Intuitive Eating: Inspiration on the Web

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The concept of Intuitive Eating is still new to me. It is an ideal, a goal that resonates with me but one that I haven’t quite achieved. At this early stage of the process, two particular blogs have inspired me: Skwigg Blog and Deliberate Receiving Blog.

I have read Skwigg Blog on and off for years, starting in my committed BFL days and have followed Renee’s progression from weight lifting to martial arts to kettlebells and veganism to her current happy eating. Intuitive Eating 2.0 was my introduction to the revolutionary idea that you can eat what you want, not carry a measuring cup with you everywhere you go and still look hot:

“I flow. That’s significant because I used to battle. I battled my weight. I struggled with willpower. I waged a war against fat. I agonized over the numbers. I kicked myself when I slipped. My mindset was one big bloody massacre. My fitness goals were always at odds with what I really wanted, which was to relax and eat Cheetos. Now, if I want to kick back and enjoy a treat, I do so immediately. No struggle. No stress. No guilt. I know that for my next meal I’ll choose something a little healthier and more ab-friendly.” (Skwigg’s Intuitive Eating 2.0)

Right now, I’m still in the war phase – I am still battling fat and weight and struggling with willpower, but I hope that one day I’ll come to a point where I can flow, too. I just need to conquer that stale all-or-nothing diet mentality. And from BFL to happy eating, Renee remains as one of my role models.

***

I stumbled across Melody Fletcher’s Deliberate Receiving Blog after a Google search on intuitive eating. Her September 6, 2011 post “Intuitive Eating – Best. Diet. Ever.” was one of the top results. Over all, the blog is too New Agey for my taste. I don’t buy into the vibrations and Law of Attraction stuff. But I whole-heartedly buy into this:

“This means that there is no perfect diet for everyone, but there is a perfect concept – eat whatever your body tells you to and nothing else. Some people will need more meat, while others need none at all. Some may want to live mostly on fruit and veggies, while others will crave more grains or fish…We don’t need to apply one set of rules for everyone. In fact, we should throw all rules out the window.” (Deliberate Receiving Blog, Sept 6, 2011).

Now if I could just figure out how to tap into that part of my intuition that helps me guide myself to a sane, balanced approach to food and flat abs, I’d be the happiest girl in the world.

Hello, Yo-Yo

September 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

  My body confuses me. I started out at 155.6 and within a couple days of watching what I eat and       working out it, I  dropped to 151.7. The next day, I went up again to 152.5. I remained at 152.5 for about a week – despite continuing to watch what I ate, exercising, drinking plenty of water, etc. I had 2 cheat days (that included zucchini “cake,” pizza, cheeseburgers and beer). Not surprisingly, my weight shot up to 155 again. But again, within a day of getting back on track, it fell down to 152.3. Go figure.

I am trying really hard not to over-analyze while still drawing a lesson or two from the experience. Maybe I had been eating too little calories and maybe the cheat days were enough to convince my body that I wasn’t really starving. Maybe it was a hormonal-water weight mystery thing. Maybe I had created enough deficit that once I lost some of the extra cheat-induced water weight…

Most of all, I think the lesson is that above everything else, consistency matters. And I think that I have to make peace with idea that until I get my emotional/compulsive eating and my stop-and-go workout regimen under control, my vocabulary should not contain the phrase “cheat meal.” That is not to say that I expect myself to be pure Spartan discipline. I know there will be temptations and slip-ups along the way but there has to be a more reasonable way to deal with them than to turn into a human vacuum cleaner. I intend to find that physically and emotionally healthy middle path while still losing fat at a reasonable pace.

And as an added insurance to keep myself motivated and chugging along the weight loss path, I have emailed the following (un-blurred) photos to my sister instructions for her to post them on Facebook on Dec 25, 2011 if by that day
I don’t weigh 135 pounds or less. David Greenwalt from Leanness Lifestyle would call it leverage. I call it Motivation by Way of Fear of Public Humiliation.

 

Blame it on the Back: Thoughts on Exercise

September 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

  Dieting, or restricting foods, food groups or calories, is only half of the weight-loss battle.    Successful and long-lasting results come from a combination of altered nutritional choices and exercise. For most of my life, that little seven-letter word was enough to send shivers down my spine. I hated it. I avoided it. I dreaded it.

I have never been athletic. I have never been anything relatively close to athletic.  I think the root of my aversion to physical activity rests partially in my mind and partially in my body. It rests in my body because I have scoliosis. And not just the minor your-spine-is-slightly-off kind. I have the acute you-might-end-up-looking-like-Quasimodo kind. The back-brace-wearing, rod-in-my-back kind. I had spinal fusion surgery when I was 16 years old and have a titanium rod attached to my spine. I have a wicked scar running the length of my back to remember it by. My hips are still slightly skewed, I have problems with my knees (iliotibial band syndrome) and I have flat feet.

My earliest exercise-related memory is of special “gymnastics” classes I had to attend when I was probably in kindergarten or first grade. I don’t have very clear memories of the experiences but I clearly remember feeling singled out. Different. I also remember the setting was cold and clinical. Think early 1980s-facility behind the Iron Curtain. Literally.

And then came all the years of regular visits to the orthopedist (I’ve had so many x-rays that I ought to glow in the dark), the horrifying plastic back brace, and finally the surgery. I wore the brace around the time I started puberty. It was a white, stiff and uncomfortable shell. With velcro in the front. I wore it under my clothes, but when I leaned over, to write at my desk, for example, a sharp, plastic shard stuck out. It scared more than one classmate. And I remember feeling singled out. Different.

The root of my aversion to physical activity rests in my mind because I have scoliosis. Throughout my childhood I was bombarded with messages that I had to be careful of my back, which in my mind translated to “I am weak and fragile.” Those messages were meant with love, and I was encouraged to be active (I took swimming lessons and tennis lessons and I even played on my middle school soccer team for one season) but I felt singled out. Different.

And when I went through puberty, I gained weight. I was chubby and out of shape, and my back served as an excuse for why I couldn’t participate. I used my scoliosis as a crutch – freshman year in high school, when I struggled to run a 12 minute mile, it was easy to say I couldn’t run because my back hurt.

In the years since I have dabbled in exercise. I’ve been to my share of aerobics classes, from step to kickboxing. I’ve attempted to run, I’ve taken yoga classes, I have tried my hand at weight training. And just like with diet, I never managed to stick with it for a prolonged period of time and my workout regimens have been stop & go for years.

But now I am beginning to wonder if my inability to fully commit to lifestyle change maybe subconsciously connected to childhood feelings on insecurity and inadequacy. Maybe I can’t fully transform my body from pudgy and out of shape to lean and fit because I am holding on to a subconscious belief that I am not and will never be fit and strong?

Guilt and the Lessons Learned From Zucchini Bread

September 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have a three-year-old daughter who just maybe the world’s most pickiest eater. She can seemingly go for days without eating much of anything. She will not touch anything green. I’ve read Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious, any while my child is too picky even for those recipes, I have adopted the technique of hiding veggie purees in the foods she does eat. For example, to the most recent batch of home-made chicken nuggets, I added pureed carrots, peas and green beans. Super easy recipe (thanks, Mom) and she happily eats them.

So, feeling ambitious, I wanted to raise the bar a little and try baking zucchini “cake.” My Picky Princess loves cake and she loves to help in the kitchen so I thought it would be a win-win. For the most part, I followed Paula Deen’s recipe for zucchini bread. I skipped the nuts (Picky Princess has a peanut & tree nut allergy) and added pureed butternut squash. I even added a little bit of chocolate chips to the batter. Everything was fine until my little girl realized that the green stuff would go into her cake and she strenously objected to me mixing the wet and dry ingredients. But once the cake was in the oven, she forgot about the evil green stuff and eagerly waited for dessert.

She wanted pink frosting on the cake so I topped her piece with pink strawberry yogurt with some whipped cream mixed in. The frosting was an instant hit. The cake, not so much. She eventually agreed to try it and ate most of a piece, but by then, I had eaten two slices myself.

The first piece was still a little warm from the oven when I tried it. Moist, light, yummy. Even though I had given myself the leeway to eat intuitively, I was happy with the food choices I had made all day. Before I realized what I was doing, I had finished the second slice. That’s when I noticed for the first time how sweet the zucchini bread was and the guilt set in. I immediately had thoughts of carb counts and calories and defeat.

After taking a deep breath and a step back, I realized that it wasn’t so much the fact that I ate zucchini bread that caused my food-related anxiety to act up. Rather, it was the fact that I ate the second slice so quickly without stopping to think whether I actually wanted it, whether it tasted good and whether I should eat it. If this Intuitive Eating experiment works, it will work because I will have finally started to respect my body and to listen to what it says. Which means that I will have to slow down and eat more consciously.

In the grand scheme of things, the zucchini bread is meaningless. SparkPeople estimates that after all is said and done, I consumed about 960 calories today and burned about 386 calories (5.25 mile walk). So maybe I was just hungry. But more likely, it was my mindless eating habit creeping in.

Leap of Faith: Intuitive Eating

September 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today was supposed to have been the day that I officially started my new diet. By now, I was supposed to have finished reading yet another weight loss book or article, planned meals and stocked up my fridge and pantry with “approved” foods. And of course, this time it was going to be different than all the failed attempts to get leaner in the past.

And this time is different. Different in that I refuse to weigh and measure my food. Different that I refuse to count calories or fat grams or carbs or macronutrient ratios. Different in that I refuse to banish certain foods or food categories. Instead, I am boldly stepping into the world of intuitive eating.

I will do my best to listen and respect my body. I will eat only when I am physically hungry and  do everything I can to avoid emotional eating. I will eat what my body wants, and pay special attention to how a particular food or food combination makes me feel. I will not use food as a numbing agent. I will think of my body as an oil tanker that needs to make small adjustments to make change course. And I will make sure that I am as active as possible, and hopefully, with time and patience, I will create enough of a calories deficit to burn off the extra body that I am carrying.

I know that this will not be a quick fix. But I hope that this approach will allow me to permanently stop the feeling of drowning in a sea of body-image-related confusion and frustration. I hope that this will break my never ending cycle of weight loss and weight gain. I hope that this method will restore my eating sanity.  I am making a leap of faith.

 

 

Oil Tankers and Motivation

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

In an attempt to muster my motivation, I joined (or re-joined in some cases) several fitness-related sites: sparkpeople.com, happyeaters.net, marksdailyapple.com. In my introductory posts I wrote that I am desperate to find a “natural diet/lifestyle” that will “improve my health and appearance” and “get my body to a happy, healthy and sane place.”  I guess I am just tired of the battle that weight loss has become. Tired of pushing that damn rock.

During a lunch-time walk in the park earlier this week, I realized that my weight loss/fitness modus operandi is to find a plan/diet and go all out, 110%, for several days or a week or two and then grind to halt. And the thought occurred to me that perhaps I should focus on repeated, daily adjustments instead of attempting to revolutionize my eating habits. As my size 10-12 waist will tell you, revolutions seldom work.

Earlier today, I skimmed through the motivation section of David Greenwalt’s The Leanness Lifestyle, and this analogy jumped out at me: “Oil tankers don’t turn on a dime. Rather they need to slow way down, then turn, the pick up speed going the other direction. In a similar vein, maybe someone starting the Lifestyle who has had years of horrible habits needs first to slowly rid themselves of the bad while acquiring the good.”

Could that be the secret to successful, permanent weight loss? To think of yourself  as a giant, cumbersome oil tanker that needs to slowly adjust course rather than a small, nimble speedboat that can easily zig-zag through the waves?

Diet Overload and Diet Confusion

September 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

As previously noted, I read diet books like others read novels. I have not tried following all of the diets that I have read about, but I have tested a fair amount of them. I consider myself to be a fairly educated dieter. I know what the macronutrients are and how many calories a gram of each contains. I know what a calorie is and I understand how to read a nutrition label. So why is that I feel completely paralyzed by all of the information.

During the past several months, I have read the following diet books:

  • Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself by Dr. Alejandro Junger
  • Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko
  • The Raw Food Detox Diet: the Five Step Plan for Vibrant Health and Maximum Weight Loss by Natalia Rose
  • Detox for Women: An All New Approach for a Sleek Body and Radiant Health in 4 Weeks by Natalia Rose
  • Raw Food Life Force Energy: A Totally New Stratosphere of Weight Loss, Beauty and Health by Natalia Rose
  • Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
  • Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth
  • This is Why You’re Fat and How to Get Thin Forever by Jackie Warner
  • Your Best Body Now by Tosca Reno (currently reading)

So, added to my internal data base of diet advice gleaned through the years from the work of Drs. Atkins, Sears, Dukan and Perricone, I’ve learned that raw, vegan food is best. Preferably liquified into smoothies or better yet, juiced. Except that fruit juices are pure sugar and its better to eat the fruit whole. But you have to eat plenty of lean protein like chicken breast or fish, and always with a complex carb like whole grains. Except that wheat is not healthy and you should never eat proteins (“flesh foods”) with carbs.

I am a well-read, utterly confused not-so-pleasantly plump, frustrated woman. I know from past experience, that I used to lose weight pretty quickly and effectively on low carb/low fat plans, like Dukan. My complete fatigue and complete lack of interest in eating were two unpleasant side-effects. I also know that I felt pretty great on the Clean’s detox plan but I became pretty tired of the prep work. Plus, the list of “no’s” on the plan made it pretty difficult to follow in the real world.

I recognize that I am searching for a “magical” diet – a plan with clear cut and easy to follow rules, that does not take a lot of effort to prepare meals, that works and works quickly and that I can live with for a prolonged period of time. Anyone know of such a plan?

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