The other day a client mentioned to me that she was tired of journaling her food intake and wanted ‘to just be normal.’ I asked her what ‘normal’ means to her and she said ‘well, normal is just eating what’s right in the right amounts.’ I respect that, because it aspires to a level of unconscious self-regulation which should lead to long term weight maintenance. Tracking one’s food intake (and water, and exercise, and etc.) can easily become monotonous, tedious and troublesome.
For me, on the other hand, that sort of auto-pilot is probably not going to appear on the horizon anytime soon. But its actually okay with me. Because I don’t mind journaling. In my life, its perfectly ‘normal’ to pause several times a day to reflect on what I’ve been eating and to mark it down.
Don’t get me wrong — before I started this current phase of my weight journey, I had not only NEVER journalled, I had actively resisted every single suggestion to do so that came from my doctor, my personal trainer, self-help books, and my friends. When I finally broke down and joined a weight loss support group and learned that journaling was crucial, I was sick with resentment over the idea.
But here’s what happened. Once I got past the psychological hurdle of having to keep and review a food diary, I soon learned that I had been in deep, huge and astonishing denial about my daily caloric intake. In fact, I cannot believe that I wasn’t gaining MORE weight, considering the intense amount of refined sugars and fatty foods in my life. My old ‘normal’ was eating until I couldn’t eat any more. My new ‘normal’ became eating with awareness and a desire to remain in control.
In fact, my new ‘normal’ entailed a variety of changes that seemed quite odd at first. I began monitoring how much water I drank and learned to start off every morning having a full liter first thing before walking the dog. I started looking at food labels on supermarket packages. I asked friends for recipes. I went online for additional inspiration and support. I faithfully attended meetings. I began having a very close and intimate relationship with vegetables.
To me, today, all of these things are so automatic now as to be completely unremarkable. And in this new topsy-turvy world of mine, its actually become AB-normal to do otherwise. I feel abnormal when I overeat. It seems abnormal to me to not drink enough water. The thought of a day without generous servings of fruits and vegetables is enough to send me into a panic. It fees strange to me to not have a log somewhere of what I’ve eaten during the day.
I’m not cured – is there a cure? Its not easy – is it ever easy? I’m not perfect – is there such a thing as perfection?
I’m just … well… normal.