Thursday, June 19, 2014

Eye Opening Freedom

That’s the best way to describe what I’ve been going through with the challenge I’m involved in.

To have freedom from constantly thinking about food has been so stress relieving I can’t even describe it.  Oddly, even though each time I ate, I had to think about my hunger level, that didn’t bother me.  In fact, it made me feel freer and less anxious about the foods that I chose to eat.

For example, in the past, maybe what I really wanted was a sandwich but I would eat a salad instead because I was worried about calories and if I’d already had a lot of starches that day or not – constantly in my head trying to “balance” my diet and my calories.  By waiting until I was really hungry to eat and then just eating what I really wanted, I feel like I’ve been eating less.  I’m also finding that I’m beginning to naturally balance my diet… and I’m wanting to eat things that I didn’t eat much of before, like fruit!  I ate 2 cups of watermelon a day for 4 days straight.  I actually was craving it over ice cream or sweets - or the biggie for me, vegetables. On the other hand I watched a banana (my usual go-to fruit) sit on my desk and go from pale yellow to yellow and black - didn't want it.

Interesting enough, as I was discovering this, this was the email our coordinator sent:
Your body works in a million miraculous ways. Somewhere along the way you have forgotten what all babies know - how to eat when you are hungry and stop when your hunger is satisfied. Even young children when confronted with tables full of food including all the sweets and snacks they could want end up eating a balanced healthy diet. All it takes is for you to re-learn your own special inbuilt mechanisms. This really could be as simple as listening to your body's true hunger signals and need for movement. This is something everyone can do.
The irony in all this, is though I have struggled with this, I raised Little Helen to eat this way. As someone who was often forced to clean my plate as a child, I was determined that I would not do that to her.  It started at birth with her nursing.  Since I was living overseas and didn’t have a mom to help me, a missionary friend gave me her copy of “The Womanly Art of Breasfeeding.” (Yes, it’s an odd title but it’s a comprehensive book.)  In the book the author points out that babies only eat until they’re full and then they stop.  As long as they are gaining weight and growing they are getting enough.

I continued that pattern throughout her childhood.  When she said, “I’m all done,” she was allowed to stop eating.  Mind you had she said she was full then immediately asked for junk food that would have been a no go.  She never did that though and to this day, you can’t really make her eat when she’s full.

As for me, old habits die HARD.  After I'd been following my hunger cues for a couple of days and was starting to actually feel better and less stressed, I suddenly woke up one day wanting to track my food.  It was almost as if I needed the reassurance of the numbers to convince me that I wasn't overeating.  But then I got a grip and thought about how much I want to be free of that and again, I managed to lose weight on vacation without tracking a thing.  So, I took all the tracking apps off my iPhone because I really want to be free of this stuff forever!

This type of thinking is also why I'm not weighing myself during the challenge.  I weighed in and I will weigh out but honestly at this point it's not about that for me.  What is really interesting to me is that when I talked to the Challenge Coach at last week's workshop, her words to me were, "Helen, I do not want you to focus on, even or think about weight loss.  I want you to think about the freedom you want and how it makes you feel as you've experienced it a bit this last week."  Even she realizes I want freedom and peace with it all.

Speaking of peace, the yoga classes seem to be a good compliment to my running.  They are a mixture of hot yoga and warm yoga (because in a hot yoga studio even if the room isn't super heated it's always a little warm).  I wasn't sure how I would feel about them because though I've done yoga of all sorts I'd never done warm/hot.  So far, I'm liking them and I'm trying to get to two a week.  At the end of one of my classes last week the instructor asked us to just take a minute to think about what we'd just done and thank our body for its gift of movement.  There was no judgement on whether or not the movement was good enough or the right form or how your body looked doing it. Simply being thankful for what your body did that day.

It felt good to sit in that moment and realize as with food, I don't have to think of my body as good or bad.  I can just be grateful that I can move. May I have another week of eating and moving like a baby.

And freedom.  Most of all freedom.


20 comments:

  1. Girl, I can't tell you how much I love this post! I'm so happy for you that this works for you and stressing over food is over. I did realize that when I was reading this post that this approach works for me very well too. I stopped doing WW and just eat what I want when I want and there's no more stress over food. Love it!

    Keep doing what you're doing because it works for you.

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    1. Thank you Fran. Stressless eating has to be the way!

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  2. I'm so glad you signed up for this challenge! It's helping you and all of us who read what you write! Finding that peace and balance and just being, okay...Wonderful post, Helen!! Thank you

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    1. "Peace and balance" - I like that Sean. And FREEDOM!

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  3. So happy this is going well for you, Helen. Here's to freedom! Thank you for sharing this experience.

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    1. I have no idea if it's helping, hurting, or annoying readers that I'm sharing but I've always said I write this blog for me. And especially now, I'm writing for me!

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  4. Great post, and I'm so glad that this has been a good thing for you, Helen!

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    1. Thank you Jane! You are a rockstar yourself so that's a big compliment. P.S. Please share the frozen yogurt bars that you won from Cammy with me ;)

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  5. I loved every word of this post Helen. Tony and I were both brought up in the "clean plate club" era, and having treats around like Oreos, or Pop-Tarts were so rare, that when we did have them we would binge on them until they were all gone - never knowing when we would see treats like that again.

    Fast forward to our kids - nothings was off limits. We would marvel that there could be a package of Oreos in the pantry for weeks, and the kids would eat like one every third day or so, because they knew they would still be there.

    Loving your freedom Helen! This is going to be your best summer yet!

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    1. Oh, I'm sure there are a huge amount of us clean the plate people out there. I think a lot our parents lived through the Depression and it's understandable, even if it wasn't the best idea.

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  6. Love how much you are getting out of this. I guess I was wrong in thinking you shouldn't do the challenge, but I didn't realize this was what it entailed.

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    1. No apologies Lori, even I didn't think I should do it, until that very first meeting. I can't wait for her book to be published - I'm going to ask her if I can review it!

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  7. Wow, Helen. This class has turned into something really great for you. It sounds like "mindful eating." When is her book coming out?

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  8. I am refusing to think of it as mindful or intuitive eating because when I tried those things in the past it was a disaster. So maybe some of it is the same but in my head I'm thinking of it as The Happiness Effect - which is also the name of her book lol! She is self publishing so I have no idea when it will be out but she did say it's almost ready.

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    1. LOL, I'm glad to hear you say that. I didn't want to be negative, but I flunked mindful eating.

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    2. Exactly. It is so much more than just eating only when hungry. Which is what we're learning. Yes, there are hunger cues that help but boy it is so much more!

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  9. WOOHOOO! Yep, I love eating like that -- back to basics, listening to what your body wants.
    Oh my gosh, is Gretchen your instructor?? I followed her blog for YEARS!! She might still be blogging but I think she stopped after the book. Such great common sense and optimism -- I want to be more like that again.

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    1. Our coach is a local Connecticut woman - her book isn't quite ready to be published yet. I don't know who this Gretchen is lol!

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    2. Ahhhh, okay, my mistake.
      This is who I thought was coaching you -- love her positive approach to life.
      http://www.gretchenrubin.com/

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  10. I'm trying to get myself to the 'listen to my body' eating. It's difficult after so many years of just overeating....eating to eat!

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