body even though I know they don’t even notice and if they did they don’t find it very interesting. That’s my stuff.

And yet…. The odd kind comment, compliment, positive remark makes such a difference to the way I feel. This week, for example, two people told me how well I was dressed (I do like to make an effort) and then I get a few messages through this blog, kind messages of encouragement. This positive feedback allows me to take a deep breath and keep my focus on this plan of mine. Over the years I’ve tried to do this over and over again and kept creeping back to the scales, the diets, the worry, the endless boredom of it all, but this times feels better, it’s lasted longer and other people have given me the boost to keep going.

I felt pleased with myself yesterday as I had a glass of wine! So what, big deal, BUT I didn’t feel the need to have another, finish a bottle with my partner. Instead we went out for a walk and I felt proud that I hadn’t used food or drink to fill the emptiness inside me. I walked in the early evening sunshine with my partner and daughter and it felt good, I felt good and the size of my body simply didn’t matter. It feels good.

Being kind to myself

In panic brain mode I believe I am going to wake up every day doubled in size but my logical brain knows life doesn’t work like that, my body doesn’t work like that. I need to relax, stop thinking so much and most of all stop thinking about all this so much (perhaps blogging about it isn’t helping?). I was going to write that I wished I was one of those people who binged on food so I could stop doing that but the truth is that I probably eat less than most people I know. I take tablets that slow down my metabolism so that doesn’t help and I think over the years I have kept my weight in check simply by starving myself. Then when I let myself go I wasn’t able to judge what I wanted to eat or how much. I simply allowed myself all the so-called “bad” foods, the things that wouldn’t normally pass my saintly lips, and I had plenty of them knowing I would force myself back onto the diet treadmill sooner rather than later. What a sad waste of a life!

I want to be kind to myself, know that I don’t want to spend all my day eating (I never have) but just get back to putting food where it belongs: fuel that is tasty, warming, welcoming but not an addiction, not a thing I am out of control around. Please let me be normal around food and let it happen now!

Starting now?

I’ve been reading (surprising I know) and thinking (even more amazing – not) and think I might be able to take the next step – I think I might be able to permanently stop dieting. And by dieting I mean anything that comes anywhere close to that: detoxing,eating plans, giving up food groups, doing anything other than being normal around food. Of course at this stage it all feels very frightening, giving up everything that has been the structure around which I have built my life, the thing I have thought in my adult life about more than anything. Can I actually do it, do I have enough faith in myself to keep going until I don’t have to think about food anymore apart from when I am really, stomach hungry? It makes me anxious just writing this but I can’t carry on like this anymore.

My first motivation to do this is the boredom I feel at having to keep thinking about all this stuff: it hasn’t taken over too much of my life, I have passed my issues around food down to at least two of my children. I don’t want to do this anymore.

My second motivation is my health: I have stomach problems and eating normally makes me function better. It also helps with my general energy levels: I can do more when I have the right fuel in my body. I am not thinking about my hunger, planning my next meal (which can be bigger because I have starved myself to deserve it). I have strength and energy.

So that all makes sense when I write it down but how do I do it? I worry that if I eat “normally” I shall wake up tomorrow the size of a house, I shall have to eat everything, I don’t feel calm and relaxed around food. I feel anxious and edgy just thinking about it but I know (or I think I know) that I have to go through this stage, I have to live with the novelty to come out the other side. It feels horrible, alien, scary (all the things that might make me feel that I need to eat when I am not hungry) but I have to stay with it, I have to persevere, I have to keep going because as awful as these feelings are they are better than wasting any more time. I need to have faith in myself.

Way to go?

So where next? How do I get past this point: how do I stop thinking about food, weight, my body when those things are all I can think about? How do I get to a point where I feel comfortable, how do I move on? Can I ever be normal? Can food ever just be the stuff I need to feed my body instead of the huge emotional storm that occupies my brain all the time? I wish.

So how about a first, simple step? Something I can do and shouldn’t add too much to the mental fog. How about I simply eat a little less? Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? It’s always trotted out by so-called experts as a way to lose weight but I have always mocked them. Why? Because it does sound so easy and weight/diet/body image is anything but easy. But. But. But. Maybe I could give it a try, maybe I could stop to think and have a little less and see if that helps me calm down, take a step back, get off the hideous, confusing merry-go-round that is me and my body for a short while.

Ok, so I shall try this for a few days. I won’t expect too much but I shall simply ask myself before I eat: am I hungry? If so, can I have a little less? Let’s see what happens….