Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Oh Well

What do you do when a really strong craving hits you? We have all heard the distraction techniques (do something else... take a walk, paint your nails, brush your teeth, or my personal favorite, clean the toilet) and the substitution techniques (eat something else... a low fat brownie, a bag of baby carrots, an apple). Sometimes these things work. Then there is my "disgust yourself" technique of making yourself sit in front of a mirror and watch yourself while you eat. You only have to do THAT once or twice because the image is burned in your mind forever (I can still see my 278 pound frame in the mirror trying to eat a bag of chips, neck jiggling and triple chins swinging away.... yikes). But it seems that all these techniques are not always enough to get us away from the cravings or desires that lead to overeating. What to do?

This is another thing that is different for me this time. While I occasionally still distract myself or substitute a food, the way I handle most of my urges to overeat is to say, "Oh well." I didn't think up this phrase myself; I read it in The Beck Diet Solution. She talks about her son who had to be on a special diet for his health for several years. He could not have any candy or cookies or anything (I understand his disorder could be life threatening, so this was serious). A little kid would understandably have a hard time giving up many of their favorite foods completely, so she taught her child that when he wanted to eat something harmful, he could say, "Oh well," meaning, "I really want this but I know I can't have it, so OH WELL!" Then she would give him a gold star on his chart.

Even before I read about this, I had been saying, "Too bad" to myself when I wanted junk. Sure, sometimes I have a treat, but I am talking about wanting stuff that I just cannot have right now... like a supreme pizza from Pizza Hut. Sometimes I want to order one, but I know I would go overboard. I know myself. I cannot do it. I can't have the Easter candy, and I can't go get a Big Mac meal... not now. Because I won't just want to give in ONCE. I will eat it all and then want more. I will want more as soon as I am done eating that junk, and I will want more in 2 hours, and the next day. And that is how I got fat: giving in.

That's another thing Beck mentions. She says that every time you go ahead and cave to your cravings, you are strengthening your "giving in" muscle. But when you say no, you strengthen your "resistance" muscle. It's true. Every time you give in, it makes it easier to give in again next time. But after a few days of resisting, it gets easier to resist. Now I don't have near the struggle saying No to myself as I used to. Which muscle do you want to strengthen? Think about it.

And the reason saying No to yourself can be so painful is because of the internal struggle. You know that if you decide something ahead of time, like, "I will have baked tilapia and vegetables at the restaurant tonight," then there is NO internal struggle when you get there. You decided. You made up your mind. You eat what you committed to eat, period. But if you go there and go over the menu and look at all the fattening stuff, you have a struggle in your head:
Should I eat this? I really want that chicken fried steak...
NO!! I can't have that, it is SO unhealthy!
But I really want it! Wouldn't it be okay just this once?
No, it will make me gain weight...
I deserve it!
Ugh, no, I really shouldn't...
And that is what is painful and difficult. Eliminate the struggle, eliminate much of the pain and difficulty. So even if I have a sabotaging thought...

I want some chocolate right now.

My answer is:
OH WELL!

It works for me. Thanks to Dr. Beck for some great insights!

A few years ago, I was dating an athletic, younger man. I weighed about 260. One day we went into a party supply store to get some things for his party. It was a small but nice shop, tightly packed with very cool party items all displayed carefully on clear glass shelves. (You can probably see where this is going). As I was walking, carefully, between the aisles, my fat hip caught the very corner of one of the shelves. I barely felt it but I heard it start to slide! As I turned to try and grab it, my fat upper arm caught the very corner of the shelf above it. Two huge glass shelves came crashing down to the floor, along with everything displayed on them AND the shelves below them. In one split second I was standing in a pile of shattered glass and broken party items. I was mortified and my upper arm was bleeding. My boyfriend helped me out from the pile of glass and as I was trying to step aside, I bumped another shelf with my fat butt and it nearly toppled. The store staff had all come running and they were obviously upset with me and seemed a bit disgusted that this morbidly obese person had come waddling through their aisles and destroyed so much property. As my boyfriend caught the last shelf from falling, the thin, pretty staff women were just waving at me to get the hell out of the aisles, not to do anymore damage, and get OUT of their store. They didn't say it. But their wide eyes, their disgusted faces, their glances at my fatness, and their eye rolling at each other spoke volumes. There was aggravation in their voices as they shooed me out. No one cared that I had blood dripping down my arm. No one asked if I was okay. Just get out, you fatty, haven't you done enough damage?

I never, ever want to be in that place again. And I don't mean the STORE. I mean that body. That's why when I really, really want fried chicken and cupcakes, I am not going to eat them. Oh Well.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been overweight and now has achieved success, I just wanted to put it out there that as I lost more weight, it got easier and easier to refuse cravings. The reason being mental, not physical. You get to a point where the excitement over your new body takes up more room in your brain and there is just less attention spent on food. You go shopping and get a rush from the smaller sizes you can buy and how cute you look, and before you know it your whole outlook has changed. You start thinking about a new haircut or where you can get shoes to match your new outfit or that wedding coming up where you will make your "thinner debut". Your life will fill up with fun exciting things that will replace your old hobby (eating!) But I know from experience how frustrating it is to deprive yourself day after day and still be overweight. Hang on, because better days are coming! BTW, I love your writing!

Take Care,
Beth

Honi said...

since I am in the throw of it all.. I find I am more proud of myself when I say no than when I give in.. i like the feeling of being proud .. so I say NO more than yes if that makes sense....

Ryry the Adventurous said...

And you know what the worst part is? The half candy bar that triggered your sugar cravings is trying to bully your willpower. Sugar is the devil. It is more debilitating than fatty food when consumed in a mini binge... it will hound and nag at you for days until you want to carve parts of your body off with a chisel because you're so wired up. If I end up mini-binging with a cookie or two (damn those thin mints) it will be at least two days before I feel at ease and back to normal. Ugh. You go girl, you rock. Keep it up.

Kathy said...

I love the simplicity of this approach!

Anonymous said...

Me- I weigh about 35lbs more than I should and losing it is just kicking my butt. All I can think is beach season beach season beach season!!!!!
Idk how I happened across your blog BUT I am so glad I did. First let me say that you can absolutely tell that there was weight loss in your before and afters. I read many of the blogs and was so impressed by your success. I don't know you but I am so proud for you. As I was reading my eyes started burning. I am so proud of your determination.
Keep up the good work.

Heather said...

those are some great tips..I think Beck is pretty damn insightful. I used to say "oh well" meaning, oh you can just keep on eating, which never did much for me, lol!

I had never thought about the eating in front of the mirror thing..interesting! will have to try that, but hopefully it will never come to that.

Betsey C. said...

A great, thought-provoking post. This will help me today. Thank you!

Teale said...

This is a good topic. You always write such great entries! Last weekend I went through the Dairy Queen drive-thru for a burger & a small blizzard. I had the flex points, and it was what I wanted. I shared the blizzard with someone, and it was tasty. Then that night, all I could think about was going to get ANOTHER blizzard. I called a friend & asked if she was up for ice cream. Luckily, she wasn't, so I didn't get it. Probably if she'd said yes... I would have gotten it. I guess even though I stll have my weaknesses, I can look at this positively--at least I have conquered the battle of going by myself and getting the ice cream. I didn't used to think twice about it, I'd hop in my car, go through the drive-thru, and stuff my face. At least now I've broken that habit... even if I still really want more ice cream sometimes:)

teenage girl said...

that is actually really cool advice, the whole "oh well" thing.

that story sounds just awful. Its really weird how people react to overweight humans compared to a slimmer person - im not trying to be rude, but some people are just judge others before they get to know them, which is an awful thing to do.

i know what you mean about those craving foods - mine is my moms tortellini salad, i can't eat it anymore because I could sit there and eat a whole pot of that stuff :]