Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nurturing myself

Could it be that I'm starting to get the hang of taking care of myself? I hesitate to even say it, but I feel different this past week about trying to do this. I'm nurturing myself and making thought-out decisions about food instead of just going on emotional impulses.

I have been offering myself compassion, and--though I thought it was nutty when I first read about it in O--it really works. Showing kindness to myself over emotional impulses to eat (without then eating) works so much better than yelling at myself.

I've also been paying attention to what the ancient part of my brain is thinking when I get a craving. That part of me, I've read, doesn't know when the next meal will come, so when I get a craving for a high-calorie food (whether because I think of it or whether because I see one), my hormones and chemicals in my body start firing off, Eat it! My recent work to counter the urge is to think about all the opportunities I have to eat whatever that food is, or something similar. For example, a couple of days ago, I came home and had a sudden chocolate craving. Instead of trying to put it out of my mind, I mentally went over the places in my house where I have chocolate: expensive semi-sweet bars I normally use for baking, a couple of oatmeal-chocolate cookies in the pantry, brownie mix. I--very sympathetically and calmly--reminded myself that I live in a place, and have enough money, where if I ever want to go out and get a really wonderful chocolate dessert, I can do it. "The chocolate will be there tomorrow if you want it then," I remind myself. Then, somehow--at least in the last few days--I've been able to let the craving go.

I'm also just trying to be reasonable. Friday night, my husband and I went on a lonnnng walk (over an hour) before going to a dinner party. I ate a hearty meal of Thai masaman curry with butternut squash, shrimp, onions, and chicken at the party. It was great. Then at dessert, I had vanilla ice cream with a habenero chocolate sauce and a dulce de leche sauce on it. It was really, really tasty.

But the next morning, I didn't get my usual Saturday morning chocolate-and-orange crepe. I reminded myself I had indulged the night before. Saturday night, we went to a friend's birthday party, and while I ate too many chips with salsa, I ordered a healthy dinner and didn't eat dessert.

These are baby steps; they aren't huge. But I am proud of myself for taking these steps. And if I can sustain them, I think I can sustain weight loss because of them--and without being neurotic about food.


M said...

I don't really have issues with eating (used to though), but I think it's so interesting how one can adopt the thought process of those who are good at something (in this case, eating healthily) and by doing so, bring about the desired action simply by changing the thought process.

This is something I know I need to do with many other parts of my personality and psyche. The only problem is: I don't know how the healthy think in those areas. I don't have my version of the "Oprah" info. for those issues.

When I taught, we did the same thing with reading. The theory is, get kids who are weak readers to start thinking like strong readers and they will become strong readers. Your experience is proof that it works.

I guess maybe therapy is a way to do this for my issues I want to work on but it would be much easier and cheaper if I could find something like what you found in Oprah to help instead. If I knew the healthy way to view certain things, I'm pretty certain I could do it.

Anyway, this post really inspired me in so many ways, so thanks--and, of course, I'm so glad you are doing so well with your eating and exercise goals!!

metamorphose said...

It's all about baby steps, isn't it? I can't say that I'm ready to give up meat, but you've definitely inspired me to eat more vegetables! (Not an easy feat, I tell you!) Thanks for commenting on my blog, and I look forward to reading more of yours.

the veggie paparazzo said...

M., I think certain therapists would be very good at helping you if you went in and told them just what you told me--that you wanted to reframe the events and the way you think about them. I can't think of the name of that type of psychology, but it is a particular branch.

Meta, thanks for stopping in. I haven't given up meat entirely; I still eat it when I eat out sometimes. But at home, once you're used to it, it's so nice not to worry about getting sick from meat contamination. Plus, utilizing the vegetarian food from around the world has been much more exciting to me than just eating a slab of beef (or pork, or chicken).

Georgia Girl said...

I'm a big believer in baby steps. For me personally, with each good baby step, I feel really proud and just a little bit stronger and more ready to handle the next one.

I love what you wrote about showing yourself compassion, and being kind to ourselves. It's so easy to beat ourselves up over stuff!