thin within: the diet rebel strikes

thinwithinI would love to say that I went through all 30 days without skipping one, but alas, that would not be real life. Today I didn’t do the lesson… I didn’t pay attention to my boundaries… Today I just didn’t care. I felt anxious off and on all day. I’m dealing with some emotions (my first born would be graduating in a few weeks if he were still with us)… and of course Mother’s Day is kind of a bittersweet time too. We’re down to one car right now because the old sedan just decided to quit on us… and the seventeen year old has his first shift at his new job tomorrow. The car shuffling is really inconvenient… not to mention the cost of fixing the broken one. I’m stressing a little over our end of semester co-op performances as well. And now I have to post that I just didn’t do the lesson. Totally trying not to feel like a failure at the moment.

I was planning to do the lesson. I even previewed it last night. Unfortunately, this morning I was also hit with the notion that some people might think I’m on another diet. I got some emails about dietary supplements too… seriously, could we just deal with one attack at a time? And, I seem to be still mulling over a conversation from the other day where a friend was doing a bit of diet talk. Rather than deal with this stuff the appropriate way (by applying truth), I let my “diet rebel” go on strike. I felt like I had to prove I wasn’t on a diet and my old behavior dictates I should throw all boundaries out the window. Of course, this doesn’t prove anything except that my mind is still going to a negative place.

I allowed anger over all the diet stuff. I ended up stamping my foot and declaring, “I am not on a diet. I am not focusing on weightloss”… at least I’m trying not to. Having boundaries doesn’t mean I’m on a diet. Diets are restrictive, harsh taskmasters. Godly boundaries are healthy, protective, and freeing. Of course, I should acknowledge that those who think Thin Within is “just another diet”, don’t get it. Let’s face it, if you’re a natural eater, you don’t understand the struggles of the unnatural eater, so any effort could be perceived as “diet mentality”. And, if you’re caught up in diet mentality, it is really difficult to relate to someone trying to break free from that cycle. Been there.

So, I allowed this to upset me and I ate for comfort on and off all day. I didn’t wait for hunger. I didn’t care when I stopped eating either. I just ignored it all.

Diets would tell me I need to “try harder”. The world would have me believe the answer is another diet (or to start over with an old one). The world’s diet mentality says I’m a failure. It says I’ll never lose the weight unless I “control” myself.

Well, the world is wrong people. Diets are not the answer… and waiting till you’re hungry to eat and stopping when you’ve had enough is NOT a diet. It is how natural intuitive eaters behave…. without trying! These people don’t restrict or count or care about the burn… they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. If they don’t like the taste of something, they don’t eat it. If they do like the taste of something, they enjoy it, but naturally stop when their body tells them to. There is a HUGE difference between this and dieting.

Will natural eating bring weightloss to someone who is carrying some extra weight… yes. Does losing weight mean I’m on a diet… No. Maybe, just maybe, it means my mind is healing. Maybe it means I am placing food in it’s proper place. Maybe it means I am learning new ways to cope.

Now, for someone who has abused their body with restriction (dieting/excessive exercise), this is something we have to relearn. We do have to be deliberate at first to tune in to what our bodies are telling us.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. ~ Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

The difference is that we are listening to our internal cues and not external influences. We must lean on the Lord, not just for the strength to fight the mental battle… but to accept the grace that annihilates that voice of condemnation when we fall back into extreme behaviors (feast or famine). That grace allows us to stop the cycle. It allows us to recognize that being imperfect isn’t the end of the world.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~ Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

God meets me right where I am, whether it’s on the mountaintop… or in the valley. He’s there to reassure me of His love. He’s there with the gift of grace. He’s there to encourage me to keep pressing on toward the goal… but in His strength, not mine.

No, this is not a diet. It’s so much better. It’s freedom.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ~ Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

So, I opened my “I deserve a donut” app. Ok, can I just say how much I love the title and that colorful donut image? 🙂 Anyway, I opened the app and chose “Failure Eating”. Why? because I want to make sure I don’t fall for “eating cause I messed up” tomorrow. I want to honor my boundaries of waiting for hunger and stopping at “enough”. Not because I am a diet-aholic, but because “I am an eagle, not a chicken!” Time to soar, ladies.

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

 

 

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the diet rebel

I have noticed a very peculiar reaction that comes forth at times. I call it my diet rebel. This thing will come out whenever I sense the threat of dieting. Sometimes it’s diet talk that triggers it. Sometimes it’s just me trying to process what I actually want to eat. If I somehow perceive that I might be falling for diet mentality, I react.

This reaction might mean eating something I don’t really want simply to prove that I’m not on a diet. Obviously, this is not a terrific reason to eat because it’s not hunger directed, it’s rebellion directed.

For instance, one day recently I was in the judge’s lounge of a speech tournament. There were finger foods set out… veggies… fruit… and little mini chocolate muffin things. Well, I wasn’t interested in the chocolate muffin things until a man standing there commented that he was looking for some calories. He said more than once that he didn’t want the veggies, he wanted “calories”. I looked at my plate and realized that I only had veggies and fruit. Suddenly I thought, “am I trying to diet?” To this thought, my diet rebel decided I needed to “prove” I wasn’t dieting so I got a chocolate muffin thing and some crackers for good measure.

This isn’t happening nearly as much as it was, but when it does, I am surprised by it. I do think that eventually my body will believe me when I tell it I’m not going to starve it, but for now, I guess the diet rebel hangs around just in case.

identifying the habit loops

Shortly before someone from the FitBit forums told me about Intuitive Eating, I had read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Now, there is a lot of information in the book that I didn’t need, but the part about habit loops and what triggers them was very interesting. Since then, part of my commitment to breaking free of the stronghold of dieting (and self-image, self-worship) is to identify what triggers these negative behaviors, or habit loops.

I started by sketching some of my negative habit loops and identifying not just the trigger, but the perceived reward as well. Reward? Yes, every habit has a reward, otherwise we wouldn’t do them. Once we perform a loop enough times, that loop is really difficult to break. It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget it. When you push off the ground you start pedaling and the bike is in motion. The same thing happens with a habit. Something triggers it, and we start “pedaling” automatically. We’re on autopilot.

A big part of eliminating the diet mentality habit loop, is in recognizing what perceived reward we get from dieting (or even thinking about dieting). I know, I know, I’ve talked a lot about the evils, but something in us believed dieting was a benefit… something in us liked it. Maybe it’s the false promise of being thin, maybe it’s the lure of stellar health, maybe it’s the feeling of being “in control”, maybe it was the sensation of a “new beginning”, maybe it’s the zing of excitement at the scale going down, maybe it’s just fitting in with every other woman on the planet… whatever it is for you, dieting has a perceived reward.

Of course, as is the case with all negative habits, there is a negative side. With dieting, the pendulum always (eventually) swings to the other extreme… binging. Apparently there are many studies that show this to be true. Dieters swing from famine to feasting… feel guilty and repeat the process. Dieting has physical, mental, and emotional side effects as well.

Have you ever heard of Dr. Ancel Keys’ Starvation Experiment from the 1940’s? If you haven’t, check out that link. It gives you an idea of what these men went through. Josie Spinardi’s book talks even more about the side-effects the men reported. I think it’s really interesting to note that a healthy caloric intake for these men was around 3,200 calories and starvation was between 1,500-1,600 calories. Um… By these standards, most dieters (especially women) are actually starving themselves. These men became obsessed with food. I tend to wonder if it wasn’t just the reduction in calories but also the restriction of what kinds of foods they were permitted that caused this preoccupation with food and their body image.

So, dieting does not benefit us afterall. Keeping this fact in mind just might keep us from running back to a man-made plan. But what about triggers? We aren’t in a study or experiment like those young men. We can choose what, when, and how much we eat. So what sets diet mentality into motion? Well, it could be any number of things. Identifying that, is a huge part of breaking free. Some of my triggers are: diet talk of any kind, overeating, snug clothing, media images, negative self talk, advertisements…etc. Knowing that these things can potentially set off my diet habit loop, I can be more aware when I encounter them.

Sometimes though, diet mentality triggers the opposite of famine… it triggers bingeing. While dieting and bingeing do go hand in hand, it can be it’s own habit loop too. I have found that my “bingeing” since I stopped dieting doesn’t really look all that much like my past bingeing episodes, as much as it looks like mild overeating. Yes, there is a difference. Bingeing reaches a point of being sick from being overfull… overeating is discomfort at being overfull.

All kinds of things can trigger the need to overeat. Dieting is a big one. Dieting creates a longing for whatever you are restricting (whether it be calories or certain foods). Eventually the dam breaks. Stress, strong emotions, circumstances, relationships… all of these things can be triggers. You can also have physical triggers like the smell of something yummy, or the act of sitting on the sofa watching TV. Identifying and defining the habit loop will help you figure out what’s going on and why.

I’ve mentioned my TV/munching loop and how I’m not addressing it directly just yet. Why? Because it is a deep one. There are multiple rewards intertwined in that one habit. I’m starting small by having a mental “cut off” time where I’ll go read in bed instead of continuing to watch TV. Do I do it every time? No, but I always try to have a book I’m interested in sitting on my nightstand as a way to entice myself into turning off the TV.

I’ve also started to focus on the things I don’t like about watching television… or that I don’t like about how I feel after watching television. This association has begun to make me feel dissatisfied with television in general. Because my evening munching is directly associated with television watching, this cuts down on the amount of mindless/non-hunger eating I was doing. Plus, I remind myself that people with adrenal fatigue don’t benefit from staring at a screen before bed… and do benefit from going to sleep at a decent hour. Then I think about how this habit loop affects my sleep and morning temps, and I usually choose to shut off the television and read till my eyes get heavy.

I know if I had made this a “rule” like:

“You cannot eat while you watch TV”, or…

“You cannot turn on the television or you’ll end up eating your weight in chips without realizing it”…

…if I had made it a rule, I know I would rebel. I know it would set off diet mentality, which would lead to “gasping for food” (Josie Spinardi) or gasping for television. Then I would likely binge on both (been there, done that). So, instead, I tell myself I can choose to do whatever I feel like doing, all the while really thinking about how the choices I make will affect me. I also ask myself what benefit I’m seeking. Usually I just want to relax and not think about anything stressful.

Very often, reading accomplishes this. And since I have not made a habit of eating in bed, I know it is very unlikely I will bring food upstairs with my book. If I do get hungry, I’ll have to walk all the way downstairs to the kitchen to have something (which is more involved than the short walk from the sofa).

So, figure out your habit loops and then interject subtle alternative suggestions for changing them. Not by making a rule, but rather by tapping into the reward you’re really after and what is triggering the behavior. My TV/food thing isn’t over, but I’m seeing it improve a little at a time.

 

oh be careful little wives what you say

We know the story… boy sees girl. He thinks she’s the most beautiful creature he’s ever seen. Then he gets to know her and she becomes even more beautiful. He likes how he feels when he’s around her. She’s confident, kind, and funny. He believes he could conquer the world for her. There’s a sort of glow around her. He can’t explain exactly why he’s drawn to her, but he is. He knows she’s the one for him. He goes to the jewelry store, selects a ring, works overtime to pay for it, and then he asks the most important question of his life. He’s nervous, but he knows she loves him… and she says, “yes”. Can you picture that Kodak moment? Their whole future is ahead of them. They are young and vibrant… and in love.

Fast forward a few years… and a few kids… and his once confident, beautiful wife seems so miserable. He doesn’t understand why she steps on that blasted scale. He just told her she didn’t look fat in her pants. Doesn’t she trust him? He can’t understand why she keeps calling herself “ugly”, she’s his bride, his chosen one, the beautiful mother of his precious children. He didn’t even notice the stretch marks till she pointed them out in disgust. He tries to tell her she’s beautiful… “You have to say that, you’re my husband,” she quips. So the next time he thinks it, he doesn’t say it because it doesn’t mean anything to her. He wants to be near her, but he doesn’t trust himself to say the right thing anymore. He also doesn’t want to hear her say one more thing about her grey hair or double chin… which he also hadn’t noticed till she mentioned them. He begins to wonder what happened to the woman he married. She’s so different. What about this Kodak moment? Kind of sad, right?

Wives, we must, must, must be careful what we say about ourselves… to ourselves, our husbands, our kids. If we call ourselves stupid, ugly, fat… etc, long enough, we (and everyone around us) will begin to believe it. What if, instead, we began to concentrate on complimenting others? What if we tried to put our best forward instead of harping on what we think we are not… or comparing ourselves to others… or having a pity party? What if we took our grey hairs and styled them the best we can. What if we dressed our imperfect bodies as though they were priceless? I don’t mean charging up those credit cards, I mean doing the best with what you have. If you have t-shirts and jeans… wear your best ones… and make sure they are clean. Maybe wear some perfume. Smelling nice really does help a lot. And then, don’t forget the most valuable accessory you have at your disposal… a smile. A person’s disposition can cover up a multitude of imperfections… or it can magnify them.

The choice is ours. What we say about ourselves matters. Our husbands are watching… and our kids are too.

(gag) cake

I mentioned about three weeks ago that I’ve had an obsession with chocolate cake. After returning from Disney World, it was chocolate cake and root beer. Even though I thought I was getting over it three weeks ago, we bought a lot more cake in that time frame. Each day I despised the sight of it more and more. I noticed I was feeling worse, and yet I’d find myself in the kitchen slicing up some more. I think adding the root beer sped up the gag reflex.

There were a several days before the end where I would eat almost all of a piece and then just stare at the rest. I grappled with all kinds of thoughts:

“If I try to save the rest of this, someone in the house might eat it before I decide if I want to finish it or not.” (fear of being without)

“What the heck am I saving it for, I shouldn’t even want another bite!” (diet mentality)

“This is the last piece of cake I’m going to have, I might as well finish it!” (diet mentality)

“Am I stopping because I truly don’t want anymore, or is it because I think I should stop eating it?” (confused signals)

Then, there were about three of those times when I set the rest aside and waited to finish it later. Once this started happening, I noticed I was cutting smaller slices than before. Then, it finally happened, there was one piece left (I went through 4 whole Costco chocolate cakes… and I don’t know how many individual slices between cakes from the local grocery store). I should point out that I did share some cake with the husband and kids, but I ate most of it. Anyway, I stared at that piece and I decided to really think about how it tasted and felt. I had been doing this bit by bit with the cake, but this time I was going to savor every last bite. The thought, “this is the last time I have cake”, popped into my mind and I said, “No it isn’t!” I refused to let my mind even go there. I told myself that if I wanted cake again, I could have it… period.

So I sat down with that last one… and some root beer. I gagged my way through the last half of it. By the end, I decided that not only did I not like the taste, I hated how my stomach felt. I only had about three sips of the root beer. Blech.

And then I had another blood sugar crash later. I think that solidified that chocolate cake wasn’t doing me any favors. The husband had some root beer later and offered me some saying, “that’s the last of it”. I wrinkled my nose and said, “no thank you.” Then he said he was going to go to the store to get dessert (after dinner). He offered to pick me up something (since I was out of cake lol). I didn’t want cake. I couldn’t even believe it when the words came out of my mouth, “I don’t want any cake.” Still, even now, I’m shocked. In fact, nothing sounded good. He brought home Jr. Mints, but I didn’t have them that night (had some Super Bowl Sunday). I ended up having a banana with almond butter. No crazy spikes and crashes after that. What was even cooler is that I was perfectly content with my banana.

I’m eating less and less of the things I thought I’d always be “out of control” around if I wasn’t “on a diet”. They are losing their appeal. I can’t say I’m happy or sad to see the cake obsession go. I’m actually feeling quite neutral about it. I think the cake had to run its course. It’s been so long (maybe never) since I ate cake without any guilt. It’s so funny how removing the “restriction” eventually makes you realize that you don’t even like it as much as you thought you did, and you certainly don’t like how you physically feel after consuming it…. and neither of those things has anything to do with guilt.

2/10/2015 UPDATE – I thought this posted on the 4th… but it didn’t… so I’m posting it now. I would like to add, I still don’t have a desire for cake. When I went to Costco on Friday, I did look for the cake, not so I could buy any, but rather to see what my reaction would be when I saw it. I had already decided that if I saw it and wanted to take it home with me… I would. Well, they didn’t have it that day, and you know what? I was completely indifferent about it. I wasn’t sad that it wasn’t there, and I wasn’t relieved either. I just shrugged and moved on to find my frozen strawberries. I will say, that about an hour or so later, the 10 year old and I stopped off at a yummy bakery for a “cake pop”… Yes, one cake pop each (like two bites of cake). Get this, I even forgot about that until sometime later when I was thinking about how indifferent I felt about the Costco cake. I was going to say, “I haven’t had any cake”, but then remembered those two bites and laughed at what a “non-event” that was.

the beginning stages of treatment: adrenals & thyroid

I figured today was as good a day as any to give an update on my quest to care for my adrenals and thyroid. For starters, I mentioned I’ve been taking my temperature, so I thought I would elaborate some on that. I started out taking an average daily temp. The first would be 3 hours after waking, then every three hours till I got three numbers. Then, average them. I did this for 5 days to get a picture of what was going on. As per several websites (& books) on the topic, my pattern suggested hypothyroid with adrenal fatigue. I also did the pupil eye test suggested by Stop the Thyroid Madness, and failed that miserably. Since adrenal fatigue can make hypothyroid symptoms worse, I opted to address that first (I’ll talk about this in a moment). Now, there was a break between my 5 days of temps and when I began treating my adrenals. This was for two reasons. One, where it fell in my cycle and two, we went out of town for five days (the latter being the main reason).

The morning after we returned, I began tracking my basal body temp (taken before getting out of bed in the morning). I did this for three mornings before starting to add adrenal support. During these three mornings my temps were so erratic and still low, just like the averages I had done before vacation. I was so tired I could barely function and so very cold. Since I haven’t been dieting for a couple of months now, I know this wasn’t a reaction to calorie restriction and excessive exercise. So, on the fourth day I started taking these supplements: Women’s multi, anxiety Essential Oil combo, turmeric & ginger,  magnesium, and chromium. I did these because I already had them in the house. My temps stabilized for three days and then took a dive (ovulation). I was having some twitching in my eye, so on the fourth day I added potassium. It shot back up on the fifth day (confirming ovulation) and went higher than previous. On the fifth day I began adding Super C, Super B, and EndoFlex Essential Oil (2 drops). Days 5-8 were stable (with one going slightly higher, but not as dramatic as before) and overall they were higher (although still lower than “normal”).

The temp reactions, coupled with feeling far less fatigue (not debilitating, but still tired), indicate that rest, intuitive eating, and vitamin supplements are helping my adrenals. My temps are still lower than they should be, and the last thyroid panel I had done indicated hypothyroid too. So, after checking out Stop the Thyroid Madness from the library (has more info than the website), researching thyroid supplements and dosing information, I ordered OTC “whole desiccated glandular concentrate” bovine thyroid (just can’t bring myself to ingest anything pig related unless I have to). I figured I would start with OTC first since people with mild hypothyroid have had success with this route. I don’t know if I’m “mild” or not, but I figure this will probably tell me. I started on half a pill this morning and will maintain this dose for 7 days unless I have an adverse reaction to it.

In the immediate future, I hope to see a steady rise in my temperature, an increase in energy, and warmer extremities. Well, there you have it. That’s where this process is at the moment.

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ghosts of diets past

January just wouldn’t be January without the diet frenzy. January must be to the diet industry what black Friday is to the retail industry. Well, we’re 19 days into January and no doubt some are probably still going strong. This post isn’t for the ones who think they are rocking their diet plan. This post is for those who, yet again, fell for the diet lure only to be chewed up and spit out already. This is to those who feel like a failure right now. Yes, I’m talking to you who has the chocolate smeared on your face this very moment. I’m talking to you who is online googling “diets don’t work” or “I hate dieting” or “what the heck is wrong with me”. I’m talking to the woman who wishes she could just eat like a normal person. I’m talking to the girl who fears being fat… the girl who hates being fat… the girl who thinks she’s fat… and the girl who wishes her mind would just “shut up” about her appearance already. I want each of you to hear me:

Dieting doesn’t work.

Today I started writing my “ghosts of diets past” story. This story is very private and I do not plan to share it out here. But I wanted to encourage you to take some time to write your own. Think back to the first time you even thought about dieting. Maybe start with an outline listing every diet you’ve ever tried, then go back and write in the story surrounding those decisions. What was going on in your life at the time? Where did you get the beliefs you have about food and dieting? Basically, take inventory of your diet history. Has it benefited you? Here are some of the diets I’ve tried over the years (in order of appearance):

  • eat as little as you can till you binge on chocolate
  • exercise as much as you can so you can binge on chocolate
  • Calorie counting (this one should be peppered between many of these as I tried it sooo many times)
  • Low fat, high carb
  • diabetic diet
  • Slim-Fast
  • Reduced calorie diabetic exchange program
  • Hydroxycut
  • Protein Power (high fat, low carb)
  • Body for Life (low fat, moderate carb)
  • a mix of Protein Power and Body for Life (high fat, moderate carb, with a binge day each week – did this one for 18 months)
  • The Schwarzbein Principle
  • 12,000 steps a day diet
  • South Beach
  • Weight Watchers (for like two weeks)
  • First Place (diabetic exchange again)
  • Protein Power (again)
  • First Place (tried it at home this time)
  • Weight Watchers (for almost 2 years this time)
  • Body Bugg (calories in/calories out)
  • Atkins (extremely high fat/low carb)
  • Weight Watchers (tried to go back)
  • 80/10/10 – Low fat, raw vegan
  • Weight Watchers (cooked vegan)
  • Raw vegan (again)
  • Calorie counting vegan
  • Macro/micro nutrient counting
  • Eat to Live
  • Vegan Weight Watchers (one last time)

These are the ones that I tried for a minimum of two weeks. There are others that didn’t last as long… Like the “S” diet. Never heard of that one? Well, it’s where you eat “clean” every day except days that start with the letter “S” (Saturday, Sunday, and Special). This doesn’t even account for the many exercise plans, gym memberships, diet books I read but didn’t try, and diet related supplements. This list covers a span of about 28 years. TWENTY EIGHT!! Um, yeah, I think I was addicted to dieting. I wasn’t even over weight through parts of that time frame either… but I always thought I could lose more. And if I was at what was considered “goal weight”, I didn’t know what to do with myself after being so diet focused for so long. The weight would return, and the cycle would continue.

Take a journey through your ghosts of diets past… If you aren’t convinced that diets aren’t the answer… then this post isn’t for you either 🙂 For those who are convinced, let’s break the cycle.