Thursday, May 6, 2010

One step forward, two steps back

Monday I went to my Weight Watchers meeting as planned. I talked with my leader about what I wanted and what I needed. I explained to her that I wanted to focus on mindful eating rather than getting caught up in and obsessed with the numbers - either points values for food or my actual weight.

I explained to her that it was important to me to try the mindful eating approach. I told her that I didn't want to be calculating points for the rest of my life. I told her I wanted my life back. I told her that I might gain weight over the short run but that I was confident that I would lose it eventually. I wanted to try this right now.

She heard me out and was supportive. I exhaled a sigh of relief.

Then I got on the scale.

I was down 2.8 pounds from when I weighed in almost a month before.

I was happy - this healthy mindfulness seems to work! I had been mindful all weekend - eating what it took to feel satisfied but no more. I REALLY scanned my body for hunger signals before eating...and when I felt hunger, I ate what I was wanting. Sometimes my body wanted carrots, sometimes it wanted cheese, sometimes it wanted fruit, and sometimes it wanted protein (so I had a hard boiled egg).

This week started with a mindful breakfast and a tuna fish sandwich that I had for lunch on Monday. Halfway through, I realized I wasn't hungry and didn't finish it. I mindfully consumed breakfasts and lunches on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But last night? I ate. A lot. To be fair, I fixed dinner* after I shopped for the we didn't even eat until 8:30 - and I know from experience that that's too late for me to eat because I'm ravenous by then. But I kept eating. I didn't stop halfway through to see if I was still hungry. I just kept eating. I went to bed full.

This morning, I looked in the fridge to see what I would eat for lunch and was saddened to see that I still had blueberries and blackberries from almost two weeks ago. They are on the verge of going bad. I felt like I should eat them. So even though I wasn't hungry, I ate them this morning with a sausage biscuit that I stopped off to get on the way in to work.

And today for lunch? I ate my whole lunch and didn't pause halfway through like I have been trying to do. In fact, when I started eating, I wasn't even hungry.

I'm reading a book called "Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating" by Geneen Roth and it's fantastic so far. In it, she coaches her eaters readers to eat until they are satisfied - eating what their body actually wants. She states that if you're eating when you're not hungry it'll be next to impossible to tell when to stop. Because if you're eating without a trigger in the first place, it'll be hard to figure out when the trigger is no longer...well...triggered. I think in the next chapter she writes about how to stop eating when they need to. Obviously not only have I not gotten to that part yet, but the concept seems simple.

So now, as I'm writing this, I'm full AGAIN - for the third meal in a row. And I'm disappointed with myself. Katy wrote today about her inner b!tch saying mean things to herself. I'm echoing her thoughts I guess - although not about my size.

My voice is telling me that if I can't even do this for a few days in a row, what kind of hope do I have for succeeding in the long run? My voice is telling me that this is a stupid thing - to go off the points/weight grid mentality. My voice is telling me that this mindfulness won't work. I'm tempted to count up all of the points I've consumed today to try to figure out if I can switch to counting points for the rest of the day - so I can feel some semblance of control.

And that makes me sad too.

So, instead of counting up the points, I'm going to try to stay present with my feeling of fullness. I'm going to try to be mindful of how I feel right now...bloated, full, and a bit lethargic.

I'm coaching myself to believe what I preach - that this is not the end of the world. I'm trying to put it in perspective.

I'm encouraging myself to be mindful at dinner.

I'm reminding myself that if I've lived 32 years by eating to soothe and on auto-pilot, it will take longer than a few days to NOT eat on auto-pilot when I actually try to put it into rigorous practice. But I will be successful, ultimately.

And maybe - hopefully - I'll actually believe it today.

*Which really, this should be a celebration all it's own. I hardly ever cook...but I decided that cooking ONE meal a week would be a great start. Last night, I made lasagna and it was SO good! I'm starting to figure out the simple pleasure of preparing an actual meal from start to finish, enjoying a meal that I made, and watching Joe enjoy it too. It was a wonderful feeling and I can't wait to try out a new recipe this next week.


Jams said...

Take a deep breath... let it out. Like you said, you didn't learn these habits overnight... and you won't get rid of them or build new habits overnight either.

Research shows that it takes 6 to 8 weeks to turn something into an unconscious habit... something you do without thinking about it. That's a long time. It's worth it.

Don't beat yourself up... That's just going to cause you to feel worse. Instead of talking to yourself about the feeling of fullness you have right now, talk to yourself about how great you felt while you were mindfully eating. About how you were successful and how you lost 2.8 pounds!

And most importantly, keep smiling! :)

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

I totally get everything you are saying (and I mean EVERYTHING: I own that Geneen Roth book, I am a Lifetime member at WW, I'm an emotional eater/soother, have "caved" when trying to do the mindful eating thing and went back on a diet...I see myself in most of what you wrote!).

That being said, I find myself asking the question "What was going on before you ate and ate (non-mindfully)?" (Besides it was too late.)

The part of "I want my life back" sticks in my head. Were you rebelling against all the point-counting and tracking WW requires?

I have been where you have been with wondering if mindful eating will work for you...

Sorry for all the questions! You WILL get through this, and you CAN eat mindfully and have it work. Just takes practice!!!

Katy said...

Oh how I can relate to this... I really have no magic words of advice right now... not that you're looking for that anyways. Just keep going and trust yourself. Points are just the illusion of control, but control can be found anywhere...even in mindful eating.

Thinking of you :)

meleemistress said...

If it were easy to change decades of eating behavior in a few days or weeks, everyone would do it.

The time you spent eating mindfully is going toward that behavior change. It's a positive. Every hour that you listened to your body and did the right stuff is an hour you weren't spending in your old habits, and over time that adds up. So maybe your approach should be hour by hour. But no matter what you try, one slip isn't any reason to give up. It's a reason to try again.

carla said...

so many thoughts here.
when I started intuitive eating I really ate a lot.
many times.
it took me a while to reclaibrate and realize that what I loved (hello donuts!)would be there in abundance forever and there was no need to overindulge today.

you can do this.

xo xo


Hilary said...

I actually lost 30 pounds before I got pregnant with my 1 year old "Eating consciously" (I was inspired by a guy who was on TLC about that time, McKenna, I think, was his last name.
Anyway, I tried to do it at the beginning of the year and after gaining 2 points in a couple of weeks I realized that I just had too much going on in my life to do it now. Back then I only had 2 older kids (4 and 7 at the time) and I was able to really listen.
I then decided to do weight watchers, but I still keep the same concepts in mind....
and while I've promised myself a year of weight watchers I plan to go to conscious eating after I'm done with the year (and probably track points once a month for a week or so).
Good luck!

Sam said...

Keep at it, it's a wonderful concept and I'm excited to see how it works out for you!

Anonymous said...


Laura said...

Sometimes mindful eating is easy, sometimes the binge monster takes over and it's just impossible for me. But doesn't it feel fabulous when you feel like you've gotten it under control, even for a day?