Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How I learned to think like a thin person

Comment Munchberry Re: Thinking about food all the time
Since your blog's name is the actual thing we are driving towards - you have far greater insight on such matters. I do wonder how to curb my obsession (I try) and how not to obsess on the curbing (so it won't take over my life - how it might become natural). I wonder if it is possible or if it is just going to be about finding work arounds. Any thoughts?
Yes, you can change how you think about food - curb the obsession and stop thinking about food all the time. I posted Have I learned to think like a thin person? to show how changing my thoughts changed my eating habits, but I didn't answer Munchberry's question (above) on how to curb obsessive food thoughts and how eating can become more natural. Hopefully, this post has addressed that question better.  

I changed my eating habits and obsessive food thoughts with cognitive behaviour therapy. I needed help; there was no way I was going to sort out everything without a professional. In therapy, I learned why I overeat (anxiety) and I was surprised to learn that the source of this anxiety is from decades of dieting, fueled by my own dissatification with my weight and believing others who told me I was fat, either in jest or because I did not fit their ideal standard.

CBT basically stripped away twenty-five years of dieting mentaility and in its place laid down a new psychological platform to develop a healthy relationship with food and eating. To gain this freedom from food, I had to let go of the one thing thing that for so many years gave me a sense of control over eating; dieting.

Looking back, I can see how my thoughts continued to build the dieting anxiety over the years to the point where I could no longer diet. If I could go back in time I would tell myself that:

  • Food is neither good nor bad.
  • No food is off limits, I can eat as much as I want, but I am choosing to eat healthier foods because it will make me feel better and I want to lose weight.
  • I'm not perfect, so I'm not always going to eat perfectly.
  • Feeling guilty for eating "bad" or unhealthy foods (or too much) will only make me want to eat it more.
  • Thin people who can eat whatever they want are not eating the amount of food I want to or all the foods that I want to eat.  
  • Food isn't always going to taste great and that's OK.
  • The more I eat fruit and vegetables, the more I will crave fruit and vegetables.
  • The more I crave fruit and vegetables, the less I will crave unhealthy foods.
  • Don't hold onto an obsessive food thought or craving, distract myself or let it go. There is no need to punish myself for having a craving or eating an unhealthier food choice.
  • It's not a race to get to the goal weight, so it's OK to take my time.
  • Even if I eat well and exercise, sometimes the scale will not reflect the effort.
  • Changing to a healthy mindset takes practice, but I can change how I think.

Am I the only one who eats, craves food and experiences obsessive thoughts because of anxiety from dieting? No, I think it's fairly common. Just think of how crazy dieting makes you think; how paranoid dieting makes you from eating certain foods or eating too much of anything even if it is good for you.  The all or nothing attitude that one must adhere to in order to lose weight.

So what do I want for you to get from this post? I want you to know that if you think about food all the time,  you can change; you can change how you think about food. And when you change how you think about food, you change how you eat.

If you are ready to change how you think of food, consider your own thoughts and what kind of impact it has on your eating; you can consider my list above, some points may speak to you; you can consider reading and using the techniques outlined in Judith Beck's book The Beck Diet Solution; or if you think you need professional help, consider seeking assistance from a cognitive behaviour therapist who specializes in eating issues and eating disorders.

Change starts with knowledge and a thought. You can change how you think. You can learn to think like a thin person.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's confirmed - I gained 4 pounds

I gained four pounds (well, 3.8 to be exact) during the holiday season. I'm fine with this as it matters what I eat between New Year's and Christmas rather than what I eat between Christmas and New Year's. The vast amounts of heavier/sweeter/fattier foods and increased number of social events are typical for the holiday season but not the rest of the year. (Didn't I already write about this?)

In any case, the scale is moving down again as the daily routine returns to normal. I'm back in the pool, walking to and from the train and I managed to fit in a second swim on Sunday PLUS (OMG) a run/walk on Saturday.

The run/walk felt great; the temperature was perfect running weather at -10 degrees (Celsius). I started back at the beginning with one minute running & one minute walking for approximately 20 minutes. I ran more than intended as my Polar heart rate monitor needs a new battery, so I couldn't hear the timers beeping or they simply weren't beeping at all.

Of course, running once is not a habit; it's a single occasion. I would like to make running a habit (again), not just a once in a while event. This is why I'm developing a Start a new healthy habit plan (challenge). Are you interested in joining me in a quest to start a new healthy habit? More details to come...

Also, thank you Sarah @Fat So Sarah, Elle @We can begin to feed, and Slim Katie @Runs for Cookies by reading your posts, you helped me get into my running gear and back out on the road!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'm on today

Lots of updates this morning, first and foremost is that my blog is featured on Rita Barry's, a directory and forum for fitness and healthy living bloggers.

But before you go off to read my Fitblogger post, be sure to come back and check out the two new pages: 
My eating triggers are well, my eating triggers. Do you have a new healthy habit you want to start? Start a new healthy habit is a page in progress. I'm thinking of hosting a progressive challenge to develop healthy habits. It's progressive in that you take steps to prepare and build a new habit. Details are coming soon. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

You've got to be kidding me

General meeting tonight from 5 to 7 PM, refreshments from 5 to 5:30 PM.

You've got to be kidding me!!

That means another long day at work the same night as swimming (starts at 9:30). Hopefully I'll catch the 7:13 train and arrive home at 8 PM, but if the meeting runs late, I'll be on the 7:43 train arriving home at 8:30 PM.

So, will I stay home or go swimming? Register your vote by leaving a comment!

Friday, January 6, 2012

I skipped last night's swim workout

I didn’t go swimming last night. I feel terrible. And as much as I don’t want to feel guilty/badly, I do.

It’s a busy time at work. I don’t stay late unless necessary. I’d rather be home with my family; the hubby and my little bears.

I felt compelled to finish a part of the project and get it out onto someone else’s desk. I was hoping to catch the 6:13 train. I pressed send on the email at 6:20. There was still time, I could catch the 6:43 if I take the subway. I grab my stuff and head on down to the office concourse level.

There is a man yelling. People are leaving the subway station en masse. Not a good sign.

“The subway is closed, no trains headed downtown,” the TTC guy calls out.

F*** I say to myself.  

I call hubby and tell him that I've missed the 6:43 due to the subway and that I’m going to be on the 7:13. He asks if I’m going swimming. I tell him I’m unsure. I want to go, I’m feeling ok now, but that can change. It’s been a long day and practice starts at 9:30. No time to unwind, barely enough time to say goodnight to the older bear (if he is still awake), eat dinner and get my swim stuff ready.

I arrive home at 8 pm. My older bear is awake so I read him a story and enjoy our cuddle time. It’s 8:30 when I finally eat dinner. I have 45 minutes until I need to leave for the pool.

Bones comes on at 9 pm. I decide to go swimming, but arrive about fifteen minutes late. This means I have another 30 minutes. It’s the episode with the new brilliant teen intern with a southern accent and criminal record. His stepfather is missing and his body was never found. Did Finn murder his stepfather? I need to know.  Of course in this day and age and a PVR, with the touch of the button, I can easily record the remainder of the show, but I don’t. Exhaustion fills my body.

I decide to stay home to be functional person today (Friday). Each week, I arrive home wired after my swim at approximately 11. Occasionally, I manage to get to bed as early as 11:30, but usually my head hits the pillow at 12:30 AM; a mere 4.5 hours to sleep until I get up the next morning.

This is the fourth workout in a row that I have missed due to another corporate deadline and Christmas events. Hubby doesn’t help when he points out that we paid a lot of money for me to go. I point out that I can attend makeup practices.

I’m not worried that I’ll never go again. But I feel like I let myself down and my coach down. I chose to laze about and watch TV rather than move my muscles. I decided to unwind rather than do some cardio. The funny part is, I love the Thursday night workouts: I love to the sets, I love the stiff muscles, I love my heart beating faster and my lungs expanding in my chest.

I'm good at banishing guilty feelings when it comes to eating, but not so much when I missed a scheduled workout. 

It’s over, it’s done. I’m moving on.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Eating between Christmas and New Year's

It matters what you eat between New Year's and Christmas, not what you eat between Christmas and New Year's.

My friend's husband said this a few times on New Year's eve, so I'm keeping this sentiment in mind in reflection of the holiday eating.

I hoped on the scale yesterday and I was up 4.0 pounds. Next week will tell if some or all of this is a true gain or just some food sitting in my digestive system. (I don't drink coffee so I don't have the benefits of regularity that some coffee drinkers appear to experience...) Either way, I'm not going to get my knickers in a knot.

There are a lot of food and social events around Christmas and New Year's that just isn't there the rest of the year.  Some food is rich, some is baked and some is just fine. I ate salad at lunch time and plenty of veggies at dinner to push the heavier stuff through the system.

We ate Chinese food twice, once planned once not; but I'm not worried because we rarely order Chinese food (previously ordered it a year ago). Appetizers did me in a couple of times: at Christmas eve dinner and I could barely eat the turkey and the stuffing dinner, let alone my Mom's rum-drenched plum pudding. (I haven't felt that full in a long time - perhaps in July during our trip to Newfoundland?). I also consumed way too much cheese when we were at a friend's house for dinner.

Of course, we were given loads of chocolate. Unlike other years, I haven't devoured it all (yet). Usually my stash of chocolate only lasts a matter of days. Interestingly enough, my husband opened the package of Belgium chocolate and ate more than me. (He's not a big chocolate eater like myself. But he could not lay off the this stuff.) I don't drink a lot of alcohol, but I treated myself to a mug of Bailey's and hot chocolate in the evenings.

Exercise came to a grinding halt. No work meant no commute, so no walking 50 minutes a day between work and the train station. I also missed three weeks of Master's swimming on Thursday nights. I did drag my behind to the pool for a swim on the New Year's eve day, but I didn't go running or walking any other time (and I could have).

I don't feel guilty about the (well a little bit about the exercise) holiday eating. Freaking out and feeling guilty will only increase the anxiety level, and the anxiety will compel me to eat. 

It matters what you eat between New Year's and Christmas, not what you eat between Christmas and New Year's.

In any case, it's back to the pool tonight, I've got some plum pudding to burn!

Next post: How I learned to think like a thin person

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Have I learned to think like a thin person?

Comment Munchberry Re: Thinking about food all the time
Since your blog's name is the actual thing we are driving towards - you have far greater insight on such matters. I do wonder how to curb my obsession (I try) and how not to obsess on the curbing (so it won't take over my life - how it might become natural). I wonder if it is possible or if it is just going to be about finding work arounds. Any thoughts?

I replied: 
My thinking is changing, the connection and food obsession is loosening its grip on me. So yes, it is possible to change your thinking. In my case, there was no way that I could have gotten here on my own. Cognitive therapy was the key.
I know many people are happy and it works for them to use a work around. I couldn't live with the struggle any longer. Well I could, but the anxiety caused me to eat and eat and I was getting bigger and bigger.

I'll expand more in a blog posting....

I ate relatively normal, healthy, well-balanced meals, but I snacked horribly. This is how I described my eating habits to my doctors, therapist and nutritionists sixteen months ago.

I would overeat and even binge on snack food. Snack time was anytime that was not meal time. My appetite for snacks was insatiable. If ice cream happened to be in the freezer, I would eat a bowl before breakfast. If there was a package of Oreo cookies in the pantry, I would grab two or three or five at a time throughout the day until the package was finished.

At work, I would search the food court searching for the perfect snack to augment the lunch I brought from home. A package of mini Skor bars, mini Reese Peanut butter cups, or Hershey’s milk chocolate usually caught my attention. But I also munched on packages of chocolate wafers, chocolate chip cookies, two-bite brownies. I would plow through a package in a matter of hours, none lasted overnight.

I attempted to make compromises, but that usually meant drinking 500 ml carton of chocolate milk, instead of eating a package of chocolate. Or buying two cookies from Treats or Tim Horton’s instead of buying a package from the grocery store.

Of course, when I was in diet mode – snacking stopped – at least the unhealthy kind. But over the years, dieting had become increasingly more challenging. The amount of time that I could be in diet mode shrank and the time between Weight Watchers’ memberships grew.

Finally, I decided that I couldn’t be live like this any longer. Thankfully, unbeknownst to me, our family had just moved to a house that was located ten minutes away from a cognitive therapy practice. My hope for therapy was to change my negative eating behaviors into positive ones. I hoped to learn to think like a thin person.

So, have I learned to think like a thin person?

The best way to figure out that question is to compare my thinking before and after cognitive behaviour therapy:

Before cognitive behavior therapy:  I craved food all the time.  In particular, I craved snack/junk/fast food.
After:  Junk food cravings have decreased significantly. Instead of craving junk food, I now crave vegetables.

Before: I always ate everything on my plate, even if the food didn’t taste good.
After: I don’t feel the need to eat everything on my plate, including the food that doesn’t taste good.

Before: I would eat second and third portions of the starch/carb section of the meal.
After: I’m usually satisfied by one starchy serving. However, I will have second servings of vegetables.

Before: I was obsessed with taste. If food didn’t taste good, I would overeat other foods to satisfy this need for food to taste good.
After: I’ve accepted that sometimes food just doesn’t taste as good as I want. And that’s OK. If food doesn’t taste as good as I expect, it doesn’t trigger overeating.

Before: I could not keep ice cream in the freezer or cookies in the pantry.
After: I can keep ice cream in the freezer; it does not trigger eating. I actually don’t feel the need to buy ice cream. Cookies in the pantry will go faster than ice cream, but like the ice cream, I don’t feel the need to buy cookies.

Before: If I was out of the house (or away from the office) and I was hungry, I would use that as an opportunity (excuse?) to buy a junk food snack.
After: I prefer healthy snacks from home, so I take food with me. Or, I’ll wait until I get home or back to the office.

Before: At the office, I would hunt for food to satisfy a taste for junk/snack food.
After: I prefer the food from home. I only buy what I need for a healthy lunch (i.e. lettuce for a salad etc.)

Before: It was a struggle to leave any store without buying junk food.
After: It’s not a struggle. The need to buy junk food has vanished.

Before: If I went to a restaurant, I would favor an establishment that served high-fat, deep-fried, and processed food over fresh options.
After: I recently went out to lunch with friends, and I voiced the opinion that I was not interested in going to the pub or Swiss Chalet. We went to the Cora's instead.

Before: I would eat packages of chocolate bars or cookies at my desk in secrecy.
After: No eating in secrecy. I still eat chocolate (usually in the form of chocolate chips), but I have only eaten one chocolate bar (that I bought for myself) in six months.

Before: I preferred to drink hot chocolate for comfort on winter evenings.
After: I prefer peppermint tea that is comforting any time of year.

Before: The only way to stop the constant barrage of cravings was by using willpower, which was in dwindling supply.
After: If I have a craving, I let the craving come and go, I don’t let it turn into an obsession so it doesn’t trigger eating.

Before: Categorize food with "good" and "bad" labels.
After: It’s all food. Some food choices are healthier than others.

Before: Obsessed over the "bad" foods and didn’t want to eat the “good” foods.
After: I prefer to eat healthier foods (real food) now. I see fast food, packaged food, and most restaurants as fake food; food that satisfies your mind but does not fuel your body.

Before: Routinely rewarded good eating with treats.
After: I don’t feel the need to do this.

Before: Followed dieting rules only when I was a Weight Watchers member.
After: I know that following a structured diet program will trigger eating, but I also don’t need the accountability that a structured diet provides.

Before: I had to be a Weight Watchers member to lose weight.
After: I can lose weight without Weight Watchers.

Before: Weighed myself only when dieting, otherwise I avoided the bathroom scale.
After: I’m not freaked out by the scale. I don’t celebrate losses and I don’t freak over gains. It is what it is.

Before: Avoided mirrors.
After: Well, I still do that, but I do look every now and again.

Cognitive behaviour therapy has changed how I think about food and eating. I'm delighted to write that I don't think about food all the time. I crave healthy food, and the interest in junk food has diminished. It is much easier to lose weight with this new mindset. I'm not losing weight quickly - that is a big trade off, but what I am doing is virtually effortless. In time, I know I will be 20, then 40, then 60 (and so on) down to a healthy weight. 

Although I will never be a thin person with a naturally smaller appetite, I am well on my way to becoming a thin person that naturally chooses smaller portion sizes, eats healthy food choices, and indulges in higher fat food choices on occasion. 

Next post: How I learned to think like a thin person