I talked about this briefly in my last post but wanted to write further on the subject of dieting, and the decision to stop doing it. This may seem like an oxymoron to some as usually the thinking goes—when am I going to start dieting? When am I finally going to lose this weight?? When am I going to find the right diet that will actually work? When am I going to find the diet that will actually keep the weight off? It has to be out there somewhere—the perfect way to eat which will cause me to be thin and therefore happy.
Well, I asked those questions for about 25 years and had all the angst to go along with them. Ah, yes, there was a lot of excitement around starting a new diet. The hope and promise of becoming thin which then would make my life complete. The exhilaration of seeing the numbers on the scale go down. Reporting the numbers to anyone who would ask, “How much weight have you lost??” The feeling of power—of not letting eating and food get the best of me. The shear will and determination of coping with being hungry all the time and feeling almost superior for it. Relishing the comments when it became apparent that I was winning the battle against fat. Knowing that this was the last time I am going to have to go through this hell because this time I am going to keep the weight off. Until I didn’t.
And then comes the agony and shear panic of seeing the scale start to creep up. The feeling of being broken because you just couldn’t take being hungry all the time. The “fuck it” attitude because it is just too hard to live like this—I don’t care anymore, I’m just going to eat. And then the sadness of the ultimate failure….once again.
That is really just scratching the surface of the crazy range of emotions dieting can evoke. For anyone who has been a chronic dieter this probably sounds familiar to you in one way or another. But I think the saddest thing of all is the feeling that being thin is going to fix everything in your life. Suddenly you will find the happiness that eludes you once you finally shed those ugly pounds. I can tell you from a million first hand experiences….that is certainly not the truth. For me the only thing that getting thin seemed to lead to was getting into another bad relationship. And why was that the case? Just because I had lost the weight (again) didn’t mean I felt good about myself. I may have temporarily felt good about the fact that I had won the battle against overweight and that people could see the evidence of that victory. But it didn’t change the way I felt inside. Even though I may have looked better on the outside, on the inside I was still the frightened gawky kid starving for love. And I was still ridden with anxiety that waned in and out of depression. But at least I looked good!
I say that, but in fact even that wasn’t necessarily true. I might have been thin, but on some dieting excursions I actually got too thin, which was not attractive. And even if I might have been the text book perfect weight, I wasn’t healthy, I was just thin. Losing weight might give you a high initially, until you realize that nothing has really changed in your life, except the fact that you are starving all the time.
For me it took years and years of this dieting losing/gaining hell to finally come to a place of surrender. I simply could not do it one more time. I finally admitted to myself that all I was getting from dieting was heartache and eventual weight gain. I was never going to find the diet that actually worked. I made the decision then to stop dieting and to make peace with food.
I will tell you that this was not an easy decision to make, or to uphold. Stopping dieting was a scary proposition, one that I considered and tried many times only to get sucked back into a diet because it was really the only way I knew how to live. I was afraid of fat—fat in foods and the fat on myself. What if it never went away again? Somewhere deep inside of me I knew that somehow, organically, my weight would stabilize and then fall back to what it should naturally be. But this was something very deep and it was hard to hang on to at times.
Now my questions became, what will happen if I eat whole milk yogurt instead of light? Real mayo? Sugar instead of artificial sweeteners? At this point I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask the most important question, what foods will make me feel good?—and that means feel good physically and emotionally, not feel good for a minute because I am stuffing emotions down with food. It would take me awhile to get to that point. First I had to give myself permission to eat whole food, and to give up diet “food”, and to actually eat when I was hungry. That first step was probably the most liberating thing I have ever done in my life!
Once I got past my fear of letting go of dieting and what would happen, I felt free. Free to eat without judgment and angst. Free of the notion, I’m being bad today; I’ll be good starting tomorrow. Free of calorie/fat gram obsession. Free to actually enjoy food.
With this freedom came the ability to realize when I was truly hungry, and when I was full. I learned to eat much more mindfully, and stop eating before I was stuffed. I was able to do this easily by assuring myself that when I stopped eating and put whatever was left in the fridge, I could go back to it at any time. Even if I felt hungry again one minute later, I could go back to eating. I was free of deprivation and that was an unbelievable feeling.
Subsequently, my weight did stabilize. Actually I should say my size, because when I gave up dieting I also gave up weighing myself. I knew I would have a handle on whether I was going up or down by how my clothes fit. I didn’t want a number on a scale to run my life any longer.
I will say again, being able to eat without fear has been one of the best experiences of my life. But I found that even though I was eating good whole foods I still didn’t physically feel that great—not a lot of energy, and although my size was stable I wasn’t organically dropping back to my natural size over time. I tried on a few occasions to cut out certain things, say gluten or dairy, to see if I could find the culprit. But I went about it in a rather haphazard way, and was not getting any answers. I was making good choices as far as what I was eating—whole, largely unprocessed, mostly organic food. What I didn’t realize until I started juicing was that I still wasn’t getting proper nutrition!
So here we are back on the juicing bandwagon. As much as I was eating good foods, I wasn’t getting nearly enough vegetables and fruit into me, especially the dark greens. I love roasted broccoli and brussel sprouts, but kale and most of the other leafy greens I hadn’t found much of a place for. My attempts at cooking greens rendered them, well, gross. I figured I was getting enough nutrition in other areas. That turned out to be incorrect to say the least!
Juicing allows me to get a veritable crapload of leafy green and other vegetables into my body on a daily basis. I’ve said it before and I will say it again (and again)—I feel much better, I have more energy, I am enjoying exercising (because I have more energy), and as a wonderful aside I am on my way back to my natural size. Actually getting proper nutrition has caused me to be much less hungry, and has cut out cravings for things that might temporarily give me a boost like caffeine, sugar or something starchy. And in the evenings it even cuts down the urge to have a glass of wine! Not to mention that my skin looks much better.
But the most important result I have gotten from juicing—I do not have to take prilosec any more for my used to be quite acidic stomach. Drinking green juice and getting off medication—now that is freedom! Come on—give it a try!