Friday, August 29, 2014

Calorie Counting vs. Intuitive Eating. The Pros and Cons. Plus why have I been able maintain and keep the weight off?

Pros and Cons. Finding A Balance.

Recently I have been reading about intuitive eating as well as getting an audio book from the library about it. I have learned a lot so far but I am having some issues with how the program lumps Calorie counting in the same category as fad dieters. These are some thoughts I have been having lately after practicing the Intuitive Eating program...

Counting calories taught me self control and portion control as well. I thought of calories as money. Knowing I can spend it on whatever I want but still had to keep the calories in a budget. Counting Calories was a really good tool for helping me to gain the accountability that I needed. It gave me structure but also made me understand moderation. I lost 100 lbs doing it. I didn't understand what a portion should look like. I didn't even understand that I was eating enough for like 2 or 3 people! After about 2 years of calorie counting I feel that I have learned so much about self control and meal planning. I am trying to just be intuitive and mindful. I'm trying to not count my calories and trust myself. I have kept off the weight for 2 years now! Anyone who is obese or in dire need of weight loss for health reasons I would immediately suggest some form of calorie counting. I like the website because it tells you all of your nutrition stats as well (protein, carbs, vitamins) It helps to see where you can make improvements to eat more things to up your nutrition grade. There are some cons to calorie counting though. When I start to have unrealistic expectations then I start to obsess over calorie counting and weighing myself. That's when it becomes unhealthy. I think it is healthy to calorie count if you try to have realistic expectations and remind yourself what your goals and priorities are. 

I feel like I have a better sense of self awareness now and self control. I'm not sure If I will never go back to calorie counting or not. I want to give Intuitive eating a try. So far I don't agree fully with the nutritionists who made the Intuitive Eating program. I don't fully agree with their techniques and I am under the impression that they themselves have never had an eating disorder. When they say it should be a goal to have a cookie be emotionally the same as a piece of lettuce, I disagree. No matter how much I practice being intuitive or mindful a cookie will never be emotional the same as lettuce! It's just ridiculous to even suggest that. We cannot have complete control of all our emotions but we can control what we do with those emotions. I notice that even if I emotionally eat sometimes that practicing mindful eating helps me get less distracted and really enjoy my food. If I want a cupcake I'm going to eat it! When I really take the time to be mindful of the flavors, texture, and appearance of the food I eat I notice I tend to stop eating because I am satisfied. I am trying to not eat while distracted anymore. When I eat while talking or watching a movie I tend to not even enjoy the food or notice how much I just ate. I think what really works for me is when I have a mixture of mindfulness and accountability. When I see people on youtube who are trying intuitive eating and throwing out their scales or grouping calorie counters in the same group as fad dieters I think that they are completely taking away structure and accountability. The program seems to completely disregard the benefits of "restriction" and self control when setting goals. Self control and restriction can be good things. Structure and accountability are really needed if you have really poor self control. It helps if I remind myself of the consequences of eating certain unhealthy foods. It bothers me how they lump calorie counting into "dieting. I thought that intuitive eating was going to be my solution to my emotional eating. Then I realized that I will most likely never stop having emotions toward food. I'm not a robot! There are parts of the book that I like but some parts I disagree with. Like how they talk about how guilt should not be associated with food. I don't think that you should beat yourself up all day for eat unhealthy foods. But I also think that it is unrealistic to talk as if guilt is a bad thing. Guilt is an emotion that can let us know if we have done something wrong.  To allow guilt to eat away at us is pointless. Rather, guilt is there to be used as a catalyst for improvement and becoming a better person. If we can counteract guilt with compassion and realistic expectations then we can then be more mindful and learn from our mistakes. I think that we need a little guilt in order to learn and grow. I know I can eat those fun foods but I have to at the same time keep myself accountable. I am only half way through the Intuitive Eating audio book + Cds but I am learning to take everything being said with a grain of salt. I have to use my critical thinking to understand why I disagree with some of the program. It doesn't mean I can't learn from the program. Already it is helping me be more mindful but I am having an issue with the fact that there is not enough structure in it. I still get a little confused between real hunger and emotional hunger. I don't think that will ever go away. The more mindful I become though the better I get at self control. I have to find a balance. No extremes either way.

If you would like a more detailed example of the pros and cons of calorie counting and Intuitive Eating check out this blog post I found. This making good choices blog does a really good job of understanding and using critical thinking about the subject.

Why have I been able to keep off the weight and break the statistics?
I have been thinking about all the statistics I have seen on the internet of how people who lose a significant amount of weight tend to regain it plus more ( over 90%). I have noticed this in the blogging world as well. People who go back to their old ways (eating disorder) because of stress factors or major emotional life events. I don't think they are bad but I do think that they have lost control again or are still really struggling for many reasons. Believe me I've been there. I still have some control issues but I think that there are some reasons that I have been able to lose the weight and keep it off (maintain). I know I still have that disordered thinking in me but I feel like I am starting to control it instead of it controlling me.

These are some tips that I have learned on my journey...

  • ---It was something I wanted to do for myself and my health
  • ---I realized that I have to take responsibility for my life and where I am right now 
  • ---I started to see obstacles in my life as an opportunity to grow
  • ---No more complaining or excuses! There is such a thing as complainy pants disease and its contagious!
  • ---I meal plan and plan ahead for my workouts on the calender
  • ---I used calorie count and the scale as a tool to keep me accountable
  • ---There is not magical pill or substitute for hard work and self control
  • ---I wanted to be a good healthy example in my family
  • ---I try to surround myself with positive people
  • ---I try to stay as moderate as possible with my goals 
  • ---I learned portion control
  • ---I kept myself accountable by creating a blog and relating to other healthy lifestyle change bloggers
  • ---I try to have realistic expectations and use critical thinking (no fad diets and no fad magazines)
  • ---I set small attainable goals
  • ---I remind myself of those goals daily/weekly
  • ---I do not want to become a stick thin model (air brushed eww!)
  • ---I started to embrace my natural beauty
  • ---I eat foods that I like and do exercises that I enjoy like biking or running
  • ---I try to keep things interesting with food and keep trying new recipes 
  • ---I am learning how to eat mindfully
  • ---I learned how certain foods effect my energy and mood levels
  • ---I learned which foods I like that keep me feeling energized and full
  • ---I educate myself about nutrition 
  • ---Fun foods are allowed in moderation
  • ---Moderation Moderation Moderation! The less black and white thinking the better!
  • ---I try to keep a balance with nutrition, exercise, and a positive body image.
  • ---Be consistent and don't put too much on your plate at once
  • ---I try to remind myself daily of things in my life that I am grateful for so I don't take anything for granted
  • ---Trying new things builds my confidence and self esteem

I still get down sometimes and get back on the bandwagon of a negative mindset with unrealistic expectations. But when I have a weekly or daily practice to remind myself of my goals like with blogging or keeping a private journal then it helps to keep me accountable to learn from my mistakes. Guilt and shame still play a role in my life. I don't think that guilt is bad though. I think if I deal with my guilt and use it to do self reflection and learn from my mistakes then I can overcome it. I just need to remind myself to keep finding opportunity for growth. The less I worry about things that are not in my control the happier and more productive I become. It's really pointless and a waste of time to worry about things that I cannot control or influence because that energy can be going toward something more productive like self improvement and learning.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Real and Fake hunger. Thoughts on Intuitive Eating.

I have been researching Intuitive Eating. Lately I have been watching youtube videos by Josie Spinardi. She is the author of a recent Intuitive eating book called "How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too: Stop Binge Eating, Overeating and Dieting For Good Get the Naturally Thin Body You Crave From the Inside Out ". I haven't read her book yet but I did ask the library to order it for me because they do not carry it. In the mean time I am getting other books from the library about Intuitive Eating. I have also been watching Josie Spinardi's youtube channel. Her advice is very helpful and thought provoking.

What does Real and Fake hunger feel like to me? 

Real hunger and fake hunger both come naturally to me. Since I have been using fake hunger (emotional eating) since childhood to suppress my feelings. With real hunger I recognize my body's cues for when I am actually hungry. With fake hunger I feel anxious. I feel very emotional. The eating feels urgent like it has to happen right away. When I stop myself in the middle of fake hunger and really ask myself why I am hungry then often times I realize it is because of some emotional distress that I am going through and just want the comfort of food to temporarily "zone out", forget, and not think about my emotional problems. It's tricky because real hunger can also feel like it has to happen right away if you let yourself go without food for too long. I can understand the differences if I start asking myself some questions before I start urgently eating. It makes sense to start eating around lunch time especially if I skipped breakfast. That is real hunger. With fake hunger I feel hungry regardless of how much food I have already eaten or when I ate last. I'ts utterly emotional. Since I am someone who has had disordered eating and has been on diets and restrictions its hard for me to actually intuitively know the difference (without stopping myself) between real and fake hunger. This is why I must question my actions and feelings when it comes to hunger. I used calorie counting and exercise to lose 100 lbs. The problem was I never fully stopped binging or hating on myself. I never fully made peace with eating. I was obsessed with my body image and calories. Stuck in the cycle of Diet ---> Binge ---> Beat Self Up. When I feel like I can't change I feel powerless, hopeless, and depressed. Learning Intuitive Eating is giving me the tools and learning techniques to stop that cycle and be able to have an "instant reset" when I am stuck in that cycle of disordered thinking. Rather than believing in that learned helplessness that I can't change, I am learning how to take empowered action toward effecting change. 

The 5 types of Non Hunger Eating

1. Gasping for Food
-Caused by restriction or not enough food (dieting) 

2. Eating cuz you ate - Breaking a diet rule because you were feeling deprived and then binging until the next period of dieting

The next 3 have to do with eating to change how we are feeling.

3. Licking your Wounds- Thinking we can't change something that is stressing us in our lives and turning to food instead as comfort to suppress feelings. Eating and eating and still not being able to reach satisfaction.

4. Mean Girl Munchies- Because of the anxiety of unrealistic expectations and demands of "perfection" that you hold on yourself you get ravenously hungry in order just zone out.

5. Recreational Eating- Picking through the kitchen (cupboard searching). Snacking when not hungry. Caused by anxiety, not having other things in your life to look foreword to, and boredom.

Some of these types of non hunger eating I do more than others. The Licking your wounds type was the type of non hunger eating I did as a child and continued to do up around the time I moved out of my parents house and started dieting. I have experienced all of these types of non hunger eating but some of them I have done more than others. It helps me to really ask myself where I am at and understand my triggers for them instead of feeling out of control. Having disordered eating has messed with my real hunger signals. I am trying to reconnect to my body's signals of real hunger and fullness and disconnect from the temporary fake hunger.

Josie suggests having a mental rating from 1-5 to see how you are doing with your hunger and how your body feels. To check in with yourself to see how you are doing rather than outsourcing your problems. I really like this hunger directed eating idea because if makes me feel responsible for myself.

1-5 Hunger Scale

1. Stuffed- You are Completely stuffed and don't want to think about food.

2. Pleasantly Satisfied- You feel really pleasantly satisfied and you stopped at a really good place. You got yourself what you needed and your not really interested in eating anymore.

3. Neutral- Not hungry not full.

4. Pleasantly Hungry- Starting to feel pleasantly hungry your getting ramped up for your next meal and starting to seek out what you are going to eat.

5. Ravenous- You are feeling Ravenous and starving and must eat or you just might faint.

She says it is a good gentle guide line to stay between 2 and 4. 
Pleasantly satisfied ----> Neutral------>Pleasantly hungry feed yourself
It's not a rule that can be broken but its just a tool to help you gage and anchor your hunger and satisfaction.

I want to my to build up my will power and sense of well being. I want health to be my driving force!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A serious post about binge eating and recovery.

This post is going to be about something that I have not actually delved into in very great depth on my blog. This blog post is going to be about where I am at with my binge eating disorder.

I first discovered I had an eating disorder after I had lost about 70 lbs (2011)  through calorie counting and exercise. I was reading one of my favorite blogs RunsforCookies. Katie from RunsforCookies has been a huge inspiration to me because she is full of determination, love for herself, her family, and her community. I was first hooked on her blog because I had just started my blog after losing 50 lbs myself and was looking for support online to help me lose weight and stay motivated. Through reading her blog I related to what she was writing about her binge eating disorder. I then realized that I had a eating disorder. I continued to calorie count and exercise until I had lost 100 lbs by 2012.

 I didn't understand it but when I was little but I have been binge eating since about age 6. In my childhood I did eat a lot lot in front of friends and family. Secretly, I would eat even more than they knew. I would go to the basement or an empty room and just eat until I felt sick. It became all I knew.

I knew that I had an eating disorder but did not fully look into resolving it and just kept calorie counting and exercising. Everyone was saying comments like "Lorrie, you look so skinny", "Tell me your secret", and "You must feel fantastic!". The thing was that I was still binging and never stopped even when I had realized that I was a binge eater. Sure, I felt proud of the fact that I had lost weight and could discipline myself to restrict my eating and exercise for long lengths of time. I was proud that I made a goal to lose 100 lbs, stuck to it, and learned a little more about myself on the journey. But inside I secretly shamed myself for going over my calories and going up and down points on the scale. At first my calorie counting and exercise was innocent enough but after I had reached my goal weight I still felt unhappy and depressed. I ridiculed what I saw in the mirror. Constantly calling myself names in my head for going over my calories or not going to the gym. I had become completely obsessed with food and my body. Obsessed with an expectation I had in my head of "perfect". If I did not meet that expectation then I was a failure. It was black and white thinking all or nothing attitude "You messed up so you might as well give up". That hopelessness, shame, and feeling of failure is what lead me to binge. Binging is me not loving myself. Binging is me hating myself for my mistakes.

Since my dad died April 2014 I have stopped calorie counting. Not only have I stopped calorie counting but I have been learning to be more compassionate towards myself and not beat myself up over skipping a day of exercise or eating a little too much. I have not binged either. I'm trying to learn to truly listen to my body and eat when I feel hungry. I have been looking into something called "Intuitive Eating". Intuitive Eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body--where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom. 

I think I have recently been partially practicing parts of intuitive eating but just happened to realize what it is now. Exercise feels very different now too. I am no longer exercising or eating as a means to an end. When I go for a jog instead of focusing on weight loss or body image, I am focusing on how energized and positive it makes me feel. I am now able to really fully enjoy my runs outside. I focus more on my health and less on body image. I don't read magazines or diet books that show unrealistic expectations of weight loss. When I look in the mirror I actively try to be grateful for what I have instead of what I don't. I am done with diets and obsessive negative thoughts about my body!

I no longer want to be stuck in a cycle of disordered eating and thinking. I want to learn from my mistakes instead of beating myself up over them. I want to see obstacles in my life as a challenge or opportunity to change. I want to find a balance and figure out what works for me ( and yes that balance is going to include sweets and foods I like). I want to keep building upon my self esteem and confidence. I want to be honest with myself. I want to have a healthy relationship with food and my body. I want to enjoy exercise and food! I want to fully love and respect myself and just feel alive and happy.

So far I have only researched online about Intuitive Eating through blogs and websites. I am planning on checking some books out from the library on the subject to really contemplate it. Recovery from an eating disorder is hard but It is possible. I have to just keep reminding myself to stay consistent and know that change wont happen over night.