Monday, November 14, 2011

Small Changes

The past few weeks have been spent in planning and thinking.  When should I start dieting?  What should I eat?  How am I going to make sure I stick to it?  This has been interspersed with the flu and food poisoning as well as some pretty serious sleep deprivation as my toddler goes through a no sleeping phase.  So all in all, I’ve felt stalled and unmotivated.

I had been thinking about spending more time planning, finding a strategy that will really work and feeling really, READY, before I start dieting.  However, the more I try to do this, the less motivated I feel.  Maybe it’s because planning doesn’t give me any results.  Planning doesn’t make me fitter, thinner or feel healthier.  Without these results, it’s hard to stay focused and on task. 

So I’ve decided to plunge in.  I’m going to keep it simple, start with a few changes and hopefully by not making drastic changes, have some time to do some of the preparation that I wanted.  For now I will,
  1. Stop drinking soda
  2. Snack only on raw veggies at night
  3. Exercise 30 minutes a day
  4. Maintain a primarily whole foods, vegan diet.

I will try this for two weeks and see how it goes. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reasons I do want to diet

Sorry about the time between posts, being sick with a sick toddler is not fun...  Which made me think of the third reason that I'm worried about starting another diet.  That I don't have the time to commit.  But I'm not going to spend too much time on this because I don't think it's really true.  It's just something I tell myself when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

So do I really want to diet?  Despite the reasons I've listed in previous posts, one look in the mirror tells me, yes.  Thoughts about my health and concerns about being vital and energetic for my toddler as he grows up tell me, yes.  The desire to feel good about myself and my food choices also tells me, yes.

I know that I want to make this change.  I feel it in the depression that comes when I think about how many years I've wasted worrying about food and weight.  I feel it when I think that I want to model something better for my child than being unhappy and seemingly powerless over this addiction to food and other weighty vices.

So I do have reasons, and when I spell them out, I think that are more important to me than the ones saying, don't bother.  But I've also learned from experience that I have to honor those as well so that they don't sabatoge me later.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Falling off the pre-diet wagon? Or not?

So life has gotten crazy and I haven't posted for a week.  Things got very stressful at work and I got overwhelmed which led to shutting down and vegging out in the little free time I do have.  I want to reflect on this because this is so often what happens to me.  I start a new diet or some kind of self improvement project and then "something happens" and it derails all my plans and I fall away from what I want to be doing.  This is where I really feel that the "pre-contemplation" idea rears its ugly head in my experience.  I don't have the level of commitment that I need.

However, by posting those last two posts I did notice something start to shift.   For some reason my cravings for junk food and desire to overeat has dropped off a bit.  I think that's because by being honest about why I wasn't wanting to diet I feel like I took a bit of pressure off myself.  I took away some of the power of the voice that says, "Everything must change tomorrow and this is your last night at the food party, so eat up!"  Instead I gave that another voice, the one that says, "I'm going to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and you can't stop me (insert foot stamping here)," some space to air out concerns.  I need to find a way to address these concerns so that my level of interest in dieting stays high and my level of commitment is somewhat sustainable.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I don't want to diet #2 - Giving up comfort food.

Another problem with going on a diet is that it's not just about eating differently.  It's about changing my relationship with food.  On reflecting on the various reasons that I overeat, I see that I eat when I feel down, I eat to have fun, I eat when I'm angry...  I use food for entertainment, enjoyment, soothing and comfort.  And I don't care what anyone says, as much as I love carrots, they don't have the same kick that a nacho chip covered in melted cheese and washed down with cola has!

If fear of failure is a biggie in my resistance to dieting, this is gigantic.  I know that to make lasting changes in my relationship with food, not just temporary ones.  If I don't want to fail yet again.  I have to change this.  Which means learning to find fun, comfort, entertainment and soothing from somewhere else.

A big part of this is how introverted I am.  I have a rewarding but demanding job, I am busy with my wonderful toddler, and at the end of the day, I recharge by withdrawing into myself, watching tv or wasting time on the computer.  Inevitably, this includes munching on a sweet or fatty snack.

So I think that what I need to do to really address this problem is to learn to have fun, to find things that I enjoy. This is a big part of that whole life part of the whole life diet.  Learning to recreate my life in a way that food, weight loss and the associated habits are NOT central aspects of my daily world.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why I don't want to diet #1 - Afraid of failing at another diet!

I think that the primary reason that I'm so afraid of starting another diet is the fear of failure.  I have had so many experiences of not being able to stick to a diet long term, that I find the whole prospect very scary.  I know that I can lose the weight that I need to, but I just don't believe deep down that I can maintain this change.

At a recent Cognitive Behavioural Therapy workshop, this kind of thinking was called a "core belief" and I think that's true.  I remember my mom and even my grandma, from the time I was little, having the same struggle and giving me the message over and over, "You'll gain weight as you get older.  You won't be able to stay skinny.  Dieting is hard."  So I guess I come by this core belief honestly.  

Evidence, too, supports this belief, as I've never been able to maintain the weight that I want to be at.  Every time I lose, I regain.  I think that this is the hardest belief to combat and is a big part of my current resistance to even trying.  

I feel a great deal of compassion for this part of myself, though.  Because along with this core belief is it's companion - "No matter how successful you are, you'll never really be good enough."  

Part of me wants to come up with antidotes and alternatives to this core belief right away, but that would be a way of pushing it aside and pretending that it's not there.   Instead I think that for now I'm going to sit with this belief, to watch it as it plays out in my day to day life and see how it influences me.  By getting curious, I'm hoping to shine some light on the "monster in the closet" and hopefully will find a way to deal with it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Really ready for a diet?

I've been thinking a lot about my struggle to stick to a diet.  On reflection, it reminds me of an addictions counselling theory.  It's pretty famous among us counselling types, actually, by two folks, Prochaska and DiClemente and is a theory of change and readiness to change.

In a nutshell, they say that there are five stages in making changes.

Precontemptation - where we're not thinking about change and not wanting to make a change.

Contemplation - where we are considering whether or not to make a change

Preparation - where we are making the plans for what the change will look like

Action - where we make the change

Maintenance- where we maintain the change (ok, maybe that didn't really need explanation)

The original theory stops there, but many people consider relapse to be a sixth stage.

Now as an experienced counsellor I have learned that if someone is in the contemplation or preparation stage, and begin to make changes, they will often not succeed because they simply aren't mentally prepared to actually make these changes.

I think this is a big part of my problem, I'm definitely thinking about making dietary changes, but haven't actually made the decision to do it, yet I keep starting diets anyways because I think I should.  This is frustrating and leads to repeatedly failing at diet after diet and feeling worse and worse about myself.

So as hard as it is to slow things down, I need to realize that I'm in the contemplation stage.  I need to think about whether or not I actually want to change my diet.  I have decided to spend the next two weeks using this blog as a forum to explore my personal pros and cons of going on a diet.  This is scary because I have to be open to the possibility that I am not ready and therefore will not do it, even though there's an oppressive SHOULD hanging over me telling me that I have to diet.  But, just plunging in when I'm not ready has done a lot of damage and so I really do need to do this.  To stop planning my next diet, stop "starting tomorrow" and really think about what it is I want.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Whole Life Diet Explained

So, like I promised, I need to explain more about what I mean by "whole life diet."  

I've been a crisis counsellor for 6 years and worked with many people helping them address and change problems.  Being a counsellor has also changed me.   I am less irritable, have more control over my anger and have better relationships.  I've also learned to enjoy life more and be more thankful for what I do have in my life.  It has especially made me more aware of how fragile and temporary life can be.  The thing that hasn't changed, in fact seems to be more stubborn is my relationship with food.

As a counsellor, too, I have knowledge of numerous theories of change.  Some, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, believe that the mind is the seat of change.  Others, like many trauma therapies, believe that it is the body that holds our memories and it's path can lead us to change.  Emotions, spirituality, relationships, and the natural world are other ways that change can be found.  

Personally I think that we need to look at all of these, and find a variety of techniques that work for each individual.  And that's what I intend to do here.  Experiment on myself, try to shake loose from the stuckness that I feel and find a path that works for me.  

Before ending this post I have to mention one other thing that's really important to me.  I have to be able to have fun and celebrate life while I'm losing weight.  It's can't be a sombre, serious, martyr-ish feeling thing.  As I said above, the biggest thing I've learned from being a crisis counsellor is that life is fragile and I want to enjoy it!