Monday, February 14, 2011

In the Zone

Happy Valentine's Day, folks!  I'm proud to say Hubs and I swapped health-oriented gifts this year - the Gregory Baltoro 70 mountaineering pack for him and the Gregory Deva 70 for me!  These packs won Backpacker magazine's Editors' Choice award for best mountaineering pack in 2008.  It couldn't have happened at a better time, because Hubs and I just decided last night that we're going away again the first week of March to do some hiking/snowshoeing!  I'm so excited to hike with this pack.  (It's the little things, people.)

(Note:  I just ate an entire Ghirardelli peppermint bark bar that I got from one of my patients.  I'm going to pretend that didn't happen.  [By the way, they're creamy and delicious.])

Okay, on to dieting wisdome now.  (Ha!)  Over the weekend I started reading Feeding the Hungry Heart by Geneen Roth.  The book was written in 1982, but I really do believe that it's still relevant today.  Basically, she talks about a concept that is more familiar to people today than it was 30 (!!!) years ago, and that is the concept of emotional eating - eating for comfort, to relieve stress, to fill a void.  I'm only about 20 pages in, and although I've known for some time now that I'm an emotional eater, the book is still giving me some things to think about.  Let me give you one example of what I've realized.

Obviously, eating mindfully is important.  If we can slow ourselves down when we're eating and really experience our food - the taste, the smell, the texture - then we would enjoy it more and subsequently need less to satisfy us.  Right?  Right.  I know this is true, of course it is.  We know our tastebuds get "numb" after so many bites of something, and at that point we're just eating to eat.  Which brings me to the next point, and that's the importance of eating until you're not quite full but just about - perhaps a 6 on a scale from 1-10, keeping in mind that in about 20 minutes our brain will have gotten the signal that our bellies are full, which will take us to a 7 or 8.

I can't tell you how many times I've eaten to a 10, and half an hour later feeling so full that I was nauseous.  Yet something inside of me drives me to eat until I'm uncomfortable, something in my head whispers to me and tells me that if I'm a 10 then I know I'm full.  And what does "full" mean here?  It means so much more than simply not hungry.  It means that my nameless void is filled, at least for the moment.  And that means that I don't have to think about anything else except my uncomfortably gorged state - no time for anxiety, for doubt, for self-reflection and perhaps not liking what I see.  Just food, fat, and the hope that I can shit in the near future for a little relief.

So what do I mean by "in the zone"?  Well, it goes back to mindful eating.  I have tried mindful eating before and it's very upsetting.  Want to know why?  Because if I'm mindful about what I'm eating, I'll stop sooner rather than later.  Try to wrap your head around why THAT'S upsetting.  Nevermind, I'll just tell you:  It's because if I stop eating, then what?  What fills my void?  What alleviates my anxiety?  How do I accept the less-than-wonderful things I see in my self-reflection - the fact that I'm not exercising as much as I should be, that I don't clean/organize as much as I should, that I don't try new places or things?  I don't want to have to sit with my anxiety, I don't want to see the negative parts of me, so I can't be mindful when I eat.  Nope, I just shut off that "mindfulness switch" and pathetically and methodically move from bag to mouth (chips are my go-to food), back and forth, back and forth.  Knowing that I'll eventually reach 10.  Knowing that I can't stop now because the saltier my mouth gets the less I have to focus on life.  Knowing that I should be getting on the treadmill but eating is so much easier and delicious.

So now let's come back to the present.  It's Monday morning, and you all know how I feel about Mondays.  I woke up this morning feeling not quite empowered, but at least a little hopeful.  Over the weekend I made seven-layer bars for Hubs, which are delicious, and I decided to have one for breakfast because I knew I would eat one eventually today, so why not make it legitimate.  When I punched the recipe into my LoseIt! app on my iTouch, I learned that one bar has 585 calories in it.  Nope, that wasn't a typo.  So then I said to myself, "Well, it's Valentine's Day."  (There's almost always an excuse.)  Then I got to work and ate that candy bar I mentioned up there, "because I already screwed up for the day," or at least that's what I told myself.  But what is the truth?  The truth is that I have a lot I want to get done and I'm not making the time to do it, I haven't exercised in ages, and I had a rather unsuccessful food weekend.  All of that anxiety and mild self-loathing makes that void absolutely yawn, and so I yearn to fill it.  And then the cycle begins again.


Wow, how cathartic.  Nice to have that all out of my head and written down.  Perhaps that means I can start to attack it?  We'll see.  In better news, I'm on track as far as my weight loss goes - I lost 1.5 pounds last week!  No small feat given all of these damn mental barriers.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Barbara B said...

Wow ... backpacks. Romantic little devils! Actually, it shows how completely in sync you two are so, good for you and have a great Valentine's day!

I remember that book and it had some excellent stuff in there. A newer book on the same concept is called "Eat What You Love" by Michelle May. Updated info and some good advice.

I'm not so much an emotional eater as I am a habitual eater, but you really pegged the cycle of eat ... regret ... eat some more!

You WILL do it this week .... you CAN do it. I know you can. Just think about how great your post will be next week if you lose another pound or so.


Randy said...

Sounds like a book I read called "Mindless Eating" by Brian Wansink, Ph.D. I might have told you about him before.. great book and an excellent read! I had a tough time putting it down.

And knowing that eating slower can lead to a feeling of fullness should come as no surprise. That was the crux of my method employed last year. Granted I haven't lost an ounce since the new year, though.. might need to re-evaluate my exercise plan.

But I understand the draw of anything Ghirardelli, and I summarily inhaled a chocolate cookie-covered ice cream drumstick because they're just so damn good--insidiously good. Valentine's day was also a hoot..we had a party and chocolate-dipped everything in sight. It was sinful! Good thing it only happens once per year!


Lauren @ YoungNester said...

I am the same way! If I eat one bad thing, I'll say "well, I've already ruined today, so this piece of cheesecake isn't going to matter..." Ugh, how wrong I am.

I started again (for the 354th time) my diet. :) We joined a gym yesterday and went to workout for the first time tonight. I am so out of shape but I feel like I got a good workout. I'm hoping that we stay motivated to continue to go work out. Of course it's fun now because it's new... but pretty soon it will no longer be new!