Saturday, February 28, 2009

Do me a favour, please?

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Instant Gratification

The core followers of THIS IS NOT A DIET on Facebook have been around for about 2 months now and cracks are starting to form. The friendliness and camaraderie are still there, but some people are starting to feel discouraged.

I don't blame anyone for feeling discouraged. I have my moments of discouragement practically every day, but being the analyst that I am, I think it's time to look at WHY we feel discouraged.

We live in a fast-paced world. With computers and I-phones and Blackberries, we can get our information in the blink of an eye. We can find 75 places to order a book, or just download the book in a few minutes. We can get the latest information on our favourite or most hated celebrity. We can find long-lost friends (this actually happened to me on Facebook). We can find every federal statute for Canada in English and French on Google in a second or two (forgive me, as a translator I find this totally amazing).

But speed has its dark side too.

We eat faster, we talk faster (another one of my bugaboos), we expect results instantaneously.

If I said to you that you could be 20 pounds slimmer by this time next year, you would be thrilled. But that means that over the course of the next 52 weeks, you would lose less than 2 pounds a month. That sounds much less thrilling, doesn't it? And yet, 20 pounds is a great weight loss, something to be proud of, especially and definitely if that weight were to stay off forever. But we are so fixated on NOW, NOW, NOW, that we lose track of our long term goals and the upshot is that we can't even reach our short-term goals. If we haven't lost 10 pounds in the last month, well what we're doing doesn't work. We give up.

This is my plea to all of you who may feel disappointed: Don't give up.

The golden rules of eating when you're hungry, eating what you want, eating consciously and stopping when you're full are not the rules of a diet. They are a way of making peace with food for the rest of your life. Now we all hope that the rest of our life is a long time. We need patience to re-form our relationship with food. We need time to regain the wisdom of the baby who only eats when he/she is hungry and always stops when he/she is full.

I'll be weighing myself in 4 days. Will I have lost anything? Don't know. Do I care? Yes, but I will not stop my quest to become friends again with food.

Bottom line: Slow down, my friends. Not only the speed at which you eat, but also slow down your expectations. Do all good things come to those who wait? I don't know, but I do know that rushing can get you nowhere fast.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bits and Bobs

I've been thinking about a few things and here they are, helter skelter.

Believing: I watched an episode of Paul McKenna's I Can Change Your Life. Usually the bits where he's actually working with the person are sort of boring. I like the schadenfreude of hearing about their problems and thinking to myself, there but for the grace of God go I. But something really caught my attention. Paul had the woman look at herself in the mirror and say what she thought about herself. Of course, she thought she was fat and ugly. Then Paul had her say this in a funny voice. It really took the sting out of the words and made both the words and the idea sound absolutely ridiculous. So I've tried this on myself a few times. For me, the issue is that somewhere deep inside myself, I really don't think that I can lose weight. So I said it out loud in a really silly voice. Then I imagined my husband saying it with his killer Donald Duck voice. I'll keep trying this on and off and see where it gets me.

Channelling: I'm (arghhh) 52 years old. A weird thing has been happening as I get older: I'm "channelling" my mother. My mom died 8 years ago. We were close though we had the usual mother-daughter issues. I am an only child and my mom was divorced when I was very young, so we lived in each other's pocket, so to speak. Mom was very, very tiny: about 4'7" or so. Not a dwarf, normally proportioned, just tiny. Well, I've bested her by about two inches or so, and I'm not a dwarf, I'm normally proportioned, just tiny like my mom. I remember as I was growing up how she ascribed many of her disappointments in life to being so short. For instance, she felt that she had had a miserable love life, ending up for only a few years with a man who never really loved her because no one else would consider loving a woman as short as she was. I think she also felt that professionally she could have done a lot better if only she had been taller. Well, I have a wonderful husband and a great profession in which I am very successful, but I still feel (ha, ha) short-changed by being so short. In my case, I keep thinking that being so short is making it really difficult to lose weight. Mom also used to criticize herself for not being such a good musician, something I have done too (the story of my never-realized career as an opera singer is a whole other chapter...). Well, I'm tired of channelling my wonderful mother, who really had nothing to beat herself up over. She was great and a lot of people remember her with love and respect!

Here's something interesting I found over at Cara's Weight Loss Journal (she found this on the Weight Watchers site):
"Why Weight Loss Always Slows Down

There are some predictable patterns in everyone's weight-loss efforts. In the first few weeks, it's normal to see quick losses. People talk about this as water weight.

But what's happening to cause this loss of water weight? When you reduce your calorie intake, your body responds by releasing it's stores of glycogen, a stored form of carbohydrate found in the muscles and the liver. Glycogen holds water, so when it's burned for energy, it releases water.

Since you're eating fewer calories, your body starts burning up its glycogen stores, and then, after they're gone, your body starts burning fat for energy—which is exactly what you want to have happen. But because fat does not hold water and it takes twice as much energy to burn fat, you'll see slower losses on the scales."

Something to think about as we measure our progress.

Arthritis: Osteo-arthritis runs in my family. OA runs, we limp. It's yet another thing that makes weight loss harder for me, since the only thing that I can do to really get my heart pumping is swim and I have neither the time nor the inclination (in winter especially) to go to the pool. But my attitude is starting to change and there's a bit more of the "can-do" entering my inner dialogue. No, I still don't want to go to the pool. Swimming is something I do in the summer at the lake. I'm thinking about slowly introducing the exercise bike back into my life. I was talking today with a colleague in her late fifties who has become a work-out diva and her advice was to start really slowly. I know that 5 minutes on the bike is too much for my knee. I'll be starting today with 30 seconds and do this every day for a week or so. I'll take it to a minute and stay there until I'm comfortable. I know this sounds like such a small goal as to be nothing at all, but little people have to start small.

Now, I must be brave and start preparing for a contract I have on Friday. I've got to plough through about 200 pages of text.

Be well, my friends!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Can you say sssssssssssssslllllllllllllllooooooooooowwwwwwwww?

Today, I was feeling rather glum. No, I haven't weighed myself, but I don't feel like anything is happening. My clothes are not falling off my body from all the weight I've lost and I still would psychologically kill for a piece of really gooey chocolate cake. I'm a good girl and follow the rules and yet and yet I'm probably just losing a couple of ounces a week, if that.

I had some errands to run today and made sure I walked rather than took the car. All through my walk my inner voice was going on about how I can't lose weight, that I'm so short I can't eat anything and expect to lose weight (my acupuncturist's assistant calculated that just to KEEP my weight steady, I can't eat any more than 1275 calories a day--the best that I can do is just maintain the high weight that I am at)...and on, and on, and on.

It was such a beautiful day, though very cold and blustery, and I felt very low.

I did listen to my McKenna CD today, and it's worth repeating that McKenna does talk about the speed at which one loses weight. He insists on the fact that you lose weight at the speed that's right for you. It's just hard when you're at the extreme end of S..... L.... O... W....

When I got home, I started listening to the first episode of the British version of I Can Make You Thin. (BTW, thanks to the person who shall remain nameless who told me where to find the shows on the Internet!). I didn't have time to listen to the entire show, but what I did hear made me feel better.

I went to a restaurant tonight with a colleague (I'm yet again out of town for work!) and had a Caesar salad, a half a glass of wine and a few sips of soup. I just couldn't eat any more. This is good. I'm sure that before starting the McKenna program, I would have eaten everything on my plate and ordered a cup of tea with sugar and then eaten the lemon--all to make myself feel better about not having dessert.

So yes, this is good. All I have to do is to learn to count my weight loss in fractions of a pound, rather than in pounds or kilos. Tough, really tough.

Geez, it would be cool to be 5 feet tall!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Before going on my rant, I'd just like to thank those of you who are now visiting my blog. You inspire me to write on!


As I briefly mentioned in a previous post, now that I have become yet another weight-loss blogger, I have found a plethora of (mostly) women who are also writing about their weight loss journeys on the Internet. I've actually started avoiding these blogs because they are all so uniformly sad.

These women have signed on for the hardest, most arduous, most never-ending slog in their lives. They have embarked on what, for most, is a truly impossible journey because we cannot constantly fight ourselves. Who's going to win, me or the food? The enemy: bread, sugar, chocolate, french fries, cookies, chips...and the list goes on forever. Dieting is a constant struggle to put up walls between oneself and food. I can't eat this, I can only eat that, I've eaten too much of the other. Points, calories, struggle, slog, hate myself, starve myself, love myself when I'm starving, hate myself because I ate something "forbidden".

Over the years, I've though a lot about the intrinsic impossibility of success with dieting. Let me explain through this longish digression: I believe I really don't have an addictive personality. Five years ago, when I went through a failed surgery and was on very strong prescription pain-killers, I was able to wean myself off them with absolutely no problem. In fact, as the dose I required went down, I actually felt unwell taking the higher dose and cut down myself. Once my pain was under control, the pain-killers became superfluous. I smoked for about six months when I was fifteen, but realized that it was not a good idea. I had three DuMauriers left in the pack, smoked one, gave the other two away and never smoked again. I love a small glass of wine with a meal, but have no desire to drink more.

However, contrary to tobacco, which is not a human necessity, or pain-killers that some people feel the need to take long after the pain is gone, we cannot eliminate food from our lives. Yes, we may crave foods that are not particularly "good" for us, but we all need food every day. You can't go "cold turkey" with food without dying. And therein lies the problem with dieting: diets make food into a dangerous, controlled substance, that we ingest with fear. Cut it off, you die; eat too much, you get (or stay) fat. When you step outside yourself to look at this conundrum, it is truly frightening. And yet...

Millions and millions of us in the western world live cheek by jowl, every waking moment of every day, with what we love and fear the most: food. We are surrounded by its abundance and yet told to avoid it. We take pills, drink shakes, eat pre-packaged, pre-measured, pre-prepared meals to keep us away from returning to the wisdom that we all had as babies: eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. I'm sure we all can see in our mind's eye the way a baby pulls away from the bottle or the breast when he or she has had enough. Babies ADORE milk, but a baby would never consider taking one extra sip, just because it tastes so good. Amazing, isn't it?

Of course, there are many psychological reasons why we, as adults, eat to excess, or at very least more than our bodies actually require and these issues must be addressed. But there is a bottom line: eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full.

Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full.

I don't think one of those many weight loss bloggers I've seen out there has ever pondered this phrase. It is so simple and yet so frightening. How will I know when I'm hungry? How will I know when I'm full? These are justifiable questions if you've been ignoring both signals for much of your adult life. And to be perfectly honest, after so many years, it really is a learning experience to live by this advice. That's why I'm blogging: to understand what this means for ME.

So, dear readers, now you understand why I want to scream at all those lovely, sad ladies out there who in my opinion are fighting a self-destructive, losing battle.

Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full.

How do we make food our friend, our ally, a real source of nourishment? And how do we learn to find the other types of nourishment we need in our lives from sources other than food?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I've Got a Secret

Just one last thing, and I then I have to get back to my real life...

Yesterday, when I did my 2-week weigh-in, I saw that I hadn't lost a pound. Well, I cheated today and got on the scale again and yes, I did lose 1 pound! (Cue the marching band, streamers, balloons.)

Now, dear readers, I promise myself and you that I will NOT look at the bloody scale for another two weeks!

My McKenna Friends on the Internet

When I first started on the McKenna programme, I went wild searching for videos and articles on the Internet about "I Can Make You Thin". I actually found a rather fuzzy version of the first "I Can Make You Thin" TV programme (US version) and watched it with great interest. McKenna has actually made two versions of ICMYT, the first for a UK audience, the second for a US/N. American audience. If anyone out there can tell me where I can find one or both series I would be eternally grateful!

I also found a number of book reviews of ICMYT, with many comments attached. Then I found several groups on Facebook. The one I like most is THIS IS NOT A DIET, started by a young woman in London. Most of the group members are from Great Britain. It's a young crowd, living in a world that I find subtly, yet deeply different from my own. But that being said, it's a hugely friendly crowd of mostly women who have all tried desperately to lose weight, have all realized that diets don't work and are now on the McKenna road to leave diets and excess weight behind. There's a lot camaraderie and good cheer there. I recommend checking it out.

Especially in the first few weeks of following the "rules" (I really hate the word "rules", but I can't find anything better--at least for now), people on the site tend to lose a lot of weight and there's a lot of cheering and back-slapping going on. Then the true challenge begins: really learning to eat considerably slower, with deep consciousness; listening incredibly closely to your body's signals, dealing with the non-food issues that lead you to eat food you really don't need or actually want...This is the point that I'm at. In a sense, I feel that this is the true beginning as I face my cravings head-on, learn to respect my hunger and heed the message of feeling full.

Bottom line: friends--or "buddies"--can be really helpful in enabling you to keep your eyes on the prize, but at the same time, it's important to remember that we are all different and our bodies do not all react exactly the same way. So as long as good things are happening to YOU, even if it's only losing one pound, you have to be happy and not compare yourself to the Internet friends who've lost 10 pounds in the same period of time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Six week weigh-in

It's been six weeks today since I started following the Paul McKenna method for weight loss. I only weigh myself once every two weeks and disappointingly, I have not lost anything in the past two weeks (well, maybe half a pound, but my scale is not that precise). I could consider this devastating news, but actually, I don't feel too bad. What I have managed to do is lose six pounds on my tiny, 4'10" frame and actually KEEP it off. In my opinion, this is fantastic.

In fact, my 0 weight loss makes me even more determined to follow the rules more closely:
1. Eat when you're hungry.
2. Eat whatever you want.
3. Eat consciously.
4. Stop when you're full.

I have been following several weight loss blogs in addition to my "slight" addiction to a Paul McKenna Facebook group called "THIS IS NOT A DIET" (more on that later). I'm seeing so much pain and frustration out there on the Web, so many women who are fighting themselves in a losing battle (lol) to control the uncontrollable, so many women who are eating to fill all kinds of gaping emotional holes. I have posted a few comments on the futility of their struggle and the fact that a radical change in mindset is what we all need, but it's so radical that the message doesn't get through. I guess I'm better off preaching to the converted, i.e. myself and my future readers.

I think that even if I only lose a few more pounds, I will not abandon this new approach to food. Slowly, I am learning to listen to my body, respect its needs and shed my fear of food. It's not an overnight process. I've spent 52 years developping the fear. I can afford to spend a few months losing my fear and becoming a happier person!