Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rules 2, 3 and 4

Well, "tomorrow" has turned into about two weeks later. Life has gotten in the way.

The reason I started on the McKenna programme was that I finally realized that I was starting to fear all kinds of food, but that this fear had no effect on whether or not I would lose weight.

Over the years, various natural health practitioners (acupuncturists, naturopaths, etc.) have told me to avoid certain foods: sugar (well, duh, but in trying to do so, I actually gained weight since I felt so deprived I ended up eating more of everything else); dairy; wheat; Brussels sprouts (which I adore); wine (something I love in moderation); bananas; strawberries and a list of other foods too long to mention.

The last straw was the banning of tomatoes (and the rest of the nightshade family). After meeting with the allergist and getting this news, I just went batshit. No matter what I have tried to remove from my diet, nothing makes a damn bit of difference to how I feel, in particular with respect to energy levels. All that these bans have done is made me feel angry, nervous and deprived.

Enter Paul McKenna's rule number 2: Eat whatever you want.

What a fiendish rule for dieters and anyone who has tried to improve their nutrition. "But, but, but," we all splutter. To this, I now say, "phooey".

I truly believe that the psychological damage that results from always saying no and trying to rely on willpower is much worse than eating what you want IF you respect rules 3 and 4:

Eat consciously: in other words, don't shovel food into your mouth while reading, watching TV or listening to the radio, all the while feeling guilty about the masses of food you are mindlessly ingesting. Savour each bite, chew slowly, put the food down (i.e. the sandwich, the cookie) or put down your utensil after each bite. Enjoy each bite as if you were a gourmet, sampling the most wonderful food.

Paul McKenna actually encourages us to go through the fridge and pantry and get rid of everything we DON'T like. This sounds like heresy to those who believe in healthy eating, but I have found that despite my love of sweets, I don't eat that many because of rule 4:

Stop eating when you're full, or ideally almost full.

When we eat quickly and without consciousness, we miss the subtle signals our body sends us to tell us that we're full. It's truly amazing how little we need to eat to feel full. If you really do stop when you're full, you'll find there's a lot of food left on your plate. Put it back in the fridge, or just throw it out. Let's face it, the starving kids in Africa aren't going to get any of the food left on your plate. If you find yourself throwing out too much food, it's just time to reduce the portion in the first place.

So that's it for Paul McKenna's four simple rules. The effect they're having on me will be explored in upcoming posts.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Getting underway

Yesterday, I started talking about Paul McKenna's "I Can Make You Thin".

Lots of people have already outlined his 4 golden rules all over the Internet, but nothing I say after this will make sense if you don't get the profound meaning of the rules.

1. Eat when you're hungry.
2. Eat whatever you want.
3. Eat consciously.
4. Stop when you're full.

Let's look at each rule in greater detail:

1. Eat when you're hungry.
Yes, dear, when you're hungry. If your body is starving at midnight because you were working late, EAT. If you don't feel like breakfast at 7 a.m., don't eat. Eat when you're hungry. When you eat only when you're "allowed" to, you end up starving your body just when it's giving you a valid message: "Feed me. I'm hungry." When the body goes into starvation mode, it slows down to keep as much energy (fat) on hand as possible. Your base metabolic rate goes down, making it even harder to lose weight. So for goodness sake, eat when you're hungry!

Rule 2, tomorrow!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Can Make You Thin

A few years ago, after a disastrous operation, I started a blog to help me through the physical and emotional turmoil that I was experiencing. The blog is still out there in cyberspace, but I don't post anymore, nor do I send people to read it. It was almost too personal and I certainly wouldn't give the URL to someone who knows me in the "real" world.

So here I am again, trying out the blogging world--this time with a new, fresh perspective on my life and a desire to document it and reflect on the experience as it unfolds.

Now, for the admission of guilt: This is another "I'm going to lose weight-really-permanently-I can do it this time" blog. It's scary to put it down on paper because, as we all know, 95% of dieters ultimately fail. Don't tell me that I'm setting myself up for failure. This is a fact. That's why I've decided to lose weight by not dieting.

"Not dieting???", you say in amazement. "Yes," I answer truthfully.

Now, how am I going to square this circle? And so begins the blog:

A few months ago, I was at the office of a publicist and had a bit of time to kill (no, I'm not a publicist myself; I was doing some freelance work for the company). I found one of the books they were publicizing on a shelf and started leafing through it. The book was called "I Can Make You Thin", by British hypnotist Paul McKenna.

I have had (or felt I had) a weight problem ever since I can remember. As is the case for many of us, I have never felt happy about my body: too heavy, ugly legs, largish nose, etc. etc. Just the usual catalogue of less than perfect things that have always irked me about myself. What I now realize, though, is that I actually was not that heavy during a few years here and there of my young adulthood. According to my BMI (body mass index) calculation, there have been times in my life when I was actually a normal, healthy weight.

But that was then and this is now. Two pregnancies (I've got wonderful kids!), stress, yo-yo dieting (leading to a fear of food), the beginning of menopause and health issues that have prevented me from doing very much cardio-vascular exercise have led me to my current just-on-the-verge of obese state. In the past four years, though I have felt physically much better, my weight has been edging higher and higher as my belief in my ability to return to a normal, healthy weight has fallen to new lows.

Recently, I have felt torn by wanting on the one hand to accept my new, large size and on the other, worrying that if I don't lose weight I will be harming my health in new ways. For instance, for the first time in my life, my blood pressure is above normal. I find this very worrisome.

Back to the publicist's office: There I was, leafing through a book that was telling me that I could lose weight by eating whatever I want and whenever I want, as long as I ate slowly and consciously! Whatever I want???? Whenever I want??? This sounded mighty interesting. But I put the book down, got back to work and put it out of my mind for a few months.

To be continued...