Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Time To Wake Up!

Hello and welcome. If you’re like most people, your weight and/or appearance is on your top ten list of things you’d like to change about yourself. Mine was for years. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. It took me twenty years to learn what I know now, but you don’t have to wait that long. Rather than take a long arduous journey to wellness, you can simply awaken to wellness!

My awakening began when I was 26 years old, married with two children and waging a war with the scale and my body that started in the 9th grade. (Truth be told, my first attempt at weight loss was in the 2nd grade. I did sit-ups every night for two weeks and gave up when my efforts failed to yield results.) I spent three weeks on the Weight Watchers diet with zero cheating and lost 10 lbs. Losing weight slowly was supposed to help keep the weight off. One Friday at the end of the third week I started craving chocolate and decided to have lunch at the Weight Watchers restaurant nearby. I ordered lunch, but what I really wanted was the chocolate sundae they served for desert -a small scoop of imitation nonfat ice cream with approximately one teaspoon of fake chocolate syrup on top. It was not enough. When I asked for the recipe, the waitress refused to give it to me. I was determined to figure it out myself, so I stopped by the grocery store on the way home. Later as I mixed the items and warmed it on the stove, it looked just like what was served at the restaurant, but it sure didn’t taste like it! It was the worst tasting concoction I had ever had. I couldn’t get the awful taste out of my mouth. I figured the only thing to do was to buy the real stuff to satisfy the craving. I spent all weekend stuffing myself with chocolate, cookies, cake, etc. stopping only because I felt sick, not because I was satisfied.

By Monday morning I had gained 12 pounds. In 2 ½ days I had gained 12 pounds! That was 2 pounds more than I lost in three weeks time. I feared if I didn’t start another diet it would take no time at all to weigh the 300 plus pounds that my mother weighed. Monday was the day to weigh in at the neighborhood diet club. I cancelled my appointment, sent my two daughters off to school, and sat my totally depressed self down on the couch. What am I going to do now? I had the radio on and heard them talking about the movie Born Free. A true story about a lioness born in captivity and raised by human parents. Once the lioness was full-grown, they were faced with the agonizing choice of either turning her over to the local zoo or setting her free. They chose to set her free, but they would have to teach her how to live in the wild, in her natural habitat. She would have to learn how to find her own food. She would no longer have someone tell her what to eat. It occurred to me that I was just like that lioness. I too needed to learn how to eat the way I was supposed to eat. The story that day changed my life and my attitude towards diets.

It took me 20 years to learn what I know now about food. Twenty years of struggling to let go of old habits and attitudes. Twenty years of constantly being tempted to go on a diet or at least count calories. I really didn’t know what was normal. I had a constant battle raging in my mind. I feared that if I didn’t go on a diet, I would gain weight. I tried just eating small portions and allowed myself to eat things that other people ate -things that I used to consider fattening like bread, butter, ice cream, and even candy. Pretty soon I found myself eating small portions of too many things that added up to a lot of calories! I had followed so many rules in the past and now I was trying to let go of rules, but didn’t know the boundaries. I adapted the advice to ‘just practice restraint’. That was my only rule. You can’t imagine the confusion unless you have struggled this way. Who could understand? This was in the 70’s. We didn’t have the information about eating disorders that we have today. No crying men and women telling Oprah how they lived in a nightmare of starving, bingeing, dieting and sometimes even purging. I had nowhere to turn. My friends told me to start a garden and get my mind off food. As if planting petunias was really going to solve my problems!

It didn’t help that I wasn’t that much overweight. Because I wasn’t morbidly obese, people would just give me a dirty look when I complained about my weight. They’d give me “shut up looks” and tell me that I didn’t need to lose weight. The real problem wasn’t my actual weight. The real problem was that I was out of control. Food or at least the thoughts of food controlled me. I was constantly thinking about what I was going to eat. My next meal was always on my mind. I read later of a study that was done on a group of men in prison. They controlled the amount of food and calories that the men were allowed to eat. They keep the calorie count under 1200. These men complained of hunger, constant thoughts of food and even dreamed about things they wanted to eat and couldn’t. They were irritable and angry. When they were allowed to eat, they gulped their food down and claimed that they couldn’t concentrate. I had spent years trying to lose weight on less that what they were given! Some diets I had been on amounted to only 600-700 calories a day. One time I went 10 days without solid food and drank only juices. Another time I did this for a little over a month. I lost weight, yes, but I always gained it back and then some. I remember a book by Herbert Shelton with a chapter titled, “Fasting to Gain Weight”. He explained why you could gain more easily after a fast. How depressing! All those years trying to lose weight quickly only contributed to the scales climbing.

There are so many stories I could tell, but you can read about similar experiences in hundreds of books. What I went through is happening to thousands of people right now. What I want you to know is this: It is possible to stop this craziness and, best of all, it really is not that hard! I promise! The hard part was all those years I spent starving myself on weight loss diets. So I invite you to follow this blog and learn the information that took me twenty years to acquire. I invite to you awaken to wellness.