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Posts Tagged ‘health’

The cart and horse scenario

In Being Healthy on March 20, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Picture for a second a horse pushing a cart up a hill. First of all, the horse would have to be trained a bit extra, I’m sure. Then you’re working against physics. Not to mention, I’m not sure there is even a horse pushing harness contraption. You might eventually get there, but it’s going to be a pain in the ass, fraught with delays.

It’s not going to work as well as harnessing the horse and letting it PULL the cart up the hill.

cartoon horse laughing

“So how YOU doin’, sexy lady?”

Women every day are taking part in a similar exercise in frustration, and we have been for decades. We try to make self-hate motivate us to squeeze into an irrational standard set by a distorted societal opinion. Let’s all face it. Society’s opinion of what is beauty is distorted by media, by Photoshop’d images in fashion magazines, not reality. We and OUR CHILDREN, our DAUGHTERS, are paying the price. But I digress…

Self-hate is never going to be successful in anything but breeding obsession, yo-yo dieting and eating disorders. Changing from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one happens slowly.

Major change is incremental. It doesn’t happen overnight. Self-love is the only way you can sustain slow, permanent change. You have to love yourself even if it takes a year for regular exercise to become a habit. You have to love yourself even if you make unhealthy food choices along the way. You have to love yourself in order to not cross over into the unhealthy practice of purging or obsessive diet restrictions (both unhealthy!).

I’ve played out the self-hate scenario many times in my life. Let me tell you how it goes:

I wake up from the pits of depression by somehow convincing myself that I can do it THIS time. Somewhere in the depths of my being, I’ve found the motivation to NEVER EAT sugar or bread EVER AGAIN. I just know that THIS time the weight is going to go away for good…and fast. That’s what the book said. It will be FAST. Good thing because if I have to spend one more minute in this disgusting body, I’m going to puke. I don’t even want to be seen in public. Hide all the mirrors and stay away from reflective surfaces.

One problem — weight-loss isn’t fast. Sometimes, the less you eat, the slower your metabolism crawls. This is how it is in my world. I am a miracle of natural selection. My ancestors must have survived some serious famine because my body can function and retain weight on unbelievably small amounts of food.

Two weeks into my sugar and starch free world I feel like life is out to get me. “Why is it that I have to restrict myself so much when all these thin people are eating hamburgers and drinking cokes? I haven’t had a soda in over two years. I live on beans and raw vegetables. I haven’t had ice cream in forever. Bacon? What is bacon? Hell, I only eat meat twice a week. Why does the scale still say the same thing?” I’m depressed, discouraged, and bitter.

I go home and eat a pint of Moollenium Crunch because I feel like shit. Then I feel even more like shit for eating the ice cream. Then I hate myself even more. Next thing you know, I feel as if I can’t get up in the morning. Life has lost its luster, and I am having difficulty getting through my normal and necessary routine of working and being a mother.

My biggest fear last year was that if I loved myself and quit judging myself, I’d be a fat, unattractive whale my whole life. For a person who hates themselves, that thought is like being sentenced to an eternity in hell. If you truly love yourself, that may not be such a bad thing.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: a lot of skinny women hate their bodies too. If you are a body/self-hater, being thinner isn’t going to solve the problem. You just go from a miserable big person to a miserable small person. New wardrobe, same problems.

Fat is Not Evil

What’s so wrong with being a big person? There are pros and cons, but is it wrong? Isn’t it true that there are heavy people who are happy, secure and live fulfilled lives? It is. What’s the difference between having a body that is exceptional at conserving energy and being born with a club foot or frizzy hair? All three are considered unattractive by our glamorous society, but only one is considered evil.

Our society demonizes fat cells. If a person’s fat cells are in storage mode, they immediately are considered slovenly, lazy, unmotivated, lacking self-control, less intelligent…you name it. It’s just fat cells in storage mode, conserving energy for future use. It is impossible to know a person’s character traits by the size of their fat cells. There are MANY factors that contribute to the size of a person’s body. MANY. Regardless of the factors, a person’s size is not WHO they are. Period.

Fat limits what you can do physically. Fat can affect your heart health. Fat can contribute high blood pressure. A lot of fat can make you uncomfortable in theater seats and on airplanes. Fat contributes to Type 2 diabetes. Fat can make running while wearing corduroy awkward and noisy. Fat is not evil. Fat, at one time in history, was ATTRACTIVE. Fat is attractive in some cultures TODAY. GASP!

Would it kill you to accept and have compassion on your fat cells today?

If you knew that accepting and having compassion for yourself was the first step — the KEY — to being more fully healthy, free of obsession, and on the track for a fulfilled and satisfied life, could you give yourself a break and just relax?

Why don’t you try it today? See how it feels.

Whitney, girl, you were so right!

In Being Healthy on March 12, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Okay. So it’s about feelings not food. What does that mean?

It means that  I will diet, lose, regain, repeat over and over to the ends of the earth, unless I learn to deal with my feelings, my emotions.

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, dieting is a miserable practice. I didn’t want to diet again, ever. I wanted to find out how well-adjusted, average sized people eat to maintain a normal, healthy weight. I was curious and frightened to find out what size I would be if it were not for the emotional eating. I actually enjoy healthy foods…on days that I’m happy and stress-free.

We live in these amazing bodies that work like fine-tuned machinery, moving, breathing, walking, talking, thinking. Surely a well-functioning organism such as the human body has a built-in way to maintain the necessary size and weight to survive and thrive, right? Scientists say there are specific hormones that act on our brains and tell us when we are hungry and when we are full and satisfied. There is even some suggestion that cravings are triggered by lack of certain nutrients found in the foods that we crave. What messages do hunger and fullness give us if not to tell us when to eat and when to refrain?

I love me!

Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

Geneen Roth found that when she tuned into her body while eating and learned to hear the cues of satiation and satisfaction, she became her “normal” healthy weight. She has not dieted since and remains that size. So did Dr. Karen R. Koening. Reading the accounts of these authors’ experiences blew my mind. Could that work for me? Could it be as easy as paying attention?

The idea of giving up dieting scared the crap out of me. I have been dieting since second grade. It is a way of life for me, that battle to be thin that is never quite won. What if I stop dieting and become as big as a whale? Paralyzing fear.

Why?

A way to discover what drives us is to keep asking why until you reach a core belief. (Discovering an irrational core belief and replacing it with a rational belief will transform your life.)

Why are you afraid to stop dieting? Because I’ll get fatter. 

Why are you afraid of getting fatter? Because I hate being fat.

Why do you hate being fat? Because fat people are unlovable.

Ahhh! So you believe that no one will love you if you’re fat!

BINGO!

I HAVE to keep dieting and strive to be thin because no one is going to love me until I am. If I’m at least trying to be thin, it will justify my existence. Somewhere along the way, I was taught that in order to be lovable, I must be thin. Since I have been obsessed with food and my weight since I was eight years old, I learned that lesson pretty early on.

I learned to hate myself. I learned to hate my body.

Before I could go a step farther, I had to learn to love myself. Could I set aside my NEED to be thin RIGHT NOW in order to learn to love myself just the way I am?

That wasn’t going to be easy, but as Whitney said, it is the greatest love of all.

It’s not about the food!

In Being Healthy on March 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Coming to the conclusion that I am a compulsive eater did not happen in a “Eureka!” moment. The idea drifted around in my mind, floating to the surface here and there over the years.

I kept asking why.

There are many aspects to eating disorders, and most don't have anything to do with food.

Most eating disorders have little to do with food.

Why am I ashamed of eating in front of people? Why do I eat foods when I am stressed that I normally would not – and then feel extreme guilt? Why do I feel like I need to hide my food? Why do I sometimes feel like there is never enough to satisfy me, no matter how much I eat? Why do I feel desperate to get the particular food I crave? Why do I wish there were a magic food that I could eat all day long and never feel full? Isn’t feeling full the purpose of eating? What is the purpose of my eating if I hate feeling full?

Why do I not really care about food when I’m happy, rested and relaxed? Why do I forget about food when I’m captivated by something I’m doing?

Is this normal? Is this serious? Is this even about food? Am I crazy?

I read lots of “Signs and Symptoms of Compulsive/Binge Eating” lists. Here’s an example:

Signs of binge eating disorder

Ask yourself the following questions. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you have binge eating disorder.

  • Do you feel out of control when you’re eating?
  • Do you think about food all the time?
  • Do you eat in secret?
  • Do you eat until you feel sick?
  • Do you eat to escape from worries, relieve stress, or to comfort yourself?
  • Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating?
  • Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?

I can remember eating in secret as a kid. I remember the shame I felt about eating. At age eight, I learned that eating is bad. It happened during a well-intended teaching moment by a person who loved me very much. The talk was meant to help me, but the lesson that my kid-brain took from the words has been a battle and a burden for me for 31 years.

I built up the courage to buy a book. I wasn’t ready to admit to having a problem, but I would read about it.

In 2012, I read Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth. I hid the book because I was embarrassed to be seen reading about eating disorders, but I couldn’t put it down. Every page resonated with me. Have you ever had one of those, “Wow! Someone out there is just like me,” moments? It was as if I felt that realization with every paragraph.

I began to understand that compulsive eating has little to do with food. It’s about feelings.

Fr@k it, I’m fat again!

In Being Healthy, Life is Random on May 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

…and I hate being fat.

I thought I had gotten to the point, mentally, that I hated it so much I would never let it happen again. But I did. And I am. Fat. Again.

I know the reasons why. I know how to change it.

The PLANNING me has it whipped. It is the DOING me that keeps failing.

Photo of Alana and Larry jumping over fire

Warrior Dash – April 21, 2012 Jackson, Mississippi

I know that if I get up a little earlier in the morning, I can do an hour walk/jog/stretch routine that will slowly melt away the pounds. I know that if I get to sleep by 9:00 p.m. each night, I can get up early. I know that if I rest enough, I will not crave sweets. I know that what I eat when I am not craving sweets or having a burn-out binge is excellent for my health. I know that if I would just walk back to my bedroom and go to sleep when I am exhausted and overcome with stress, I will not have a burn-out, mindless binge.

I have read so many books and articles on healthy eating and exercise that I could probably write my own book. Yet, I continue to gain and lose the same 30 pounds over and over.

The staples in my diet on a good day? Chicken, salmon, green veggies, fresh fruit, brown rice, whole grain bread, skim milk, Mega Green juice with protein powder and this awesome antioxidant bread I make every week. Yeah, I LIKE that stuff. I’ve been eating it for so long that I actually enjoy it better than any pre-packaged or fast food.  My favorite pizza splurge is the Dominos Pacific Veggie on extra thin crust. I just wish they had a whole wheat crust. I prefer a pizza with veggies and a whole grain crust. I prefer food that I’ve made fresh in my kitchen with every ingredient known to me.

Why am I fat when my cabinets and fridge are stocked with those super foods?

Reason number one: when I am super tired and heading to my weekend job, I give in to my craving of comfort food. Comfort food to prepare me for a late night laying out State/Metro section happens to be a large Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard from Dairy Queen.

Reason number two: When it comes to crunch time, I’d rather sleep than exercise. I feel like I never get enough rest. I hurt. I feel as if there is a new pain every day.

Someone please tell me that this will change in September when I am no longer working two jobs!

PLEASE!

I want to be fit. I want to camp and canoe and kayak and hike the mountains and do Warrior Dash much faster than an hour and 19 minutes. I want to swim a mile on Mondays again. I want to feel the muscles in my legs and arms and know that my body will take me wherever I want to go.

I want to be fit and capable for ME.

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