Thursday, November 4, 2010

Five Important Things I've Learned So Far: *Guest Post*

By the time you read this, it will have been one week since I had the surgery to have a giant uterine fibroid removed. Hopefully by now I've posted something other than "I'm alive...but barely. Please send more pain meds."  As a reminder, I'll be back posting regularly this coming Monday.

Today's blogger is Debbie from "Becoming An Ex Yo-Yo Dieter." I can't remember how I found her blog - but it was months ago...when I wasn't even really considering moving from Weight Watchers into intuitive eating. I've never met Debbie - as her time is split between Russia and Florida - but I wish I could. She blogs openly about her issues with food and has the courage to delve into the "why" when she overeats. Sure, just like the rest of us she may struggle, but she always triumphs.


Since transitioning to Intuitive Eating, I've come to realize that her blog is a rare gem - one that grows, learns, grieves, and celebrates.  As they say in the south, she's my people.

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Hello there! My name is Debbie and I’m on a journey to Becoming An Ex Yo-Yo Dieter. Ms. Happy Fun Pants for asking me guest post on her blog (my first one!) while she addresses her Deficit situation. I am certainly thinking of her and sending healthy thoughts her way.

So…

In my journey to becoming an ex yo-yo dieter ( and I’m still on this journey, by the way), I have learned a few important lessons. Perhaps they only apply to me but I highly doubt it…my struggle is not unique. There are many, many other emotional eaters out there who’ve fallen into the habit of numbing themselves with food (in my case, specifically sugar and fat…donut, anyone?). If something feels uncomfortable – frustration, sadness, anxiety, loneliness - you name it, if it felt bad I wanted to stuff it all down with food. Being physically present, while being emotionally zoned-out. Autopilot. When I’ve felt that I couldn’t cope, food immediately called my name. Before I knew it, all that was left were the empty containers and crumbs…and a feeling of defeated self-disgust.

I’m working really hard to change that deeply-seated, misdirected, knee-jerk response to discomfort. It is not a quick process by any means, changing how I handle my feelings and food. I’ve had setbacks and bumpy times along the way, yet the most valuable lessons have come from those stumbles along my journey.

So, what have I learned so far?

1. Change is possible. I was never really certain if I’d ever start to escape from the grip of emotional overeating. Oh yes, I know how to diet, but to change from within, getting to the point when I don’t immediately turn to food if I feel uncomfortable? I was never really sure it was possible. Well, surprise! It is - the habit of craving food to numb out is slowly, slowly disappearing within me.

2. You can feel bad feelings and not implode/explode/go stark-raving mad. Although it’s scary, you don’t have to do anything with the feelings, but just acknowledge that you don’t feel good. That’s it. It will pass, and you will be okay without the food. Sometimes I’ll try to figure out what I really need, like a hug or to chat with someone or take a nap (!), and sometimes I don’t know what I need to feel okay. Either way, usually food is not going to solve anything except hunger.

3. Learning to not automatically reach for food requires practice. This ability starts off feeling very weak…you feel bad, trying not to binge…you might just delay the binge, but a delayed binge is still progress. The more you practice delaying eating while feeling uncomfortable feelings, the easier it gets. With time, you slowly start to develop a self-assurance that you can get through it and not eat for the wrong reasons. You really can. Practice, practice, practice… it’s like a muscle – the more you work it, the stronger it becomes.

4. You will have setbacks. You will not do everything perfectly all of the time. Setbacks create opportunities to learn something new. Changing a behavior such as this (I’ve been a yo-yo dieter for 25 years, so it really was a way of life) requires time and patience. Perseverance. Two steps forward, one step back. (Or even one step forward, four steps back.) I have a ring that has Confucius’s famous saying on it, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. I just constantly focus on that single step. Eventually, I can see that I am going in the right direction. Change is slow, but so worth it.

5. The most important lesson I’ve learned so far? When you do go off track (because you will…), no matter what has happened or how far you’ve fallen, just get right back up, and keep going forward. Don’t waste time lamenting what you’ve done wrong or how much you regained…all that matters is what you do now. When tempted to stay stuck, I’ve asked myself, “If not now, then when?” That usually jolts me back to reality that all I have is the present moment. I become what I do. It is incredibly hard to start again (I’ve lost count how many times …sometimes several times in one day!), but the sooner you pick yourself up and take a step forward, the stronger you feel. At any given moment, no matter how far and for how long you’ve been off the path, you have the opportunity to get back on. And just like trying to push and roll something really heavy, getting it going is the hardest part…after that, momentum keeps you going with less effort. Really.

In closing, it may be of value to add that I used to think I could lose the weight and then deal with the emotional issues once I was thinner. I have been at my goal weight numerous times, and was disillusioned that it doesn’t work like that. Wasn’t I supposed to be happy when I reached goal??? All I had learned was how to diet, and when things got a bit rocky, I’d dive into the food again. I never addressed WHY I was eating, only what I was eating. The “why” always seemed too elusive, too messy. I just wanted to distract myself with a diet and hope my emotional eating disappeared…it doesn’t work that way. It seems that you have to work on the feelings and why you eat while losing the weight.

No matter how much I wish it were otherwise, food and emotions have been twisted up together in my head for a long, long time. My mission is to unravel the two, so that food and feelings can take their proper, mostly separate places in my life. I truly believe that when this happens, I will finally be an ex yo-yo dieter. Feel free to come on over to my blog, Becoming An Ex Yo-Yo Dieter and watch my journey unfold!

1 Comment:

Lanie Painie said...

I love your post here and am really enjoying the guest postings (although I do miss Anne). I'm finding lots of new wonderful bloggers to follow and learn from. Thanks for sharing!