A New Focus

When I first set up this blog, I didn’t intend it to be about my cats.   I know, we all my love my cats (well, most of us), and while they are cute, and endlessly fascinating, but…

That said, I do want to write about the things that are going on.  The real things.  Some of you might be uncomfortable, and some of you will enjoy reading it.  Some people will inspired, at least I hope so.

I know I am venturing out of my comfort zone.  But that’s what life is about.  I am reminding of one of my favorite sayings. “A ship is safe in the harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”  Actually, that’s a paraphrase and there is dispute as to the original author.  That notwithstanding, I still the metaphor.

So, here goes.

Most of you know that I have had a weight issue for all of my adult life.  I’ve been fat, I’ve been thin, I’ve been able to maintain my ideal weight for about 15 minutes at a time.  Most of the time, I’m either dieting and losing, or not dieting and gaining.  Now,  I’m getting off the ride.

For the last 20 years or so, I’ve been following the works of Geneen Roth.  I read her second book first, Breaking Free of Compulsive Eating; followed by her first book, Feeding the Hungry Heart.

Ms. Roth (although I feel I know her well enough to call her Geneen) supports the notion that all diets, having set up a cycle of deprivation, will ultimately fail.  My life has born that out.  For every diet I’ve ever been on, while they’ve all worked, and I’ve lost weight, I have also gained all that weight back, and much more.  So I’m not dieting any more.  EVER!!

I’m done.

I’ve gotten to the point where the mere thought of a diet that either limits the amount of food, the number of calories, or cuts out a food group (carbs, fat, etc) strikes the terror of deprivation into my heart.

I know I am not alone.  

What she suggests, instead, is following simple eating guidelines, and paying attention.  Yes, paying attention to the food, to the taste, the smell, the texture.  And paying attention to your body’s response to that food.

  • Eat when you are hungry.
  • Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
  • Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
  • Eat what your body wants.
  • Eat until you are satisfied.
  • Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
  • Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.

This might sound like an invitation to binge, but it’s just the opposite.

When I know, and keep telling myself, that I can have what I want, whenever I am hungry, I no longer have the need to overeat.  More about that in later posts, but that’s all the back-story I’m going to tell.  If you’re interested, read Geneen’s books.  They’re great and affirming (as to punishing and depriving).

So, where does this leave me?

Last weekend, I made the decision to stop dieting.  And to get serious about The Work.   So, I took out my copy of one of her later books, Women, Food and God, and started reading.  I reviewed the Eating Guidelines, and began working with them.  The first being, Eat When You Are Hungry.

That sounds simple, but is it?  Really?

The first thing I had to do was get hungry.  Really hungry.  Not ready-to-chew-my-arm-off-hungry, but also not I-think-I’ll-get-something-to-eat-hungry.   I had to wait until my stomach signaled, HUNGRY!  NOW!   And I had to be ready to feed myself.  And feed myself whatever I wanted to eat.  Knowing that this wouldn’t be a snack before a real meal, or that I had to eat dinner before I could get the cookie I really wanted.  But to sit down and eat.

That’s the other thing.  Sitting down…and eating.  Not mindlessly nibbling cookies while I watched TV, or read (my personal favorite) or having a conversation with someone else, or thinking about the list of things I needed to do.  Just eating.  This was so much harder than I thought it would be.  It was hard, but also empowering.  I got to taste my food.  Really taste it.  Really feel the texture of it in my mouth.  It was such a sensual experience.  When I think of all the meals I’ve had, all the food I’ve consumed, that I was never really present for….well…that’s in the past.

I also discovered, that if I pay attention to the sensations in my body, and I start when I’m hungry, I can also feel satisfied well before I am stuffed.  That’s a distinction that I’ve lost over the years.

Yesterday, after three or four days of paying attention to everything I’ve eaten (and I mean everything), and when my mind wanders, bringing it back to the sensation of taste, texture, smell and stomach feel, I realized that there is a point where my body relaxes, when I let go in a deep sigh.  I am no longer hungry.  A few bites after that, I’m satisfied.

The shocker is that this happens about 1/3 of the way through what I had been previously eating.  Interesting.  Something to notice, not to judge.

The entire point of this is not judging.  Not punishing myself for past actions.  Not heaping tons of criticism on myself.  Just noticing.  Going, “Aha!” and taking this insight with me as I keep moving through The Work.

As always, comments and discussion are invited.


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