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Archive for May, 2007

There’s a diet trick to help you reject a craving. It’s a visualization coupled with disassociation. I’ve modified it to make it a successful tool for intuitive eating learners.

The diet trick (Objective is to get you away from the food using any way possible):

  1. You get a craving for a food
  2. Visualize yourself as you currently are (diet thinking uses insulting images)
  3. Put that self up on a movie screen and you are in the audience watching yourself.
  4. Visualize a second you, as fit and thin as you want to be (everybody has great abs in this image)
  5. Put that second you on the screen as well.
  6. Visualize Current You eating the food (diet thinking uses disgusting images)
  7. Visualize Second You standing next to Current You. Second You has lots of people coming up to you, congratulating, complimenting, blah blah.
  8. Back in the real world, you choose to not give in to the craving.

Now, let’s make it non-diet-friendly (Objective is to comfort and honor yourself regardless of body size)

  1. You get a craving for a food
  2. Visualize yourself as you currently are (emphasis on happy loving person)
  3. Put that self up on a movie screen and you are in the audience watching yourself.
  4. Visualize a second you, as fit and thin as you want to be
  5. Put that second you on the screen as well.
  6. Visualize Current You eating the food (non-diet thinking shows you enjoying it)
  7. Visualize Second You standing next to Current You. Current You invites Second You to share the food. Second You sits down, decides to either eat or not eat, and Current You accepts either decision. They chat, enjoy themselves, people come up and have wonderful conversations with both people, without regard to body size.
  8. Back in the real world you choose to eat or not eat, but choose it consciously and lovingly.

My positives:

  1. I like the idea of the non-diet visualization and plan to use it at lunch.

  2. This morning I already made a similar choice without the visualization part. It felt good to make the choice consciously.

  3. I don’t put myself under as much pressure to be highly productive as I used to. It feels good.

  4. I can interrupt activities that are hiding my emotions faster now.

  5. I can make a decision and move on without guilt.

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Every system fails humans. Systems cannot account for the immeasurable diversity between people, so people have to adapt the system to meet their needs.

Diets don’t work, because we can’t stay perfectly on the diet for life. Without a safety valve to get us through the hard times, we will fail. If we learn to get through a craving, occasionally eating the craved food without binging, we can make the diet succeed.

Non-diets don’t work, because eating exactly what our body needs means we don’t lose weight. If we choose to tolerate a little more hunger, we can lose weight, which is often a desire of a non-diet dieter.

DH was coaching me on how to get up off the sofa, explaining to me how he just “doesn’t mind” doing chores all the time. Nice system, always being willing to so whatever you want to achieve. Except when he visits Mama, he’s just like me – the simplest things are too hard to do. I do like the idea of improving my skills in this area by choosing to “not mind” more often, though.

Most systems have an element of “you just have to trust the system.” You might be asked to put faith in the eating plan, or an energy field, or a higher power. Sooner or later, you are faced with an apparent contradiction, and you will have to choose your response. The three most common responses are feeling like a failure, giving up on the system, or adapting it to your needs.

After decades of choosing the first two and failing, I’m going with the third option.

  1. “I don’t mind” worked to get me off the sofa tonight.
  2. Tonight I dove deeply into a formerly forbidden emotion, going through it and coming out ok.
  3. When I needed rest tonight, I rested.
  4. I would like to have a mantra to coach me into eating less at meals. So far, I like ELEM: Eat Less, Exercise More.
  5. Checking in with my goals several times a day keeps me better on track.

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During the 1960’s, when I was clueless, I had Doris Day. Her films, some of which I only learned later had been called “sex comedies,” held a strong fascination for me. Her beauty, her spunk, her optimism cheered me during a time in which my family was falling apart.

There are 2 mental models I’m missing: one is that of a normal eater, and the other is that of a normal exerciser. Normal is the watchword here, because I don’t see myself as a Southern belle who eats like a bird, nor as a high-achieving marathoner. Instead, it’s conceivable for me to be a person who exercises daily and eats regularly in moderation.

The mental model of a normal eater is coming slowly. I experience now what it feels like to eat normal portions and to stop when satisfied. Granted, it’s not intuitive, but with my history, I’m pleased to have a goal of being a “skilled” normal eater.

But exercise is another matter. One irrational thought I have had is that I am fat, therefore I cannot be fit at all.

Wrong.

Yesterday, as I began to think about exercise differently, I realized that I had proven a reasonable level of fitness already. One colleague told me a long time ago that I really did move well as a person of size, and that I had good stamina. I proved that I could walk for several hours a day on vacation. I proved that I can give my all at a pretty hard bout of aquajogging, and that I can exercise til I sweat.

In one film (can’t remember which, let me know if you recognize it) Doris exercised. She was ready for bed, in her cute little 1960’s pajamas, and just did her calisthenics beside the bed, I believe while chatting with her husband. No big deal. It was just what she did.

Last night I exercised before bed, some calisthenics, some breathing and stretching, and some positive thinking.

  1. I woke up this morning due to a dream in which I was laughing so hard, I fell to my knees on the floor. The guy across the table from me was telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and the woman near us was adding inappropriate sounds, like machine-gun shots when he told how dangerous the woods were. I could actually feel that I had been laughing hard, because my belly muscles felt exercised.
  2. It’s amazing to realize that I control how I think about exercise, and can really make fundamental changes in my behavior.
  3. I’m seeing positive thinking changes, primarily around the idea that “if I get up off the sofa, I can fix many of these little things that aren’t getting done.” Stuff like decluttering, decorating, cleaning, etc.
  4. I chose rest over web surfing last night. Feel better this morning for having done this.
  5. I like that I now have more and more experiences of “just doing” things that I used to obsess about not doing, like stopping eating and doing dishes.

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How’s that for a turn-around? After 4 decades of eating in response to every emotion, happy or sad, I was too stressed to eat. I’d found a new favorite candy last weekend, Werther’s Soft Toffees, and proceeded to eat half the package. Today I decided to bring the rest into work in order to have my favorites in my candy bowl. DH asked if I were putting myself at risk of eating the rest by putting them within arm’s reach, but that is not the case. Victory!!!

  1. I see that my eating is becoming more normal, with sometimes eating to soothe emotions and sometimes (ok, once) NOT being interested in eating because of emotions.
  2. I ordered a pasta with plain pesto sauce last night, and didn’t miss having meat.
  3. Today I craved a salad with a hot dog, so I ate it. Beets are currently my favorite salad vegetable, followed by yellow and red pepper.
  4. Writing my chocolate blog has already brought me to a moment in which I said, “If I don’t ever see another piece of chocolate in my life, it’ll be too soon!” I began to wonder what I can blog about that will get me up off the sofa in the same way.
  5. I’m seeing many more things as temporary, and I should enjoy them while I have them, and walk away happily when it’s over. The chocolate blog, for example. Or my former interest in reading certain newsgroups.

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Exercise and pie: nice irony, ain’t it?

In my last post, I wondered how to make sofa sitting less attractive than exercise. Upon pondering this question deeply, I discovered that the sofa is a safe place for me! Until I find a way to make exercise a safe and attractive place for me, I’ll not win this battle.

What’s not safe or attractive about exercise?

  • people staring when I’m out in public
  • feeling uncomfortable
  • fear of injuring myself
  • feeling foolish
  • fear of feeling too strong
  • dislike sweating
  • preferring thinking to doing
  • not believing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe something around not believing that it will work, or something along those lines. Can’t quite figure it out
  • feeling tired and weak
  • not fun

Hmm. Quite a bit of fear here. Will have to think more about this.

What is attractive and safe about exercise?

  • feeling strong gives confidence
  • gives more energy
  • makes me more alert
  • strong means better able to protect myself
  • exercise gives better coordination
  • movement can positively affect emotions

Hmm. Maybe I need to write a term paper on the benefits of exercise as applied to myself.

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Scientific American has a great podcast this week for those of us interested in eating disorders.

Trisha Gura is a science writer who has written a book about women with eating disorders. The main point of her book is to understand how eating disorders affect women, even after they’ve recovered. Very important for anyone in recovery.

Check out her website for plenty of good detail. http://trishagura.com

Her blog is also very good.

During the Scientific American podcast, SA had a quiz about bogus and true science stories in the news recently. One of the true stories is that not only do people believe things told to them by many other people, they also believe it when it is repeated by just one person. Talk radio, this is for you!

But think about it. It’s actually more important what you repeat to yourself than what you put in your mouth. Certainly you don’t get fat from thinking, but you do get fat when your thinking compels you to eat.

Change your thinking, change your behaviors. Change your behaviors, change your life.

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Normally, I love Prevention Magazine. They have interesting and motivational articles, and frequently give balanced information about health issues.

But this article is unbelievable in its stupidity: 8 Secrets of Naturally Slim Women.

Here’s a quote:

Researchers at Tufts University found that the biggest predictor of weight gain among women in their 50s and 60s was their level of disinhibition, or unrestrained behavior. Women with low disinhibition (in other words, a finely tuned sense of restraint) had the lowest body mass index.

Take a second look at that label: people with “low disinhibition.” Who are they kidding? Inhibition is restraint (restriction). Dis-inhibition is not-restraint. Low-dis-inhibition is not-not-restraint, or more simply said, restraint. In other words, food control freaks have lower BMI. I wish they would also have measured level of satisfaction with life for these control freaks.

At the end of the article, Ms. McMorris drops in a “Quick Tip” to eat breakfast, totally unsupported by anything she’s had in the article before.

Geez. What a crock.

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