Friday, June 6, 2008

Something's Different

Lately I have been feeling a little burned out on this whole weight loss thing. Yeah, I know it is a life-long project... losing and then maintaining... and I am not "on a diet" so I can't go "off"... but I just have felt like my brain was frying with all the calorie counting, exercising, and focus on losing weight for ten straight months. Hey, let's face it: that's a long time to be working on a goal. And knowing it is never really going to end, well, sometimes it is a bit much to absorb.

And so yesterday, I decided I was going to take a well-needed and planned break from all things weight related. The goal was to just get away from it a bit, take a day to NOT weigh in, NOT count calories, NOT be trying to ingest as many vegetables as possible. I just wanted to be a normal person for one day. Not binge, or go back to old ways. Just be normal, for once. Pretend I don't have a weight problem or an eating disorder and just have a LIFE for a day. And then, after one day's break, I would come back with renewed energy and focus, ready to tackle the next set of pounds.

But something is different. I think my "normal" has changed.

I took my daughter out for lunch at Applebee's. I have gone there a couple times in the past 10 months, but I have always ordered off the Weight Watcher's menu, drank water, skipped dessert. I always left some food on my plate. But this time I was going to have WHATEVER looked good to me on the menu and enjoy it. So, after a little bit of browsing, I settled on a Lunch Combo. It included Chicken Ranchers (basically a chicken tender on a teeny bun with a piece of bacon, lettuce and tomato) and Chicken Mac n Cheese (pasta in cheese sauce with grilled chicken strips, topped with breadcrumbs). I also ordered a COKE! Something I have rarely tasted these days (I mean, I have probably had 2 sodas in the last 6 months!). When the plate came, I was sorely disappointed. "This is TINY!" I thought. It looked REALLY small: 2 little tiny Chicken Ranchers and a bitty side of pasta (maybe a cup) with a few chicken strips on top. On the side was a pathetically small and thin strip of grilled, buttered bread. But oh well, I would definitely have room for dessert!! I had been dreaming of a Maple Butter Blondie for ages!!

As I started in on the food, I noticed something. It tasted good. There was nothing wrong with it. I think most "normal", non-food-issued people would call it "delicious." But that is not a word I ever used to use to describe or think about food. Before I began this journey, the eating experience was ALWAYS emotional. It always evoked special feelings towards the food, almost like being in love with it. (I know that sounds totally pathetic, but if you have read my blog much, you understand what I mean). Those feelings were most intense when I ate sweets, but they were there when I ate just about anything. Now, the Chicken Ranchers tasted very good. The macaroni was quite good. But I was not moaning with pleasure or feeling light headed with ecstasy like I used to be. It was just food.

Does anyone else see the magnitude of this??

And something else changed, too. I only ate ONE of the Chicken Ranchers... in fact, left a bite of it on my plate... and the pasta. I left the other Rancher and all the grilled chicken on my plate (brought home in a box). I nibbled at the grilled bread, but left it mostly untouched as well. And why did I not eat everything on my plate?? Because I *didn't want to.* Not only was I full, but I just did not care about it. Again, is this huge, or what?

Do you know that in the past I would go to Applebee's and get a huge plate of pasta or whatever (easily TWICE as big as the "tiny" lunch special I had today) and I would eat the whole plate of food, drink 2-3 Cokes with it, AND finish off a full dessert!! Come to think of it, I ALWAYS got an appetizer, too, before polishing off that incredible amount of food. But this time I was full on probably 25% of the food I used to eat. And I was not frantically trying to shovel "one more bite" into my face (aka trying to stuff myself to capacity and beyond even though I was uncomfortably full).

I still ordered the Blondie. THAT is something I had been wanting/dreaming about for months, and finally I had given myself permission to have it! I was going to share it with my daughter. When it came to the table, I was already mostly full, but determined to enjoy it. I took a bite. It was good. It was fine. It tasted just like I remembered it. But again, I had no emotional reaction or connection to the food. It was just a blonde brownie on a plate with ice cream and maple butter sauce. I remember when this exact dessert used to send me teetering off the edge of sanity because of the way I FELT emotionally when I ate it. But now? Nada. It was just a tasty food. I did enjoy it, but I didn't *care* about it. I gave a good hunk of it to my child, and I left a good part of it on the plate. It was nice. But it's okay with me if I don't ever have another one in my life again.

Do you know what this means? It means that FOOD IS NOT MY SOULMATE ANYMORE. I can take it or leave it. There was a time I think I would have rather DIED than imagined a life without ever having another Maple Butter Blondie! And now, something is really different.

I am a new person. Of course, I have no delusions that I am "cured" of my eating disorder, or that I could never gain the weight back. It would be EASY to gain the weight back. You don't have to enjoy food to inhale it to excess. I still have the desire to use food as a drug to numb myself, sometimes. But I also have other methods of dealing with my feelings now, and I am getting better and better at using them. I still LIKE Coke and Cheetos and fried mushrooms, but I don't NEED them anymore.

This day has been a great experience for me. I have learned a lot about my new self. And now I know that I am happier, and enjoy food more, when I am eating lighter, healthier foods like vegetables. My body feels better and I have the clarity to just enjoy the food for its own sake rather than imbuing it with some magical emotional qualities that don't really exist.

Tomorrow is a new day. I am refreshed already, and READY to tackle some fresh pounds!


Leslie said...

CONGRATS on all of your achievements!

Stay STRONG and COMMITTED and YOU will accomplish all of YOUR goals!

Gooooooooooooo girl!!

Anonymous said...

Great Lyn,

I wish I could get that feeling! I still dream and think about food ALL THE TIME! I have been "maintaining" the last 8 months, although I have actually been gaining and losing the same 10 pounds! I don't know what my issue is. I have been racking my brain for months trying to figure it out.

Good job and keep up the great work!


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post as always. I am only week one into my diet journey, but this time I am so committed and it's blogs like yours that really help.

I only have have 5 words to say in response to this post:


Dinah Soar said...

I know how you are feeling...I too take a day off now and then...give myself permission to eat what I want...surprisingly enough I find my experience is similar to yours... I too have discovered my relationship with food has changed. It's like the end of a bondage that has gone on too long.

Not saying I couldn't revert, but I was using food to feed my soul and when I discontinued that practice the pleasure I derived from food was diminished and it took its rightful place in my life--- as simply fuel for my body.

Now when I eat, I think about what my body needs as well as what would taste good to me, and I make a point to fit my craving into the parameter of body need relative to health and well being.

Surprisingly enough, I find that focusing on healthy food creates a desire for those foods. The thing we "think" on becomes the thing we desire.

All too often now, like you, foods that I found to be "delicious" and "wonderful" just taste o.k. and often don't even taste good enough to finish eating.

We've come a long way!

Heather said...

that is so wonderful! I too have had realizations like that and know how powerful it is. its wonderful when realize food is just food and not some magical creaction to make us feel better or less depressed or anything, etc. other than to fuel our bodies.

and I think its normal to feel burned out at times. I know I do. its a hard job always thinking about what you put in your mouth and I think its natural to want a break sometimes.

RunningNan said...

I'm so happy for you.. That is huge!

Anonymous said...

dang lynn,

you are really something! good job! just thinking about how far YOU have come, that YOU did it, really motivates me and reminds me how much better life is without binging.

thank you. you are such an inspiration. rock on lynn, like you should.


LisaN said...

Maybe this is like when we work so hard toward a solution, trying different ideas, but finding little success. Then, out of frustration, you step away; take a walk, veg out on the TV, or some other mind numbing activity, only to discover the solution.

Now, you're different because you have had success, but still had a burned out feeling.

Congratulations on finding your the new you.............:)

Sybil said...

It's these little awarenesses/epiphanies that probably lead to long term success, don't you think? For myself, if I just focus on the weight loss I know I won't be successful long term - my changes won't be for life - they'll just be until I drop some weight. It's the mind/emotion component that I need to keep examining and recognizing in order to permanently change.

I appreciate your honesty and how you keep it real. Keep up the great work.

deanna said...

That is fantastc!! the feeling is excellent. I am close but not there yet! Good For You!!!

MB said...

That is a great breakthrough to lose the emotional attachment to food. Congrats! Keep up the good work.

Stephanie said...

That's great - good for you. I totally know what you mean about "caring" about the food, like being in love. That is so right on for many people. I am a recovering alcoholic and I know that for me, losing alcohol is like losing a lover, to some degree. So I can fully relate (although I won't be having a "DRINK Whatever I Want" Day - that wouldn't have such a happy ending, girlfriend!) I have told my husband in the past that I almost think food addictions/disorders, whatever you want to call them, are harder than alcohol or drugs because no matter what, you STILL have to eat. You are still faced with your demon several times a day. Thank God you are beating your demons and making progress. You are doing so well - keep it up! p.s. I love that Blonde Brownie thing, too.

Honi said...

its wonderful when we find out these new feelings in ourselves.. I went through that last weekend at Village tavern.. I had what I wanted.. I wanted a salad... I ate all my salad it was yummy ... I wanted some mashed potatos I shared that with my step daughter and I wanted birthday cake.. ( we were celebrating my moms 75th bday..
I had 4 small bites of cake and I did not feel deprived or guilty .. 2 feelings I always associated with food.. so eating " normal" whatever that is.. can be done.. and we can find new zones in ourselves with out over eating.. for the wrong reasons..

Anonymous said...

Lyn, this is wonderful. I do lots of planning to stay on plan and sometimes you just need a break. But I realized I don't need a break from eating healthy, but from thinking about it so much. And maybe that is the first step to making it a longterm part of my life. Just doing it without thinking about it.
Congrats on the blog award. I love reading your posts.

ThickChick said...

Congrats Lyn, that is HUGE!!

Anonymous said...

Contragulations! Today's post was HUGE for me! When I found your blog I went all the way to the beginning and read it all in a few weeks, now I have it book marked and check for new posts daily..I think we may be soul mates! You put my thoughts and fears in to words when I can't. Your doing a great job and service to everyone who reads about your journey!