Sunday, July 19

I finally grew a conscience!

Before this incarnation of my blog, I was blabbing, I mean, blogging about "Things That Inspire." This was supposed to be things like art, design, crafts, and stuff like that. But I found myself so many times wanting to write to you about something I learned in yoga or a new take on women's health. So I reconfigured my blog (and moved back to blogger) to encompass a wider scope... now I simply write about whatever strikes me in the moment... and I'm so enjoying it! However, I rarely write about the things I had previously restricted myself from, like health and wellness! So here goes.

You might have gathered from the post Super, just like I am, that I'm a girl who has been on a diet or two. Before I had children, I would've called myself a "diet dabbler." But after that first baby when I retained a significant portion of pregnancy weight gain, I moved first into aficianado status, then to freak status, eventually moving into professional status. Each new diet seemed like an answer to prayer, working switfly and easily for the first six weeks, then becoming the treacherous, life-sucking bane of my existence.

Here are some of the diets I've tried:
  • Carbohydrate Addict's Diet - Good side: one hour a day of all the carbs you can eat... bad side: can you say, constipation?

  • Somersize - seemed interesting, but too restricitve.

  • The Balanced Diet diet - this was difficult b/c you couldn't repeat eating an food within a four day period.

  • Fit for Life - I must admit, someone just gave me this book... seemed too complex to even bother reading...

  • The LA Weight Loss program (they're out of business) - like an exchange program, except with the addition of nasty protein bars and judgmental counselors salivating to mark your food journal up with a red pen, at leas twice each week!

  • The Weigh Down diet (possibly the craziest one) - this diet required you to wait until your stomach growled before you could eat, and if you were hungry before that, you were supposed to pray about it... sounds crazy, but this was my most successful program, but also the most difficult to follow... I once went three days without eating, but lost seven pounds...

  • French Women Don't Get Fat - pleasant, but requiring too much preparation and concentration... what I will most likely adhere to if, at any point in my life, I only have to worry about feeding me alone.

  • There was another Faith Based program, and when I lost weight, my leader would write "PTL(praise the Lord!)" in the margins of my food journal, like my being overweight was a moral issue worthy of God's attention.

  • Intuitive Eating - this make a lot of sense, just like the French Women Don't Get Fat book does. I still incorporate lots of its principles into my eating habits. It basically teachs about how the cycles of deprivation (through dieting) cause us to have abnormally strong cravings for foods we think we "shouldn't" eat... so that when we hit a plateau in our dieting, we turn to those foods we craved, overindulging and ultimately sabotaging our weight loss. The book contends that if you listen to your intuition, indulge your cravings in moderation, you'll fare much better.

  • Mindful Eating - Much like Intuitive Eating and French Women Don't Get Fat, this book encourages you to listen to your body's natural signals of hunger and to satisfy those needs. Difficult when you you're trying to plan your meals two weeks in advance (as I do) and often eating on the go - an unfortunate necessity in my life.
I have had the best, most long-term success with Weight Watchers. My journey with WW began in 2001, just before I got pregnant with my second child. It is a sensible program, focusing on moderate portions, exercise and healthy foods, with a little leeway for the occasional splurge. My pattern has been like this: I would lose some weight, slack off on keeping track of what I was eating, eventually gain the weight back plus a few pounds... my second child is now seven, and I'm technically what the industry calls a "weight cycler..." simply nice vocab for "yo-yo-dieter."

Recently though, in the very interesting book called Big Fat Lies (scientifically based book that illustrates that overweight people aren't necessarily unhealthy, as long as they are fit... I really like this book!), I've been learning about the dangers of weight cycling, and I'm determined to stop. This year, I've lost about 20 pounds. Usually, I would just put that right back on. Even though I'd prefer to lose about fifteen more, I appear to be at a standstill. And that is okay! At this point, I am going to consider this year a success, if I can keep off the 20 pounds I've lost. I'll worry about the next fifteen later.

I attribute this round of dieting success to a few key revelations:
  • I spent last year (2008, when I was gaining back the 20 pounds I lost at the beginning of THAT year) really watching the feelings and emotions I had surrounding food.

  • I indulged cravings, and I explored the feelings behind those cravings.

  • I noticed how I tended to turn to food not just when I was streseed out, but also when I was happy. Food is an integral part of celebration for me (As a matter of fact, when reading Twilight I thought that being a vampire sounded right cool, until I thought about the fact that vampires didn't get the pleasure of marking the passing of hours by sitting at the table with their beloved family three times each day to sup...).

  • I realized that if left to my own devices, I will always overeat, and that a keeping a food journal is a necessity for me.

  • Planning meals in advance really helps for me too.

  • I must exercise more days than I don't. Based on my Ayurvedic body type (kapha), my body will cling to every calorie of food as if its life depended on it... even when it doesn't... great during a famine, but not so good with fast food joints and Starbucks on every corner.
So now, even when I'm not journaling my dietary choices quite like I should be, I know that while an indulgence might be a pleasure, it might not be worth it in the end... and that a couple of weeks off of a plan can create a snowball effect that isn't caught up until you're about 20 pounds heavier.

All of that whole long post is to say: I can finally eat and make decisions about food with a conscience. And that, my friends, is a good thing.

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