Sunday, June 24, 2007

Loving Movement vs. Comfort Food: Loving Yourself In Healthy Ways

Body Clutter is the first book I've read that mostly deals with the psychology behind the weight loss struggle, or as they term it, "stinking thinking." The only other one I read a while ago was Make The Connection by Bob Greene & Oprah. And I plan to read more books along the line of solving the problem of distorted thinking, etc. because I feel I just can't make progress without changing my thinking. The authors of Body Clutter ask you to journal your feelings on certain topics to excavate some of your long-held beliefs that have gotten you in trouble and caused you to pack on the pounds. For the next several posts, I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to write on some of the topics they ask you to think about.

Loving (?) Movement

One big epiphany for me was that although I've always exercised, I haven't used it as an opportunity to give my body something it needs or enjoys. For example, in the book, they use a euphemism for the word, "exercise" for those who are exercise-phobic. Instead, they call it "loving movement." My view of exercise has been more like, "if I'm not beating the crap out of my body, it's not doing me any good." So I would push myself too far and just continue to crack the whip on myself when I was in pain and should have maybe stopped or been more gentle. Results: torn ACL last year from pushing myself too hard in a kick boxing class. When I was recovering from my ACL surgery, I tried to go on small walks for exercise. I would try to plow ahead and my knee would scream out in pain. I had just read a few of the chapters from Body Clutter, and so I would repeat in my head over and over again, "loving movement... loving movement...loving movement" just to slow down, be more gentle, and stop myself from beating my knee to death and re-injuring it. I'm still struggling with being ok if I don't have a huge hour of cardio where I'm sucking some serious air. And where I lose out is that I have this terrible "all or nothing" philosophy. Now I have a sprained ankle & I can't do walking outside or on the treadmill & elliptical like I had been doing. So I just do nothing.

Loving (!) Movement

This is the lesson I think I need to learn: make sure my body gets plenty of movement every day. Shoot for 60 minutes of cardio when I'm healthy. Plus, I should probably purposely schedule some more gentle regular exercise like yoga & pilates. Because I actually really want to start doing it regularly, but with time constraints & also fitting in weight training, it's hard to make time for it all. And when I'm not healthy, I need to find ways to move my body that nourish it and are loving and gentle.

Food That Bites

Maybe if I felt love from myself from movement or exercise, I wouldn't feel such a huge need to derive comfort from food. I noticed that I put a lot of energy into pig-out sessions when I'm stressed. We're talking speed, ardor, drive and force. I pack those girl scout cookies down like I'm in a competition. No one is going to argue that the chocolate cookies don't give you seratonin. It actually does relieve stress for me. But so do cigarettes for other people. Body Clutter's first chapter is called, "Food: The Ultimate Weapon of Self-Destruction." I full-well know that I'm sending myself into the heart attack risk zone by not losing weight, but I still insist on using the cookies the wrong way. I haven't delved deep enough into the "why's" of it. But I know that I'm probably trying to bury fear, self-doubt, frustration, guilt, etc. The truth is, I have NO IDEA how to deal with these emotions. I honestly don't have a substitute right now that could replace emotional eating. And that's why it's a bit scary to take a step into the dark and commit the rest of my life to 100% healthy eating with no cheating and never fall back on the old tried and true methods of getting temporary solace through binging.

More of What You Don't Need Can Never Satisfy You

So what I have learned from this is that when I eat cookies when I'm stressed, I'm trying to soothe & comfort myself like putting a pacifier in a crying baby's mouth. But if the pacifier was laced with E-coli, of course I would never give that to a child. Also, I would never substitute food or drink for actual love and attention. Thinking about my own kids- they need so many hugs and kisses every day. They need to be listened to, talked to lovingly & gently. They need to be played with and praised. I'm sure there are equivalents of those things that I need to be giving myself, as well.

I Repent Too Damned Fast

So just to report on my June goals- I've been doing ok on the SparkPeople diet. But I've had some stressful moments where I've eaten tons of sweets and just sabotaged my progress. I'm going to think about it this way: there was a leader of my church named J. Golden Kimball in the early 1900's who was deeply spiritual, but would sometimes swear & use coarse language. When asked how he could get away with doing that, he replied, "Hell, they can't excommunicate me. I repent too damned fast." That's going to be my new motto for cheating on the diet. There's no reason I have to abandon the program after a few small slip-ups. I am inspired by that humorous but true concept. When we're wrong we need to change quickly. Yes, a few hours ago I had chocolate pie. But see? I'm already back on track. Back on track for reals, armed with a few new strategies for loving myself in a more healthy, nourishing way that will be beneficial in the long run.


Maria said...

Hi Natalie, I was wondering who you were, but then put two and two together and figured you might be part of the 'challenge' I'm technically in. This month I've not visited the website or anyone's pages until now. I was very good last month with all of the above (a mega-loyal blog commenter on purpose) but found nobody was visiting my blog or answering my questions no matter where I posted them.. questions to do with the challenge and partners and stuff. SO..this my marriage started to fall apart..I just put the 'challenge' and its commitments into the 'too hard basket'. In the past 7 to 10 days I've only now starting making the effort to update and refreshen my own blog. Trying to make myself feel good in ways other than eating.

I really enjoyed your 'Loving yourself in healthy ways' post. I HEAR YOU x 1,000. I've had too much stress in the last three years and have gained about 100 pounds as a result. Of course I'm worried about my health.. I have a foot that feels like it's going to give out with a stress fracture any moment now. Just from trying to carry my weight. And other health concerns. Like you, I went 'gung ho' on the exercise last year. I lost weight..but I was also injured twice..and that set me back by 2 to 3 weeks each time.. and I could never get back into my routine again with the same amount of gusto and fervour. I'm almost 30 pounds heavier than I was last year. I joined Weight Watchers late Jan/early Feb this year and initially, I lost a little weight.. but then we moved house, I had a health issue.. hubby and I were having problems. What chance does my health stand? I then became incapable of making the right choices.. It feels like I haven't stopped eating since February. I have the all or nothing mentality too. This morning I had some 'resolve'..and tracked my points for my healthy breakfast. An hour later I stopped tracking and started eating. Same thing happened yesterday. Cutting calories equates to punishment and I can't bear to be punished anymore in my life. I have been suffering and already suffer enough. I can't drive past Subway.. or McDonalds..or the bakery. I'm sure I could sooner finish a triathlon right now than resist stopping for fast food when I'm in the car. Anyway, I'm rambling now. But I just wanted to say this was a great post. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog also.. meant a lot that you commented! :-)

Fatinah said...

food for tought - for sure!

honib1 said...

GREAT POST.. WILL HAVE TO CHECK OUT BOOK.. sounds like u are doing super!!! I used to have the all or nothing attitude.. and then one day it hit me.. do what I can.. enjoy what I can .. get the most from EVERYTHING I can...

Kim said...

Wow - sounds like you are really on track! Keep up the excellent work Natalie!! :)

~~Midnight Raider~~ said...

Wow. That was a great post. Lots of good food for thought... much of it very true and relevent in my life.