I bounced out of bed at 5:30 am this morning, ready to leave for the airport in 30 minutes (I’m off to London for a business trip – yes, it was short notice!). And when I say “bounced,” I mean crawled. My lower back pain decided to resurface… perfect timing! But there was no time for this nonsense. London is waiting! (Kinda…)
Fast forward through the longest wait in the security line, breakfast at Cosi (mmmm), a short wait at my gate, and I’m in my tiny seat (yay, couch class!) with tears running down my face… and a slight smile. I’m reading Geneen Roth’s Women, Food and God (thank you, Nell, for the copy. Such a thoughtful birthday gift!!). [No worries, the seat next to me is empty so my bizarre facial expressions remain unnoticed.]
I’m crying and smiling and everything in between because I’m inspired and touched and feel like my decision to stop dieting and start [diet free] living has never felt more right.
Every time I meet someone that reads Healthy and Sane, whether it be my friends or readers I’ve never met before, they ask me how this diet free living is going… and my answer is the same. It’s been amazing but I still have work to do.
I sort of view this as a multiple stage process (I’m not sure how many of them there are, I’m on #2 right now). Stage 1 is the diet rock bottom, where you realize that you’ve done this diet-binge-diet-binge-give up-gain weight-diet-binge cycle one too many times and that it clearly is so much more than will power and food. And it’s time to deal with it all instead of the diet distraction.
You lose weight on a diet but unless you deal with the underlying issues, they will resurface. And if your “coping mechanism” is eating… well the excess weight will resurface together with those issues. Again. Until you deal with them.
So I’m there. I get it. I’m done with dieting. I really am. I still have moments when I wish my work pants didn’t create that stupid muffin top that must be hidden and I resolve to “be better” but it’s no longer at dieting but rather at eating when I’m hungry and not when I’m bored/uncomfortable/anxious/etc. [If dieting crosses my mind, I force myself to visualize how it will be, without the rose glasses, and I instantly snap out of it. Try it!]
So this is stage 2. Avoiding compulsive eating. Something I’ve been doing for as long as I remember (compulsive emotional eating, that is). My stomach literally feels empty (and sometimes even growls) when I feel these emotions… it knows food is coming. And I often give it food.
Because it’s easier than dealing. Than feeling the feelings. Because I no longer beat myself up over it so it doesn’t seem like a big deal.
And I don’t want to make it a big deal but I do think it’s time to do the work.
From Women, Food and God: “If compulsive eating is anything, it’s a way we leave ourselves when life gets hard. When we don’t want to notice what’s going on….. ending the obsession with food is all about the capacity to stay in the present moment… to not leave. Compulsive eating is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul.”
Thankfully, I don’t have some deep rooted scary feelings to deal with. They are uncomfortable but they are not unbearable (and yet I know this but don’t follow through). The book teaches you to separate physical reactions to each situation and the stories our mind tells us. The ones that say you can’t deal with whatever-it-is; that it’s easier to just eat. To check out just for a little while longer. But often (always?) the feelings are bearable and once you allow and accept them, they pass. Without the numbing with food (and associated weight gain).
I can’t wait to read more and actually start following this advice (it ties really well with all the work I’ve been doing with Christie). And what better time to do this than during my trip to London? I want to be fully present once I’m there. I bet it will be that much more rewarding!