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Archive for the ‘cognitive behavioral therapy CBT’ Category

It’s not affirmations. It’s not guided journeys. It’s not cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s not binging, or nude meditation, or sewing, or EFT, or NLP, or scream therapy.

It may be all of those things and none of those things, but the bottom line is I’m changing the way I think, and it’s changing my life.

Beating myself up for EVERY.SINGLE.DECISION. was killing me. I was using food just to ease the pain of self-criticism. This is important to know, because when I am not self-critical, I’m not binging.

Then I faced a conflict. Part of me wants to be thin, and part of me wants to stay with binge eating and being fat, which are the devils I know. When I’m fat, I understand my world. There are no questions about “will they reject me,” of course they will, because I’m fat. Painful, yes, but in a convoluted way, that’s comforting.

Part of me wants to be thin and free of compulsive eating, but there’s a lot of unknown space out there. What do I do with my life? How will I accept that some people won’t like me even if I am thin?  How do I handle things when the answer is not always, “It’s my own fault.”

My choice is: comfort plus the known pain of being fat, or more physical comfort of being thin, but with many unknowns and risks, which might be even more painful than being fat.

Once I realized I had that conflict, I reduced it to this choice:

Do I want to continue with the self-criticism that drives me to food, or do I prefer the uncertainty that billions of people successfully cope with every day?

I prefer the second one, and am giving up the pain of self-criticism.

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I’m currently working with two of the IOWL  guided journeys, Sabotage Self-Sabotage and Appetite Adjuster.

They aren’t magic, they are NLP-kind of activities that get you into the right mindset to do what you need to do. That’s the key, by the way. Having the right mindset so you move actively towards the skill you want to have (in my case, a naturally slender intuitive eater).

What does the Sabotage journey give me? A mechanism that helps me analyze my internal conflicts and choose a better option than food.

What does the Appetite journey give me? I’ve run it about a half-dozen times so far. I’m starting to be able to look at food and choose to not eat it because I’m not quite hungry enough and because eating it at that time does not meet my goals.

So I’m sorta combining the two techniques into one path for me. If you’re thinking about buying these, think about this before you decide. If that’s where your head is at, they might be helpful. If you’re still really into deep emotional turmoil over eating and “shoulding” on yourself a lot, don’t bother. Just give yourself plenty of loving self-care. One day something like these might be helpful, but not right now.

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Once people with eating disorders start to get their heads on straight, they find out there’s lots of things they don’t know how to do. Rather than make decisions, they (read I) used to eat until the decision was no longer necessary.

Maggie Barnes (Julia Roberts) in Runaway Bride had the same problem.  She’d fall in “love” with anyone who fell in love with her, and life was great until the wedding day. Then she’d run.

People with eating disorders are often pretending that everything’s fine, until a crisis comes up. Then they run to food.

When Maggie realizes she must find a new way to face her crises, she works through it bit by bit. Not only does she discover her career path in hardware (lamp) design, she also looks at other areas in her life. The story shows the example of Maggie finding out how she likes her eggs.

What have I been discovering lately? Sewing. Pride in cleaning up my own space. How to decorate. How to let go of the past. How to stop mindless internet surfing. That I like my fingernails 1-2 millimeters long. And how I like my eggs cooked.

I like my eggs cooked to fit the recipe. Not to fit my man, not to fit a chef’s definition. That means I like hard-boiled eggs in tuna salad, sliced omelet in fried rice, poached in Eggs Benedict, fried over medium to go with creamed spinach and boiled potatoes, and omelet in a breakfast McMuffin-style sandwich.

When I eat eggs with toast, I prefer scrambled, soft but not runny, and made with about a teaspoon of water per egg.

Maggie would be proud.

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Today’s guided journey brought me strong feelings, even though I didn’t go very deeply into the relaxation state. First, as I relaxed, I experienced a strong emotion. This isn’t explicitly part of the guided journey, but I just experience it as I go down into a deep state of relaxation.

Today’s emotion was feelings of sadness about my upcoming birthday. Next Tuesday is my birthday, Feb. 3, and I’ll be 50 years old. No one has said anything to me about it, or asked me what I want to do. That’s really disappointed me, and I’m busy making plans to do something nice for myself. Last night though, my mother-in-law called, but didn’t want to talk to me, just DH, so I figure at least she has thought of it. No, that doesn’t mean there’s a surprise party brewing – that’s not at all like us.

It’s also not logical that DH hasn’t thought of it, but I’m annoyed that he hasn’t said anything, since HIS 50th was last year, and I went to a lot of trouble to think of a nice present (a ride in a glider) and take him out for a nice dinner. His parents even traveled 3 hours to be there. And yes, I explicitly asked him before his birthday what he wanted to do. His parents did the same.

Anyway, I often experience irrational thoughts right before my birthday. Must be something to do with feelings of not being loved because I was an unwanted baby.

My mother left my father while pregnant with me. He had been violent, so she certainly must have struggled emotionally throughout the pregnancy. Then, going home to a closet-sized room at her parents, with a 2 y.o. and me on the way, must have been just as hard.

Back to the guided journey. I experienced the emotions described above as I drifted down into the state of relaxation. Even cried a couple of tears, but that’s not unusual for the journey.

Once in the relaxed state, my right hand experienced a feeling of confidence around other people. Being thin and looking like everyone else, increases general acceptance. Therefore it’s natural I would feel more confident when I am thin. The symbol in my hand is a heart. Not a pretty Valentine’s heart, but an anatomically correct, soft, pulsating heart. Eww!

My left hand, the side that benefits from staying fat, found that the benefit is reassurance of being loved. Food is love, and a full stomach is proof of love.  The symbol in my hand was a stomach. A living friggin’ stomach! Double Ewww!

The integration part of the journey brought the heart and the stomach together, which suddenly migrated into a complete nervous system plus stomach. Ick. Ick. Ick.

The feeling I get from the integration is wholeness.  Kind of a cool thought. Feeling whole is better than artificial feelings of reassurance from a full stomach, or from shallow confidence around other people.

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Every time I do this conflict resolution journey, it’s different. The conflicts I’m resolving are pretty much all around eating habits. In the journey itself, Renee talks about resolving the conflicting desires to stay fat versus releasing excess weight.

In this morning’s journey I learned that one way I benefit from staying fat is that the eating gives me a chance for rest and a feeling of relief. Funny thing is, I also get the exact same benefit from releasing the weight. After considering this during the journey, I realized that thinking I’m getting relief by staying fat part is a false belief. It actually causes more distress after the first few moments of eating.

At the end of the journey, the two symbols I’d created (a hard-boiled egg for the releasing fat and a hockey puck for the staying fat – what the heck do these things mean?) merged into the yin-yang symbol. Sort of a nice resolution to the conflict.

My immediate reaction? I just ate a larger breakfast than normal. It’s not too bad, just an extra piece of toast, but I compensated yesterday already a little bit at dinner.

Does the guided journey work? Dunno. Looks like it’s a long-term impact rather than an instantaneous miracle cure.

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lindt-mini-strawberriesThere’s a lot of chocolate in my house. Literally kilos of chocolate. That’s because I wrote a chocolate blog as part of my personal therapy. Aligned with the compulsive eating, I had strong cravings for chocolate. When I discovered Overcoming Overeating, and Geneen Roth, and Inside Out Weight Loss, I knew I had to make peace with chocolate. My decision was to bring it into my house and get used to it, like is described in Overcoming Overeating.

The blog was great. I reviewed chocolate, thought about chocolate, planned which chocolate to buy, gave myself chocolate out the wazoo. The only rule I had was, if I buy it, I have to review it. And review it I did.

Over 25,000 hits later, I was done. Last August, I found I simply couldn’t write any more chocolate posts. My chocolate purchases went way down, to essentially zero. I told myself that I didn’t have to post any more if I didn’t want to, and I knew already that I didn’t have to eat any chocolate I didn’t want to eat.

After 4 months of no posts, I wrote a new post on a delicious chocolate I just bought today. It reads as if I can’t resist this chocolate, but I have. I ate a nice portion, then put the rest away for another day. Chocolate is as normal as an apple for me now. I love apples. I love chocolate. But I eat both at normal levels.

How did I change from chocolate-obsessed to a intuitive-eating chocolate-and-apple-lover? One bite and one thought at a time.

Each time I eat chocolate, I remind myself that I love myself and I can have all the chocolate I want any time.  Slowly I discovered that chocolate wasn’t my real need, but rather self-care and positive self-talk is. That’s what I practice now, and it tastes better than chocolate.

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I keep seeing a gap between my rational thoughts about normal eating and the ability to actually do it consistently. After reviewing my history, I see that I believe academically that normal eating is best, and will help me get to a normal size, but I still experience those moments (many of them) in which I eat unconsciously.

This must be easier than I am making it. There are plenty of times in which I don’t eat, don’t want to overeat, and don’t. But there are also plenty of times I eat too much, or eat when I’m not hungry. I believe that normal eating is right for me, and that I can do it. I also believe that eating for comfort hurts more than it helps, leaving me feeling bad and physically uncomfortable.

What’s missing? Those beliefs now exist for me, but they do not permeate my every moment.  I do not have them ingrained as habits.

What kinds of beliefs are ingrained as habits? I believe if I save money, I’ll have a better retirement. I believe insurance is important. I believe the oncoming car on the highway is not going to suddenly cross the painted white line and crash into me. I believe brushing my teeth every day will keep them healthy. These things I believe, and are so ingrained that I choose good behaviors based on these beliefs. I don’t panic every time a car somes toward me in the other lane, and I don’t skip brushing my teeth too often.

These beliefs exist and permeate my thoughts because I practiced them until they stuck.

This is good. I know I have the positive beliefs around normal eating, and I know that practicing them will make them stick.

So just for today, I will remind myself of the following statements:

  • Eating the right amounts makes me feel great
  • I get the most comfort from peaceful time alone rather than eating
  • I control my own attitude and choose the way I respond to life’s ups and downs

This practice is the sum of the ideas of affirmations, beliefs and cognitive therapy. Practice makes perfect, or at the very least, makes “good enough.”

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