From experience, I know that ‘perfection’ is not a good weight management focus, nor is deprivation, nor any kind of extreme set of rules and requirements. I’ve been through that and know that it might work for a (very) short while, but to truly establish a healthy long-term weight, there is really nothing that we have other than self-awareness.
This knowledge can come in so many ways. It might be through a food journal. It might be checking your clothes to feel how they fit. It might be how hard you pant after walking up a couple of flights of stairs. The possbilities are limitless. In fact, I would venture to guess that most people who have long-term success have more than one tool in their belt that they use to remain conscious.
The flip side of awareness is, of course, denial. Denial is what got me into my largest size of clothes, what kept me from being able to run, and which led me to feeling frustrated and bitter since I just KNEW I was doing ‘everything right.’
Because I’m not perfect, my capacity for food consciousness varies over time. Although food journalling is something I hated at first, it eventually became so second nature to me that I felt I would never be able to ‘bite it’ and not ‘write it.’ But over the years I’ve found that there are times when my journal contains blank spaces and suddenly food mysteriously disappears around the house without explanation.
When my weight is just right and my clothes fit comfortably, I often imagine the feeling to be so wonderful that I’ll never be tempted to binge again. And oddly, at other times, I squeeze into those very same clothes, gasping for breath and find myself wondering if perhaps the washing machine is to blame!
Tonight as Devin was preparing for a tennis match, I sat with him and listened to his pre-match ‘relaxed focus’ CD. The instructor’s soothing voice told me to breathe slowly, relax my muscles and focus my mind, preparing to be both comfortable and alert. And all of a sudden, I discovered something — I had eaten way too much for dinner! Walking out the door a half-hour earlier, I felt mildly uncomfortable, but as we sat in the car at the tennis club and listened to the coach’s voice, I became intensely aware of my physical and mental state.
Completely unbeknownst to me, I had stuffed myself to the point of bursting. It was ‘just’ a salad, a smoothie, a veggie burger, and some steamed veggies. But taken altogether (and eaten so quickly) it had been too much.
I find this astonishing because I work hard at self-awareness and I make a point of trying to hear my body’s signals. I ran with the dog today, rode my bike to and from work, hit the gym at lunch time — surely this physical activity helps me hone in on my state of being.
Or, perhaps not. Perhaps a lifetime of training myself to eat and then covering up the satiety (fullness level) is just a little too embedded to be completely eradicated.
And perhaps, just perhaps, I need to get myself to the library tomorrow and check out a relaxation tape!