Friday, May 18, 2007

Just A Muffin

Still fighting whatever it is I have-- I'm still not sure if it's a cold or allergies. But my throat's better today, which is good.

A few minutes ago I did what up until, oh, today, was the unthinkable: I walked away from a half eaten double chocolate muffin, one of my current favorite foods to "indulge" (i.e. binge) on when I'm "bad." I'm still kind of amazed and dazed by it. But I really paid attention to my body, and halfway through I knew I had eaten enough to satisfy me.

It was almost like someone else was steering the controls as I watched myself put the muffin down on the table and walk away. I am a charter member of the Clean Your Plate Club, so to leave something behind is working against a behavior I've had since childhood.

I purposely didn't throw the rest of the muffin away, pour dish soap on it, etc., because that would have smacked of diet mentality to me. Besides the fact that I can't stand the thought of "wasting" food, tossing it or soaping it makes me think I've done something wrong by eating it and I'm now either hiding or destroying the evidence. Knowing that I can go back and finish the muffin when I'm hungry again was half the reason why I could walk away.

I feel kind of silly posting about eating half a muffin, but this simple act is revolutionary to me. Before IE, this muffin probably would have been the start of a binge that would last the rest of the day, even the rest of the weekend. The following Monday morning I would promise myself I'd never buy those muffins again, declaring them evil and off limits. But of course, a few weeks or months down the line, after a lot more dieting and deprivation, I would be driven to buy them once again. Now, it's just a muffin.

Yesterday in my comments, Tree Lover asked, "Are you sure you have only been at this IE thing for a few weeks? Every time I read your blog I am amazed by your insights."

I may have only been following IE for a few weeks, but the truth is I've been reading about it for at least 15 years. Each time I'd read another book I would nod my head, intellectually getting what the author was trying to say. But each time I was nowhere near ready to put it into practice. Before I lost my weight I was still too dependent on the eating and shut down to my emotions and body signals, and when I was dieting I kept telling myself "When I lose xx more pounds, then maybe I could try this as maintenance." (If I've posted this before, I apologize for repeating myself)

I suppose I could compare it to the way my weight loss happened; I had tried to lose weight several times before, but in 2004 all the elements came together and clicked, and I shed the weight. Of course, as you know, by 2007 I'd dieted myself into a diet/binge cycle. I hate to say that it was this series of events that made everything click for me with IE, because I certainly wouldn't recommend everyone mess up their heads with dieting in order to "get" IE. But I suppose in my case I did need to "hit bottom," so to speak, to reach that desperation level when I knew I had to find another way to deal with eating and food.

But the most crucial thing I've learned in the last couple weeks is this: the actual food we eat is truly secondary. This is all about our bodies and minds. So many of us learn to shut down our emotions and ignore what our bodies are trying to tell us. I definitely have, and I'm learning a lot of the why and how of that through Karen Koenig's "The Food & Feelings Workbook." Every time I pick it up I think, "Yep, that happened to me," or "Oh yeah, I do that all the time." And best of all, I'm learning how to work through these issues and replace all the screwy beliefs in my head to more rational and nurturing ones.

Do I still have my fears and doubts? Yeah, sometimes. I'm still holding on to some concerns about gaining weight, although they are decreasing. I'm realizing more and more that my sanity is more important to me than my clothing size, and this is the only way I know of that I can find that sanity when it comes to food and eating. While I'm still proud of the weight I've lost, I'm getting more and more comfortable with the idea of being content where I am. All the books I've read say that if you follow IE you will most likely lose pounds and get to your "natural" weight, whatever that may be. However, I'm not going to hang all my hopes on that possibility. If I would happen to lose weight, so be it. But it's going to be much more of an accomplishment to me when I can reach the day when I can't remember the last time I binged. Now that would be truly wonderful.


Tree Lover said...

Well, that explains it! When I first started IE, I had never heard of it before. It just didn't register that it was something fundamentally different than dieting. Anyway, regardless of how long you have been reading about IE, I'm very impressed with your insights.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I could not have left half a muffin uneaten to save my life. My hat is off to you.