It’s all beginning to make sense but even typing that sentence makes me feel nervous as I think it’s an indicator that things are going to go wrong. Like yesterday for example. I have been feeling pretty good about things, that I am getting things sorted mentally, that I am moving away from my obsession with all things to do with my body/weight/eating, I have been feeling better and I was looking forward to an evening at home alone.
Now having brought up a large family and now living with my husband who works part time I don’t get much time totally alone. There always seems to be somewhere to go, someone to see so the idea of a bit of isolation is always something I have cherished. I know I am lucky that I have people and that spending time on my own is a choice not where I ended up but it feels like something special.
And what have I done in the past with this glorious “me” time? Well, you won’t be surprised to know that it usually revolved around food. I would treat myself to my favourite dinner, buy myself a pudding and spend the evening eating whatever I liked. Now I don’t mean that I spent the whole evening simply eating but my idea of self care was food (and sometimes alcohol). That was how I treated myself, made myself feel special, showed myself value, made myself feel good. Except, of course, often it didn’t work like that. I would eat more than normal, feel uncomfortable, go to be feeling disappointed in myself and wake up feeling bloated and guilty. And, as you know, I don’t do those things any more.
So last night when the door closed and I was alone I started feeling really edgy. I had hyped up this time to myself but without the food ritual I felt a bit lost. What could I do? How could I fill my evening? I realised (once again) how big a part food has played in my life and how much space there is now. It was a hot evening so I didn’t want to do anything physical, I wanted to just sit and read, but food kept calling to me, no food in particular but just food in general, I suppose the idea I should be eating, but I resisted. I kept telling myself that this was simply mouth hunger, a habit, something that I could resist because I wasn’t actually hungry and it worked. I ate a salad and an orange, had a small glass of wine and then stopped. I didn’t need anything else and most of all I didn’t need to negative stuff that came with it. It feels like another step forward.
It’s funny (well not that funny) looking back that so much of what I am doing now I knew all along. Well, I knew it but didn’t want to know it. I suppose I was always looking for a way to eat without thinking and staying slim so I ignored all the sense I read and heard because it didn’t fit in with that desire, I didn’t want to do the work.
But now, all these months later, I realise that it isn’t hard, I don’t need to deprive myself but I just have to honest with myself: am I really hungry and if I am what do I want to eat? Eating has been a pastime, a hobby, a way of not living my life and a way of distracting myself because having to lose weight before I could (add any expression here that suits) was a way of excusing myself, of not being aware of how all right I was already, was a way of not living.
But no more. I realise how much of my life has revolved around food because I didn’t want to deal with the real stuff, but take away that obsession with food and all that’s left is the stuff I need to deal with. And do you know what? That feels ok.
Things are going well, this feels like my new normal. I have been eating two meals a day, most days, as this is a pattern that works for me. I find food boring most of the time so only having to think about planning two meals makes my life easier, we are buying less food, our fridge is half empty. I enjoy going out for meals, especially for things I don’t cook very well myself but even so, I don’t find food fascinating at the moment. It all seems ok but I still don’t know what I look like. Of course I can look at myself in the mirror but I don’t understand what I look like in comparison to someone the same height, weight etc as me. I suppose I don’t know who I am.
All this came into my mind last weekend when I went to stay with a friend. On Saturday morning I was getting dressed after having a shower and I caught sight of myself in a full-length mirror and I looked fabulous! I stopped, turned around and spent several minutes admiring what I saw until I realised the mirror was slightly warped. That wasn’t what I looked liked after all. But do you know what? It didn’t really matter: having seen and loved the “me”I saw in that mirror made me feel good all day. I saw the “me” I wanted to be, the way I would like to present myself to the world and for that short time when the mirror reflected what I wanted to see carried me on for the rest of the day. That was me, warped mirror or not, and I loved it!
Say it quietly but things feel different. I feel more at ease, more relaxed about all this eating stuff, it feels like something has clicked BUT, and it’s a huge big, massive, intimidating but,I feel like I have been here before, I don’t trust the feelings I am having. In my adult dieting life I have turned so many corners that I have made myself dizzy and ended up where I started, or even further away from where I wanted to be. Will this time be any different? Will I have the guts to show my face on here again if I feel I have gone backwards again?
I have been feeling enthused about making food, delicious food, not using anything from a packet and I feel really good. I have a lot of health issues so energy isn’t normally washing around inside of me but I do feel brighter, lighter (mentally at least) and I want to carry on feeling this way. I am not saying I can’t have any of the things that might have tempted me in the past but I am choosing not to have them. It’s down to me, only me.
So wish me luck as I wander along this road to food liberation but understand my little setbacks, my doubt, my panic, have my back, make me feel supported. I feel like I can do this (I would like to say I know but I am not that brave…yet) as I feel determined, in control, it feels right and all I am doing is eating when I am hungry. Who would have thought?
The last few weeks have been really stressful: there is nothing like having a sick child to take your mind off the size of your body and I didn’t give what I was eating a thought. Thankfully things are better now so I have a bit of brain space to think about where I am, and, probably more importantly, think about my health.
What we eat has such a huge impact on how we feel. I know sometimes I reach for a snack to give me an energy boost, something that tastes good, like chocolate for example, even though I know I won’t like myself for eating it later. When there doesn’t seem to be any time it’s easy just to pick something handy but I have been aware that picking the food that is good for my body is very important for me. It’s so easy to just grab something, something processed, ready straight away, rather than think about making something that I would probably prefer the taste of and definitely would appreciate the effect it has on me, especially mentally. I have a friend who has type II diabetes but carries on eating and drinking in a way that doesn’t help him and yet I haven’t applied the same logic to my own consumption. I have a number of health issues, and am definitely feeling my age at the moment, so how about I eat what will suit my body, make me feel healthier, or is this just me trying to sneak back onto a diet by another name? That’s what I normally do.
The past few weeks I have needed to feel full: if I eat less my stomach complains and when it is already tied in knots with worry then I don’t need any more upheaval. I eat to quell the anxiety and yet at the end of the stress I feel blobby and bloated so start feeling anxious about me, the way I look, my weight, all the same old baggage.
So what can I learn? I know that I need to keep the balance of my diet in the healthy range because it suits my body better. I know that I use food to dampen my feelings. I know I will try to sneak back onto the dieting treadmill if I don’t watch myself.
So am I any further on than when I started? I’m not sure….
I’ve been trying to just get on with things, not focusing on my eating or weight and generally it’s going well. I don’t obsess the way I used to but I still worry that I am not keeping on eye on what I eat and that I shall end up expanding unless I keep monitoring myself. I keep fighting it but habits built up over decades aren’t very easy to get rid of. I can still tell you everything I ate yesterday and the day before but before that? No, so perhaps that’s a sign of me relaxing a bit. The frustration is how long it all takes, and how annoyed I feel with myself when I find myself going back into the circular thoughts: I want to stop thinking about it but by reminding myself to do that I am bringing it all back into my consciousness.
I was thinking this morning that I really had this dream in my head that once I got all this eating, not dieting, stuff sorted out in my head I would emerge like the beautiful swan in fairy stories, shedding off my ugly ducking personna, effortless slim but that hasn’t happened so far and what if it never happens? What if I just meant to be like this, always feeling a bit lumpy, a heavier person than I want to be, can I accept this me as the finished product, embrace this as the real me, can I allow myself to just be as the person, the shape I am now and focus on more important, more interesting things? My son is getting married next year and I want to look and feel good for the photos. I want my focus to be the joy of the occasion, not the size of the outfit I am going to wear, I want it not to matter, I want my smile to be more important than the size of my hips, but I am not sure I am ready to accept that yet.
Whilst I have been trying to sort out my eating I kept thinking there was some magical way that “normal” people ate. I kept trying to understand these people and their eating habits, thinking they knew something I didn’t, found it easy around food and didn’t find themselves obsessed with food and weight. And some people probably do but now I have realised that those people aren’t me! I have come to the conclusion that I have to find a way of eating that works for me, not try to follow another sort of plan suggested by someone else. Writing this down now it seems so obvious but I’ve probably struggled with this more than anything else.
So I haven’t been writing for a few weeks: life has been really busy and food wasn’t a priority (did I really just write that?). I ate when I was hungry, eating what I wanted (usually limited by the food I actually had in my house) and feeling much more relaxed about it all. I haven’t denied myself anything and after all these weeks I have realised that if I am relaxed around food then sometimes I just don’t want those “bad” foods I used to deny myself. For example, we’ve both been really busy at work over the past few weeks and have had more fish & chips suppers than usual. Now I find I don’t really want them: when I can chose I don’t want chips. I can have them if I want but I don’t want them, choosing a meal with vegetables, albeit ready prepared to fit in with our lives at the moment but it’s working for me. I am not slipping into the old diet thinking, ie I had better have them now as I won’t be able to have them once I am back on the diet treadmill, but I am genuinely thinking about what I want, what would feel right in my body, and opting for that, knowing I can go back for chips any time I want. That feels really positive. Perhaps things are working and I just need to keep going?